Thursday, April 24, 2014

Randori Dumplings

Today I said, I'm going to the dojo with the intention of connecting with my own body and telling myself is okay to feel it even if what I will feel is pain.

And I did!  I almost barfed a million times but I didn't, and that's impressive.  I know it worries my classmates when I stagger out doubled over, but they trust me when I say I'm okay.  I appreciate their concern.  I don't want to gross everyone out by saying, "Just trying not to vomit, I'm good so far!"  I thought three hours would be enough of a break between eating and working out but now that it's warmer out I'll have to rethink that.

Injury: We practiced randori tonight, which is slow-motion, continuous sparring.  We have to let the opponent finish a move if they are successfully carrying something out, and it's good for learning to take a hit.  My opponent is very good, my belt level.  We crashed our knees into one another and it caused enough pain to drop me to the floor!  Sensei asked if it was dislocated and it was not, but it had dislocated a half-dozen times during warm-up, so I was impressed that it was in place.  He said it'll hurt tomorrow, that I should ice it tonight, and I certainly will.  Yowza!

Make sure the gym bag is stocked with enough nausea meds and supplies!  Caramba!

Still, I was able to get up and continue sparring.  That meant a lot to me.  I'm getting stronger and stronger.  Part of that is a matter of learning my limits and working around them.

New skill: When we were sparring Sensei reminded me to keep my hands up and guard my face.  I've been working hard on that.  He also said he wants to see me perform more mae geri and less mawashi geri.  I lose my balance on mae geri, which surprises me.  I have something to practice now.  I'm learning to slow down and lower my kicks until my balance is better, then I raise them higher and it feels like I'm starting at zero.  I'm probably not starting at zero, though.

Ahh, karate keeps me sane.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On Self-determination, Anxiety and Guilt

Working from bed sucks. I want my bed to be for reading and sleeping. I'm glad to have fought for the ability to work from home but I'm frustrated to be so limited in my own home.

It's one of those days where I've been awake for hours and haven't the energy to even brush my teeth. Just trying to stick to the schedule and pace myself. The pain is sky-high and the anxiety follows suit if I don't keep actively reminding myself that there will be better days.

Sensei called to ask how I'm doing and I am very grateful for the call, it was nice to hear the voice of another human being. On days like this when I had physiotherapy at home to look forward to I had a little help starting my day, and then I had the rehabilitation help to try to get my pain under control. It left me better able to function, which translates to being able to function at all. Now I don't have that and it's tough again. This can get depressing but I am trying hard to remember that I look forward to better days.

Tonight I have karate. Here is the thought process:
-How will I get there?
-I'll be up by then, but will I stay up?
-Can I go all out since I will be going right back to bed, or will my blood pressure destabilize?
-Should I use my crutches?
-Should I bring my blood pressure cuff?
-Will I be able to work the day after?
-Would I be able to work the day after anyway?

Karate is a part of my exercise regimen and a human right of self-determination. It keeps me healthy by giving me physical improvement and emotional connection with other people.

Someone asked, "what do you look forward to?" And the answer was karate. I've pined on this question for a month. That's the answer. It has become a need, part of my identity. A very positive part, curiously compatible with my disabilities.

I may not last in the class tonight but I am compelled to be there. It's a good thing, and no one need ever feel guilty about a best effort to take care of themselves.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Put Down the Pace

I will look for some information on pacing myself. In the beginners' class this morning, something like 80 mae geri and mawashi geri is too many geri. My spine is toast and now I'm missing my own class.

Today's Sensei is doing a great job with conditioning. She explained that if you have to do a lot of one particular move it is important to keep your pace, but that you can lower your intensity for a few reps so that you can catch your breath, relieve your muscles and go back to full power. I find that this approach gives me a chance to work smaller muscle groups during the lighter times.

I'm having a tough morning. This will be my last anniversary before getting divorced. I had it in my head last night while I couldn't sleep that it was going to be nice to kick the hell out of nothing (i.e., the air) but because we were conditioning we got to use pads. It seems I kicked much harder than I should have because my whole spine is mad about it. This is so hard to deal with. I wonder when the nightmare will end, and that's useless, because it will never end. I promised my life to her and it takes two people to keep a promise, so that promise will not be kept. It will always be a room in hell and it isn't easy to get used to the heat. It's okay with me that I went a little hard on the kicks this morning but it will be nice if I can cultivate more self-awareness and self-control by this time next year.

It will help lessen both the physical and emotional pain if I make this a goal so I will aim for it. Shifting my attention will be a healthy way to redirect the energy. I don't know how I will take care of the pain in the meantime, so that will be a task of humility, being humble enough to ask loved ones for help and being string enough to turn the other cheek to  criticism.

Pardon my language but divorce is fucking brutal.  My dojo is really saving my buns right now.

Warrior Week March 2014

Warrior Week occurs every six weeks, and I love it!  That's when the curriculum rotation resets for our dojo and we solidify our new skills before heading back to the basics. This is a great way to keep ourselves on the simple fact that our basics are our foundation, very effective in and of themselves when properly performed and dutifully maintained.

Warrior Week is a rigorous but exciting time! I always look forward to it. We get a modified class schedule that shakes up my medical schedule and reminds me not to take it so seriously. There is a shiai (tournament), Spirit Training, and a potluck. As I write this it's unbelievable that I ever make it through! On top of all this great work I was also invited to grade this time around for my 6-kyu (blue) belt! Holy cow!

The entire week is a time to test my might. I have improved at every shiai. This time I took first in kata! I took second again in sparring!  Holy cow again!  I have never gotten a blue ribbon for anything athletic! I've done tennis, hockey, ice skating, swimming, volleyball.... Never have I been so wholly engaged to the point that I continually progress, succeed, and even compete! In fact, I have always (frickin' /always/) ended up with an injury so violent that it ended my time with that activity. Karate is so diverse and I am so much stronger that I know the worst is over and such a thing will not happen again.

I did end up earning my blue belt. It's weird, the first karateka with whom I worked has his blue belt and I was sure that this guy was in the stratosphere in terms of skill. I was perfectly satisfied to be able to work with someone with a blue belt, and never imagined myself reaching this point. Reality check: with EDS there are days when I can't walk. A blue belt in karate is truly incredible. Doing karate at all is incredible.

Congratulations to all who tested and competed! I give thanks to my Sensei for believing in me.