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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Confessions from Injury

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance

The stages of letting go of the training to allow healing, no matter what it means, no matter how long it takes.

My confession is that I've been too stoic (which is my way of saying prideful) to acknowledge my mortality publicly. Even thought my heart knows different, I haven't been able to own that this is the sin I've been guilty of for all this time. I have resisted the process since the initial tendon issue hit my left knee in late May of 2016. There is no rational way to blame Sport lifting for the cumulative tendon strain, the only thing that made it hurt during the onset was driving a manual transmission. Running on the inflamed joint made it worse. 
I rushed (well, hobbled) to the natural food store and purchased $75 in supplements, specifically joint support and developed a routine to keep myself going with natural anti-inflammatory nutrition. "Keep myself going" means be able to do my job, mat-style bodywork. I need to sit in seiza (it's like Child Pose, but sitting up) to do my work. Everything was modified in my technique, and at the beginning I nearly passed out after a day of work from the pain.

Turmeric, liquid joint formulas, flax and fish oils became regular grocery items.
Acupuncture helped, to a greater or lesser degree though sometimes the treatment made swelling more intense. Packing my knee with ice felt good for a while, then just made my muscles cold. Saturating my leg with essential oils did great work for me emotionally and physically. DMSO (dimethylsulphoxide) application was intense and burned, and made me feel like I was doing something good. But nothing was working over night. Finally in September my left knee started to feel normal again, but then my right knee began to swell.


During the time between May and September I all but stopped driving my car and converted to bicycle and public transportation. Finally in October I sold the car. On occasions when my bodywork business required driving to accommodate my clients, I used CarShare (all automatic vehicles). Interestingly, even though I was still doing Snatch training and rowing for cardio, the only things that caused the swelling to increase was driving. After the Thanksgiving and Christmas food bonanza was over I acknowledged that sweets and dairy were slowing down my healing. 

At New Year of 2017 I gave up sugar. This was not too hard on the practical level because I've been in the habit of preparing my own food for many years. Physically and emotionally it was like giving up an addictive substance. I was prepared with dried fruit and supportive herbs, but not prepared for the experience of facing my depth with no escape drug. What did I have to lean on? Not ice cream or chocolate. I don't drink or smoke (I know, waste of my Boulder County residency...). Faith that it was all working in its own time.

Soon there was clear evidence that God was in my world! Snatch Only training went very well through February and I made a nice PR (+11 reps) at the CaliOpen. Also I heard from a dear friend that she had a faith healing of her shoulders just the week before which allowed her to attend the event! I took almost two weeks to rest and started where I left off last May with Long Cycle training. My legs felt good, not 100% healed, but extremely improved. I was able to run for 20 minutes with no negative effect, but was alternating with rowing so as not to push my luck. 
This brings me to last Wednesday. I ran for 30 minutes then did some self-constructed assist exercises to support my abductors. I felt "something happen" in my right knee during this process. I had to drive a friend's car that night and by the next morning (last Thursday) my right knee was swollen and would not bend past 90 degrees without pain. It's not just a blow to my training, it's an extreme hit to my profession as a mat-style bodyworker. I need to sit in seiza to do my work.

Here is my second confession. Being a very spiritual person by nature I have long been a Jesus-follower, but a closet Jesus-follower. Meaning I did not go to congregation. I have kept God and Jesus in my own way for one main reason: every time I see or hear the crucifixion story I am reduced to painful weeping. This experience started sometime in my childhood (maybe 6 years old) when I saw the Easter story on television. The blatant injustice of the people who demanded the sentence wounded my heart so deeply with that I sobbed. My mother tried to console me, but nothing she said could justify the malice. My faith in humanity was lost at so young an age. (The only heartache near to this since that time was learning of the near-genocide of native peoples.) As an adult I have given my heart to Jesus but have not been able to attend a church gathering without shedding a river of tears.

This doesn't mean I do not need fellowship, however. I have spared myself emotionally rather than join a religious group that will only see me in pain. I know this is a process that has been parked in my life.
I have seen something especially appealing in the Kettlebell Sport community: a great bunch of believers. Whether it is in the pre-set gestures of blessing we see from the Russian World Champions or the many tattooed crosses and declarations of faith seen at any given event, I feel met in the KBSport community. Jesus is not only the Way, but also the Patron Saint for athletes, especially endurance athletes. So here I am calling out for support prayers (from those who can hear) that my path in this sport will be revealed through Grace.

The past year has been such a challenge because of the slow process of healing and working through the injury. As an athlete, if there is one thing I've learned about joint injuries, it's that immobilizing them long-term will not help with the recovery. As a bodyworker I am aware of the hazards of manual therapy at the wrong time. But as an athlete who does manual therapy I am often challenged to discern the correct timing. I submit this to you, my Friends in Kettle, by way of testimony. It is my greatest reveal to date, the place of deepest vulnerability within me and I'm trusting it to you all.

Please forgive any typos or grammar problems. I cannot bear to re-read this article one more time.
With gratitude for blessings and grace,

Christian

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