This last year has been characterised by the formation of my pelvis. Of course it existed a year ago, but only in the sense of depleted structure and not in any real functional sense, so when I talk of ‘formation’ I should really talk of ‘re-forming’ after catastrophic collapse due to spinal injury. The development has happened in various waves, some quite dramatic and involving sleepless nights with pains in my hips and others creeping up on me, noticeable through a realisation of new found strength. What is truly incredible is that in the short space of a year, and believe me in the rebuilding of a spinally injured body a year is a short time, my pelvis has gone from a rather lifeless structure crushed under the weight of my body to a vibrant structure capable of playing a role in supporting the body. There is now the beginning of a functional connection between my legs and trunk.
Such dramatic change, going from lifeless to functional, is understandably very obvious, but it must be remembered that the improvements in the pelvic region are in many ways a reflection of improvements higher up in the system. Over the last year we have also engineered enormous change in my head, neck and shoulder girdle. Combine this with much input along the length of my spine and we have a body that is reforming from the head down. Just as a tree has its strength rooted in the ground with its digestive system above in the leaves and its reproductive organs above that in the flowers, we humans are the other way up with our strength rooted in our heads, our digestive system below and our reproductive organs further down still (an animal incidentally is a horizontal creature, a stage between the plant kingdom and the human kingdom). The point I am making is that if we wish to make improvements in the pelvic region we must first have concentrated on ironing out weakness in the head and neck upon which the pelvis is hierarchically dependent and this is exactly what we have been doing over the last ten years.
Having spent years working largely at the top of the body we have created a trunk with greatly improved form that is now rapidly descending to the lower regions. This has created the conditions necessary for the bringing back to life of the sacrum, pelvis and hips, but this has not happened without also inputting directly into the pelvic region. However, once the descending form had gathered sufficient momentum, it then took relatively little direct input to bring about the change.
Over the years of paraplegia it has always been a struggle to find the strength necessary to support my body. It is all too easy to slump into a chair, but that would not allow me to use the little strength I had let alone improve my condition. As we have gradually improved the formation of my trunk, through ABR Therapy, I have learnt to appreciate the strength that descends from our head through the form of our body. We are talking here not of a muscular strength, but of a strength that comes from our inner volume that provides us with a resistance to compression. This increasing inner volume in me has created more and more stability to my trunk allowing for a much greater ability to sit up straight. However, until recently, it has always been a case of propping my body up on top of a relatively lifeless pelvis, very depleted in quality. Since we have brought the pelvis back to life this situation has changed and a new element has come into play.
With the beginning of a functional connection between the legs and the trunk I now not only have ‘descending patterns’ of strength through the form of the trunk rooted in the head, but also ‘ascending patterns’ of strength working up through the reaction with the ground. These are the patterns of strength that work in from the extremities through the skeletal muscular system. Obviously this is in its infancy and walking is still a long way off, but it has brought about fundamental change in my body and my whole manner of being. Whereas before I was always seeking to eliminate the negative effects of crushing the weakened structure of the pelvis by concentrating on promoting the descending patterns through the form of the body, I now also have the ability to develop ascending patterns through conscious muscular effort, so creating a true uplifting force to support the upper regions of the trunk. This has brought about a vast improvement in sitting. My ankles, although improved in form, still have no muscular life to them and my knees have little, but they do nonetheless serve a purpose in anchoring me to the ground. However, this is still marginal and for the purpose of sitting, true ascending patterns can begin from the contact of the thighs and buttocks with a seat surface. From the thighs there is now a connection through the hips into the pelvis, through the sacral iliac joints into the sacrum and then up through the spine. None of this was possible until quite recently.
The improved form descending from the head and the emergence of ascending patterns of strength from the legs is really bringing my body together and making it feel whole once again. As is inevitable, such improvement brings to light the new predominant weakness and the next challenge. I now feel that I have an upper and a lower body, but that the connection between the two is weak. The damaged portion of my spine, which is bolted together by two metal rods from T11 down to L2, has become an obvious weak link. However, at least I now appreciate that connection between my upper and lower body and we can now work on improving the strength of that connection.
This fundamental step in improving my physical condition and making me feel whole once again, has just as importantly had an enormous effect on my general disposition. The ability to support my body in a manner that has not been possible for fifteen long years has brought a ‘sense of peace’ to my life. The constant struggle to exist in the physical plane is finally giving way to the ability to simply ‘be’.