Sunday, July 19, 2015
Feel the Heal: Where It All Began
My small body sat in what seemed to me to be an over-sized dark mahogany chair with red leather padding on the seat that matched the color of my red polio shoes. I wore a long metal leg brace on my left leg that Miss Holly, my physical therapist tenderly removed to get me ready for yet another grueling physical therapy session to help my body heal from the ravages of paralytic polio.
"Called one of the lucky ones I had a 'mild' case
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace..." ... excerpt from "Running the Race"
To my left was a round table with a lamp on it and a selection of Dr. Seuss books scattered among the magazines.
"What would you like to read today?" Miss Holly asked.
"The Cat in the Hat."
No matter how many times I chose "The Cat in the Hat," Miss Holly honored my choice.
"The sun did not shine it was too wet to play..."
And after reading the final words "What would you do if your mother asked you?" she scooped me up and brought me into the physical therapy treatment room. As she put on hot woolen blankets and coaxed my muscles and nerves back to health, we would take turns reciting "The Cat in the Hat" line for line to distract me from the searing pain of the treatment.
From "Running the Race""
Miss Holly physical therapist, curly hair and a warm, broad smile
it tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.
I always wore those 'special' shoes the kids they poked and teased
with no support and much abuse with childhood I wasn’t pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.
Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp, everything else and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.
In December of 2006, I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease as Western Medicine defines it. As I was facing a rather grim future according to the doctors, I got still and asked God for guidance about helping me find my way out of the mess I was in where my mind, body and Spirit were slowly dying.
In February of 2007, my prayers were answered as I returned to the cadence of Dr. Seuss that had helped me to heal after the initial polio virus. That first poem I wrote, "Running the Race" foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run although I sat in a leg brace, used a wheelchair at times for mobility and faced a rather grim and uncertain future according to the doctors. But through poetry, I was creating a very different future than the one the doctors predicted for me.
I've been writing poetry ever since to inspire mind, body and Spirit to heal from having experienced horrific acts of 9 years of violence at the hands of family members shortly after coming out of my leg brace at the age of 8.
For the first time in these last 8+ years, I know in every fiber of my Being that total healing is mine to claim.
It's been a long and winding road that led me to Dr. Joe Dispenza's work through Dr. Ryan Means, a chiropractor who reminded me of everything I was writing about in my poetry and helped me begin to bring it into physical manifestation. When I told him I wanted to grow a new gastroc muscle, he used kinesiotaping to stimulate the new muscle growth.
He gave me exercises to build strength and cross train and education about self-care for runners. As important as everything he gave me in the physical world including spine adjustments that helped to release the trauma I held in my bones and posture, he gave me a renewed sense of hope and possibility. "Why set limits?" he asked me when I said that I would cap off my distance at 5 miles...why indeed?
On April 19th, three months ago today, I had my first treatment with Jeffrey Spratt, MT, Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC. "What leg are we rehabbing?" he asked me and after feeling the heal through what he calls, "quality positive touch," I knew that everything I expressed through my pen, my divining rod of healing, was now going to come into physical manifestation.
My love for poetry and how it can heal all began in the physical therapy office of Dr. Eugene Moskowitz, MD in Mount Vernon, New York with a wise physical therapist reading Dr. Seuss to me when I was 5 1/2 years old.
Meeting two heaven sent healers, Dr. Ryan and Jeff inspired the phrase feel the heal, and my latest book of inspirational poetry, "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life."
I am delighted to be able to share my healing odyssey and my gift of poetry with you in this latest anthology of my poems. You can purchase your copies along with "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility," and "Journey Well" on Amazon. I have already started writing poems for "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life Volume II", and "Going the Distance" which chronicles these latest miles on my marathon of healing from my knee injury last December to when I cross the finish lines of the Bermuda Half Marathon in January 2016 and the Newport Marathon in October.
Cheers! To Life! Feel the heal and let us all love ourselves well!