Fascia, passages and epiphanies (Or, I didn’t want to bite my therapist’s hand off today!)

So I’m back on track with physiotherapy, due to a rather irritating combination of lymphedema and some ulnar nerve compression. Since last year, my therapist has been working on getting my fascia moving again. Five surgeries on the left side of my body have left me feeling stuck, a feeling that is very difficult to explain. Needless to say, the skin on the left side of my torso moved about as much as the veneer on the dining room table in front of me about a year ago. Before walking into my first physio appointment I had kind of landed in a very accepting/complacent/resigned place. I just figured I would always hurt. That this was simply the new me, and there was not much to be done about it.

I’ll never forget my first appointment with the therapist affectionately referred to as ‘The Body Whisperer’. After respectfully asking all sorts of assurances from me about what he was going to have to do in order to properly assess me, he placed his hands on my stomach. Knew, through a gown, that I had had C-sections. That the right side was tighter than the left (which makes sense because although you’d think the surgeon would follow the scar made the first time around in an emergency section on round two, this isn’t a given, and sometimes you end up with a fork-shaped scar instead of a nice straight line). I was rather impressed at this point, and realized my body was being read. I trusted him immediately. So you can imagine the relief I felt when he put his hands on my chest and said ‘Oh, you’re so stuck.’ YES. (Inner voice yelling THANK YOU. PLEASE HELP., tears rolling down the sides of my face because I realized someone might actually be able to do something.)

Over the next few months, I gradually went from using door frames to ease the pain between my shoulder blades and rolling tennis balls under my back laying on the floor to realizing that I hadn’t pushed back against a door frame in a couple of days. A week. Things were loosening up.

Then summer happened. And, well, I really like summer. So physio got put on hold, and road trips were had. Lots of them. And flights were taken. Many of them – milk runs and all. Also, a pretty spectacular sunburn was had as a result of some very poor judgement at a water park in Maine.

Word to the wise: if you are at risk of lymphedema, and you get a sunburn, and it blisters, do NOT pop said blisters, no matter how compelling they may seem. Do NOT mess with that fluid balance and then hop on three short term flights back-to-back. Because believe me. You don’t want to be stuck wearing a compression sleeve, or better yet a compression sleeve combined with an isotoner compression glove. That’s just too much beige. Trust me. I know.

I know. Stop. It's too sexy. I can't seem to find the glove. I may have (purposely) misplaced it.

I know. Stop. It’s too sexy. I can’t seem to find the glove. I may have (purposely) misplaced it.

So, back to physio. When the discomfort in my forearm got too harsh to ignore, and my arm started to visibly swell, and feel hard to the touch, I went in to get checked out. You remember – that ‘is it infection, a blood clot, cancer or lymphedema?’ appointment. It turns out it’s not as simple as lymphedema. Basically things aren’t flowing properly because of a combination of reasons, one of which is that the space between my shoulder and my ribcage is considerably smaller than it is on the right side, and space needs to be made. I’ve been walking around like a crazy person with a question for weeks now, hand straight up in the air, applying pressure to a specific spot on my elbow in order to feel the reward of pins and needles in my hand and release some of the pressure in my hand and arm. There is also a painful load of scar tissue around my lymph node removal incision site that is hindering flow.

This area has always been particularly sensitive. My body slams into fight mode every time my physio’s hands go anywhere near my armpit. I prepare myself mentally for the exercises that require this before I go into his office, and still I have flinched, startled, jumped, convinced myself to stay on the table rather than jumping off or better yet fought-off-urges-to-snarl-and-bite-his-hand-off. It took me months to be able to graze my own hand over that scar. I guess 17 lymph nodes is a lot of lymph nodes.

Well. Something really interesting happened today, or I guess it would be more appropriate to say something really interesting didn’t happen today. It was a very quiet session – usually we geek out and talk French grammar together – I commented on the vibe around the place when I went into the office. So when I spoke it broke the silence.

Me: Well. That was interesting. (Whoa…wait – what??)

Him: What was interesting?

Me: That was the first time since the first time I came to you that I didn’t have to fight off the urge to (see above). I usually do. (!!)

He answered by telling me he felt a change too, like there is movement happening. My right side then responded by buzzing a little, toe to shoulder, as if in response to my left side finally sending something its way.

It’s coming. I am less stuck. Some passages are opening up again.

All the yay!

A special place I visited a few weeks ago. Moving water must encourage my body to open up. I'd best keep up my river walking!

A special place I revisited a few weeks ago. Moving water must encourage my body to open up. I’d best keep up my river walking!

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