Reconnecting with my body
Again and again and again.
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I’m kneeling my legs on top of a large elevated foam mat, leaning up against some gigantic red foam tube that’s supposed to hold me in place until I’m ready to balance on my own. It feels like I am on some strange medical elementary school field day obstacle course as my physical therapist moves the red tube away from my legs and the mat to see how my balance is. I’ve been having physical therapy now for a few weeks, trying to get back to my body after my abrupt subdural hematoma that happened last year. Working on my balance coordination and trying to decipher where there are lulls due to what happened in November vs. lulls due to my body pre-hematoma. A couple of years before I had the subdural hematoma, connecting to my body had been something that I’ve been trying to work on. It continues to be a process.
I’ve always had balance issues due to my Deafness, so it’s been interesting to try to decipher what originates from life before and after the hematoma. It is hard to be in this body and actively choose to do so instead of getting out of it. My natural reaction is to disassociate, but I’m snapped back into it when I drift. “I see you’re not grounding your feet on the floor,” my physical therapist states as I do another exercise that involves jumping from side to side. I am still getting to know the body that I am in.
I share this stuff about getting to know my body to say that it’s never too late to get to know yours. I remember when I really started to sit with my Disabled body and the adjustments it needs to live life the way I desired to live; a few years ago, I became curious about different avenues of fitness & wellness to help me become more present in my body. I very quickly picked up that much of a “wellness” culture isn’t designed for Disabled bodies. I would see some teachers telling folks to ignore the suffering they are navigating and to only think positively. It was strange because I felt like in order to be in my body, I should acknowledge the challenges I was facing.
Presence in my body for me is embracing my body for what it is versus just ignoring what it can’t do. If I ignore that I am Disabled, I am bypassing my body, and I don’t give myself a chance to be in it. When I acknowledge pain or discomfort, I can find solutions to move through those uncomfortable feelings, and I can actually be present in my body.
Time in physical therapy has been mostly about observing how my body moves and reacts. It’s been about getting back to a space of recognition in my body. Right at the beginning of my recovery, I was moving very differently. After my first two surgeries, my legs made small shuffling steps, and I could barely walk. The hospital's physical therapist said this was a typical response in recovery. When I was then told I would need a shunt in my body, I was a bit nervous about it. Here I was, having to adjust to another device attached to my body. I was in pain for a few weeks after the doctor’s installed a shunt in my body.
When I was in fourth grade, I had a titanium screw installed into my head so that I could start using a bone-conduction hearing aid. I don’t remember how it was adjusting to the changes in my body with the screw, mainly because I disassociated so much as a child. Now though, as I’ve been working on being more present in the body, I felt the shunt adjusting within my body. Certain movements would trigger pain. I had to move really slowly. Sleep was uncomfortable for a moment. It’s been a few months since the surgery, though, and my body has adapted to it.
In the last few months of recovery, I've found that when I sit in discomfort and name it, I get the support I need to help me feel better. This might be obvious to some, but to me, a person who very much cloaked over the pain I have been experiencing ever since I was a child, it’s a revelation. As the weeks roll by, my loved ones can see the progress I have made and are communicating to me how much I’ve been getting back to a pace that feels like mine.
This week has been the first week where I’ve felt my energy return to a somewhat recognizable pace. My physical therapist confirmed this to me, along with other loved ones. I think it can be hard sometimes when we are in the midst of a process of change and we are unsure if we are making progress. I believe taking some time to acknowledge how far we have come by stepping back and looking at how things have been going is important. It can act as fuel to keep us going. Many can see us before and after something, yet when we are heavily in the in-between, we may need people to show us that we’re making progress even if the progress isn’t so loud.
In the space of self-reflection, I wanted to offer some writing prompts that could possibly help you sit with the changes you’re making if you wish to sit with them. Something that I have found helpful for me in the process of change is journaling and reviewing past journals to see the shifts I’ve made.
Where are you in the process of making changes to your life?
What small or big hints of progress have appeared for you as you’ve been in the process of change?
Who in your life can help you be accountable for the changes you wish to make?
How can you hold yourself accountable for the changes you want to create?
How can you acknowledge how far your loved ones have come in their lives?
I’m still processing and picking up the pieces from what happened in November. In the act of processing these things, I am seeing the changes I’m making. I try to recognize the day-to-day shifts in my own energy. I’m returning to a sense of myself again, and it feels good.
Four Things For You!
I’ve been reading “Who is Wellness For? An Examination of Wellness Culture and Who It Leaves Behind” by Fariha Roisin, which has been deeply helpful during my recovery.
- A post shared by AC Goldberg (@transplaining)
If you are in Atlanta, check out the Community Market which is happening this Saturday! More info is in the Instagram post below.A post shared by Community Market Atlanta (@communitymarketatlanta)
Self Promotional Things
I *officially* announced my Oracle Deck the other week, and I’m starting to do select previews of cards from the deck for my paid subscribers! You can see the first paid subscriber post here. I’ll soon be releasing a little podcast about the deck as well, which will be transcribed to the newsletter. Thanks again for your financial support!
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my newsletter, and I look forward to sharing things with you soon! Please feel free to comment on this post and share anything connected with you, to a loved one, or on social media if you wish to do so. My Instagram tag is @barryleeart. I hope that you are staying safe and well. <3