Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Who cares about anatomy?

I think everyone, especially everyone with a chronic illness, should read at least one Anatomy & Physiology book, even if they won't understand it all. It has really helped me put the pieces together and keep the terror at bay. I can get through a violent muscle spasm in my "shoulder" by knowing, "well of course it hurts, it's right over my brachial plexus!" I know it sounds intimidating but it makes a huge difference.

The spasms on my brachial plexus on either side have become officially chronic. Last night one was so severe that I had to leave the dojo. When I got home I showered, took a beefy muscle relaxer, and my night was over. I lay awake surfing funny animal photos on Pinterest, waiting for the pill to deaden the hellfire in my neck.

When I can't get to karate it's a horrible time. My emotions go into a tantrum and I feel so lonely for my karate family. I try hard to be patient, but I reel on the fact that karate is the one thing in which I have ever physically succeeded, and it's all I want to do.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking that, if I could just arm myself with enough knowledge, maybe I could beat Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. At those times it couldn't be harder to accept that such a plan is completely unrealistic. Although, knowing more does help me cope better, in that it helps me to communicate exactly what I'm going through, helps me interpret what moves I need to make next, and helps me push myself to do the therapeutic work I need to perform after I exercise.

My health has been on a frightening decline since July. But I'm stubborn and I'm working hard on this life, piece by piece, poco a poco.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Gi-hon Waza

What do you see when you look in the mirror? What are you looking for?

I've been trying makeup. I don't look so sick when I wear makeup, it takes me back to maybe five years ago. But I also don't feel like I look as pretty when I wear makeup. I have the very rare quality of a healthy body self-image. I smile big in the mirror and say, "hey, handsome!" Or, "hey, beautiful!" -- and I mean it. It's nice to not see the sick for a little while sometimes, but seeing myself as I am is visual confirmation of how strong I am, too.

In the dojo I hate to have any such paint on my person. I love my gi because it is without form, without gender. It is just a white cover that makes me feel present and strong. In my gi, I am a part of something much larger than gender, politick, age, ability. None of that matters. It all gets in the way of who we are as people. So in my gi, I am among other spirits who are trying to learn about their bodies and strengths just as I am. We share moments like families do, not interested in the superficial, but in the ways events and efforts have an impact on us, and on those around us.

Beyond the dojo I wish I could wear my gi all the time. I wish I could live with the simplicity of self, just be, and do good things. I'm asking this question later in life than most people do, but, why do we doll ourselves up? How can I come to understand that when I dress in feminine clothing and wear makeup, and style my hair, people feel MORE comfortable, and not less? How can I come to accept that the less of my true self I put out there, the more likely I am to be able to connect with people?

In the dojo we care about safety. We don't worry about painted nails but we worry about long nails. We don't worry about long hair but we worry about hair in our faces. We care on a more fundamental level. It doesn't matter whether we know each other, we just enjoy our time together in our school and share the joy of trying hard. We care about anything that can get in the way of our ability to use our bodies effectively. We even turn away from the mirror to fix our gi, even if we have to fix the back of our gi! How we look when we turn around is what we go with. We accept ourselves and move on to more meaningful things. That's so comforting for me. Some of us are even concerned that we are too distracted and segregated by having coloured kyu-obi (belts which indicate our grade before black, at which point your stay black throughout every next level you achieve).

Today I give thanks that my dojo is a safe (key word: "safe") place to do this work.

Mokuso (meditation):
Breathing in, I smile to myself.
Breathing out, I smile to my dojo.

Be well.