Encountering Wildlife, and Pain
When I read the text, “Let’s go for a walk today???” I had to pull the phone closer to my face to confirm that the message came from Pam, my long-legged, golden-hair She-Ra of a friend (think Amazon Goddess meets Tarzan, Scrat and Sacagawea). With all of those traits packed into one, Pam is not the type to take walks, preferring to push her physical limits in everything she does in her life, but she was being a good friend to her Jilly3 who was in the midst of recovering from a virus that felt similar to typhoid.
The virus started with a sore throat that felt like strep, and as the inflammation invaded my body I woke up on my birthday with my Sciatic Nerve screaming, “HAPPY *(&%’N BIRTHDAY!!!!” Feeling as though some evil force was digging the sharp tip of a carving knife deeper into my nerve I called in my people, beginning with Denise Searle, Owner of The Fix, whose treatments many of you have been experiencing through my blog.
Having resisted the Cryotherapy Chamber due to my fear of being cold, Denise told me it was time to get in there to bring the inflammation down, and so I consented/relented and relinquished my body to the chamber. I should have listened to Denise from the beginning and gone in there sooner.
In the eight months that I have trained with Denise in Pilates, I have experienced her professionalism and have gained immense respect for her as a trainer and as a professional with great attention to detail. Denise has earned my trust for her knowledge in the treatments she provides, and the practitioners she brings in at The Fix.
Before entering the Cryotherapy Chamber Denise explained the mechanisms of it and how it helps to decrease inflammation in the body. Handing me the best wool socks and mittens on the market, a bathrobe, and cushy memory foam slippers before entering the chamber, I felt relieved in knowing that it would only be three minutes and that she would be there to talk me through every second of it.
The first time I was nervous and so I needed Denise to keep reminding me to try to relax to stop my teeth from chattering. The more I relaxed the more my blood would flow more efficiently to my heart, and, when I walked out of the chamber, rush more freely hydrated and restoring my body.
The best way to describe the experience is that I felt as though I was actually inside an ice pack where my body felt a slight burn of coldness, but there was no pain. When I walked out of the chamber a wonderful warm feeling rushed throughout my body and stayed with me all day. I slept like a champion and was invigorated the next day. After three visits I felt the inflammation decrease and it was easier for me to stretch my muscles and feel results from my stretching.
In addition, Denise scheduled a deep tissue massage for me with Anita Rayburn. Anita read my body well and applied the perfect pressure to get in to my Piriformis, ham strings and throughout my body to break up the knots and get the blood flowing. I liked Anita’s massage so much that I bought a ten pack for Baddy. He is now hooked on her as well. The other massage I experienced was with David Berkson who practices Inner Awareness Body Work and Massage.
Before his hands even touched my body, I could tell that David was a healer. Walking around me contemplatively with his chin in his hand he read my energy and the way I carried my body, saying things like, “Why are you standing so far forward? Don’t be in such a rush to get to where you are going, sit back more on your heals.” In the massage he went directly to all of my painful spots and with his touch he showed me where the muscles wanted to be, rather than where they were. I walked out of there feeling absolutely incredible and as though I had just gone on a journey with somebody who completely nurtured me and gave me their everything. David is now my guy to go to when I need that healing touch. On top of all the healing therapies, Denise gave me packets of Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C, Glutathione and B Complex Plus.
Feeling like I was on the road to recovery, I didn’t rest as I was told to do and decided that if I couldn’t mountain bike, I could at least hike … to the top of Buttermilk … and stretch …. aggressively, sending me back into The Fix, humbled. That was about when Pam called to support me in taking it easy.
We parked at Slaughterhouse Bridge and walked our more preferred section of the Rio Grande Trail. With winter hanging on for as long as it could, we dressed for the chill, I in my Columbia Sportswear Omni Heat light blue AspenRealLife jacket, with my Lilybart Foundation bear logo embroidered in the back by Aspen local Paula Godfrey Eaton, and my nordic race hat from Performance Ski (plug).
As we walked, the winter runoff raged down the river, separating like a water fan over the huge boulders that had been covered in snow all winter. Passing a sweet little Chipmunk at eye level on a rock, I took a closer look to see if his cheeks were filled with food and if he had an acorn in his paws. With nuts and seeds as her snacks, Pam is usually by my side noisily reaching her hand into a bag to shove a handful of some sort of natural concoction into her mouth to give her even more energy. I was hoping for her to get a closer look at the Scrat side I often hang with.
We were talking about how I feel the need to know what Baddy and my next move should be after that imminent day when the owners send the message that it’s time to level the house that we are living in (we’ve moved 8 X’s in 14 years). Pam was encouraging me to live in the moment and let that worry go when the Sakawega in her stopped in her tracks. Leaning back to whisper loudly to me, “BEAR!!!!“.
I stopped and froze with the thought occurring to me that if anyone was going to get mauled, it was going to be my own sick self. I knew what to do if needed, raise my arms up in the air, get taller and wider and be the bear. My Gary Larsonesque stream of consciousness began to chant, “be the bear, act like the bear, be the bear.”
One thing I was certain of was that running was the worst idea. Walking backward didn’t feel right either so the two of us stood very still and watched as mama bear began to lumber away, her cub frolicking by her side, jumping up to bat it’s paws on her nose to play. Whispering out of the side of her mouth and nudging my rib with a sharp elbow Sakawega told me to get my camera out as she had forgotten her phone. Actually, the only thing Sakawega ever brings with her on her excursions is water and her nuts. She doesn’t even carry her knife with her anymore that she uses to strap onto her outer calf. She’s clearly not worried about survival, even though she purposefully likes to get off the beaten track and often gets lost and has to call Baddy to lead her back onto the trail.
It was almost too beautiful and magical a moment to video record it, but I managed to watch with my eyes while filming with my phone, capturing Mama Bear taking her mouth and picking up her baby cub by the scruff of his neck to wander off into the woods. I felt badly for disturbing them, and yet these powerful moments one has capturing the love between wild animals is so magical and powerful. I am so happy to carry this image with me where ever I go, and share it with all of you.
It’s not easy to say what was the best therapy to cure my body. I’m thinking it was a combination of everything; the good friends, the magical and powerful moments with nature, the healers, the therapies, and my change of diet to decrease inflammation. What I did learn is that sometimes one has to hit rock bottom in their health to learn important lessons like; there are people out there whose life ambition is to help others and they are just a call away, and that friends and being out in nature is a must for the healing process.