When I left hospital, fifteen years ago, my body from the waist down no longer felt a part of me. It was alive and had to be looked after, but it was dead weight that I had to haul around with me. It had no functional use other than as a counterbalance weight that helped me use what I had left up top. Dealing with my legs was strange! I no longer had any internal perception of them. As far as my consciousness was concerned, they no longer existed, and yet there they still were as large as life. My perception of them was purely external. I could see them and touch them, but such appreciation is no different from the way we are able to perceive someone else’s body. My relationship with my legs had become totally impersonal.
At the time I had little understanding of just how depleted my body also was from the waist up. I had muscular control over it, but those muscles had little foundation due to the collapse of intrinsic capacity (core strength). When viewed from the front, my torso looked good enough, but when viewed from the side, there was no depth to it at all. The depletion of my trunk was massive! However, my body from the waist up, although depleted, was very much a part of me still and a part of my consciousness.
For eleven years now (it seems like a lifetime), I have been slowly rebuilding this body of mine through the delivery of mechanical input into the system, to wake up deep structures within the body, increasing their volume and reintroducing them as structural elements in our bio-mechanical framework. Some work I can do on myself, but much of it is delivered by another person while I lie on a bench. It is possible to feel the input, but my involvement is totally passive. After all these years, I have become very tuned into the process. I appreciate the weaknesses within me and the changes we are engineering, but to start with much change was engineered without me even realising. The changes had to be pointed out to me by my consultant and teacher. The process is like building a sculpture. To start with the form of my body was severely lacking in volume and through the therapy we add in volume, targeting one specific area after another, just as you would keep adding clay to a sculpture to build up its form.
As we slowly, but surely, improve my physical condition, my legs more and more return to my perception. Functional use of them is still extremely limited, and will be until re-engineering of the trunk is complete, but they are alive once again. I can wave them around, even if there is yet no movement in the ankles, and feeling has largely returned. They are no longer dead weight that I have to lift with my arms to move. They are a part of me again and I can use muscles in the hips and thighs to place them as I move my body around. My relationship with my legs has become far more personal.
Although you may be able to feel the input delivered into the body and feel for the weaknesses we are addressing, feeling the body actually changing is another matter altogether. Changes tend to happen in successive waves of expansion and consolidation. First you get the volume and then that volume condenses to become strong, dense, solid structure. Viewing these changes is generally an external process and often they need to be pointed out to me. If I then feel for them with my hands I can start to get a picture of what is happening which may then make sense of any internal perception. Even internal perception is the use of our head to appreciate our body below and is somewhat removed from the self. Changes happen without me knowing about them and it is only afterwards that I investigate what has occurred. Changes in the head itself, however, are a different matter altogether.
There was a time when I couldn’t conceive the possibility of changing the structure of the head, or that a head could decline in quality, being such a solid structure. The head, though, is not so solid. The skull is made up of plates and filled with the soft tissue of the brain. This internal tissue has a volume, density and pressure which defines the position of the plates around it. The jaw is attached to the skull by joints either side; joints which have an hydraulic capacity that can decline. The head can most certainly become weak. In recent months, and after many hours of work, my head has undergone quite dramatic change. Over a period of a few weeks there was a real expansion of the skull in the ‘coronal plane’ (the plane that divides the body into anterior and posterior halves). This expansion was then followed by a slow consolidation, leaving me with a very different structure to my head. My head became much more rounded in the coronal plane and ridges appeared at the edge of the eye sockets, leaving me with hollows to now fill in, in the temple regions. Unlike changes in the rest of the body, you cannot escape from noticing changes in the head while they are taking place. This recent change in my head affected my health in a way that a cold might. My face became flushed and my temperature regulation impaired. I lacked energy and vibrance and had to take time out to be still and quiet. I could also feel the expansion happening. Changes in the head are really ‘kind of personal’.
As I said, changes tend to happen in successive waves, but this expansion of the head was more like an earthquake to be followed only by small after shocks. There is, however, more change to come in my head and I am now keenly awaiting an earthquake in the ‘sagittal plane’ (the plane that divides the body into left and right halves) to bring the lower posterior of my head back out, so creating that true bio-mechanical foundation for the spine.