Tuesday, March 17


I wasn't given any physical therapy after I got my cast off in January, so I've instituted my own rehab routine, mostly consisting of aerial dance and horseback riding. 

In five weeks of wearing the cast, my range of motion decreased significantly and my grip was pathetic. I tried to lift myself up onto the lira (hoop), something I'd done easily in November, but was unable to stand the weight of my whole body. My finger felt like it might snap. So, I slowed down a bit.

I've been doing finger stretches, squeezing exercise balls, and completely letting go of spooked horses that take off suddenly across the arena.

I don't think rehab is something anyone enjoys much. A friend who took a nasty fall of her bicycle resulting in a broken femur last year is still waiting for her normal energy level to return; an aerial dance friend just told me she's been grounded for a month because of bruised ribs.

While I was still in the cast, I went to see the movie Unbroken, which tells the survival story of US Olympian and WWII bombardier Louis Zamparini, whose plane was shot down in the ocean, followed by his imprisonment in Japanese prisoner of war camps. 

The movie was good, but at the end I was surprised to learn that it is based on a best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand. Many may not know that Hillenbrand, who also wrote Seabiscuit, suffers from debilitating chronic fatigue and dizziness, and rarely leaves her home. As an athletic college student, she became ill very suddenly, dropped out and became dependent on care from her boyfriend. She wrote Seabiscuit and Unbroken--both tales of astounding physical achievement against the odds--after she got sick.

I remember reading what is, to my knowledge, the only article she's written about her illness. She became so dizzy while writing Seabiscuit, she would sometimes hold her head up with one hand so that she could continue typing with the other.

All of this came back to me as the movie credits rolled. I can't even manage to post to my blog regularly, I lamented. And this woman writes best-sellers from her bed. Have you ever wished you were housebound so that you might accomplish more? 

I had to ask: Would Hillenbrand have ever written a word if she had never gotten sick to the point of not being able to do much else?

The value of life is often equated with productivity, but certainly not being bed-ridden. It's easy to feel like rehab is working to get back to a place where you once were. But what if it it more like re-shaping into something completely new?