Apparently, my new mantra, “no need for flight or fight,” is only as powerful as the time and energy I give it. As usual, when I get new information or choose a new strategy to improve my condition, I’m so excited and sure this will be the “thing” that makes a difference.
The first day I focused on signaling my amygdala that there is no threat requiring stress hormones for fight, flight or freeze, I could return to my center and remind myself continually; and I felt a slight reduction in the tightness I generally have in my low chest/upper abdomen. Over the course of the next couple of days, it felt like I didn’t need constant remembering that there was no threat. I was breathing, stretching, and applying makeup. (I feel strongly that women are culturally conditioned to wear makeup and admire women who go without. For me, putting on some makeup just helped lift my mood, something about not looking like death warmed over.)
As is most often the case with me, a painful episode distracted me entirely from mindfully considering there was no real threat. The most recent issue involved my damn knee scooter. I have repeatedly whacked my good ankle on my ride over the course of the last six weeks. It reached the point where merely grazing my ankle as I pushed myself around the house was excruciating. The entire inner ankle/foot was swollen and bruised. There also appeared a bony knob about the size of a nickel on top of the malleolus. Great. I was scared that when I go to the surgeon for follow up on my post surgical left ankle/foot, he was going to say I needed to stop weightbearing on my right. Maybe I’d fractured it? It took a pretty good search before I was able to diagnose myself. The “new” circular prominence had already been present but repeated impacts to that site resulted in this presentation. I was able to palpate the same structure on the left but it was recessed. The literature reported that this reaction is regularly not even noticed if people have substantial muscle and fat around the lower leg. Anyhoo, this trouble on the right leg was discouraging enough to draw my attention away from the mission to quiet my nervous system.
The bruising is clearing and I’ve changed my diagnosis from possible fracture to repeated injury. I’ll probably still get the ankle/foot surgeon to take a look when I go for my eight-week post-op visit to evaluate whether or not I can get rid of the scooter. Consideration should be given to the threat the scooter poses to the “good” ankle. I’d appreciate your positive thoughts on the morning of Thursday, April 14.
When I proposed to my husband we should go out and celebrate if I get permission to walk, he posited that the recovery would still take time and I probably wouldn’t be resuming normal ambulation immediately. Since then, I’ve heard from several people who’ve undergone the same type of fracture and insertion of hardware; the one message they all had was that this road to recovery will still take months, maybe even a couple years. Wow. That wasn’t part of my plan.
Rather than pausing my effort to decrease the effect stress is having on my whole body until after the visit with the surgeon, I will resume today. I will. There is no need to wait for the outcome of the surgeon’s evaluation, and the decision whether or not I can bear weight, to judge what level of stress “should be” established going forward. Whatever the prognosis this week, my amygdala needs relief. Breathe.