Friday, August 31, 2012

Learning to Reframe the Message

I am attempting to settle into the new routine that requires me to wear two splints on my arm for an hour at a time, three times a day, to speed up the stretching and healing process. It’s a real stroke of luck that my doctor knew about these miraculous aids, which are called JAS splints.  They work on the principle that slow stretching, where I can control the pain, is better than a rigid splint that requires 6-8 hours of suffering. It’s the “tortoise” approach, which fits my philosophy that this will take as long as it takes but eventually, my right hand will be able to touch my right shoulder.

While I’m sitting in the splints, I’ve been reading a great book by Jill Bolte Taylor, “My Stroke of Insight”.  Jill is a neuro-scientist who had a stroke at age 37 and is now almost fully recovered. She describes her experience in a fascinating, spiritually open hearted way, and it has helped me enormously to shape the way that my mind is perceiving my own pain and challenges. Of course, I am very aware that what she went through was so much more difficult and serious than repairing a broken arm and dislocated elbow.  Still, I am able to use her as a role model, especially in moments when I feel discouraged or negative. 

It’s interesting to see that she supports scientifically how thinking positive and surrounding yourself with people who are encouraging and kind leads to miraculous results.  After re-organizing my life to accommodate wearing the splints for three hours a day, I must say that I was feeling pretty grouchy and resentful.  Yesterday, I found myself dreading having to put on the splint, and I became aware that the stretching is causing more pain than I anticipated, despite the gentler approach.  I asked myself what would Jill Bolte Taylor tell me about dealing with this . This morning, I strapped the wrist splint on as I told myself how lucky I was to be able to have these tools to speed up the recovery. I found something interesting and distracting to listen to on the Internet (Krista Tippett interviewing Roseanne Cash at “On Being”). I consciously relaxed each time I tightened the knob to increase the pressure on my wrist to give me more “supination”.  I stayed in the moment and didn’t let my mind race over all the things that I still have to do today.

Two and a half more hours in the splints still to go. Horses to be brushed, chores to be done, a meeting this afternoon, dinner to cook, and I can’t let all those tasks run over the two sessions that I need to have with my splints.  I’m trying not to think about how I have to do this every single day for who knows how long – maybe months. I’m trying just to congratulate myself for getting it done today and taking time to notice how my elbow and wrist are moving more, even if they are sore. I’ve added pep talks to my daily to-do list.

“ I may not be in total control of what happens in my life, but I certainly am in charge of how I perceive my experience.”
Jill Bolte Taylor


irrationalcat said...

Don't forget - one of the the best lesson our horses teach us is to be in the moment. Put a chair out next to the pasture and sit with them while you do your stretching. :)

Victoria Cummings said...

Sitting with the horses is always a good idea. Thanks for suggesting it. I think I'll do it without the splint though because Silk is so sensitive to me that she would probably be able to feel that it was causing me pain. When I wear the arm brace as I do the barn chores, she comes up to me and rubs her nose against the brace in sympathy.

Simply Marvelous said...

So sorry to read about your injury and all you are going through. Recovery is a frustrating challenge. The good part is that it is "recovery" which means this won't last forever.

Speaking personally, (after one year with a fractured back & knee) it was stress that caused the most pain. I truly believed that was "my forever". I found that time heals everything except my age.

You are doing everything right by surrounding yourself with the positive ... it isn't easy in your situation. I'm sending you cheers for a quick recovery.

Victoria Cummings said...

Marvel - So sorry to learn about your back and knee and I hope that you have healed. It's good to hear from you - how are your husband and your animals?

Grey Horse Matters said...

I love her quote and feel they are words to live by.

You're doing the best you can with what you've got. And it's a plus that your doctor knew about the splints. Even if it is annoying to sit with them for hours just think of all the great books you're getting to read. Or better yet- why don't you start writing one of your own. With your forced sit down time it might be a perfect time to write your memoirs.

Hang in there it will get better. Silk is such a sweetheart.

Oak in the Seed said...

Here is a video of Jill Bolte Taylor you can watch during your next splint session:

Heal well.

billie hinton said...

Sending a big hug and a thank you for the inspiration - the quote and your methods of working through the recovery from your injury. Reframing is one of the most powerful tools we have, I think, and while I am really good at teaching it to clients, I sometimes have to stop and remind my own self about using it. :) It's nice to read the message coming from someone else for a change!

Simply Marvelous said...

Thinking about you, today. Hope each day is better. That is so sweet about the sensitivity and sympathy Silk shows to you. Not surprising. Sending you best thoughts.