When I told my nurse manager at the VA that I was leaving my award winning social work career 3 years shy of when I was eligible to retire to write poetry and heal my life, she told me that I couldn't do that. Would I work part time? What was I going to do for money, for health insurance and there had to be another way because clearly I had not thought out my plan.
Clearly I had not thought out my plan.
Talk about a leap of faith! I took out my retirement account and yes paid an early withdrawal penalty but I knew that I would pay a much stiffer penalty if I continued to stay at the VA. I was burned out and all the years of neglecting and dissociating from my body due to the effects of paralytic polio and trauma finally caught up with me.
When, in February of 2007, now ten years ago, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance, the answer came in the form of a poem. Of many poems - many many many poems in which my heart and soul cried out to the Universe expressing what I dreamed about and hoped for: wholeness, health, healing, reclaiming my life, a healer to nurse my wounds, running unencumbered and free all the while expressing gratitude and finding the gift inside the challenge.
Eight years after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, I was blessed to find my way to this master muscular therapist:
Jeffrey Spratt, MT blazes his own trail in the massage therapy profession with the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy. His innovative ShakeOut (TM) Massage has transformed the way people experience massage therapy. As an efficient, economical and highly effective method of massage therapy, people can now experience the cumulative benefits of regular massage therapy as part of their health and wellness regimen.
Through the power of his positive quality touch, compassionate presence and intention to help me heal, I am a woman transformed. Oh sure I still have my days and there is still work to be done, but as Jeffrey said after my last treatment, "We'll get there."
Jeffrey was inspired to pilot an exploratory research study, "The Efficacy of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy on Trauma Recovery." We have an Emergency Responder/Veteran and a woman who experienced childhood sexual abuse and he will begin the study with Emergency Responders recovering from on the job trauma at On Site Academy. The early results of the study show that through the power of positive quality touch, trauma survivors heal and transform.
Ten years ago this month, during the dark night of my mind, body and soul I wrote my very first poem:
Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
everyone around me filled with nervous fear.
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
the polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.
Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
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.
Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
suffered in silence, alone and afraid tried to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team and they were on my side.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
for the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do
resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body-creaks, groans and need for a brace
while in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
so much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.
I reclaim my life and I reclaim my advantage and I am winning my race!
Each strike struck a chord of fear
How would I ever reclaim my life?
Holding onto hope
waiting for the day
when memories would no longer weigh heavy
free to run my own race.
Stomping in anger
shadow boxing with the thief
who stole away childhood innocence
a no win.
Each foot strike ignites my soul
fired up to run my best race
taking the lead
breaking finisher’s tape
today I won my race.
To your health and wellness,