Movement for me is more than just one aspect. The physical awareness you have as a dancer, actor or athlete is perhaps more pronounced. It’s the centre of everything in some way. If something is off kilter physically, you’re inhibited, if not totally prevented from carrying something through and expressing yourself fully in other areas of your life.
I hope I’m expressing this fully. I have a million thoughts going through my mind today after my fifth session (20 Oct) with my incredible Osteopath/Cranio. I’m processing so much after this new awareness of where we are now heading. It’s quite magical. I’m still in awe of what took place and really hope I’ll be able to describe it in the next few posts.
We’ve had an interesting journey since my first appointment at the beginning of September. I won’t get into all the details. Sometimes we only really process the things that we fully understand, in the way we are meant to understand them, so I’ll keep it as simple as possible. He always explains everything meticulously and carefully in the session. I have the utmost trust in him, that whatever is meant to be uncovered will take place at the right time. There is always a beautiful flow.
September was a very busy month for many reasons. I had follow-up appointments with my Oncologist, Breast Surgeon and the Plastic Surgeon who did the reconstruction after the mastectomy. I still have one more surgery coming up, but with COVID, it could take a while before he is able to replace this expander implant for something more natural and softer. I’m on the waiting list so we shall see what transpires.
I’ve had this implant since December 2018 and believe me, my body is ready for it to come out. As lovely as it looks, it feels like someone has placed a brick into my chest and stitched me up. The surgeon is not to blame for this, it’s just the nature of the implant and how I experience it. Of course there are emotions around having a breast removed and accepting a foreign implant into the body to rebuild the breast.
I have a very interesting medical report from the Clinical Psychologist who I saw before the mastectomy. She has to investigate whether you are psychologically able to handle the surgery and explains what to expect afterwards. I made it clear to her and the Plastic Surgeon how important it is for me to look natural.
I have great respect for people who choose to have cosmetic surgery and have seen it change lives positively, but I’ve never wanted anything cosmetic for my body or my face. I feel very strongly about it and can only say what is true for my life. That decision has unfortunately been taken away from me with this diagnosis.
I had made peace before the surgery, but I know that I’ve struggled to accept this implant. I’ve had to let go of the ‘old me’ and accept a new version of myself. I have two very beautiful breasts (sorry if this feels awkward), but they are not alike and I need to have patience, until we can get them into the same family. For now, I have taken to calling myself Dolly Part, which my friends find rather amusing. It’s just me making light, which is quite natural for me to do. We all love Dolly 🙂
Part of the procedure before we get to the final surgery, is to stretch the skin in order to accommodate a new gel implant. The current expander implant has a port which is used to inject saline solution into. I’ve had a few skin-stretching injections since 2019. When I saw the surgeon in September, he injected 50 mls into the implant. We waited to see how it felt. I wasn’t comfortable, so he reduced it to 30 mls. My journey home was challenging and the days that followed were painful and frustrating. Even my walk in the park was reduced to one lap. I’m a four lap kinda girl so I wasn’t impressed!
I came home after my walk and immediately googled women who’d had mastectomy’s without reconstruction. Beautiful images of strong women with scars across their chests flashed before me, one after the other. I felt surprisingly tempted. There really was something exhilarating about the idea of not having breasts at all. Perhaps if I just had them both removed I thought, then I can sleep properly, do yoga and live normally. I took the advice from a friend to massage tissue oil into the skin to help it while it’s been tugged at, so I’m feeling less tempted to get rid of the brick.
My second session with the Osteopath took place on the 15th of September which was before this inflation into the implant. Of course he has my full medical history in front of him as he’s working with me. Although I’d come to him with a very unhappy left hip and a right shoulder/arm that had very little movement and a lot of pain, he is looking beyond that and bringing everything else I’ve experienced in the past two years into the foreground. We’re uncovering things from all angles, bringing the physical, mental and emotional aspects into play.
He could literally feel the shock and trauma in my body as he began to work behind my shoulder. This was the same theme as had been discussed previously. “Your body can’t handle any more, this is now the best it can do,” was his feedback. He said, externally I have a positive, vibrant and strong energy. I’ve coped well mentally and emotionally with the surgeries and chemotherapy, but has this served my body? Where is my body in all of this? It’s possible that it has needed to be recognised as wounded.
Energetically he picked up no movement in my diaphragm on the right (the side of my mastectomy) and my ribcage presented as a solid ball. I described the sensation I have with the expander implant and that I have no feeling in my right breast. One of his many insights, is that my body isn’t recognising the implant. It’s not accepting it fully. Even the saline solution that is injected into the implant every so often to stretch the skin for my next surgery is foreign. That part of my body is blocked off.
My arm and shoulder sits above this area, so if the energy is blocked, then there is nothing to essentially support my shoulder and my arm. He described how an embryo grows its arm. It grows from the area of the collar bone and then it moves out into the fluid in the womb, blossoming and budding out. He said at the moment, my arm is like a cut flower that has been placed into water. I could barely lift my arm above shoulder height.
We discussed what I could do to help move things along. I expressed how difficult I was finding it to not be able to do anything besides go for a daily walk. I mentioned swimming and his response was that movement in water would be fine. His advice was to do fluid movements with my arm, visualizing it opening out. “The shoulder supports and the diaphragm expands.” He said I should breathe into the openings.
That weekend I’d planned to join a 24 hour meditation that started on Saturday and ended on Sunday. It was being held from the States, so I had to fit in with their time zone. Of course I wouldn’t be able to do the full 24 hours, but in the end I managed half. I sat for a couple of hours on Saturday evening, woke up at 2am to do some more, did another hour at around 8 am and scheduled to join in for the final couple of hours on Sunday evening.
Those last few hours clearly took me to a very deep place. I found myself in quiet prayer to God, asking for his help. I wanted my body to feel whole again. I felt like I couldn’t be asked to handle any more pain and discomfort. I wondered why I’d been so struck down by this injury. What was the lesson here? I connected calmly to the feeling I had in that moment and felt the tears begin to trickle down my cheeks. The message came through loud and clear and without hesitation. My body began to shake with sobs. Tears streamed out of my tired eyes, warming my skin and dripping onto my lap. In the silence of my room, I cried out, “I don’t know how to move forward, please help me! PLEASE help me!!”
I stayed there for as long as I felt necessary. Then without wiping my eyes, I got up, found my swimming costume and towel and walked up the road to the gym. It felt like I wasn’t really in control of what I was doing, but was surrendering to it. I got into the pool. Not a soul was there. I was relieved to be able to work through this alone, with no distractions. I could really focus on myself. The water was warm and calm as I began to move through it. Each step I took felt like I’d never really fully experienced or appreciated the beauty of water before.
This was one of those moments where I really felt like I’d released myself into something, and all I had to do was let go and have faith.
I paced gently forward, being careful not to upset my body too much. Small steps turned into slightly bigger strides, and then, without thought, I began moving through the water like a dancer. Slow, graceful stretches forward, combined with flowing balletic movements with my arms to compliment each step. It began to feel choreographed almost. I even added in a little Fosse to open up my chest a little more. As I moved from one side of the pool to the other, I started to become more creative with my movements, became aware of my breath slowing and flowing with the water. This slow shift in consciousness literally sent me into even more of a meditative state than I had already been in earlier.
I felt like the water was there to support and carry me and no matter what positions I chose, my body would respond and would welcome this movement. I had said that I didn’t know how to move forward, and yet there I was, moving forward, with tear stains on my cheeks and a hopeful heart.
I felt more and more like the dancer I used to be. Memories of my ballet classes started to come back. As naturally as it had felt to move through the water, I found myself guided to a position at the edge of the pool, facing the wall. I began doing a ballet barre underwater. My hip didn’t seem to mind this. I held my arm close to my body, as it felt weaker. My allocated hour in the pool came to an end and I left the poolside with a dancers swagger. Well maybe not quite a swagger, but something had definitely shifted.
Thanks for reading this long one 🙂
More insights to follow!