Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Egoscue and life

This year, I was hit by a car as I was biking home from work, which resulted in a broken right scaphoid bone and massive hematoma on my left check which had to be surgically removed (the hematoma, not the cheek). In the following months, my body became very unhappy very fast. I began to experience tendinitis in my left elbow and shoulder and severe left knee pain. New pain seemed to be creeping on me from every direction. Doctors were incredibly annoying (their protocol consists of XRAY, MRI, Physical Therapy, Surgery). XRAY: everything normal. MRI: everything normal. The physical therapist did a great job of hurting my right hip. As if I didn't have enough problems. Surgery, thank you for the offer but I'll pass. Now, these protocols are necessary and important. But, shouldn't we only implement them when necessary? And cautiously. Cautiously. Hippocrates.

Well, what did I finally do? I started to use that brain that G-d so miraculously allowed to work, unhindered by the accident. I realized that the first step I had to take in becoming pain free was to turn in another direction. What every happened to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid)? Let's start with simple things, and then move on to the scarier items thrown at us from different directions: it's Parkinson's from the accident, it's parasites, it's fibromyalgia. Bullshit, please excuse my language. The only things that seemed to help were my Yoga and swimming practices. I am a registered Yoga teacher and swim on a daily basis. I know that if I had 'stopped all activity' as touted by those mentioned above, I would have been a goner. In any case, my own protocol counted out Parkinson's: my muscles work great. Parasites: nope, lots of energy. Fibromyalgia: again, I felt *good* (because I didn't sink into a black hole of fear), just too many aches and pains. And I do ask you, fair and intelligent reader, to name one doctor who understands what fibromyalgia is? I have my own hypotheses, but will better not share them here.

With more yoga and some new shoes, I was able to bring things down to quite a 'normal' pain level. The problem is that I really hate normal. I want more, actually I want no more, chronic pain that is! In my research, I had come upon the work of Pete Egoscue. His writing and books are exceptional, and yet so full of un-common sense such as the inherent health of our bodies and the necessity for those bodies to move and to think in a healthy manner. He is an exercise physiologist who offers not only simple methods to heal chronic pain problems, but a life philosophy that is physically and psychologically empowering. When I realized that a clinic that specializes in his methods was located only two miles away from where I live, I felt it was absolutely necessary to give it a try.

March 18th, 2008 was my first visit with the Egoscue clinic team, and it was exceptional. The studio is a well lit space, akin to a yoga studio in nature. In Mr. Egoscue's philosophy, our bodies know how to heal themselves. Our role, as therapists and clients, is to give the body the space and alignment to do so. A beautiful room is a great place to start.

After entering the studio, I changed into comfortable clothes and proceeded to fill out the intake form. I've come to dread these forms. 'Do you or any of your family members have a history of (insert horrible disease here)'? I love it, really, a great way to start my healing. I know that this information is important, but, why put me into this frame of mind all the time? I swear that they will be listing 'death' soon in family history. What about asking about a history of health and happiness? Hmmm?

The form here was simple. Aside from my address, contact info, and basic demographics (age, sex) I was asked: what do you want the Egoscue Method to do for you? List three items. Wow. Just three? Philosophical. My answer: 1. Help me with my knee, 2. Help me undo all the damage other doctors have done to my knee, 3. Everything else.
I almost felt sorry for my treating therapist.

Once my therapist was ready, we sat down to talk about what we would do in the session. Since I had read Mr. Egoscue's books beforehand, I was already sold on the philosophy: human body = healthy, let's move it back there already! I described to her some of my 'pain' history and she listened. She listened to and carefully noted all my observations and conjectures on what was causing the pain. That's worth the price of admission right there. Another issue I have with most of the medical system is that, I believe, most patients have a pretty good idea of what may be going on. Patients provide the best diagnostic tools in a large number of cases. An MD, DO, DC, or any healthcare provider may have a set of protocols to deal with what they see. But, dear G-d, all I ask of these practitioners is to first please listen, because especially for the MDs, they may not have to use their heavy artillery if they do so. Of-course, they may want to for insurance or other purposes, and the American medical system is on an ethical and financial downward spiral due to that arrangement.

Back to the clinic. After we finished our discussion, my therapist took pictures of me: front, back, and both side views. She then printed them out with what is known as a plumb line test on top. The plumb line showed that my body is a total zigzag. And don't even get her started on my knees. Great, good to know we have work to do. And work we did. She designed a set of exercises that I went through in order to properly line up my body, and they were an interesting mixture of 'old-school' posture exercises with specific sequences focused on realigning my hips and knees. As we practiced them, I was encouraged to assess what changes were occurring. She had me take a few walks around the room during the session to 'feel out' my progress. My homework is to practice this customized 'menu' of exercises for a few weeks, after which I will come back to her for a menu adjustment depending on my progress.
By the way, I like menu adjustments MUCH more than manual adjustments.
She informed me that initially I should be coming once every week or two, and then we would be able space the visits farther away.
I feel like I now have a coach to recover my health.

Let me add one more note about the general medical profession (think of this as as flushing out of the toxins of those experiences). Remember when clothes were made to last and advertisers promoted longevity of a product? I don't either. Now, everything is replaced on a monthly and weekly basis. Great for the economy, hardly. Bad for the environment, definitely. This make-break-replace philosophy has infiltrated our medical system. If you give a patient a protocol that is slower to work, requires input and understanding from the patient, and will ultimately educate the patient to become healthy on his/her own, you have created a 'product' that is made to last. Without your constant vigilance. But, why do that? Why not a made-to-break philosophy? If you, as a citizen of our society and consumer are taught that you too are made to break, then hooray for pharmaceutical companies! Hurray for orthopaedic surgeons and makers of joint replacements! Hurray hurray hurray. Hurray for diabetes, hurray for chronic pain, hurray for depression. Hurray hurrary hurray. It's like a warped kind of Disneyland, isn't it? It is Zamyatian. I just coined the phrase, by the way. Zamyatin was a Russian writer, who preceded George Orwell in his novel 'We' where he wrote about a dystopia where all members of a society are continuously drugged to promote proper and timely activity and copulation. It is a precedent to other dystopian literature and is haunting in its applicability to today's society.

Wow, have I gotten off track. Or have I?
I have every right to find metaphors in life, history, and literature. Is this not what all my schooling has taught me?
I have a right to think and move.
We all do.
This is why I think that Egoscue's message is so timely. You don't have to go to Disneyland. You have a fighting chance.


Lisa said...

Congratulations for believing in yourself and your own recovery.

We at Egoscue thank you for your testimony.

Lets all hope that many others will begin to understand their own bodies the way you have.

Best Regards

Lisa Parkes
Egoscue University

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