For 15 years I played competitive softball and baseball. I had a throwing action which, although it shot out like a bullet, it was sometimes erratic due to this elbow whippy thingo style I’d developed from a young age. Never a good thing when you’re playing in a key fielding position and even worse for injuries.
I had tried to change this over the years, but as they say, old habits die hard and I didn’t get there before injury took a stronghold. I was playing for a NSW representative team at the time and it had gotten to the point where I couldn’t throw at all. So there endeth my playing career and there began my journey to fixing a now serious elbow tendon injury.
I thought this would be easy and I'd be out for a season and come back bright and squeaky new. I mean, come on, it was a tendon issue which is a pretty standard problem in the sporting world. Every therapist known to man can sort that out can't they?! Apparently not and after 20 years, a thousand different "non-fixers" around Australia and a truck load of medical bills, my elbow is now locked at almost 90 degrees and getting worse. The only positive I guess, is my hand was now permanently close to my mouth which made feeding easy!!!
I'd tried a myriad of Physios, Osteos, Chiros, Acupuncturists, Shiatsu Therapists, Exercise Scientists, Hypnotherapists, Sports Massage Therapists, Myotherapists ... and the list goes on and on and on until one day I heard about this Chinese Doctor who was apparently a miracle worker. He was trying to retire, so I had to be quick - this could be the one! I hunted down his details and excitedly (not excited for long) made my first appointment. When I got there I thought I was looking at Mr Miaggi from Karate Kid. To start with because he looked like him, but later because of this incredible wisdom that seemed to exude from his entire being.
Holy shit, what have I gotten myself into!
Mr Miaggi may have had this ancient wise vibe and seemed a softly spoken caring man, but hell's teeth this was the most physically painful healing experiences I have ever subjected myself to. 15 minutes, 2-3 times a week for 5 months of burning cattle prod up your arse like pain.
He would leave his door open for all in the waiting area to hear. And wasn't I putting on an A Class performance! Yelling, crying, banging the table with my fist and stamping my feet, trying to pull away (or probably run away truth be known). I felt sorry for all those new patients having to come in after me! “He’s great, honestly. It's really helping!” I’d say through sobbing tears of pain. His fingers had inbuilt razors and his grip strength was like a Rottweiler with lock jaw. It was extremely f(*&ing challenging to go back each time knowing what I was stepping into. You’re probably wondering why I did, and I asked myself that every single day, but he helped me like no-one else had been able to so I felt compelled to continue.
As Mr Miaggi's wax on wax off student, he attempted to teach me how to shut the feeling off from my shoulder down (student's report card read..."F for fail"). He attempted to show me how to hold my focus on an imaginary candle flame burning in my lower abdomen and just be there quietly, with the internal power I had, but couldn't reach (Candle flame! Quietly! you've got to be f(*^ing kidding me. Fail!). He attempted to teach me Dao breathing methods to create a numbing effect in my body (F). I know I exasperated him every time I came in for my appointments. Either that or he secretly loved hurting me I'm not sure.
There is good news to this story though....
There was a turning point in our relationship! I remember the session well. I was completely losing it and was hacking out some rather pathetic shaky long sobs when he yelled at me, “You give me 50%, I only give you 50%. You give me 100%, I give you 100%. I can fix you, you no let me.”. I'm pretty sure this was his version of compassion! Right then, a light of understanding goes off in my suffering and fragile brain. Finally something had registered. It was such a simple shift in perspective, but it made all the difference to our progress. We're a team working on this project together. I'm not giving my body to him to fix, we're doing it together. Hallefuckinglujah, we're getting somewhere. While my sessions didn’t get any easier, I gave him 120% of myself for healing. It was a conscious decision I made and I didn't look back.
I have seen a number of healers of different modalities over the years and it's one mindset I carry with me always. When you are seeking help from someone and you’re guarded, secretive, untrusting or right out scared you won't heal, either at all or to the point you could. This applies as much (if not more) to mental and emotional healing. I see this often with my own clients who are cagey and arms crossed defensive; I know my help for them is limited. For most people this isn’t easy, we don’t like anyone to see who we really are, we have trust issues and we deliberately hold back, but in my opinion it’s imperative to putting the broken pieces back together. And fear is a steal barrier ten inches thick; you'll never tap through to true healing when in this state. Keep this in mind at your next appointment.
So where did my elbow get to?
Well, I had to go away for a few months and just before I left, I asked him how much longer he thought until we could say our heartfelt goodbyes. He looked out the window with this very concentrated expression on his face; like he was reading some kind of invisible answer. "Spring. 3 months. Fixed", he said. At that point we were probably at about 98%. I was so close, but you know what happens with routines when you break them. Well, I didn't end up going back. I figured 98% was a great place to be in comparison to where I came from and as I write this 10 years on, nothing has changed. There is always a slight pain in the joint, I have trouble building strength in the tricep and my right arm is a little shorter than my left so can be an extra challenge when I'm flailing around in a handstand, but none of this will ever stop me and I'm happy with that.