While taking one of my favorite bikram yoga classes, my teacher came along and slowly nudged me into a deeper position. Ordinarily I like to move at my own pace and I don’t allow anyone to move my body into position. I know my body better than anyone and I figure it’s been serving me well all these years, so I generally choose to go at my own speed.
This one evening I dragged myself to class after sitting for hours in my office. The instructor made her way around the room. “Breathe” she said, “I think you can go deeper still.” I took slow measured breaths and on the exhalation, tried letting go. She placed her hands gently on my back and hips and told me I could still go deeper.
Against my better judgment I breathed deeply again giving in to her now firm pressure on my back and hip. Suddenly my body rebelled and simply could go no further. My breathing strained. I could barely speak and yet the pressure of her hands against my body continued. The words did not come. I groaned and prayed for the release, which finally came. Since that defining moment, my life forevermore changed.
Limping out of the class I convinced myself that ice and rest would heal this unfamiliar pain: ice, heat, physical therapy, acupuncture, swimming. Nothing helped avert the aching sensation. Several months later it became apparent that surgical intervention was needed. The first surgery was minimally invasive and while it was deemed a success, I still could not walk without pain and a severe limp. All the while the degeneration in my hip continued. The cascade of events from the firm pressure in my yoga class to the rapid deterioration of my hip joint became a ghoulish nightmare that could not be exorcised.
Several weeks ago, I underwent a total left hip replacement and am now in the throes of managing the pain from this drastic intervention and learning how to walk again. Many lessons have been learned, some too dark to put into words just yet. But for now I can share that feeling out of control with my own body leaves me breathless and terrified. Relying on others to take care of my most intimate needs made me feel hopeless and helpless at times.
Fortunately, I spent my life understanding the mind/body connection and had at my disposal an armory of tools and strategies to help me through the darkest and most humiliating moments. I made myself practice what I preach and meditated, routinely said my affirmations and most importantly, surrounded myself with loving and supportive friends and family whenever possible.
People tell me I will be ‘bionic’ when the recovery is complete. I see myself as having dramatically raised my consciousness about the experience of pain, the limitations in the real world imposed on the disabled, and the humbling reality at needing to be cared for by others. For years I had the good fortune of feeling strong and healthy and think I will again soon, but one thing I know for sure is no one is exempt. And no one is bionic.
When have you had to overcome adversity? Did you have to rely on others to succeed? If so, how did that make you feel?