Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

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Acupressure and Alternate Advice

I really think mornings are the best time for doing anything. The apartment quiet and empty, that frail early-winter sunlight shimmerly dully off the polished surfaces of my one-room living area, and my mind open from a night of easy dreaming. It's the perfect time to work. Past noon, my mind begins to wander, perhaps from the coffee, perhaps from the bustle outside, or the incessant ringing of emails coming in.

I spent a lot of time walking yesterday in my sexy shoe. It was exhausting and left my whole body sore. But it was worth it to eat dim sum with new friends, explore the Chinese market, poke around at REI and then cap it all off by getting to see Megan perform aerial dance. She was amazing! At Duke I always felt that she of all people had somehow worked out how to be both an amazing environmental management student and also be pursuing her love for dance. Duke students really do burn the candles from both ends, and sometimes the middle too, but I think it's worth it for the full, amazing lives we learn to lead.

Peak color has finally reached New York, and with it, the approach of some kind of "polar vortex" next week. Time to mix things up. Thanks to the great kindness of Paul, I was able to see a master of Chinese medicine (and life advice) about my foot. I think growing up third-generation Chinese American has always placed me in opposition to Chinese medicine. It was something that my dad chased me around the house with (because my grandmother had bought some expensive herb or other for me and my brother) as a child, a scent that I always equated with strange storefronts in Chinatown rather than with anything beneficial. But as I've gotten older, I've also gotten closer and closer to my "roots", and so I have decided to trust this expert as much as my doctor at Harkness.

The master felt my foot quite a bit, dug his fingers into it (ouch!) and under it, and told me that in fact he felt my foot was pretty much healed. He said that if I kept wearing that surgical shoe, I would continue locking my muscles and ligaments up around the bone, and that when I did go back to movement I would be more likely to have problems down the road. He said yes, rest is great for broken bones -- about a month in most cases -- but then rest has to end - within reason of course. He also scolded me for not stopping dancing as soon as the slightest pain started, he said if I'd paid attention to it at that point I probably would have only had to take a few days off.  It was amazing though. My foot has felt so locked up every day, and I equated this with it still being injured. But in fact, after he got into the areas around my second metatarsal, as well as under the arch of my foot, I felt much of the limberness returned - it felt normal again. He put a medicinal patch over my foot, wrapped it in a big heating pad and let it sit like that.

My instructions were to return very, very slowly to activity, just 15-20 minutes a day at first, moving around a little on my own in my house. To wear normal shoes. If I felt any pain, to rest it again, and to spend least 20 minute every day soaking in hot water before bedtime. "You're young," he said, "You heal fast."

I remember when I first got back from the doctor three weeks ago, I felt so absurd because physically I was no different before and after the diagnosis.  And yet I'd been forced into the psychological admission of "I'm injured", and somehow that made all the difference in my daily outlook.

Likewise, the simple act of this master saying, "You're okay, time to get back to life!" has made all the difference in how hopeful I feel.

There is one amazing woman who has blogged a lot about stress fractures, Camille Herron. She advocates for striking the right balance between rest and stress to return to activity most quickly; in particular she believes that walking is one of the most low-stress, effective, activities for healing. She's had about seven stress fractures in different places, most when she was an adolescent, so she's experimented extensively on her own body (and also has a master's on bone healing).  While she has some really amazing, educational posts on the physical healing from stress fractures, I found this post most helpful because it talks about what she's learned from all her injuries. One of the points that really inspired me was that "each injury is a way of building up the fire inside of you AND learning how to tame it when you return." I think this ties to some of her other points, which is that any injury tells us that we need to step back, rest, and learn something about other parts of our lives, while also building our passion for what injured us in the first place. She also make a great point that stress in our lives causes our bodies to break down. Therefore, whatever we do for physical excercise that leads to body stress should not be a source of psychological stress as well.

That is the philosophy that has driven my dancing since my BLAST days, and one that I think C shares. We want to enjoy the process of dancing. Not that I don't want to work hard, or that conflicts can't be productive, but that overall dancing must always be enjoyable. Otherwise, why spend our days doing it? Life is too beautiful to be wasted like that.

For many people, a "major" injury is a bit of a come to God moment. I've had big breaks from dancing before, particularly when I was in Tanzania. I learned during that time that even when I'm not dancing, I'm very much still a dancer. This injury has driven that point home. As such, I want to dance for forever. And that means being patient and gentle with my recovery.

Sue, who is an amazing guru of life wisdom for me, also reminded me that my recovery time would be well spent if I did other things I loved, like writing! I've been very much "in my own head" these past weeks...and perhaps longer than that. So this week is my turnaround week, when I start putting into action some of the lessons I'm learned from my defunct foot.
Each injury is a way of building up the fire inside of you AND learning how to tame it when you return. - See more at:
Each injury is a way of building up the fire inside of you AND learning how to tame it when you return. - See more at:
Each injury is a way of building up the fire inside of you AND learning how to tame it when you return. - See more at:
Tags: acupressure, ballroom dancing, stress fracture
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