Thursday, July 31, 2014

on healing

Six months ago, I hurt my knee.  Notice that is not the passive voice.  What happened was, my knee got kicked by a horse.  Hard.  It hurt.  A lot.  It hurt so much that my first thought was, "I wonder if my leg is still attached."  Try to imagine a kick that would detach your leg from your body and that's what it felt like.  I don't think at that point it even actually hurt that badly yet -- I just knew I was in big trouble.  When I crawled to the door of the stall and used it to pull myself off the ground, I thought "When I put my foot on the ground, I'll know if something is broken or if it is dislocated."  It wasn't.  I hobbled to the nearest padded trunk, lay down forward on it, held my face in my hands and moaned.  I experimented with moaning -- would it hurt less if I moaned more loudly?  Softer?  Nothing?  Oh there is an ice pack in the fridge, got get that -- although I had to pull my pants down to put the ice pack on.  I sat there in the barn, in my underwear with my jeans around my andles and an ice pack on my knee IN JANUARY wondering how badly I'd just done myself in.  My knee started turning blue on the side opposite where it had been kicked.  How bad?  How bad?  With the voice of my grandfather telling my three year old self, "If you get kicked, bit or stepped on, it's your own fault."

It was also in that moment that I started healing.  I'm not much for all this healing sh*t because most of the time when someone is all "healing" over something, it is some made up trauma anyway.  And sure, a made up trauma is just as traumatic as a real one but healing doesn't happen in any way other than by doing.  And sometimes it doesn't happen anyway.  Or doesn't completely.  But by doing, you increase your chances.  For me, for my knee, doing was pretty literally walking.  I didn't miss a day of work although I did arrange to have help.  It was at least a week before I could walk the horses in and out from turnout.  At first I coudn't carry water buckets at all, then I had to carry two so I'd be balanced.  It was a week before I got on a horse, a month before it didn't hurt to get on a horse, two months before it didn't hurt to get off a horse.  I still get off kind of carefully.  For the longest time steps and stairs were a particular challenge.  Sometimes it still hurts when I sleep.

But every time I came to a set of stairs in my life, I was grateful.  And life presented me with appropriate stairs -- the mild library ones to begin with, the grand prix level TB stairs when healing was way far along.  I may have hobbled some, but every day I tried to hobble straighter, to hobble less.  When out in public I see that one difference between old people and young people is waddling -- do not waddle I remind myself.  It is those things I think that most determine who heals and who doesn't:  gratefulness for challenges and willingness to try.  Not that there doesn't come a time for all of us that we have to find the grace to deal with some limitations.  But so many seem to revel in their limitations -- magnify them -- cherish them.

I had another advantage in that I did not have medical intervention.  No workmen's comp when you are a contract worker.  No insurance when you are poor.  So I had no imaging.  I didn't and don't know what is wrong with it.  This is not an argument against medical care, but it IS an argument against too much medical care and too much intervention.  Medicine does not know better than nature how to heal a body and many times interferes with healing.  I just ask it to heal by keeping it comfortable and stressing it regularly.  I'm still doint that although TWISTER (the game) was a bad idea for other, additional, reasons.

Listening is hard.  That is why people pray instead of meditate.  But our bodies will tell us.

How to heal.

And eventually how to die.

I think the trick is to heal all we can, and when we can't, to still do what we can and learn the happiness in that.  You get what you pay attention to.

Or as our eldest used to say when he was a very little boy trying to play pool:

f-o-c-u-s, f-o-c-u-s, SHOOT!

And really, it is healed.  My guess is that in a year that healing will be complete.  If I stress it enough.


Teri said...

I had an injury like that to my knee. It happened on the worst day of my life. I was loading up cat food in the back of my car. It was a bit icy and I happened to be right where the paved area went to gravel. My feet went out from under me and I landed hard, on my right knee. I managed to get into the car and headed for home. The goats were all staked out and my husband had been ill. I had to walk up the hill and get them back into the barn. I cried a lot and my knee was painful and stiff.

That night, it dawned on me, as I listened to my husband breathing, that he had pneumonia. I convinced him to get into the car and drove an hour to the emergency room. It was really the last conversation we had. He was put on a ventilator, went into a coma and died two weeks later. The knee still bothers me and I don't have any idea what I did to it.

Sometimes, we do just have to heal. Sometimes, we just deal with the arthritic joints and keep on doing the things we want to do. I'm glad that you've been able to keep going and don't hold it against horses!

CG said...

Wow. That is a REALLY bad day. You know, I should have also posted a favorite song/video of mine, Sam Baker's "Broken Fingers". "Some things don't heal," he says, and "of course I know." Because humans, and LIFE, has an incredible propensity to heal, and an equal one to die.

What I don't see a lot in nature is things living in the middle in misery. They get better or they die. Not to say that they don't live with the scars. We once had a goat who was attacked by dogs, almost died, and the scar tissue at his neck made him hold his head oddly all his life. We recently had a goat come down with some neurological goat thing that goats are prone to. He didn't die right away (unusual), and in fact got better. I thought, oh, he's going to be one of those "special" animals who lives but is always a little different and he's welcome to live out his life here -- or if he gets well enough, we'll eat him. Nope, he died.

If there is one thing about the Steward/Ward race killing video, it is how quickly it can go. And you don't know (as your situation so clearly and sadly illustrates) the moment your life changes most of the time. Not until later.

My best to you.

Teri said...

And the thing of it is, sometimes there's a reason for all of it. It's just not obvious at the time :)

I like to think of it as life force. Some of us are real fighters and some just give in. You're doing the things I did for my knee. It only bothers me part of the time.

SheilaG said...

I loved this message, and I really needed to read it.
Thank you!