Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boom! . . . Flat on my back. . .

Well, in my last blog, I was my own personal champion for diving into the creative experience. And, I took the leap. . . and ended flat on my back. Literally.

Just as I was getting excited, ready to do the work!

I spent 3 days in bed with a horrible SI (Low back) injury, that kept me completely immobilized and out of work. Three whole days! I have never (ever in my 10 years of teaching) had to take 3 consecutive days off of work because of illness or injury.  It was a first, and it was hard for me to swallow.

The first day, I was ok. I thought to myself "This is what it feels like to take care of myself. I can totally do this."  The second day I said, "Well one more day won't be too bad, different classes will be missed. And, I just have to." Day three:  "What is wrong with me? Three days?  Oh no! What is everyone going to think?"

In many ways that sense of guilt hurt far more than the level 10 pain in my back.   I worried that people were going to think all sorts of ugly negative things about me.  I tortured myself about it for the entire time I was laying on my back, too injured to even hold up a book.  I was certain that people were going to think that I wasn't trying hard enough to heal.  That I wasn't being responsible and "pushing through" as truly motivated and reliable people do. 

But, this was of course all in my head. The reality was I couldn't stand up or sit without intense pain.  The reality was that no matter what anyone was thinking, I was physically unable to teach for three days.  But, I couldn't let go of it.  I was convinced of my doom and gloom as a professional dance instructor. 

But, by the end of that third day of rest, I was finally able to stand without muscle spasm.  On day four I gingerly went to teach, and everyone smiled, glad to see me, asked how I was feeling, expressed just how worried they were for me. One student even gave me a little Mexican incantation to help me heal.  People weren't upset with me for being injured, they were compassionate. Far more compassionate than I was to myself. 

A week later from the initial grab of injury. I am still healing, my pain has moved from a level 10 at the peaks to more of a constant 4.  It still requires me to lay down and rest my back for long periods of the day, allowing the muscles to undo and the joint to heal.  But now, I don't feel guilty taking that time to rest and heal.  I am comforted by the reminder that people have shown me compassion and support. It is my job to honor them by showing the same gentle nurturing to myself.  It doesn't have to be selfish; it doesn't have to be hurried.  As Soto Zen Buddhist Susuki Roshi said, it is just "Things as it is." 

And, I am worthy of healing just as I am

So are you. 

(PS The incorrect subject verb agreement in Susuki Roshi's quote is intentional. As a Budhhist he saw the multiplicity of the world as just aspects of everything as one. No duality. Hence we see plural, but the nature is singular. . . Pretty cool stuff).


  1. Beth, this semester I forced myself to attend class despite feeling like I might drop dead (the worst case of the flu I've ever suffered). I'll never do that again!

  2. I can relate to this sooooo much! From the back injury (but not as severe a case as yours) to the negative thoughts. One of these days maybe we'll learn to take a break before we hit the brick wall. Glad to hear it is healing and hope you are back to pain-free soon!!

  3. Sadly, I envy a forced break for three days. "Nope, Mommy can't get you a drink because I can't move." It seems like a luxury until I am in it and in such pain that all I want is to be able to get up and do something. I'm glad you came to the realization that it is what it is and life has to stop sometimes. Love you.

  4. Being a dance instructor requires a lot of movements and your muscles normally experience all sorts of stretches. Muscle spasm is not a surprise result. Rest is all you need, and surely, your students understood your situation since day one. But if in any way your back pain gets worse, contact a physician or a chiropractor immediately.

    Brandon Chiropractor

  5. Body pain is your body's way of saying that it needs some peaceful rest. Though there are times when we don’t want to, but we should always find the time to relax and simply not work. To prevent body pain and taking a forced break from work, seeking advice from therapist will help a lot. They can tell you on how you can manage to give your body enough rest even without staying away from your usual routine. :)