Posts Tagged ‘spinalroots’

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Multi-Layered Creatures

December 1, 2020

I was logging last Friday. I do love a real fire and, since my Rayburn packed up, logs are my only source of heating this winter. I always have the dilemma, though, of finding the balance between enjoying the vibrant, hard working activity of collecting cutting and splitting logs and going easy on my body. My left shoulder is the weakest link and if I work it too hard it will never come good despite the therapy work I put into it. By the time I finished working I was a little concerned, but then all of a sudden, by Friday evening, my body felt fantastic. Any shoulder aches were gone, I felt solid, trim and mobile. It’s not the first time I’ve had such feeling of physical well being. It wasn’t the result of hard work logging, but a phase in the cycle of wave after wave of development as we build up layer upon layer to reconstruct a depleted, collapsed and damaged body.

To explain I’d like to use the onion analogy. If you cut an onion in half you’ll see it has many layers just as our bodies do. However, if the onion is allowed to rot then the layers become lost and the flesh turns to mush. That’s a way of describing one aspect of a body post spinal injury. You become an amorphous mass lacking structure, divisions, connections and layers. As we work on my body we build volume and attachments. When you get to the point in the cycle of a wave where the wave reaches further up the beach, in the incoming tide, then you have that new found form, strength and articulation to a degree not experienced before, at least not since being able bodied. Then the wave recedes.

The wave has to recede and draw back into the main body in order for the next wave to reach even further up the beach. This is the building of a new layer. That outer experience of increased strength and volume becomes lost as it descends deep into the body to become consolidated into another layer. That new layer improving the foundation upon which the next wave of development is based. I say ‘becomes lost’ as that’s literally how it feels. You’ve worked hard to gain that increase in volume or improved articulation and then all of a sudden it’s gone. Volume can disappear overnight, be it volume at the top of the chest, engulfing the collar bones, disappearing to leave the collar bones protruding again or muscular bulk to the legs disappearing to expose the bone once again. This latest wave of development was characterised by a real trimness to the body and improved pelvic articulation. Another recent wave brought greater strength in the head neck junction giving a wonderful sense of uprightness.

The latest wave is receding now with the seeming return of lacking abdominal quality and awareness of the weakness at the lumbar sacral junction. However, the perceived loss isn’t really a loss at all. You never return to where you’ve been, but instead to a state of increased inner development, greater intrinsic capacity and you know that the next wave will bring even more exiting development. As the tide comes in, wave after wave, and the onion is built up, layer upon layer, the body is transformed from mush to the multi layered creature we truly are. Eventually those feelings of strength, volume, trimness, articulation and uprightness will not leave me and my rehab will be complete.

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Lockdown

November 19, 2020

I actually quite like ‘lockdown’; it allows me to devote more time to myself. I miss the pub though. Since my sixteenth birthday I have been a regular in one local pub or another. I’ve known them as social hubs of community; as an extension of my home and a communal living room. Our government seems hell bent on destroying the fabric of our social existence which seems crazy, although possibly what we need. Pubs, like many things in life, are a shadow of their former selves. They may always have been businesses, but lately they have become nothing but businesses with commercial interests and legislation dominating to the point that the essence of the ‘Institution of the Public House’ has been lost. Rudolf Steiner once said, “Mankind always gets what it needs”. We seem to find it hard enough to sense the need for change let alone know how to bring it about, so it inevitably gets forced upon us.

Queens Head, Dorking – My first local

Lockdown affords us an opportunity to reassess, reset and even reinvent our lives for the better. I’m not changing a great deal, but I am considering what is important and making adjustments. I’m also taking the opportunity to focus more on the work of healing my body. It’s a life of dedication I have pursued for twenty years and it makes a change not to have the usual distractions. More importantly I’m thinking about how our society is changing. The National Health Service is becoming more and more incapable of supporting the nations health, despite their phenomenal ability to deal with accidents and emergencies. It must be reinvented.The work I am involved in is showing that hands on techniques, based on the bio-mechanics of the body can be used to treat spinal injury, cerebral palsy and other serious neurological conditions that the establishment regard as permanent and incurable.

This work has many more applications. Currently there is an ever increasing trend to replace so called ‘worn out’ body parts such as hips and knees, an approach that views the body as a machine whose parts can be replaced rather than a living entity with disease that needs addressing. If our work is embraced diseased hips and knees will be treated and returned to balance.

Fellow paraplegics would be wise to take up this work to find their own ability to improve their bodies rather than relying on a crumbling service. Technology can definitely be utilised, from the properties of modern polymers used to deliver a kinetic input into the body, all the way to the possibility of using an exoskeleton to retrain the rebuilt structure of the body. However we should not fall into the trap of believing that science will come up with the miracle cure. There are no miracle cures just steps in the right direction. Bio-mechanical rehabilitation techniques give all of us the tools we need to take care of our own health.

Change is exciting, especially when your work is waiting in the wings ready to rise to the fore once society, with a new attitude, is ready to embrace a more balanced approach. The current fear of a virus is accelerating the pace of change, so let’s hope for real evolution. Let us also hope that we can reinvent our Public Houses, in a manner befitting the dawn of a new era, before they all fall victim to bankruptcy.

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Chance or Fate

October 29, 2020

I was friends with a guy called Ziggy who lived in the main house at the Cheshire Home. He was severely disabled with cerebral palsy. One day he was going to have some hyperbaric oxygen treatment at a centre in East Grinstead and I was asked if I would go along to hold his hand in the chamber. The treatment is to breathe oxygen under pressure in a compression chamber, the sort that divers use when they get the bends; the idea being that the oxygen then manages to penetrate parts of the brain normally not accessed, encouraging rejuvenation of damaged tissue. While I was there, the woman running the centre talked me into having a course of treatment myself. I wasn’t that interested, but was intrigued by the Russian gentleman working there and wanted to know what he was up to.

I spent an hour a day for a week sitting in the chamber with only a port hole in the door to see out of. Through that I watched Leonid Blyum, the Russian gentleman, teaching a group of mothers to work upon their young children, all of whom had cerebral palsy. The children were lying on benches with their bodies wedged with towels so they were firmly supported. More towels were then carefully folded and laid on the child one by one in a specific construction. The mother used the palm of her hand to slowly compress this construction, followed by a release of the compression, repeating the motion over and over again. The towels were obviously being used as an air cushion designed in such a way as to deliver a mechanical input into the body.

Every now and then everyone would stop while Leonid gave an explanation. I couldn’t hear what was being said, from inside the chamber, but he used a flip pad to draw diagrams that made sense. I realised he had knowledge that went beyond that of the medical establishment and I knew then that I had to team up with him. None of his clients had spinal injury although all had serious physical disability from neurological conditions. He examined my body, asked me some questions, told me I’d have to find someone to work on me and agreed to take me on.

I’ve always lived life my own way, never been good at being told what to do and never blindly followed anyone. After meeting Leonid I was having a drink with some old mates and told them about the therapy program I was embarking upon. My good friend Wayne, who knows me well, said to me, “Do you mean to tell me you’re going to let someone tell you what to do?” “Yes”, I replied. “I don’t believe you”, was Wayne’s response. There was only so much I understood when I started, but I grasped enough straight away not to be blindly following and I wasn’t so much being told what to do as ‘trusting Leonid to guide me’. That was the start of not only my true rehabilitation, but also a journey of discovery into a higher understanding of health.

In Memory of Ziggy

Without my dear friend Ziggy, who’s sadly no longer with us, I may never have met Leonid Blyum. Was it chance or was it fate fulfilling my destiny?

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Switches

October 22, 2020

Breaking your back is a ‘head f**k’. There’s no two ways about that. One guy I was in hospital with was larking around on a bicycle late one evening. He fell off, like he’d probably done a thousand times, and yet this time he broke his neck. I’ve never known anyone deal with it so well. He seemed to accept his ill fate without question. Another guy jumped over a wall running away from the Police only to find out there was a quarry the other side that he fell into (or so the story goes). He broke his back, a similar injury to mine, and I watched his skeletal framework crumble before my eyes, his body becoming more and more hunched over as he slouched in a wheelchair. That’s what depression can do to you!

An ex squaddie, who drinks in my local pub, knows of the struggles that wounded soldiers go through. The mental struggles more than the physical. He asked me ‘What the switch was for me?’ He sees me happy and cheerful and doing well with my physical stature, and he’s looked at my website and film (www.spinalroots.uk) and appreciates the work I’ve done to heal my body. He understands that I couldn’t have achieved what I have without first getting my head around what had happened. I’d never thought of there being a switch so I simply replied that, ‘I get up each day and do what I can to take life forward’. Isn’t that what we all do?

Reflecting on this, later, I realised there were lots of switches. In my last blog post, ‘Years of Practice’, I talked about a previous accident. Managing to overcome that and turn my life around was the first switch that held me in good stead. I was used to living with injury which made it easier to deal with something more catastrophic. On top of that living with damaged legs was a struggle that largely went unrecognised and yet when I became paraplegic, society seemed to want to bend over backwards to help. It was soothing to experience a compassionate side to life.

Good fortune and fate have played their part. Rather than wait for the authorities to find me somewhere suitable to live I took it upon myself and came across a beautiful place in Brockham, my favourite village around my home town. An annexe to a bungalow where my landlord and lady lived with a little smallholding in the garden. Right up my street! A couple of years later I came across the Lodge at Heatherley Cheshire Home; a run down old cottage with a large garden and unkempt field beyond. Here I found the opportunity to create my own smallholding and to offer my skills to a community of disabled people. Following my dreams and pursuing a thirst for life was seeing me on my way.

Heatherley Lodge – Always at home with a good project

Then one day I bumped into Leonid Blyum who was working nearby in East Grinstead. From that day my rehabilitation entered a whole new realm, and that’s another story.