How my Physical Therapist Helped Me See The World (and myself) differently
As part of my physical therapy program to rehabilitate my hip, I have been tasked with a variety of strength and stability exercises to help mend my battered hip. Although my PT, Justin, says I am making better progress than my previous two surgeries, the work is very challenging and at times, frustrating.
Being a fitness professional with what I’d always considered above average body connection and proprioception, I’ve met myself on the road to recovery and it’s been illuminating and humbling. There’s nothing like having something taken away from you to change your perspective about it’s relative importance, and walking freely and with confidence, once an activity I took for granted, has now taken on an almost mythic importance.
It is good, I guess, to be brought to a halt, to realize your humanity and admire simple pleasures, like walking, from a more informed perspective. This is a hip replacement, nothing worse, and for that I am grateful, and I am trying to be open to anything this experience has to teach me.
Today, exercise chart in hand, I arrived to my PT session confident that my progress would astound my therapist, Justin. I’d augmented my routine this week, adding extra squats, single leg dead lifts, side lying leg work and clam shells to my routine, exercises I’d often recommended for my own clients with hip issues. Justin, being the professional that he is, managed to encourage me for my initiative while simultaneously humbling me with small tweaks and modifications that melted my smugness without totally eradicating my confidence.
For weeks I have been walking back and forth on a 12 foot 2X4 plywood plank- trying to reconnect my neurology, balance and strength. Just when I’d master walking forward and backward, Justin upped the ante by ordering me to the balls of my feet, doing side walks, squats, knee lifts and half and quarter directional turns. The workout, so focused and effective has inspired creativity: what a dynamic prop to add to our workouts at 1901. Beam me up Scotty! This little piece of plywood really is a reality check! Spend 29 minutes on this 2X4 for an opportunity for better balance, core strength, lower body connection and a meditation in acceptance.
All seemed to be going well, (at least better) until Justin added single leg balance, with head turns to the left, right, upwards and downwards. I wobbled and righted myself, and cussed and swore. My hip hurt almost as much as my pride. I polished up my five basic principles and braced myself for the challenge. But none of that prepared me for the next task: balancing one one leg (or even two in a split stance) with my eyes closed. This was totally, inescapably, beyond me. I veered from side to side, having to be caught as my body, lost in space, careened out of control.
As I was doing tiny squats on a balance pad, my arms outstretched for balance, I was so unstable I literally could not find my center: Justin had to literally catch me from my profound disorientation.
“Wow, I’d make a terrible blind person!” I said, not realizing the impact of my words. How often do we take for granted our ability to see, to negotiate the world with our eyes. How powerful the compensation of sight and how vulnerable are we when it is taken away. My experience, an experiment, revealed only a glimpse a world without the comfort of vision. Without it, I am lost. I cannot locate my center, my balance or my ability to function in the world.
I write this because, like so many things I am learning right now, I am humbled by all the things I have taken for granted. Sight, ease of movement, connection and the freedom to feel in charge of my movements, once an autonomic, now leave me in awe.
The timing is interesting to me. This month, amid the immense and tacit beauty that is Spring, I am given the opportunity to imagine what my life, this season, might be like, without sight.
This is the same month, our studio will assemble as a team to walk to raise money via the 28th annual Trolley Run for the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired. It helps that our Pilates Peep of the Month is Nicola Heskett, director of CCVI and but it’s also about our commitment as a studio to do ongoing acts of good in our community.
As part of our Trolley Run Weekend, we’re hosting a presentation on Saturday, April 23rd where we can learn first hand what life is like after becoming blind as an adult.
Mary Winter and Amy Dixon both became blind later in life. Mary because she selflessly intervened to help another in an accident, and Amy due to a rare and unavoidable degenerative disease. Both women have overcome obstacles many of us of would find insurmountable, also finding the grace to share their experiences to bring awareness not only to the challenges of living life without sight,but to inspire each of us to face and overcome our own perceived limitations.
I hope you will join me on Saturday, April 23rd at Pilates 1901 at noon to hear their incredible stories.
This event is FREE and open to everyone!
And if you have not yet signed up for TEAM1901, we’d love to have you join us on Sunday, April 24th for the 28th annual Trolley Run to support the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired.
What else could be a better thing to do on a beautiful Spring morning in April?
Join TEAM 1901 for the 28th Annual Trolley Run Today. Click here to sign up!