There are many, many stories about this experience to share and give you hope about your life. The one about my face is the most significant as the results are evident for everyone to see. What helped my nerve come back to life came down to just one thing:
I never allowed myself to believe it would not function again.
This belief, followed with action and willingness to do what ever I could, is what has let my smile be seen again for the world. Vision without action means nothing. We can pray and meditate; seek guidance for the top surgeons, get the best therapy and have the best medicine, and that is not what makes us heal. We do it. All of these things listed are our assistants to the process, especially, other people. We hire them as consultants. It is only our heart, intuition, or inner knowing that will give the path of our own recovery.
Inviting help is necessary as Knee Pain Doctor Henderson Nv we are social animals that thrive on the participation to both give and receive of ourselves. Inviting help is essential as it can educate us about our challenge. Inviting support is critical as there is strength in numbers. Inviting wisdom can help create solace. However, in the end, it is out choices, our actions, and our beliefs that define our challenge, our healing path, and the eventuality of them.
When a young acupuncturist handed me a box of needles 5 months after the surgery, photocopied 2 pages from a textbook, and told me “Do this everyday.” my first reaction was “You want me to do WHAT!” Alison Henderson very calmly and wisely said: “Sally, if you were in China, this is how you would be treated. You are not. You are in the United States. You cannot afford to see me everyday, and I cannot afford to see you everyday with free sessions. So, you are going to have to do it yourself.” Talk about responsibility! Talk about stretching my comfort zone! Talk about fear! Talk about wanting another option! In that moment, I had a choice. I chose to overcome my resistance and accept the challenge.
It is funny now when I think back about the first time I put the needles in my face. I only put in 3 but it took several hours to do it. I was looking in a mirror. I would bring the needle up to where I though the point was. I would look at the diagram on the pages Alison gave to me. I would look back at the needle, then my face, and then I would freeze. Eventually, I added looking into my eyes to this process and telling myself, “You can do this Sally!” In this way not only was I my own Champion; I also learned to become my own Cheerleader.
Acupuncture was on the only healing I was doing just for my face. Chiropractic, cranial sacral therapy, Feldenkrais, EMDR, massage therapy, facials, Reiki, Graduate School, vitamins, and a myriad of other disciplines, were also my medicines for my face. Remember to my face was only a part of the challenges to my health. Yet, everyday I did something. I took action. I was responsible for my healing.
Thirteen months after the surgery, my neurosurgeon sent me to a Stanford doctor to measure the function specifically of the trigeminal nerve. The results were calculated and the bated breathe I was told, “You have 2.2 % of function and that is all you are ever going to have.” That meant I had 97.8% of non-function. That is a lot.
My immediate response to the doctor was “How can you say that to me?” He literally and figuratively puffed out his chest and said, “I am a doctor at Stanford. I have more experience with this than you do!” To which I replied, “But you do not know me.” At home that night, I prayed. I told God, “You have my attention! Tell me what to do to make this outcome different.”
For me, negating the negative does not make a positive. I truly felt the words of the doctor were a message from God to help me take even more responsibility for my healing. In my meditation that night, I was told to do three things:
1. Keep doing the acupuncture
2. Keep doing all the therapy
3. Take a self-defense class
Well, you can imagine I wondered about that last thing but I signed up the next week regardless of my skepticism. I just knew I had to do it no matter how afraid I was. I was even able to get sponsorship, as the cost would have been prohibitive. This was another sign that it was the right thing for me to do. Cost is always a popular excuse to not do what we need to do. Money only inhibits anything if we allow it to do so.
The results of the self-defense class showed immediately in my body. I had asked the surgeon to crack open my head to save my life but my body still felt violated. By going through the self-defense class, I reminded my body that I had the power to fight back. A dear client and massage therapist Tess Cordill was gifting me with sessions weekly. Tess told me for the first time since we had started working together my shoulders were relaxed. She had been trying for months to get them to drop. As an instinctual reflex, my shoulders did not feel anymore that they had to protect my wound.
This story, of taking a self-defense class, might not sound like medicine to you. However, the results were the same. When we listen to our own guidance, our own little voice of reason, our own intuition, we are most likely able to choose wisely for ourselves. It is our life. Just because a path of action worked for someone else, does not immediately make it right or good for others. Medicine can be virtually anything. Remember Harry Ward Beecher said, “Mirth is God’s best medicine.” Humor is not something bottled for consumption but it does not mean it cannot heal.
Three and a half years later after doing the acupuncture daily the results were clearly showing on my face. My cheek had definition again. I could close my eyelid. Occasionally my tears would flow with the emotion instead of days later. Just several months ago for the first time, I had actual twitching on my bottom lip. Twitching! The right side had not done that in 13 years! It became another milestone to celebrate. It also became another validation that I have no idea where the place, Recovered, actually is.
My recovery I have learned is not a destination where I will be whole, fixed, recovered. I will not win if I get the function restored totally in my face. In life if we take on the dichotomy of winners and losers, we limit the wisdom possible. If I waited for my joy, my self-acceptance and my ability to see my own beauty until my face worked right again, I would have lost precious time. Once gone, those moments will never come again. I learned recovery is not a place; it is a way of actively engaging responsibility with the challenges before me. The wholeness of each of us includes our brokenness. We are lovable all the same.
As life ABS unfolds, I still hold the thought that there is only more healing possible. Why not? The good news is that I learned that the smile did not live on my face. It lives in my heart. I was the person that walked down the street and smiled at everyone. The compassion for people with disabilities took on a new light as I learned what it was like to be stared at not for my beauty, but for my pain. These were invaluable life lessons. I am grateful to have had them as the gifts from my brain tumor. This potential is true for any experience, no matter how painful. Every challenge helps me learn to love others, and myself, even more.
Being the Champion does not mean that I believe I have to win to be OK, or well, or happy, or wealthy, to be loved. Being the Champion means to me that I am the Captain of my crew along the river of life. Being my own champion means to me that it is OK when I make mistakes. It is OK when I do not win. The negative experiences direct the course of our life paths as much as the positive ones. What is important is that we know we are the navigators of our own journey on Earth. For me, the compass is my heart. It is the best compass I know for us all.