Feeling: BACK TO BACK
So this morning I arose for an appointment with a local Indian physiotherapist. German Bianca had only good things to say about her from a visit a few days prior, and I managed to wrangle a 9am slot.
After a handful of hours sleep I awakened at 6am. (That 8am alarm was heartily optimistic). I had decided when still conscious at 2am that pranayama would be a miss for me, as would the morning asana class. So I hustled on my Puberty Blues-esque get up again (really feeling that outfit, I must say) and headed out early, FaceTiming Mummy Deb for a catch up along the way.
Google Maps had me traipsing a bit to find the exact location, but eventually I unearthed the physio up a little side lane behind an under-construction hotel. The set out reminded me of a backstreet Compton clinic; it seemed a bit seedy and shady and a little bit suspect. But then the lovely physio lady appeared – a shorter, squattish little lass in bare feet and blue jeans – and her sunny smile made me feel all ok.
And I have to say I am now cheating on Quiet Jodie.
I lay belly down on the bed and within 17 – no, make that 6-point-three – seconds after showing her the area of agony, she diagnosed the root of the pain stemming from aside my top left shoulder.
“Vertebrae in your neck,” she said. “C6. That’s what’s causing you to be hurting.”
She proceeded to attach some sorts of pads to my back (my nervous enquiry as to what they were had her explain they were vibrating plots to warm up my energy) and flicked on the switch to a connected machine; these things evoked a not unpleasant sensation along my spine, and I felt my torso go a tad less taut.
She lathered me in some sort of lotion (“Not sensitive skin?” She firstly asked before dribbling me with droplets). Then she pummelled away.
Honestly, I don’t know what was in the lotioning potion, but it was rather warming. Insanely so. My back soon fired up to be of the stinging sort, and I was taken back to an experience once in my late teens; I was on my “moon days”, as the Chinese so delicately put it. I had applied some antihistamine cream to a bastatd of an itchy bite on my leg, and then soon after changed my tamp without doing a thorough hand wash.
When the tube says external use only, it means it.
Ahem. Back to the present.
So this lass was manipulating my mainstay, in a way that – although forceful – felt incredibly soothing. I could feel my infirmity being set back in symmetry as she pressed and prodded this way and that. “God made our bodies so amazing,” she said. “Every body part all so linked. You feel this here?” [gentle jab of offending C6]. “That’s radiating to cause you pain. And I can feel it in here” [placid press on left glute]. “Your hip is on the cusp of popping out of its socket.”
She said how “my people” treated such ailments with the “take out, new in” approach. She said if I carried on as is without being put back in alignment, at home in ten years or so I would be sat down for a hip replacement. “But here, we are going back to the root,” she said, tracing her finger back to my neck. “That’s where all your fault is stemming from.”
I was astounded. Should I have gone to a physio at home and said about my tender left lower back area, the practitioner would no doubt have given it a rub, maybe shunted in some needles and then given me some exercises to do at home to relieve the discomfort. Not instantly recognised the actual offender and set to the stem of the soreness. Not make me sit up in a slight cobra and shown me how the root was extending into my clavicle (“Feel pain here? It’s the pressure point” as she pressed into my left chest pec) and warned me that it could start to extend down my arm.
And the amazing part was that this it took me right back to my first ever moment of pain in this very same spot. The year was 2006. The location? Baradene fourth form camp, somewhere in the Waitakere Ranges. (It may not have been at this WR site at all, but something in my memory bank is telling me it is so let’s go with it).
It was five days of outdoorsy activities. Flying foxing, obstacle coursing, high ropes climbing, such lark. Me and my group of gal pals had opted out of cabin share sleeping to instead camp in the trusty old Wort family tent – a two-roomed affair that my fam had been using since my conception or so. We had adorned the canvas walls with posters and pictures, and had our air beds propped against another for the ultimate in overnighting.
One night of the five each set group had to take to the hills on a hike, staying in a bivouac. For those of you not in the know, a bivouac is a makeshift site without tent or cover, where a group of mountaineers or soldiers set to for the night.
We were neither mountaineers nor soldiers; rather, we were about ten 14-15-year-old girls. One major malfunction of the staff in such a situation, I firmly believe, was the non-teaching of how to properly pack a pack; what with no notion of “heaviest at the bottom” to protect the back, my pillow was placed at the hump of the heap, with bars of baked oaty slices and Dolly and Girlfriend magazines (the reads of the day) on top for easy reach.
I remember clear as anything the pain that incurred as I climbed that fucking hill, my bag beating down and seriously stabbing into my shoulder. That night on the forest floor (not reading of aforementioned Dolly and Girlfriend able, as also aforementioned teacher commandeered my torch for her own) had me writhing about and whimpering.
The next morning I couldn’t stand up, and salvation was sent for in the form of a Subaru (unbeknownst to us schoolgirls, a road ran parallel to the track we had been told to take). I got back to base and was stretched out on a picnic bench seat, as Mummy Deb was summoned to come and pick me up.
And here I was again, the same spot stemming some more strife. (This time, however, I was not reclined out in severe undersleep shouting at Alvina and Millie for having absolutely ruined my family tent. While my group had gone on the overnighter, the two girls had decided that bodyslamming into the bungy-ed up canvas would be super fun. Unfortunately, said canvas could not take the shear force of two barrelling Maori girls, and had totally torn though – tearing the poster of Snoop Dogg on the inside of the wall in the process. I must – shamefully – admit, the C-word was uttered – ok, screamed – at them across the room for destroying a big piece of Wort history).
I asked the Indian lass (back to present day again) if such an injury from 12 years ago could still be rife with strife (I didn’t recount the whole story, don’t worry) and she said most definitely – with the impairment influencing further in other areas of the bod.
I then showed her my turned out left knee. She gasped and said, “[Some Hindi word]; your knee is so out of alignment! That tibia is nowhere near as it should be. How have you been coping with all this yoga?”
(I’ll admit, I was greatly relieved to hear this; it hasn’t purely been me just being of shit balance and such – there really is an ailment there).
With my head in the smelly pillow (I tried not to think of all the other faces that had pressed into the same arena), the lady then stretched me all out, turned me over and set me up on a wooden foam roller (“Never a big one,” she instructed. “Should always be the size of your own arm.”). She left me lying in such position as she in turn tended to the other two patients in the room (we were now a trio), coming back to rearrange me with the rolling-pin like prop under another part of my spine.
This whole time she murmured a little Indian melody, singing sweetly as she clicked and clacked and carted our body parts about. I loved it; rather than than standard 20-minute appointment slotting of Western ways, she had us each in there for the time we needed – me so, at an hour 10.
I love the Indian (and Chinese) approach; not shovelling in pills and lathering on Volatren as a mask, but investigating the cause and carrying about setting it right from the root. Body parts are not individual units in you, but rather like an intricate spider’s web; a little puncture in one part weakens the whole. Every aspect of us is not just corresponding, but intricately linked and weaved as one.
It’s like ourselves in our home. Us as people are sheltered by the house structure, the walls protecting us from the external. Likewise, our form constitution of skin and muscles and tissues and what not house our personalities, our souls and the very core of our being. (Shit I’m deep).
I walked out of the physio significantly less sore than when I went in. Quite amazingly so. She had hardly even touched the actual sore spot, yet her caressing my cervical section (as in spine cervical, not my fa-noo one) had rendered it ridiculously less aggrieved.
(And the physio girl was so cute; she had told me how it was “Celebrate Women Day” and after I left, she sent me a little pictorial message wishing me well. Things like that just warm me right up).
I’ve always entertained the notion at the back of my mind of going back to Uni and studying physiotherapy. Especially now – over the age of 24 – I’d be entitled to a living supplement, so the student loan wouldn’t heap up quite as high. But over the last few years my interest has turned more to the Eastern frame of thinking, the surge to seek out Traditional Chinese Medicine and meridians and chi and all such.
I don’t know about the feasibility of jetting”, off to Shanghai to study, but when (not “if, but when – frame of positive thinking power mate) I come into a winning windfall, it’s on my list to do.
When I got back to the hotel German Bianca asked how I’d found my appointment.
“She was incredible,” I enthused. “Absolutely incredible.”
“She’s not incredible,” a forthright voice rung out behind me. “She’s nowhere as good as my guy.”
It was Martinet.
I really, really wanted to respond, “Good for you.” But I swallowed it, smiled and said, “Well I thought she was great.”
(This a.m when I was missing pranayama, I heard all the girls get up and scramble to their rooms. Martinet gave us nine Sanskrit terms to learn by heart a few weeks ago, with warning one morning she was going to make us write them down from memory and test us. Hearing the uprising to no doubt retrieve pens and pads I figured today was the day. So I grabbed my own biro and went up to recite.
Upon entering theory class later, she threw the stack of papers on the table and said, “Results”. I located mine and looked; with no mark in any way on the page, I wondered if she’d even looked at it. Then I peeked at my peers’ and saw big crosses through wrong ones and realised I’d gotten them all right, one of about three of us who did. When I walked by Martinet in the break I wrote a big “100” at the bottom of my page so she could see; why always reprimand? It must be a really bitter being. I mean, what does it take to do a tick?).
And tonight I had been told to not take part in asana class. So I went and watched. Honestly, it was the BEST thing ever for my confidence.
When I’m on my mat, in my mind, all the others around are doing perfect poses. Knees at the right angle, holding steady standings, fingers and toes and wrists and elbows all textbook. I was astounded to find it was not the way at all; there was wobbling and stumbling and things all wrong and wayward.
It was the moment I realised I’m not the worst in the class in any way whatsoever.
Back to it tomorrow, with my final exam at 7am. Then a mere 12 days until we terminate.
Bring. It. (All back to you).