This morning I did my first down dog in yoga since my shoulder began to stiffen up seventeen months ago. The word for today is encouraged. But the only way I got to that mat, and into that position, was patience.
There are a lot of surgical solutions to ‘frozen shoulder’ but in my obstinate and type-A mentality I wanted to see if I could tough it out and let the shoulder heal organically. According to the Mayo Clinic website:
“Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. Signs and symptoms typically begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within one to three years.”
Trust me, there were a thousand moments when I came close to caving and making the surgery date from the mind bending pain: pulling on pants, getting out of bed, brushing my hair. I didn’t use a blow dryer for a year. Even the simplest task brought tears to my eyes. For a very, very long time.
During these long months I gave up my 5-days-a-week yoga practice, my ten-pages a day writing, and walked 15,000 steps a day whenever possible. The lack of movement for so long took a toll on my arm muscles, my upper back and my neck. And my manuscript.
This healing took strength, faith (in my body) and two therapists that put all their knowledge into their hands (thanks Val and Diane). The understanding from all those around me was critical: My workshops when I couldn’t type, my friends when I needed assistance doing anything, my family when we had to cook or clean or even shake out a tablecloth. My dog when we went on a walk.
Practicing patience, I gained in other ways — time to read more books, to reread my pieces written so far, to let Olive explore even more sidewalks. I learned to pack light and carry a backpack. I was gifted an Airbook. The most important lesson came from accepting I couldn’t do anything but a few exercises and grant myself forgiveness. I had to wait.
I am almost there, minus about ten degrees of rotation. The road ahead is long, slowly rebuilding the atrophied muscles.
But to drop my head into child’s pose, chin on the ground, was sublime.
It’s the little things. My patience is encouraged.