Friday, August 29, 2014

Ehlers-Danlos Karateka Philosophy

I *destroyed* my body running every day and that's how I got my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome diagnosis. Six years of physiotherapy later, I'm just barely functioning enough to work and practice karate. I continue to push, but I am much more careful now. I limit my movements to one or two planes of motion at a time if I can, limit impact, and follow body mechanics religiously from the time I wake up to the time I turn back into a pumpkin at night.

I've been on hiatus from karate because I'm moving, and that has given certain body parts time to repair.

Karate has been amazing for chronic illness. Maybe it's radical to think this way, but I have decided that if my body is the Titanic and I'm going down with the ship, I may as well play in the band. My physiotherapist said, "While you have time, go live. Because when you're lying in that bed you'll want those memories." My attitude about things I have already lost (e.g., running) is that, when I could, I did.

So, I don't know if any of that is interesting, but there it is. Be well.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nakamura-Sensei: a leader, but a person

Nakamura-Sensei has taken a picture of a place I will likely never see in my lifetime, but which has an important place in my heart. This is Higaonna-Sensei's dojo in the morning. The modest figure in the mirror is Nakamura-Sensei's reflection. I'm grateful for this image, it is serenity.

I loved training with them and with all the IOGKF karateka.  Higaonna-Sensei said to me, "You are working hard, but it also looks like you are having fun. I like that!"

I would have the time of my life if I ever got to visit Higaonna-Sensei's dojo, or Japan at all. I have so many great Japanese friends and family that even though my Japanese language skills are very rusty I would enjoy myself and smile the entire time. I would host the Japanese tea ceremony and tell each guest why they were important to me. I might even put ice in the matcha, I hear the weather has been hot.

I'm not sure that Nakamura-Sensei realizes how he touches the hearts of so many people. I think of he really knew, it would be difficult for him to be as modest as he is! He is just a man at the end of the day, but to me he is a great man, having great generosity and compassion. He is exactly what Japan hopes for--someone who makes Japanese society seem perfectly groomed, flawlessly well mannered. And yet, as an Okinawan, I wonder if he identifies with Japanese traditions in that way, or if he just knows very well how to behave in society. Best of all, I consider him my friend.

Anyway, I can imagine enjoying very much a morning like this in Higaonna-Sensei's dojo. I would sit zazen first thing and recite Dojokun, then practice hojo undo. In my wildest dreams, I would practice here beside my own Sensei. 

Be well.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tough Call Out

Some people will not be able to relate to this. Good. I hope few people ever
go through pain like this.

Tonight I made a hard decision that all Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome athletes have to make. I skipped my physical activity (Karate) to get groceries. You can't do karate if you starve to death.

But in the middle of shopping my shoulder subluxed. The pain exploded throughout my upper torso and my rib cage feels as loose as a goose. I'm assuming that the rib laxity is because I normally use my back muscles very actively to stabilize, but with my traps and rhomboids out of the game I'm sunk.

My spine feels like it's stuck to the right and my ribs feel like they'll pop away from my sternum if I try to fill my lungs. It's been hours and ice didn't help. Now I'm just in pain control mode and praying I don't sneeze.

I wouldn't call it a hopeless feeling but I'm pretty upset. I hate this. I already called out of work. I do know that if this had happened at the dojo I would have cried. The pain is horrible. You know it's bad when I skip the science of healing and just go into pain control. I just don't have a lot of options right now. I can't even get a breath.

I've probably been overdoing it. That's probably the message here. Thank goodness this is happening on Thursday night so I don't miss too much work. I had to take leave for my divorce and then I'll need leave time to move next weekend, plus leave next week for car repairs.

This weekend is Spirit Training! You can bet your Shireido gi I'll be there. I may be immobile in minutes but I'm not missing it. I need karate to feel alive. It's the only thing that makes me feel alive right now so I need to be there.

My one good thing for today is going to be hard. The goal is not to kick myself while I'm down by wallowing on frustration about not being able to move today. Instead, I'm going to just think about good memories and let them carry me across this gap. You see, tomorrow is Spirit Training, and since my body is toast I really need to take care of my spirit.