Best Foot Forward: The Teachings Of Convalescence


These glamorous pieces of kit will be my constant companions for around the next 8-12 weeks, at least until the initial assessment of my progress early in the new year. I have torn the Gastrocnemius (calf muscle) and damaged the Achilles tendon in my leg but thankfully it's unlikely to need surgery, if I follow the advice I've been given to the letter. I'm so grateful for the amazing, and quick, attention of the NHS, a truly precious thing indeed that we must never lose, and for the skill and kindness of Jacq at the New Victoria MIU and Liz at the fracture clinic at Queen Elizabeth hospital.


I had optimistically hoped to return to appointments at the Glasgow Osteopathic Centre in the next week or two but it isn't advisable and so I have to surrender myself to the recovery process.

And much to my surprise this, I'm beginning to realise, is quite challenging for me. I am an independent, headstrong and rather stubborn person and, when it comes to my own health, I'm understanding that I can be quite an impatient one too. Above all else, I love my work - it is the passionate fire in my belly, the purpose that fuels me - and my injury has created an unexpected halt to most of my practice. But illness and injury offer us valuable teachings - here I share what I am (re)learning.


Patience Is A Virtue

The smallest task is now taking so much longer to do and sometimes I want everything to be done right now, because it means I can then get on to all the other things. I'm sure many of you know exactly what I mean.


In reality there are lots of things that can wait and only a few things that require our immediate attention, and this is one of those things that is not only requiring my immediate attention but actually demanding it. I have to go with the slowness of its own timescale, it decides my pace, and it does not matter how different this is to the one that I am used to, that I have created.


In a culture where we can get things on demand, at the touch of a button 24 hours a day, we can often lose sight of the value of how much we can both learn about ourselves and appreciate our lives if we slow down and just...wait.


The Courage Of Compassion

Compassion is a lovely word. Every time I hear or read the word, it always triggers a response deep within my chest, a release of energy that escapes out into the ether. It is as if the word itself kickstarts a giving from the heart that is hardwired in us.


While compassion is a lovely word sometimes we are resistant to the actual acts that compassion require of us because it demands connection, reaching from within ourselves to connect with sadness and pain, to extend our hearts to others because we too feel these emotions. The things that are intended to divide us are no match for the inherent need we have to want to share ourselves so that we can show others they are not alone. It is fear that makes us push others, and ourselves, away and to run from these feelings, but we must face them bravely and stand with ourselves and each other. Compassion takes courage.


It is so common for us to deride and blame ourselves for the things that happen to us. No matter how frustrated I am and no matter how tempting it is for me to criticise myself, it is important to my healing to be gentle with myself. Our bodies listen to what our minds tells them. The energy of our thoughts matter - when we speak to ourselves with damaging, critical thoughts, our bodies respond to these and likewise with positive, encouraging thoughts. My body will be encouraged to heal quicker, stronger and better when my internal dialogue is loving, compassionate and understanding.


Pride Before A Fall

This injury is allowing me to appreciate that I should never be too proud to accept the support and help of others. When we feel good about helping others, we can sometimes forget that others feel good about helping us too and so this builds a wonderful, lasting support network. This is what I encourage for my clients, that sometimes we cannot do things alone, and sometimes we can overlook this for ourselves.


I had temporarily forgotten how important this was for me too. It is lovely to receive such wonderful get well messages from clients, and the dedication and support of my family and friends - sometimes we all need a little reminder of how important supporting each other is. While we might pride ourselves on our independence, we can be liberated when we understand the times when we need to call upon each other.


Convalescence Is Power

Convalescence is essential to a gradual recovery of strength and health but it is something we are discouraged from doing. We need only look at adverts for cold remedies to get a sense of how we are encouraged to perceive illness as an irritating hurdle that needs to be overcome as quickly as possible so that we can 'get on with it'.


This reinforces conditioned responses to associate convalescence with weakness but it is quite the opposite. There is great strength in surrendering ourselves to illness or injury so that we may understand its message and know ourselves better. This is personal power. Convalescence is an important time of healing for a physical, mental and emotional reconnection.


An Attitude Of Gratitude

My injury has restored a deep gratitude for my body and its mobility. Like most things when they work just as they should, we forget just how much we take our body for granted, often demanding things of it that push it to beyond its limits.


We are all incredible beings with souls full of starlight but our physical bodies are made from the very same things as the Earth and, just like she, we have limitations as to what we can demand of our bodies. When we push ourselves beyond these, often we are given a timely reminder that we can only expect so much of our physical body and we are forced to respect its vulnerabilities.


Hibernation

This is my reminder of fully appreciating the power of living with the flow of the season. Winter is the ideal time for us to retreat, especially if we are not in full health. We can learn much from the plant and animal kingdoms of the benefits of hibernation: bears retreat to dark, womb-like caves in winter and this is when they give birth to their cubs, knowing it is the best time for rest and rebirth. Deciduous trees withdraw their nutrients and energy from their leaves in autumn to store during winter, ready for when it will be needed for renewal and regrowth in the coming months.


Hibernating for recovery, with warmth, rest, books, films, nourishing food, gentle movement and spending time with my family, both human and furry, is my focus for the coming few weeks and it is such a gift to be reminded of how important all of these are. As the Winter Solstice (21st December) approaches, this is the turning point for when the nights become shorter and the days of light longer, and it is a wonderful reflection for us to slowly move back into the world after a time of recuperation and restoration.


To all of you who are facing health or life challenges, listen to the wisdom of your body because it knows you like no other does. Retreat from the world for a time if you need to. Embrace the care and support of others and, most importantly, be kind to yourself.


Much love to you,

Andrea 💗