Thursday, September 27, 2012

Learning to Fly Again

The watchword for me right now is “perseverance”.  I’ve been wrestling with abscesses in three of Siete’s hooves for the last three weeks. I’m making very slow progress in bending my right elbow, even though I’m spending three hours a day in my splints and doing exercises to stretch and strengthen my arm.  Everything for too long has felt like it’s hanging on and on with no signs that things are on the road back to “okay”.
The vet and farrier have both been out again and again to try to drain Siete’s abscesses. We are down to one very tenacious trouble spot in her front left hoof.  She is so patient as I struggle awkwardly with cleaning her feet and squirting Banamine in her mouth. The farrier told me to leave off the hoof boot and Animalintex, but that made things worse. Following my instincts, I soaked her foot in warm water and Epsom salts and then used a stinky poultice called Hawthorn’s Sole Pack. We’re not out of the woods yet but she’s standing on all four feet with equal weight and walking without limping today.
I went to the doctor this week, expecting that he would praise me for the improvement in my arm, but he was most discouraging. He keeps talking about doing a “manipulation”, where he would knock me out and bend the elbow for me. It’s risky because it would break up the scar tissue but might also do other damage. He doesn’t know if I will be able to get the mobility back on my own, he says. There was a young woman resident observing as he examined me, and while he left the room briefly, she complimented me on my positive attitude. Then, she pointed to my right arm, which was resting on my leg as I sat on the examining table. “Why do you hold it like it’s a wounded bird?” she asked. I left the doctor’s office annoyed and depressed.
Yesterday, at my physical therapy session, my new therapist gave me good advice. She wants me to stay focused on what I’m doing and not have any kind of “manipulation”. Since she’s been doing this work for about 30 years and tells me that the elbow takes the longest to heal, I’m going to trust her. She thinks six months to a year is a realistic estimate for my recovery, and we’re at three months now. So she wants me to keep working on it and have faith.
I was driving home and as I stopped at a stoplight in an area of strip mall shopping centers, a red tailed hawk suddenly flew very close over the hood of my car and landed on the small patch of grass next to me. It really startled me, and I wondered if the bird was injured. Then, I recalled the young resident’s remark and thought that yes, I am like a wounded bird. Of course I’m protective of my arm! One of my wings is damaged and I can’t fly.
           When this accident happened and I had my surgery, I bought myself a present. It’s a necklace that I wear every day. On one side of the square pendent is an old illustration of a robin flying. On the other side are these words from the pages of an old book: ”She went out on a limb, had it break off behind her, and realized she could fly.” So, I guess I just have to learn to fly again.
When I got home,I looked up what it means when a hawk comes into your life. They are symbols of protection. The Pueblo Indians use red hawk energy and feathers in healing ceremonies. “The red tail can spread its wings to a great width, and it can teach you to use your creative energies the same way. It can extend your vision of life”, Ted Andrews explains in Animal Speak.
           As I sat in my splint this morning, with my sore arm encumbered by this contraption that forces my elbow to bend further, I imagined doing what I once could do, and what I plan to be able to do again. I saw myself stretching my arms out and waving them up and down gracefully like wings as Siete runs in big circles around me in the pasture.

Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.


P.S.  I saw this quote that my friend, Mary Muncil, posted on her blog, "White Feather Farm", and it spoke to what I have been feeling:  "Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly." Richard Bach


Máire said...

I really feel for you over your elbow. At least you are having some progress with Siete. Sometimes life can be a real struggle. A few years ago I tore a couple of tendons in my shoulder. A nasty rotator cuff injury and was told I would need surgery. It took over a year and, without surgery, but with physio and exercises, I have full movement back again. Listen to your body and your instincts, as you do so well.

I love the symbolism and the poem.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks - It helps so much to hear about how others have healed from similar injuries. I can imagine how painful your injury must have been! So full movement is a real victory. Gives me hope!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Don't give up and get surgery for manipulation. I'm sure with your therapy and a good mind set you will be able to heal yourself. Things like this take time and you have a positive attitude. It sort of reminds me about dealing with horses. The words we live by are : it takes as long as it takes there are no shortcuts. I believe doctors are always too ready to "do something" instead of giving the body time to heal itself.

The hawk may have been sent to let you know things are moving along and you are protected until you can fly again. Lovely poem.

Glad Siete is starting to feel better and her troubles are almost gone.

Victoria Cummings said...

"It takes as long as it takes - there are no shortcuts" - thanks, I really like that - it will be my mantra.

C-ingspots said...

I hope you stick with the therapist's advice and give your body the time that it needs to heal naturally. The work that you're doing is helping, and you'll be back when the time is right. It really is a beautiful analogy of learning to fly again...why would you want to use "force" or manipulation? That route in life always seems to backfire, and usually ends up just being wrong. Interesting that you got that necklace, had the encounter with the hawk, and that gal's comment to you...listen to your heart and don't allow your impatience or frustration over the situation to alter the path you know is working. I'm not a very patient person myself, so I understand your irritation. I would feel like that, probably worse, but you'll be back. I've found 2 red tail hawk feathers recently, and wondered if I needed to heed some message myself; and then the other evening at dusk, a huge and beautiful brown owl flew right over me and looked right at me. He was amazing, and his gaze was so direct that I was a little startled, but it was so cool. I read about Owl Medicine in my book. Would be interesting to hear what your book says about encounters with owls. I'm going to see what my book says about RT Hawks too. So interesting and fun!
Be well, and stay true to your intuition. :)

Annette said...

A couple years ago, I tore a ligament in my elbow. The surgeon recommended PT but said he would do surgery if I wanted. I choose the PT route. It took a year, which is a long time, but it did heal. I'm still careful of using that arm to carry heavy things since it isn't as strong as the other but, in general, it functions as well as it ever did with no more pain. I'd give your elbow some more time. They do take FOREVER.

Victoria Cummings said...

I love your bird encounters and really appreciate your encouragement! What is your book of reference? There's a long chapter about owls in "Animal Speak". They are a symbol of the feminine- called cats with wings. They also represent fertility and one who uses "owl medicine"is able to see and hear what others try to hide. I love owls and have some barn owl feathers. I wish I could find a red tailed hawk feather- lucky you!

Victoria Cummings said...

Good- thanks Annette - I need to hear these success stories! How are you feeling?

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

The therapists' advice sounds reasonable to me. And the universe appears to be giving you some hints as well!

Glad to hear Siete is on the mend.

I found a red tailed hawk tail feather this week. :D

Victoria Cummings said...

Maybe if I send it out that I'd like a red tailed hawk feather, I'll get a gift from the universe too.

Oak in the Seed said...

I am sorry for the long frustration and lack of understanding about your healing process from the medical community. They are trained to do and they do it, some better than others. Glad your physical therapist sees through the "express" version of healing to the slower one that your body is managing well enough.

You have your own innate wisdom and as I read this post, it came through. Bodies take longer than we expect, or want, to heal. But the spirit knows how to get there and how.

juliette said...

Continued good thoughts and prayers to you and Siete from here. Healing takes time, but I like to think that longer is better - don't skip steps in anything. Thorough healing does the job correctly. If only we didn't have calendars and clocks (and abscesses to clean with a bum arm!) but you are tenacious and you can do this!

Victoria Cummings said...

Diane - thanks. I do think that while I have a very skilled doctor, he is also eager to wrap this up asap. I have to listen to what my body is telling me. I'm doing what I need to do with the splints and exercises,so I have to be patient. It will take as long as it takes.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks Juliette!

billie said...

Here's to flying very soon for you and for Siete!

I would agree with your physical therapist - having had tendonitis in the elbow since spring, far less trauma than a break, I can tell you it has taken this long to heal, and I still get twinges on days when I do a lot of work using my right arm.

I think our culture wants things fast and intervention is viewed as facilitating that - often enough in my experience the interventions can create other issues.

One note about abscesses - I have been told that using NSAIDs for pain can actually slow the healing of abscesses. I've found with Salina that it usually progresses most quickly when I do the Animalintex treatment along with the two homeopathic remedies that work for her. Not sure with three hooves affected how things would be - big hugs to Siete for living through that!!

Victoria Cummings said...

Billie - I appreciate your encouragement. That's interesting about the NSAIDs and abscesses. But you're right, with all three feet sore, there wasn't much choice. I had to help Siete keep standing. Luckily, the back hooves were fine when Johnny drained the abscesses. It's the front hoof that worries me - very hard to clear that one up. And now, it's pouring rain and muddy again. What kind of homeopathic treatment do you use for Salina when she has them? I love Animalintex, but this new poultice from Hawthorne's is also great. It has ichthamol and you can really shove it into the holes after the farrier opens things up. I never thought I'd become so well-versed in abscesses!

C-ingspots said...

Victoria, I meant to bring my book with me today, but forgot. I think it's just called "Animal Medicine Cards". The set includes a book with a full explanation of each card, and the set of cards themselves. Owl medicine is fairly lengthy, but has to do with intuition and deception. The owl sees that which others cannot, and cannot be deceived, but can see through people's deception. It's very interesting to read. So sorry to hear about all the abscesses you've been dealing with. Hope Siete continues to heal, as well as you.

Wolfie said...

First, I can't imagine how worried you have been with Siete's abscesses. Second, my husband has suffered through 6 months of physio, cortisone shots and shock wave therapy for the torn ligaments in his elbow. Elbows are very hard to heal! It takes time. Don't be discouraged. Doctors can be so impersonal and cold - they look at you in parts, not necessarily as a whole. That red-tailed hawk was sending you a message for sure. You will be "flying" before you know it. Sending positive thoughts your way!

Victoria Cummings said...

Lorie - Thanks - I've seen that book and medicine cards. I'll have to check them out!

Victoria Cummings said...

Wolfie - Torn ligaments in the elbow are sort of the same boat I'm in. I hope your husband is doing better.I'm so grateful to have these JAS splints so I can keep up the PT at home every day.

Strawberry Lane said...

So sorry for what you are going through. I can only say that healing is a slow process. Doctor's are inclined to do what they do. Sometimes, their ideas have not always helped or advanced the recovery progress, even, at times, made things worse.

You are blessed with a strong belief in what is right for you, as well as your positive outlook. I'd stick with that plan.

It seems nature is giving you messages. You will fly again!

Hugs to you and Siete.

whitehorsepilgrim said...

It's a while since I visited. I'm so sorry that you have suffered an injury. I do hope that you heal soon. I remember from a nasty shoulder dislocation that recovery seemed to take ages but that one day to my surprise and relief I realised that a corner had been turned.

The trimmer who looks after my mare commented that with the strange weather horses around the world have suffered sounness issues, abscesses, etc. She was talking about Europe, the US and Australia. Her only advice was that quality feed balancers seem to help. Otherwise it was all terribly frustrating. I hope that Siete gets better soon.

Victoria Cummings said...

Hello Julian! Good to hear from you, and yes, there does seem to be crazy weather all over the world. We're going to have a frost tonight, but hopefully we won't have another October snowstorm like last year. I'm glad to read your encouragement - hopefully, I'll be turning that corner on the mend soon too.