Sunday, March 25, 2018

Falling & Lessons Learned

Do you have a FEAR of Falling?
Do you stay home and avoid being active?
Learn what YOU can DO to MANAGE your fear.

This is the header of the flyer for "A Matter of Balance."

Last year, I participated in an 8-week course presented by the Area Agency on Aging. Since I have a history of falling quite a few times -- and I fear falling -- as one incident could jar my lower spine and put me back in a wheelchair even though I've never broken anything, I was happy when this course came to my town. Topics covered: understanding your fears, staying active through easy exercises, learning to communicate with your family and healthcare team, making safety improvements at your home, delaying complications, and changing "Fall-ty" habits.

It is designed to teach seniors (and other people) about managing fears and fall prevention. We watched videos about the real causes of aging, especially inactivity. Included in the course were proven exercises shown to improve balance which would lower the likelihood of falling as well as surveying the layout of your home for safety and making necessary changes. I had been afraid of getting older and more fragile, but this course gave me peace of mind. I've been doing all the recommended exercises and then some. I've also strived to be MINDFUL of everything I do vs. "accident prone."

In the meantime, I had been following Phaedra Antioco who facilitated a Docu-Series titled Pain Treatments That Work. She had been in a horrific car accident and learned how what she told herself affected her ability to recover. She decided to become an occupational therapist -- one who also digs for the emotional and mental roots that keep people in pain. She even got to test what she learned on herself when she fell on the stairs and broke her back -- again -- describing her initial reaction and how she corrected her mindset and recovered.

On Wednesday, February 7, I stood up from the office chair I sit on to get something and wasn't being MINDFUL when I sat back down again. The chair rolled to the left and I went down on my right hip, jarring my right elbow and tapping the back of my head on the chair I keep behind me with additional projects on it that I am working on.

When I fell this time, I was immediately AWARE of the thoughts racing through my mind -- of fear, anger, and self-criticism.

  • Fear: OMG! Now I've done it! I've broken my hip!!! Just like my older sister did!
  • Anger: My reaction to falling. I was really MAD!
  • Self-Criticism: How could I have been so careless? How could I have been so stupid? I KNOW BETTER. I just took that class!

Then I heard Phaedra's voice: DON'T GIVE YOUR BRAIN A REASON TO TRIGGER THE FEAR RESPONSE which will trigger a cascade of chemical reactions which will incite a lot more pain than the injury calls for. DON'T LET YOUR BRAIN DECIDE THE PAIN IS DANGEROUS.

Now it was time to test these concepts on myself.

First and foremost, I took control and told my mind to STOP. I got up and began going through each and every exercise movement I learned in Matter of Balance and my local exercise programs. Everything still worked! (See? You panicked about nothing! You made up stories that included cognitive distortions that weren't true before you collected the evidence as to whether it was true or not.) I applied some essential oils to the hot spots knowing they would penetrate immediately to begin the healing process.

However, a headache came on that I had to troubleshoot. I was so focused on my hip (yes I bruised it), I had to retrace how I tapped the back of my head on the chair behind me and the little electrical current I felt travel down the right side of my neck. Could that little inconsequential tap have knocked something out of alignment? Nahhhh, I thought.

The headache (I wasn't about to claim it) wouldn't let up and continued through the following week. It got so intense I couldn't do much of anything (except my exercises). I used my swaying muscle testing technique (forward for yes, backward for no) asking questions such as is it from food I ate? No. Am I fighting off a virus? No. Is it discontinuation syndrome from getting off Mirtazapine? No. Is it allergies? No. Too much time on the computer? Yes. But then I asked did I knock a vertebra out of alignment? Yes. Axis? No. Atlas? Yes.

I hadn't seen my chiropractor in a year and made an appointment. Indeed, I had knocked my Atlas out of alignment. After all, the head weighs about 10 pounds. I got an "adjustment" to put it back where it belongs. I asked why he didn't adjust anything else... I usually need multiple places adjusted. He replied that nothing else was out of alignment. Really?

All the exercises I had been doing toned the muscles along my spine to keep them from slipping out so easily? Yup.

I also asked about an exercise I could do for my neck. It was very similar to one I learned from Bob and Brad (famous physical therapists on the internet) but my chiro added a resistance band to it and showed me how to do it slow and intentional.

The following day I was headache free and even when it returns it is mild compared to what it had been before.

As for the chiropractic visit... he asked when I was there last. I answered, can't remember. Check your records. It was exactly one year to the day since my last visit. And so I wondered... is there a divine plan in all of this? Involving multiple individual events that work together for the good of the whole?

Things that make me go Mmmmmm..... after all, I just wrote another post about Synchronicity in Discovering Resilience so synchronicity is on my mind...

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