Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The shoulder and neck are better, though not cured. Too much time on the computer, using the mouse and the dull throbbing starts. Moderation, that most elusive of qualities, is my holy grail.

The immediate goal to work on the cow face pose, which with my hypermobile joints I used to find so easy in yoga class. One arm reaching backwards over the shoulder, the other behind the back reaching up. The hands clasp. Once I was proud of my prowess, glowed when the teacher praised my flexibility. Yes, I know, self-congratulation is at variance with the non-competitive spirit of yoga, but that didn't stop me. The karmic comeuppance is that these days I can just about manage the pose on one side only. Impossible to move the right arm upwards behind my back.

The difference between a year ago and now is still dispiriting. A lesson is humility. Also in self-forgiveness: nobody made me sit at the laptop for hours at a time without taking a break

I'm supposed to do exercises three times a day. Some days it's only twice but Sheila the physio is pleased with progress and the gap between our appointments has lengthened from weekly to fortnightly to monthly. At my request - she knows I do massage and is supportive - we name the muscles, bones and joints beneath her fingers as she works, massaging and stretching contracted muscles, neck then arm then shoulder, me on the couch, her standing alongside. A litany, a recitative: Pecs minor, scalenes, subscapularis, levator scapulae, coracoid process, C4 and C5 ....

When we tire of A&P we talk about cats, hers and mine. Or gardening.

I turn onto my back. She places both hands, one over the other, on the injured shoulder, leans her weight forward onto her arms. Clavicle and sternum are pushed towards the spine and my lung capacity is reduced by what feels like 90%. She's a large woman in her early forties, as tall as I am and a former shot putter, solid and muscular. The effect is not dissimilar (I imagine) to being run over. I close my eyes, wonder if my skeleton can take it, imagine the pistol-shot crack of fracturing bone.

At the end of the session the muscles in the right shoulder and arm feel blessedly looser. Silent prayers of thanks for the NHS. And for Sheila. We've almost, in a way, become friends. Not quite, the professional relationship takes precedence, as it should.

But I like her, and I'm grateful.


A visit to a National Trust garden last week. I couldn't tear myself away from the spiralling, unfurling ferns. Uncurling. Releasing. Stretching out of themselves.


Dale said...

How lovely to see you! Sounds like you're doing everything right.

I think pretty much everyone has to run their body into the ground a couple times before they take it seriously and start really taking care of it. We're not in a culture that takes body maintenance seriously. (It takes body prettification dead seriously, but not real maintenance.)

mm said...

We're not in a culture that takes body maintenance seriously. (It takes body prettification dead seriously, but not real maintenance.)

Absolutely, Dale. Couldn't agree more.

And I'm glad you are still around these parts .....

Zhoen said...

Amen. Ironically, I think there is nothing more beautiful than a healthy body.

herhimnbryn said...

Keep up with the exercises mm.
Unfurl with the Spring.

Relatively Retiring said...

How good to see you back - and the unfurling photographs are perfect.

Anonymous said...

Delighted to see you again. Stay well!

Jan x

Roberta said...

Thank you for posting such wonderful photos. And good luck with the cow pose. I don't know why I ever stopped going to yoga classes, I think the studio was just too far away and now? It would take forever to gain the lost flexibility.

Sky said...

what a fabulous spring treat to find you here and to learn that you are feeling better. unfortunately, one of the characterisitcs of physical therapy is that it very often hurts before you feel better! i asked my PT massage therapist once when would i ever have the kind of massage other people rave about - the kind that makes you feel soooo good. her response was, "when your body is healed enough that your muscles like being touched and worked deeply!" one of my many muscle weaknesses seems to reside in my quadratus lumborum...right side. yikesssss!

too much computer time is bad for us our bodies do us a favor when they recoil and make us live our lives in real time!

great images here, as always.

mm said...

Zhoen: Me neither.
HHB: Thank you, HHB. I've pushed back up to three sessions a day.
RR: The ferns did seem to mirror my musculature!
Jan: Good to see you.
Roberta: Welcome. Some days I wonder if I will ever regain my former fitness. But I know from experience that with patience (hah!) and care my body can surprise me ....

sky: So good to see you. One of the things I've learned from this episode is that I have to take my body's requirements seriously. Not an optional extra, a necessity.

kate said...

looks like you and the ferns are both listening to the call of spring . . . lovely lovely . . . :)

mm said...

Kate: My favourite season,no question.

Endment said...

The photos are wonderful!
Glad you are getting some help for your body! Sure would like to borrow her now and then:)

So-o-o-o-o glad to see a post!

mm said...

Endment. She is good.

Lovely to see you here.