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I’m standing on both feet now and trying to walk normally. After nearly a month of favoring one side over the other, the pain has shifted to my better half. Why does this happen? It’s called compensation.

It’s as if every other part of your body has been on hold for a month, and now, just now that you’re throwing away the crutches, the rest of your body gets to complain:

“You think swinging one leg around all scrunched up with your weight on your hands and your back all twisted felt fine? Now we’ll show you!”

It’s like the letdown headache. We suffer through whatever stressful thing we have going on, and afterwards the ball drops. At least it feels like a heavy ball dropped on your head. Even the common cold can somehow be set on the back burner until we finish our exams at school. This sort of thing happened a lot with me, which is why the whole “body/mind” connection always made sense. The dancer in me never lost touch with my own proprioception. Until now.

That is – our ability to sense where we are in space. Unlike other senses, proprioception is difficult to measure. We know when we need reading glasses, or if our hearing is diminished, but nobody actually thinks about how we move from A to B. The Cambridge Dictionary defines proprioception as :”the process in which nerve endings in the muscles and joints are stimulated (= made to operate) when the body moves, so that a person is aware of their body’s position.”

This sense becomes abundantly clear if God forbid you’ve had a stroke. Like Bob’s cerebellar incident during his spine surgery years ago. Today he’s better climbing ladders than I am. But unless you’ve tried rappelling down from the ceiling in an adventure movie while lasers are flashing all around at odd angles, you’re probably blissfully unaware of proprioception.

In fact, I’m reading an excellent book on perception in animals – “An Immense World, How Animal Senses Reveal the World Around Us,” by Ed Yong. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism in science. If you need to rotate some nonfiction into your bedside stack of books, I highly recommend this brilliant read.

“Thinking expansively would help us realize that nature’s true wonders aren’t limited to a remote wilderness or other sublime landscape — what Yong calls “otherworldly magnificence.” There is as much grandeur in the soil of a backyard garden as there is in the canyons of Zion. Recognizing the breadth of this immense world should spur in us a sense of humility. We just need to get over ourselves first.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/22/books/review-immense-world-animal-senses-ed-yong.html

His book begins with an elephant in a room… an actual elephant… along with some other animals and bugs.

The truth is, we all walk around, or limp or roll around, in our very own sensory bubble. We may not be attuned to the earth’s magnetic fields like some turtles, and we may insist on lighting up the planet at night, despite sending the wrong visual cues to nocturnal animals. But after my little bunk bed mishap, my other senses have been over-compensating. In slowing down, in sitting with my emotions and my broken pelvis my bubble has expanded; from the luxurious feel of cashmere yarn through my fingers while knitting, to the sound of a cardinal right outside my snug’s window.

I’ve become humbled by the kindness of strangers. People have been willing to hold doors, or reach for something when they see me struggle. After meeting with my wonderful Physical Therapist Jen yesterday, I realized I’d forgotten how to walk properly. And so I’m working on my own proprioception, trying not to think about walking so much… because when I think about tightening my core, and shoulders down, and heel down, and head up I tend to walk like a robot.

Now I just need to get out of my own way!

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