Out of the blue, a woman posted on a local group on FaceBook looking for someone she could help. I read it and had a feeling I should accept her help. That's a big step for me - admit I need and ask for help. :) So, I responded - you could help me in my rehab. Just come walk with me. We will literally go a couple of houses and back, but it could take 15-20 minutes. She came. On our walk, she asked me what happened. Now, this was a story I had told so many times before and no one knew what I was referencing. I said, blah blah blah, dislocated atlas, yada yada yada. She stopped walking and said, "I know exactly the person you need to see." Then she proceeded to tell me about her experience with her atlas! Dear Lord, not only did someone understand, she got it, she really got it! That's when she insisted I see a specialist only 2 towns away. WHAT?!? An ATLAS specialist?!? Yes, and he's called an Atlas Orthogonist.
Now, I had been making steady progress. Slow, but steady. And, I had accepted that this would be my "new normal". I was told that so many times that I had decided to make the best of it. And through traditional means, I would live some semblance of a life. At the very least, I'd be able to leave the house. That was my goal. Not to miss another swim meet, another soccer game, another basketball game, another regatta. I'd get out of the wheelchair - that was my goal. But I took a deep breath, asked my brother-in-law (my husband was traveling and he was taking care of me and the kids) if I should call. He handed me the phone. Hell, what was one more doctor's appointment in the grand scheme of things?
As luck, fate, whatever you want to call it, happens, there was an opening that Wednesday. I called on a Monday evening not even thinking they'd be open.
Wow. All I can say is wow. First, more validation that I was indeed NOT crazy. Second, while the chiropractor was able to adjust the atlas, she wasn't able to get it all the way back into place and that's why I wasn't able to hold the correction. It was also why the muscles couldn't/wouldn't let go and heal. So, another round of x-rays. Except the time he shot them through the skull and through the jaw. There it was. Not only had it slipped to the right, it turned toward the front - thereby compressing the brainstem, vagus nerve and limiting blood flow to my brain. AH HA! Fainting, limited eyesight, limited hearing, dizziness, headache, loss of balance, memory loss etc etc etc. It all made sense - Duh! Limited blood supply, compressed brainstem and vagus nerve - no wonder I was in such bad shape! Now to fix it!!
This wonderful doctor has a machine he can set to very precise measurements that he obtained through my x-rays. He then used a sound wave, A SOUND WAVE, to guide the bone back into place. It took 2 tries, but within a half hour, I stood up and all the dizziness was gone. I was left with a bobbing feeling - like I had just gotten off a boat. It took several weeks, but eventually all the symptoms subsided. The day he told me I could start light exercise, I knew exactly what I needed to do. The doctor told me to hop on a stationary bike, but I knew I also needed to work on healing from the inside out.
And so I began. The first day I tried to bike, I literally lasted 2 minutes before collapsing from exhaustion. The second day, 2 minutes 15 seconds. I built up each day, 15 seconds at a time. After not too long, I tried to arch and curl. My body was so grateful to move - no matter how shallow. But there was a lot of confusion, my right side was still considerably weaker.
When the brainstem and vagus nerve have been compromised, they need time to strengthen and heal. Enter Gyrotonic - nerve strengthening! Each day I employed the nerve strengthening series, a few minutes each day in addition to the biking. Eventually, I felt strong enough to try 5 minutes of arch and curl and 5 minutes of the hamstring series. Little by little. I'd report in with my family and they'd cheer at 7 minutes, 10 minutes, when I reached a half hour there was a lot of squealing. My doctor was thrilled with my progress and so was I! My first adjustment was in April - by the end of June I was back to a modified coaching schedule (Oh, I'm a swim coach as well!). All summer I worked on myself with Gyrotonic. By the end of August, I was feeling pretty strong. Not 100%, but definitely a strong 84% - the random percentages of progress became a running joke between me and my husband.
Unfortunately, I suffered a setback that September. BUT, because of all the internal healing my body had already been doing with Gyrotonic, the adjustment worked wonderfully and I was back on my way. I was astonished. The doctor told me that one day I would wake up and feel like myself again. And right between Christmas and New Years, I did just that. At that point I was practicing Gyrotonic diligently to heal as much as I could - 3, 4, 5 times a week - sometimes an hour, sometimes less, whatever I could handle in that moment. All of it added up and made me stronger.
I am now 2 years out from that horrible day a giant squeezed the back of my head. But I can honestly say, I've never been stronger, happier or a better teacher. I'm able to share my experiences with my clients, feel their pain in a very honest way and lead them to feeling better. I have never been more grateful for where I am right here, right now, in this moment.
If you'd like the details of the workouts, I'll include them in the next entry. But if this is as far as you join me on this journey - I am thankful for your company! As always, I hope each and every person who reads this is able to Find Your Flow.