Friday, May 30, 2014

Gasshuku - MCF 2014 USA Part 1

My hotel room looks like a MASH unit. A fancy one. Hello from the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, host of the Miyagi Chojun Festival 2014 for North America. Day two of four is complete and I'm a tired zebra.
For those reading who do not know, the reference to zebras refers to a medical adage taught to med students: "When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras." The lesson is to think for the obvious diagnostic explanations first, and not the exotic. For people with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome the argument we make is that "Zebras do exist," and for as exotic as our condition is, it must not be ignored or excluded from the diagnostic process.
I flew in to town a day early and had one of the best days of my life with my mother, who lives in the area. We had salads, long talks, swimming time and a wonderful dinner made by my stepfather. I truly enjoyed myself and slept very well.
Day One:
I got up at 5am, had a protein shake, coffee and fruit salad. Relaxed, stretched, read a little, played some video games. Mom and Stepdad dropped me off at the hotel.
Hotel Room Fiasco
The short version of the story is that they gave me the wrong room three different times. Not accessible, not overlooking the Bay as promised in the reservation, and a million other problems. This took from 11am to 4pm to sort out. The Gasshuku began at 1:30.
Gasshuku Day One:
Registration was a breeze. It was beautifully organized! Flawless. I appreciate a good start, it sets the tone for the entire weekend.
Oops! Nakamura-Sensei very sweetly informed me that I had accidentally shown up for black belt training at 3:30. Regular training began at 4:30. I parked myself quietly in the back. Higaonna-Sensei came up to me and said to use the time for strengthening. Strengthen, stretch, and flex one hundred times. He said that will make me stronger.  This was my first time speaking with Higaonna-Sensei. He is exactly as I imagined, and I understand why he chose Nakamura-Sensei as his successor. They are both full of love, discipline, respect. One hundred of anything, eh? Okay! I filled 100 water glades for people to drink. ;)
There's so much more but I'm exhausted. More to come. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Well Done, Overdone

It's a good thing I'm a touch typist because I can't keep my eyes open.  I'm lying on my couch, which is where I have been all afternoon.  I have never regretted getting up early on Saturdays for Saturday morning karate class.  But sometimes I work very hard and end up forfeiting the rest of my Saturday.

When I get too weak or sore to function a few initial feelings come up from a bowl of little insecurities, all of them irrational.  Am I being lazy?  How can I really be this tired?  How am I going to accomplish X and Y?  Am I really in pain from something I did in class or is this pain I would have had anyway?  All sorts of insecurities.  These feelings are legitimate, as they stem from a wide variety of athletics-related and life-related events.  However, they are not particularly useful thoughts.  They're just thoughts, so they come and go as they will, and I don't have to judge them, or do anything about them, other than let them drift by without internalizing them.

That's a lot easier to do when I'm not stuck on the couch.  I don't even know how I'd drag myself upstairs to bed right now, though I did a good job of heating up homemade soup to get hydration, salt and nutrition in.  I'm glad I can eat carrots, even if I have to boil them to death to chew them without dislocating my jaw or breaking a(nother) tooth on one.

The message I want to send is this: everything with EDS is done in terms of compensation.  If I do one activity I will forfeit another.  In this case it was a day, and probably both ankles for a while, as soon as I remember where my braces are.  Why would I go all-out in karate like this if I know it's going to have this outcome?  Because everything in my life has this outcome.  The challenge is to time it well, plan it out, and make it count!  Easier said than done, but it really is a simple model, which is often the best kind of model.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Karate bloopers!

We practiced Saifa kata in small groups and gave one another feedback. During one turn I moved but my leg did not come with me, oops! I think I pulled a muscle trying to get it to move. I screamed so loudly that our startled everyone! My group kept asking, "are you okay!?" I said, "excellent!" and just kept going.

When it was time for feedback one of them said, "it was great, except for that one part--you don't 'KIAI' there."

Ha! Oh, folly.

Karate is the best thing, ever.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Busted Hip

During warm-up I dislocated the left knee trying to contort the right hip back into place. It was embarrassing because I cried out. I must have blacked out for a moment because I felt a hand on my shoulder next. It was Sensei, seeing if I was okay. The last thing I want to do is worry anyone, especially Sensei. It is his dojo, after all.

But you know what? I just listened to my awesome physiotherapist and lay down to let the hip rest. It still hasn't gone back in yet. While I lay down I tried to breathe peacefully. I practiced the kata drill lying down using just my upper body, and I felt good! I was proud of myself for not having given up. When I could, I sat up and did the drills for jodan yoko uke and jodan uke. Then I stood on one leg and continued.

When it was time to spar I knew that wouldn't be an option, so I went and sat out. But I stayed so I could line up and bow out with the class, and that felt good.

It's really hard some days to deal with EDS emotionally. I felt sad and disappointed that I couldn't fix my hip. I still do, despite the fact that I'm as fierce as any lion. I'm fierce, but I have feelings.

I love karate. A busted hip is not going to stop me.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

This Ain't No Wimbledon

I've taken a week off from karate to get me life things in order but I miss my dojo family and my practices. I look forward to getting back into it. Sometimes it's good to switch gears for a while. It enriches the first activity.

It's been almost a decade since I last picked up a tennis racket, but I did this week, having found in my closet a beautifully strung and wrapped racket in my closet which my mother had given me. It's Breast Cancer Awareness pink and my stabilizing sneakers are called the Brooks Beast. I'm bringing this up because our shouldn't matter what you like to wear or how you are comfortable presenting. There are such greater things about who we are as people.

The night before, I had sustained an excruciating cuboid dislocation that I couldn't reduce. I iced and splinted it all night, then heated and reset the bones in the morning. I cannot believe that it worked, and with no residual pain.

When I got to the court I decided I was going to take my time and let the balls go instead of running after them more than a few steps. To my incredible surprise I still have fairly good control of the ball after all these years. My body was fine and I had a very active day the day after, too.

Having only four of them and muscle hypitonia to slaughter my racquet control, I go into the woods beyond the tennis fence fairly regularly to retrieve the balls. 

Because I'm not too steady on my feet even with stabilizers the walk is always quite painful. To save my steps I stop at the edge of the woods and visually locate all four balls. I draw an imaginary regression line among them and plot my course. This reduces the risk of falls in that it reduces my number of steps, time in the woods, and it keeps the pain as low as possible.

Maybe it's the cool weather, maybe it's all the hard work, but I feel good about this and I am thrilled with the strength and stability I've gained from karate.

I won't try biking anytime soon, or likely ever, but I'm happy to have tennis back. It's like I've started up a pulse that had flatlined.

I get distracted very easily. I'm glad to add tennis to a non-karate night but I want to remain committed to karate. What a great day to be alive, as I write this from the ground of the tennis court, the breeze running over my thighs as I stretch my quads.

This is gooood. :)

Be well.

Dem's sexay legs. They does good things.