Thursday, February 28, 2013

Learning to Breathe

The dumbest thing I have done so far has been to move when I shouldn't have, which resulted in a slight kick to the head, more a graze than a whack. It was early on and I learned quickly. Yesterday, I also learned that physiotherapy and karate belong on separate calendar days.

Physiotherapy takes three to four hours twice a week. I work very carefully and deliberately, taking inventory at every move of my body alignment, balance, and pain level. The effort is exhausting and I have to rest often. But because I take my time I am getting good results. Some days are better than others. Yesterday was not my best day, though it was far from my worst.  I did fine until the end, and then the pain exploded.

My physiotherapist talked me through the tears, breathing through the pain.
"What you're feeling is pain, okay, and your pain is real. I can't feel your pain, but I know it's there. What can you do about it? Breathe. That's the one thing you can do, so the only thing I want you to do right now is focus on breathing." With every breath came more and more tears. When the pain gets that bad I reach a breaking point, where the emotion of pain renders me vulnerable to a bona fide breakdown. Exhausted from working so hard, that's where I was headed. "What are you thinking about right now?" he asked. The only acceptable answer was "breathing," but I don't believe that lying is useful and he did not get that answer. He stayed and talked me through the pain. In a soothing voice he helped me focus on the diaphragm, thinking about the shape, form and function, physiology, how it feels to breathe, how it's nice to be able to breathe; and so on.

It will take a lot of work to retrain my brain pain. But I've got a good coach and I'm up for it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

News from the Bench

A couple of weeks ago Sensei said, "let me know if there is anything I can do."

"Make me keep coming, even if I'm just on the bench, so I don't gl stay isolating myself," I said. How readily I made such a request took me by surprise.

"See you Wednesday, then!" He said. He understood what I meant.

It is nice to have support.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Meaning of Bunkai

The problem is not my ability to comprehend, and it is scarcely my ability to adapt the meaning of each kata to something Zebra-friendly. My biggest problem is how quickly I can lose heart.

I missed a week of classes because I got a superficial hand injury that ended up having somewhat catastrophic consequences. I expect to make a full recovery, but after a solid week of doctor pinball I am feeling mostly humiliated and deflated. The doctors who don't know EDS are terrible. The ones who get it are stuck with what's left of me after I have been chewed up and spit out by the insensitive majority.

Before I even got to the dojo I knew it would be a real drag to sit on the bench while others got to learn, play and grow. But I set an intention to go and to take from it what I could. It wasn't much because my hearing is even worse from the bench but I got something out of it.

Practice was on the meaning of gekisai dai ichi. Sensei has a marvelous way of making very serious concepts fun, and in that way they become manageable.

Tonight my main lesson feels like this: I'm sick. I'd better get used to the fact that I will have major setbacks from minor incidents. That means my strength will not come from consistent training because consistency is not an option. The strength I lack is in the resolve to keep going.

From the bench I feel so angry and lonely that it would hurt less to just suffer the physical pain and jump into class. I left my gi home and came in Street clothes just to keep myself from thinking that might be an option. It would be a bad move to force my body before I am safe and ready. It would also be unfair to my Sensei and to my classmates. I already feel that I am an enormous distraction and that everyone can see how I am driving myself crazy trying not to admit that my body is a mess.

But such thinking is ridiculous! My classmates are happy to see me, and I am always excited to see them. I am making the most of a terrible hand that was dealt to me, and it's been life-changing to watch myself improve. Discovering what I cannot do is s real kick in the pants, and that's my fault, because it means I still lose sight of all the things I /can/ do.

What's worse, I feel like I am letting myself down for feeling these things when I surely know better. I'm a mighty tough cookie for someone so fragile. So why am I so easy to topple?

One thing is for sure: this is not the type of person I wish to be. I don't know what the goal is or how I will get there. All I know is that I have work to do.

I did get my belt the Monday before my injury, and I'm so glad for that surprise; Wednesday was the day I got injured. Someone up there must have been guiding me after all.