Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Neuroplasticty, anyone?

My life is just killing me with its excitement lately. Recently I got to drive really far to my really far away physiotherapist where I got my first assignment. No, it wasn't running on a treadmill, with the sweat of hard work coupled with fear trumped by a can-do attitude. Nor was it lifting heavy weights strapped to my leg, feeling that last press of exertion lifting the weight to the top before the plates slammed down.

No. My super fun time assignment was to find an old magazine a day (this could be tricky, given I succumbed to Texture, hopefully I won't give in and give up on paper in its entirety), and to circle all the right knees in it.

This, my friends, is exciting stuff.

She flipped open a February 2014 copy of InStyle, thumbed through a coupe of pages and pointed to a layout with perhaps seven models sprawled out in their spray tanned glory.

Circle all the right knees, she said, handing me a pen. And I'll be darned, but I fumbled. I had to think. I looked at both my hands and decided which was correct. I then had to flip the images around in my head, figure it out. Nothing was intuitive and nothing was quick.

We flipped through more pages, where I am proud to say I got faster, circling the knees, but it was annoyingly noticeable how the right knee circle didn't just roll of my tongue, so to speak. Wasn't natural. Fast. While yes, I got better, it was an odd and painful drawn out thing.

She says that when something happens the brain rewires itself to accommodate and since my brain has pretended for so long that I simply don't have a right knee, it has trouble even recognizing them in photos. Huh. Whooda thought.

So that I can do, my assignment, followed by watching YouTube videos of people riding bikes. Yawn. I find people riding bikes perhaps more boring than tennis, which I find weird, and golf, which I find soothing in an old man sleeping in a chair way. I mean, I feel like an old man, sleeping in a green velvet chair. That's what I think of when I think of golf. I have an inkling why but the connections aren't making sense. I'll sleep on it and see what I come up with.

All this reminds me of one of my go-to books, The Brain's Way of Healing by Norman Doidge. This simply fantastic, down-to-earth, completely readable book is a surefire help to anyone who has a brain, but especially anyone who has suffered from pain, or is recovering from injury, or who has been diagnosed with things like Parkinson's. Neuroplasticity, all the way. After I hurt my knee, after hurting it over and over for so many years, the pain pathways were crazy embedded in my brain, ready to rip at any given moment. Doidge taught me so many things about my brain - how to use scent, for instance, to calm the pain. This of course led to the purchase of a lovely diffuser and many lovely scents for said diffuser (in particular, for pain, it is lemon and peppermint). I also learned tricks like building a visual of turning the pain down. My personal imagery consisted of these large plug ins, with massive plugs plugged in. When the pain was really bad, the image in my head was of huge plugs plugged in, in an endless seeming row. I would go to each plug, reach around it, and pull hard to unplug it, laying it down on the ground and moving on to the next. With each plug I pulled, the pain receded. As the pain abated, the plugs were smaller, and smaller, and there were less.
I also have a volume switch, for pain, that I've created a visual for, mine is a physical dial whereas when I teach my kids this they tap on volume down buttons, as they would on an iPad. Crazy stuff, I know, and yet.

And yet the possibilities are endless.


cMCg said...

I just posted a doodle project that is similar in that it allows you to develop neuroplasticity and shut off the ego that loves to sit and judge every decision we make! The project is on the board for Elizabeth Gilbert's workshop... if you can't find it and the link there then look at my google link for the course. ( I am also from Saskatchewan... Saskatoon to be exact...) http://bit.ly/29JPRAU

Kristen, spinning said...

Hi Corla!! What a small world, to find you on Elizabeth Gilbert's amazing workshop and here you are in Saskatoon. I LOVE Saskatoon! What a cool thing you are doing, the doodle project. I love it. I took a look at it and I think it sounds wonderful! Good for you. Thank you for stopping by my blog and reading!! Kristen