Wednesday, August 7, 2019

"Watch and Learn" is a Thing

"Watch and Learn" is a thing; I'm a hypocrite if I could do that thing, but then don't.

If you have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and practice Goju Ryu karate, you'll need to practice adapting. I am a star at adapting, with plenty of life experience. What you do on the floor has to work in the street or it's of no use. Observing gives me an opportunity to watch and think about adaptations without trying to stay conscious and upright.   

For both Monday's and today's appointments I did not get medically cleared by my physiotherapists to attend the once-in-a-lifetime Gasshuku (special karate group training) this weekend. The Gasshuku is with 8th Dan Paul Enfield, and it was the right call: my sacrum won't unlock. If I try to use my lower back I'll be very sorry for it later on. Throwing punches without full access to my hips is causing my clavicles and shoulders to sublux. Kicking with a fibula that won't stay in place unless it's taped, or suri-ashi (body shifting) with an ankle that won't stay in place, is not a good idea. All this, right after finally figuring out a way to reduce the blacking out from Dysautonomia. Any one of those things would be reason enough for any rational human being to sit the heck down.

But this is Paul Enfield, the man who brought all four volumes of Higaonna-Sensei's work to document Goju Ryu karate to the English speaking world. Sensei told me to come and observe, and usually I would be able to do that, and happily. PT suggested the same. But I'm deaf in the dojo, so it would be complicated and stepping into the dojo is already so emotionally charged that I can't imagine being isolated in two ways (movement; hearing). That's an error of thinking, though; I am never separated even when I'm just observing because my dojo family goes out of its way to make sure everyone on the floor is included.

I dread sitting out because I put everything I have into physical therapy to get back to karate. It feels like I'll never be done rehabbing, and it's true that I'll never be done with rehab. PT is a permanent aspect of life with EDS. But rehab without karate feels like I'm fighting just to live, and my quality of life feels pretty low since the third bout of sepsis.  I also miss my port and the freedom to roam whenever and wherever I want to go.

It's hard on the psyche to go to the dojo and not physically participate. Sometimes I have to step out to cry, which is fine, but tends to make others worry. "It's just hard," I tell them. And it is. The pain of knowing my body will work against me if I try to use it is agonizing in itself. It's arguably worse than the physical pain, but because the physical pain affects my overall functional level (like being able to use the bathroom), I have to respect the pecking order of matter over mind. 

It won't be forever. Sensei assured me that there will be plenty more Gasshukus. But my heart is in the dojo and I want to be doing karate. No matter how much I read or review while I'm physically rehabbing, it's no replacement for live practice. Not being able to practice also has a detrimental effect on how much I can learn through studying, too.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm upset when I don't need to be, and if I want to be a hypocrite I should stay home and not find ways to adapt what I'm seeing. And yet, I feel pretty rotten. But even when you feel rotten, you should go to karate.

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