Becoming self-reliant

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One of the questions people ask me most often is “How are you doing now?”.

I’ve been meaning to answer some of those more specific questions about what I can and can’t do, and my activity level now, in a separate post.

But what I wanted to talk to you about today is a very important component of my recovery: self-reliance.

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Honestly, I’ve always had sort of a weird relationship with this term.  I’ve always found it to carry a somewhat negative connotation– after all, if someone tells you to build self-reliance, doesn’t that sort of imply you’ve been relying too much on others?  That you haven’t been trying hard enough?

So please know that I don’t mean this term in that way, at all.  Instead, I think of it like this:

Self-reliance is something we need to build in our lives, in response to challenges.  Eventually, something’s going to come along that knocks us flat on our feet.  At first, we’ll feel helpless. 

No one can be totally self-reliant all the time.  If you’re dealing with a condition like SI joint dysfunction, of course you’re going to need the help of others to be able to make sense of it.  It’s totally complicated and nuts.  It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or that you aren’t trying.

But the more you can come to understand your situation and feel as though you have a sense of control, the more peace of mind you’ll have.  

What was really healing for me, both mentally and physically, was that over time I was able to piece together a course towards recovery myself.

I charted this course myself, taking bits and pieces here and there from the people and articles and books that helped me.

Eventually, I was able to put together enough of an understanding of my own condition that I didn’t feel so helpless.   (And, in time, it would turn out that I’d know enough to begin to help others!).

The biggest piece of this, of course, was learning the Muscle Energy Technique, and how to adjust my SI joints myself.  It took me a long time to get to this point– although my physical therapist, Paula, was able to teach me how to do this fairly quickly, I still had to:

a) go through seven previous physical therapists before I found her, and

b) build up experience, based on all my chiropractor visits, in being able to diagnose for myself which way my hip bones were rotated.

Once Paula taught me to use MET, it finally opened up a new horizon for me.  I was able to travel to California, intending to go only for a week, and in the spur of the moment, decided to extend my trip for two more weeks.   This was a whole new world opening up for me, as someone who used to spend her days hobbling around the house, desperately waiting until her next chiropractor appointment in 48 hours.27604431811_41d50986cf_o

However, it’s also a mental shift.

When people ask me how I’m doing now, I tell them the truth, which is that I know my SI joints will always be vulnerable.  It’s like they say about spraining an ankle: once you do it once, it will always be easier to do it again.  Ligaments, once sprained, never totally go back to the way they once were.

But this prospect doesn’t terrify me now, the way it once did.

I know how to adjust my SI joints myself.

I know now that I don’t need to be scared about having to get down on the floor to do my stretches and exercises, because I have my stretching table, with just the right amount of cushioning added to it.

I know which exercises I need to do to keep my core and surrounding muscles strong.

I know how to do cardio exercises in a pool, so I don’t need to be scared about not being able to work out if I do have a setback.

All of these things I pieced together– some with the help of other people, some on my own.

Now I can look back and see that I did it– I found my way out of this once insurmountable hole.

I’m not trying to promise anyone my SI joints will never lock up again, or that I’ll be out there running marathons.  I know that simply isn’t accurate.

But what I have now is a road map to find my way back out, if I ever get “lost” again.  So I don’t need to be terrified of setbacks the way I once was.

Now I know that if something happens and one of my SI joints locks up again, I can course correct in the space of two weeks, instead of having to depend on a chiropractor for the next five years.

So you can do this too.

I can’t promise everything that worked for me will worked for you too.  Individual people’s SI joints can be really different, and so can be the nature of our injuries.

But even if you don’t have the same responses I did to various approaches, I hope my blog can also serve the larger purpose of showing you how I pieced together my recovery.

Please check out my other site, Sunlight in Winter, if you want to know more about the personal aspects of my story!  This site is more fact-based, while I share much more about my life over there!

Here are some posts you might like:

Also:

I have to give credit for the road map metaphor to Brene Brown.  She actually inspired me with her totally amazing quote:

“I’m an experienced mapmaker, but I can be as much of a lost and stumbling traveler as anyone else.”

Hope this was helpful!  Any comments or questions, you can always share your thoughts below or email me at sunlightinwinter12@gmail.com.  Thanks!

9 thoughts on “Becoming self-reliant

  1. alex says:

    This is encouraging, I am about 6 months post-injury and am feeling much better. I did get a cortisone shot in my SI joint about a month after the injury which only made things worse. I was confused whether it was my herniated L5; however I am certain that it’s my SI joint which is causing my hip pain. The exercises you mentioned help and I have been strengthening my glutes and core which help a ton. The only main issue I have is stiffness in the mornings getting out of bed, hopefully that will resolve itself soon! Great post as always 🙂

    Like

    • sunlight in winter says:

      That’s great, Alex– I’m so glad you’ve been getting some clarity, and seeing improvements! That’s interesting about the cortisone shot– I never had one in my SI joints, but I did once have one in my knee which backfired. (They said it wasn’t an allergic reaction, which is more typical. Instead, it was just that my knee was already so inflamed that having any extra fluid injected into the area caused even more pain). That’s one of the things I urge people to keep in mind when considering whether or not to pursue SI joint injections, but I’d never actually heard of it happening to anyone.

      In terms of morning stiffness– are you doing this stretch? If not, adding in 2 repetitions of at least 30 seconds after your workouts might help. https://sijointsaga.com/2017/11/16/glute-stretch/

      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

      • alex says:

        I’m pleasantly surprised to say the knee to chest helped a lot this morning, as opposed to my normal cobra and pelvic tilt sessions! Thanks again for your input on this.

        That also makes sense about the cortisone shots during extreme inflammation, happy to say I will not get it done again. Honestly, taking turmeric pills (about 2-3g) a day as helped best. On bad days I’ll resort to Advil, but I’m trying to avoid being too dependent on NSAIDs; although the doctors have mentioned I can have up to 8 pills a day (never tried/will).

        Looking forward to your next post! 🙂

        Like

  2. Gail Purcell says:

    In addition to my SI joint injury, I now have torn hamstring tendons, which I am receiving PRT (Platelet Rich Blood Treatment). Did you have any issues with your hamstrings?

    Like

  3. empower4her says:

    This post is very encouraging. It is essential to research and learn methods to achieve optimal health both mentally and physically. I have bouts with lower back pain. I incorporated holistic diet, stretching, core strengthening exercises. My lower pains have improved. Self- reliance is imperative especially when you have to figure out what works best for you. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Like

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