For the month of February, I am going to share my journey through chronic pain with you. This is the first in this four week series. I am excited to share my journey into and through chronic pain, to a place where my body and I are experiencing a level of peace with each other.
I am no stranger to pain. I have had injuries throughout my life that have impacted my body as I grew, and I played sports and danced as a young girl that affected my alignment in my developmental years. Like all of us, my body underwent trauma that resulted in issues I am still working through today.
The first real physical challenge that I can remember happened when I was three years old. We were camping and had a bonfire on the beach the night before. That morning I went down to the beach and started playing in the firepit --I even remember sitting in the enclosed circle that was made from the rocks to contain the fire. Then I heard my Mom call me, so I quickly stood up, and to my unfortunate surprise, I stepped on a coal that was still burning.
I let out a scream that likely woke up the entire campground. My Mom came running and took me to where my family was, placing me on my dad’s lap as I sobbed in pain. What resulted was a massive third degree burn right on my arch. Once home, my Mom took me to my doctor at which time he prescribed no walking for 2 weeks.
This wasn’t going to work for me. Firstly, I never crawled. My Mom told me I started walking on all fours, then proceeded to walk upright. So, the thought of crawling felt like I was retreating backward. I remember that I walked on the outside of my foot to not put any pressure on the arch and did this for as long as the burn needed to heal. By that time, I had already changed my gait to compensate for the pain and know this is still a factor in my current work at realigning my pelvis.
The next major tragedy happened at the age of seven. We had a heavy stationary bike in the basement. It had wheels that had a small radius and a metal ball bearing that would increase the tension when cycling. I used to play around on the bike, seeing how fast I could get the wheels to turn, by removing all the tension. My Mom saw me doing this one day and felt it was dangerous, so she told me to stop. Out of boredom this one night, I didn’t listen and proceeded, resulting in another issue that I am still working through today.
As I was pedaling with all my might, my legs moving at light speed as the tension on the tire was non-existent, my foot slipped off the pedal and my body flew forward, my pubic bone landing with a thump on that metal ball bearing. I remember this well as it was excruciating . . . but I couldn’t let out a scream because I knew I was doing something I was told not to do. To avoid getting into trouble, I forced myself to walk as normally as possible so to not give away the pain I was in.
Then came structured activity. I was a very active kid -- I am a kinesthetic learner and enjoyed testing and challenging my body. At the age of seven, my parents decided I needed an outlet for my energy and put into Highland Dancing. This wasn’t my favourite thing to do – I’m not even Scottish, but I took the challenge and became a five-time Manitoba Champion. The issue with this is that the alignment needed to succeed isn’t the alignment that the body should be in.
Firstly, creating a turnout at the hips to perform the dance caused a shortening of the hip flexor muscles and shifting of the pelvis. The act of jumping on one leg repeatedly in this alignment also negatively affected my lower legs. I remember being in so much pain with shin splints, I could barely walk at times.
I danced until the age of seventeen when I finally told my Mom I couldn’t stand this practice and wanted to quit. She agreed, but the damage to my body was set in place through my formative years, which is detrimental to a growing body.
As a teenager I played volleyball. Now this was a sport that I loved. I was a power hitter and had a wicked serve. I can’t count the number of times I would have reached overhead with my right arm, preparing to hit the ball to send it across the net. Each time, my body would be twisting to the left as the rotation created the power to deliver the killer spike and serve. Fun and satisfying as this was at the time, it also caused issues to my body that I am still working through today.
One other major pain that occurred that is embedded deep in my memory/fascia from childhood was when playing the game Red Rover. The goal of this is to run through a wall of people holding hands, with the goal of breaking the bond between 2 people. I was a fast runner and a strong kid, so I went for the embrace that I knew would challenge me the most. Well, this didn’t turn out like I had hoped. I remember hitting their grip with my gut, only to be stopped in my tracks, falling to the ground completely out of breath. I literally got punched in the gut with the force of my speed knocking the wind out of my sails. This hurt for a long time and I remember it well.
As I got a little older, my activity changed from organized sports to spending time in the gym. This didn’t help matters at all. I was already torqued and twisted and strengthening my body from this alignment only added thickness and compression into my body. I literally buried the past traumas deep inside, only to uncover them at a future time.
Next Week: Deanna’s Journey pt. 2: Frustration & Introspection