Sunday, July 15, 2007

Christopher Reeve's tragic story...

“My joints and muscles are frozen, and I can barely turn my head because my neck is so stiff. Usually I have a tingling, burning sensation in both legs and pain behind my left knee where the blood clots were. I sleep with splints on both feet to prevent foot drop; if the tendons and ligaments are not flexed and are allowed to atrophy, it will never be possible to stand or walk. There are splints on my arms too, which keep my fingers in a natural position. Otherwise they would clench into fists and ultimately never straighten out.

Once everything is removed I am rolled onto my back. But my body rebels no matter how gently they try to move me; my arms and legs flail wildly, and my chest tightens, making it difficult to breathe. The nurse turns the oxygen that is always ready at the bedside. Because my muscles are still strong, it often takes the full weight of both the nurse and the aide to control these spasms and force my body to lie still.

Then we begin ranging, very slowly moving all four limbs. The nurse holds down on leg, while the aide stretches out the other one, first working it almost ninety degrees out to the side, then pushing my knee up to my chest, then straight up, and finally doing the “frog”: pushing the knee from side to side in a bent position. All the while the nurse is looking intently for any red spots that might indicate the first stage of a skin breakdown…-- Christopher Reeve
As you can see by the excerpt above, I’ve been reading “Still Me” by the late Christopher Reeve, the man who played “Superman” in the 80’s. What impressed me was that his body even though paralyzed could not lie still in one position (who thinks of these matters when you have never had to face anything like this), but must be manually exercised each day or blood clots, atrophy and skin breakdown will take over. It’s odd … I just figured that if you a paraplegic lied in bed all day and was occasionally moved for bathing, washroom needs, changing clothes, however, it’s much more complicated than all that. The body was designed for movement even when it cannot move on its own.

I cannot help wonder how much of this applies to the emotional realm. What happens when we shut down our feelings? What kind of blood clots, atrophy and tissue breakdown can take over? The mind and heart was designed for movement even when we no longer want to. When were you last paralyzed emotionally? How were you able to get unstuck and move on?

© TR 2007

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