Kick, growl and punch with tears of joy in my eyes

The music is blaring, the sweat is flying and I am kicking, punching and jabbing in my Tai Fit class at the local gym.  I have tears of joy in my eyes is because for me this is a dream come true. I had watched a group do this when I was desperately trying to just get my leg to move out even just an inch. I would stand up holding onto something and try to get the damaged leg to move out from the ankle. I couldn’t get my leg to move because the muscles had atrophied so badly. I watched these people and thought if all I had to do was get in shape like a normal person I would be so grateful. If I could ever do a class like that it would be such a miracle. I had been in pain for six years during which time I’d had two hip replacements. The first one didn’t work right and had to be redone after two years of trying to walk without pain and without a limp. In fact that had been my health goal for over six years, to walk without pain or a limp. And now here I am in my sixties kicking ass. I love this particular instructor because he growls a lot and really, really loves what he does. He’s a fierce looking Maori guy with tatoos, “Come on, grrrrrrr this isn’t some step class, move it!!” he jumps down into the group all covered in sweat and punches around people. I think he thinks I’m crazy because I usually have this big grin on my face. But I’m punching, I’m kicking, I’m loving it.

I had a strepacoccus bacteria eat away the cartilage in my right hip joint several years ago.  The little bastards, I didn’t know they even did things like that. It’s rare, it’s painful but it happens and it happened to me. I went from stress junkie career chick to wheelchair overnight.  It got misdiagnosed, it was a nightmare and I ended up with no cartilage in my right hip which is a really painful situation. I didn’t want to have a hip replacement right away for a couple of reasons. I was only in my late forties and hip replacements were known to only last about 10 years and then you had to get a new one. You can only get so many because the bones cannot take the grinding and drilling required to fit in the prothesis. So eventually I’d end up back in a wheelchair. The other reason is because I wanted to try to regrow the cartilage myself. I thought this would be possible because I had regrown cartilage in my spine after a car wreck  in my twenties. The wreck had left me with a compressed fracture of my lower vertebrae. I had to lay completely flat in a hospital for 30 days and then wear a brace for 3 months but the cartilage grew and replaced where the bone had been. So why not in my hip? The doctor didn’t think it was possible but a Chinese acupuncturist said it was. I tried a lot of things to try and make it happen but it didn’t work. Maybe I could have done more but in the end I was getting bone spurs as well and the pain was just too stupid. I hate taking pharmaceutical drugs like Voltarin for pain.

This is a picture of a new hip socket next to a giant piece of my flesh. I have very red meat in my body. To reward myself for getting the surgery I bought a new digital camera and asked the anaesthiologist to take pictures during the surgery. Evidently they are only busy at the beginning and end of the surgery.

People think that once you get the hip replacement that everything will be normal but that’s not always the case. Even if the replacements work, and the vast majority do, you still have the patterns of movement and memory of pain in your body. I used a lot of things to retrain my body so that I do now walk straight and without a limp. I wanted to be able to do everything again as if It had never happened. I had a good friend who was training to be a Feldenkrais instructor. He had to do a lot of practice sessions on people for free or donation. Feldenkrais is a very subtle and powerful method for retraining the body and overcoming painful patterns. So I had lots and lots of wonderful sessions. Thank you David. I also did a lot of one on one Pilates sessions with those weird pullies and beds they use. I have this memory stuck in my head of laying on my side with the Pilates person helping me to get my leg to raise up. I just could not will it to move, then she moved it herself several times. Eventually it woke up and I could raise it the littlest bit. That was the light at the end of the tunnel. There was hope. It could happen.

Then there was the pain memory in my body. I wanted to be able to ride my bike. I love riding a bike. Riding the bike wasn’t the problem. The problem was that raising my leg to get onto or off of the bike had been really painful before. So even once there was no pain my hip still didn’t want to do the motion. It also didn’t want to stretch out to leap across a puddle or climb up onto a ledge. I used one of my all time most favorite tools for this. It’s called EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique. It’s one of those powerful things that’s really easy to make fun of but works. It involves tapping on points on acupuncture meridians while you repeat what it is you are changing. You start with an affirmation, “Even though I’m afraid of pain when I lift my leg, I love and approve of myself.” then while you tap the points you say, “Afraid of pain'” tap, tap, tap, “Afraid of pain”, tap, tap, tap. It usually takes a few times and it’s best to do it in the moment when the fear is happening so you are motivated to change. So yes I do these things in public standing next to my bike. Healing ourselves is serious work and you can’t let worrying about what people think stop you. I just realized that if I hadn’t worked on lifting my leg so I could get on and off my bike without thinking about it I probably wouldn’t be able to do Tai Fit now. Or I would have to stop and Tap in the class. Then I’d have a tatooed, sweaty, growling guy giving me the hard look. Glad I got that sorted first.

Burping contests and probiotics

My Father taught me how to burp really, really, loudly. We used to have burping contests. Not the usual training for a little girl but heaps of fun. The good and bad news of this is that I can out burp just about any man or woman but I sometimes burp really loudly even when I don’t intend to. Recently it happened in a quiet art gallery with my wonderful partner. He was not pleased. Because I’ve done it so unconsciously for so long I have allowed myself to think that other people don’t hear it. It happens in public places. So my darling has developed the practice of saying quite loudly “Heard that!” if I burp loudly. It’s been an eyeopener for me. “Really you could hear that?” I say. “My ears are still ringing and the dogs have started barking” He says. I can see that I need to modify this behavior. Relationships are so good for pointing these things out.

Because I love reading about and studying health I know that gut health is super important. I’ve worked long and hard to recover my health and getting my gut health back has been an important part of the journey. Lately I’ve learned even more about it and I’m thinking that if I take it to the next level and have a super duper thriving healthy good bacteria rich gut I won’t even need to ever burp. Maybe just occasionally in a ‘ladylike manner’ covering my lips with my hand and demurely apologizing.

I work with a company called Mannatech that makes powerful, natural, plant based supplements. They have a great powdered pro and pre biotic called Gi-Pro. From working with them I’ve learned that 80% of your immune system is in your gut. From my own experience with having to take massive antibiotics which destroy your gut health I’ve noticed myself that when your gut health is poor it also affects your brain functionality. I had bad ‘brain fog’ before. I would tell people “If you don’t see me write it down it doesn’t exist”. I was talking about appointments not reality in general. Strong antioxidants helped my brain as well but gut health is super important for some reason for brain health.

Another way to get lots of healthy bacteria in your gut is to make or buy cultured vegetables. According to The Westen Price Foundation all healthy indigenous people had pickled or preserved vegetables of some description. Kimchi from Korea and sauerkraut are a couple of classic versions of this. A couple of weekends ago I went to a workshop where we learned to make our own cultured vegetables. The smell is a bit overwhelming so I wanted to do this while my darling was away on work. Basically you chop up a bunch of fresh, organic if possible, veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, onions, carrots, etc. Stuff them in a big glass jar that can have a loose fitting lid. Put in a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of some form of sugar for the little probiotics to feed on and fill with water above the level of veggies. We used a capsule of a probiotic mixed with the water. Then sit it somewhere and wait a week or so. Google ‘cultured vegetables’ or ‘fermented vegetables’ and you will find a world of opinion and advice on how to do this. It’s an active, growing, lively community just like you want your gut to have!

My veggies are all cultured now and safe in the fridge. I’m eating my recommended 1/4 cup with every meal and I think I may be burping less. The test will be when my darling comes home. Will he notice less burping or that there is a smell of fermented cabbage in the house?

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Okay I’ll write and make it public.

When things happen in threes I think it’s important to pay attention.  Within the last few days three people have asked me when I was going to either write a book or a blog. The last person, who is a wonderful person that I admire, gave me a deadline and silly thing that I am, I agreed. So I had to start this blog by tonight. People say bad things happen in threes but I always think that if you stop and pay attention and refocus yourself in a positive way after the first thing, that the next bad things won’t happen. At least not right away. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. Stuff happens. It’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you respond. That’s what someone else who HAD written a book said. I think they are right.

I had a challenging upbringing. I had a difficult childhood. I was fortunate enough to be raised in an “outside the square” kind of family. I was taught that it didn’t matter what other people thought about you. This was a handy thing to tell your child if you weren’t going to take very good care of them in the traditional way.

I’m old enough to have used carbon paper and typewriters. I remember when suitcases didn’t have wheels on them. So when I first started looking for ‘self help’ books all of them seemed to be written about overcoming the domineering father or breaking out of the rigid childhood. But my father was a softy and my Mother had never grown up herself. There were very few rules in my family. Throwing food at the dinner table was not supposed to happen. But there was a splotchy mark on the wall that showed that that rule had been broken at least once. By the time I was eight I had decided that the people in charge of me, my parents, were making consistently bad decisions and that I was going to have to raise myself. Now I’m in my sixties and continuing the process. Currently I’m using several different methods and techniques to become the best version of me that is possible. So that’s a lot of what I plan to write about. There’s some great stuff available now for changing your life.  One of my current favorites is all about living in the question.  How’s it get any better than this and what else is possible? You can ask it when bad or good stuff happens. Because like I said before, ‘Stuff happens’.