Healing with Gyrotonic - A Personal Journey, Part 1: The Backstory
Even though I have been practicing Gyrotonic for over 8 years and teaching for nearly half that time, the power of this movement method never ceases to amaze me.
I was recently asked to write a detailed story regarding my personal journey of healing and how Gyrotonic has helped me. So, here it is...my 2(+) year journey from injury to happiness.
As most injuries tend to be, mine went ignored for many years. In my defense, I didn't know I was injured. I simply thought my back, shoulder, neck pain were a result of aging, sleeping wrong, having a bad pillow, bad mattress, moved incorrectly - you name it, I told myself, and believed, every "explanation" I could think of. But, these short term injuries are warning signs most of the time. At least, mine were.
Fast forward through many years of on again, off again pain and I was sitting at breakfast with friends. (I should note that I had already been practicing Gyrotonic for years and it had really helped me live a mostly pain free life. But we had moved, I had to stop teaching, and I was on a Gyrotonic hiatus when all of this went down.)
Anyway, breakfast with friends...one to each side of me so that while I was talking, my head looked from side to side. After about a half hour of tea and catching up, I felt a powerful squeeze on the back of my head. I liken it to a giant's hand, like Andrea the Giant from A Princess Bride when he picked up a rock and tossed it. It was like he grabbed the back of my head and squeezed it. And just like that, I blacked out. I managed to tell my friends I didn't feel well and then my head was on the table. When I came to and was able to lift it back up, I could only see in front of me and what I could see was very blurry. There was a high pitched noise in my ears, not quite a ringing, more of a squeal and it was difficult to hear what my friends were saying. I felt extremely dizzy and weak. I thought I had low blood sugar, so they got me a muffin. That didn't work. I needed assistance to leave as I could barely stand and couldn't find my balance to take a step. I remember being in my friend's car, but not clear on how I got there. She drove me home and while I remember willing myself to stay conscious, I don't remember the ride. I just really remember the exhaustion and the pain. By the time I was on my couch, my whole head was screaming. I lasted like that until the next day.
The following morning found me heading to urgent care for the headache that was just getting worse. Unfortunately, I could barely walk to enter and passed out about half way to the waiting area. There's very little urgent care can do when they suspect a heart attack. So, they called an ambulance and I went to the ER. It wasn't my heart. It was a migraine, they told me. Give it some time and it'll go away, they said. Take some anti-nausea medicine - yes, that did work temporarily. By evening the pain was back. I waited a few more days and went to another ER. Again, it was a migraine. This time I was told it really could last days or months and I just needed to be patient. And on and on it went, all while my list of symptoms grew. ER's, doctors, specialists, tests - for months. Top doctors who prescribed anti-psychotic medicines that helped the migraine, but made me want to jump out a window. Psychiatrists who told me I was under stress and suffered from anxiety. Many doctors who meant well, but really had no idea what was happening to me. Every test came back negative - good I thought, no tumors, no stroke (even though the right side of my face sagged and I could hardly move my right leg), no parkinson's (even though I had tremors so bad I couldn't lift a fork, spilled my drinks and would fall down shaking). The final straw was the ENT who suggested drilling a hole behind my ear to "explore".
That's when I looked at my husband and said, "Let's try a chiropractor. It's the only doctor I haven't seen and I'm telling you, this is my spine." Up until this point no doctor believed me when I said I felt a blockage at the base of my skull. Every MRI, X-ray, and any other test showed nothing. But by this point I had memory loss in addition to the host of other symptoms that just continued to get worse. I was barely functioning. I could hardly sit up, holding my head up was almost impossible without support, walking led to passing out. So, off to the chiropractor we went. As soon as she saw me, she said, "This is your atlas." Then she followed up with, "There are trashcans with liners all over the place for when you throw up. I'm here to help you walk and if you feel like you're passing out, try to warn me." With that she helped me to the table and got to work.
I was so fortunate to have found a wonderful chiropractor. I had worked with others over the years and, with most professionals, I experienced good ones and not so good ones. This new chiropractor was wonderful, she really knew what she was doing. I remember standing against the wall after the first session, still a little dizzy and weak, trying really hard to focus on what she was telling me. I stared at her to concentrate. All of a sudden I could see her face. She was no longer a blurry half vision in front of me. It was really bright, I could see colors and details. She smiled and said, "You just saw me didn't you? Your vision is coming back." I cried. She helped me to my husband and told him to give me some sunglasses, I wouldn't be able to handle the sun. Boy was she right. LOL! I was blinded even with sunglasses! By that point I had given up on even wearing my glasses, because it's not like I could even see with them on. LOL!
And so it went, 2-3 times a week I got adjusted and started healing. The problem was my body couldn't hold the adjustments for very long. So, I started traditional PT. I had to learn how to walk, how to lift my arms, how to hold my head - boy, that's a whole separate story. I started slowly to walk independently - a little around the house, walk to the neighbor's house etc. One day, a volunteer came to assist in my rehab, and she was just the messenger I needed...