today we’re working on flexion with me sitting on the edge of the table, john pushing my shin. my body is rebelling, quad tensing in an effort to push back and avoid the pain that comes with working towards greater flexion when you simultaneously have an irritated nerve and hamstring. we take a break for a few seconds.
“i know we were doing these with you lying on your stomach the past few sessions, but i felt you were really uncomfortable that way. your entire body would tense up.”
he’s right – i would literally clutch the table and convulse with pain, silently sobbing. i had assumed it would be better, being completely vulnerable – i would just have to lay there and let him do all the work. but instead i started to panic, fight back. kind of like i’m doing right now.
we start again. i breathe deeply, exhale and relax my quad little by little. suddenly we’re flexed 20 degrees past where we had been two minutes ago. we try again. and again. i’m pressing my palms into the table so hard i’m practically levitating, and my eyes bore holes into the far wall as i breathe breathe breathe dammit, but we keep going.
110 degrees. five less than last week and ten less than we wanted to be at 4 weeks post-op, but nobody predicted i would have hit so many roadblocks. john is thrilled.
“you have a really strong fight or flight response,” he says to me. it’s the only way we can explain the pain i’m having, the fact that, at 2 weeks post-op, my leg inexplicably began to behave as though it were in a massive trauma. my lateral hamstring and gastroc have seized up and inflamed to the point that they’re sensitive even to light touch. if i were one or two days out of surgery this would make sense. but two weeks?
nobody can explain it. it’s as though my body is suddenly panicked and afraid, and it’s reacting in every way imaginable in an attempt to protect itself. we don’t know what triggered such a response – it’s extremely odd that fourteen days after a controlled surgery this would occur. but here we are.
everything i have ever done has been self-protective. my eating disorder kept me from experiencing all of the anger and even hatred i had bottled up. cutting helped keep me grounded, it reminded me that the cookie-cutter china doll of adolescent perfection walking around with her straight As and varsity letters and ivy league acceptance letters had something underneath the veneer, was actually alive.
and here i am now. a medical curiosity with inexplicable pain a month after a routine surgery. an ideal knee surgery candidate because of impressive leg strength and general good physical health, i’m struggling more than 90% of the people who have this procedure.
and the only explanation is that my body is revolting against itself.
my attempts to protect myself have, over and over, backfired. this is no different.