January 2, 2012

When I was a young child my mother used to take us to the playground in town. It was in an area with a duck pond and a cricket pitch, an area known as the ‘rec’. I soon discovered that ‘rec’ was short for ‘recreation ground’ and that ‘recreation’ was playtime, but somehow over the years the meaning of the word has become altered, as, I would suggest, has its pronunciation. Surely it should not be pronounced ‘wreck-reation’ but ‘ree-creation’. Maybe as religious devotion began to give way to sport on a Sunday, so the notion of rest and relaxation gave way to the notion of play.

Re-creation is important for body, mind and soul. I’ll leave the soul for another day and when it comes to the mind, I’m sure we’ve all got bogged down with a problem to which we’ve applied our mind and found that the best thing to do is to switch off, leave the problem to one side for a while and go back to it afresh. What we’ve done is given our minds time to re-create our ideas. However it is the body that I’m interested in here.

Traditionally the Sabbath is a day of rest when we allow our bodies (together with mind and soul) to recuperate after a hard week’s work and it is a concept that I very much follow, despite not having a regular nine to five job. Monday to Friday I dedicate the best part of my days to therapy, usually mornings with one of the ladies who work with me and evenings doing my own therapy work, which leaves the afternoons for daily duties with animals, Cheshire Home business or jobs at the kids’ home. Saturdays I work for myself and then Sundays I do my best to keep free for rest and relaxation, socialising and drinking (in moderation of course). I certainly don’t stick religiously to such a timetable and I still don’t always manage to observe the Sabbath as much as I’d like, but the more I pursue Advanced Bio-Mechanical Rehabilitation therapy the more I appreciate the need for re-creation time for the body. It is when I sit down and switch off from the business of my life that I notice the changes occurring in my body. We can spend all week, or more likely weeks, delivering an input into the body without really noticing any effect and then all of a sudden during a day of rest a change will manifest itself. It is worth appreciating here the subtleness of the changes. This is a therapy program that I have been pursuing for many years and although the change over that period has been staggering, the subtle week to week changes are not so much about improved use of the legs as slight increases in volume in a certain area resulting in an incremental reorientation of the elements of the trunk; structural improvements that in due course lead to functional improvements.

Christmas is a time when I enjoy a whole week of re-creation time. With my birthday in between Christmas and New Year I tend to do very little work, if any, and switch off for an entire week. As I am writing this we have now come to the end of that week and it has been very interesting to note the change in my body over that time. Just lately we have been making enormous progress in rebuilding the missing volume to my back and have exposed deep-seated weaknesses in the very core of my trunk. Despite the terrible damage to my spine, for years I had no back ache what so ever, but lately I have been experiencing much aches and pains in my back, particularly on getting out of bed in the morning, as we open the body up and expose the weaknesses. During the last week I have become aware of improvements in the thoracic spine, giving better anchorage of the shoulder blades, resulting in a greater ability to push a wheelchair with true strength coming from the trunk (another small step in an ongoing process). On first noticing this change, I also noticed how delicate this new situation was. The improvements resulting in the change also expose the next level of weakness that has lain buried for years. Without any attempt to exploit this newfound strength I found that I had developed intense aching in my spine, centred around the fourth thoracic vertebrae, which prevented me from turning my head to look over my shoulder and made my whole body quite fragile in pushing a wheelchair. I had to have a day of total rest and recuperation while the weakness, exposed by the improvements in structure, had a chance to get to grips with having to play a role in bodily function after remaining dormant for years. Such a process doesn’t take long and I’m now starting to enjoy this latest stage of improvement and its knock on affect in the continuing welling of life in my legs and this time, for some reason, particularly my ankles.

Getting back to the issue and importance of re-creation time, it is interesting to note how this entire process of change took place during a week when therapeutic input was virtually non-existent. The mechanical input resulting in the change had been put in during the preceding weeks and months. The forces necessary to ‘create’ this change were entered into the system and then during a following period of rest the body ‘re-created’ itself. Obviously it would do us no good to sit around resting week after week and it could be argued that this change would have happened just the same had I embarked upon a full week of therapy rather than a Christmas break, but I would argue that a certain amount of ‘re-creation’ time is of the utmost importance.

With all this in mind I will do my best to observe the Sabbath each week, to take a week’s mid winter break and a week’s summer adventure. The rest of the time I will endeavour to deliver many hours of therapy each week while pursuing a way of life that allows the process of ‘creation’ and ‘re-creation’ to flourish.

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