Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

Just the other day my pain level went down to…acceptable??? And my spirits lifted…just like that. Well, other great stuff was happening in my life as well, but the cream puff of spirits lifting sure was the diminishing level of pain. Immediate reduction of stress. This is happening just in time, as I am supposed to go back to work shortly.  Doucette the cat umm…had an “accident” on the bed that night…elle a fait pipi…of course on purpose…so the next morning was spent doing laundry and making up the bed again. I wish she could just tell me what’s wrong but alas…sigh. I inhibited my usual reaction of getting upset quite nicely. No startle response. I just sighed.

a cream puff.

a cream puff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have managed to turn my mood around. Of course, having had five AT lessons in the span of eight days certainly helped turn me around. Three lessons with the usual suspect, and two lessons with two different teachers. I scheduled these lessons as an anti-having the blues prevention. Guess what? My strategy worked! And guess what? The usual suspect remarked that my ribs are moving much more than they used to. Too cool!

I was thinking about all the lovely things that happened on that first day of less pain. I had great conversations in person, via telephone, and by messaging with amazing people all day and all night long. Had a wonderful conversation with a cousin, and I realized that she understands oh so well.  Great talk with a neurologist friend who is totally thrilled that I am doing AT and, in fact, that I am going to continue my training at some point. On my part, I was thrilled to find that he is familiar with the Technique. I had so much great input from so many terrific, supportive people. I am very grateful to…friends near and afar, family, and yeah, la mauvaise Doucette the cat. Such great energy beaming my way!

Judith Leibowitz wrote “The aspect of the Alexander Technique I want to focus on is stress and how using the Technique can help to minimize the negative physical effects of stress. Use of the Alexander Technique will also release excess tension into a dynamic balance of tension in the body that is carried into activity.” This was the opening of an unpublished manuscript of hers…I guess it was from a paper presented in 1985…and it was published in the AmSAT Fall Journal of 2013, number 4. I happened to be reading this as my mood was lifting. “Well yeah” said I to myself. And I thought of my neurologist friend’s explanations of how working on the body can create new synapses, etcetera in the brain. He told me that Charles Sherrington was an oldie but goodie and long dead hahaha. I will have to confer with him on more up to date reading. He kind of lost me with his technical, scientific jargon, but, his message was crystal clear. I must inform myself and explore the neurological ramifications of the Technique.

I went home after the last of my series of lessons feeling pretty floaty. I was thinking that some champagne that evening would be grand. I thought I had a split in my fridge, but alas, I was wrong.

On a homeopathic pain/inflammation remedy note…arnica gel works great for me; comfrey root is banned in the USA.

Below is a photo of Doucette when she first came to live with me four and one half years ago. I am noticing how retro this photo is. A Filofax omg! No iPhone! How did I manage? Doucette had captured the orange pompom “mouse” hanging from her cat house. She was very attached to it for a long time. She used to take it with her wherever she went! Gratuitous photo? No way! I really appreciate her great use of self!

Doucette posing with her captured orange pompom mouse

Doucette posing with her captured orange pompom mouse

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

“We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full.”

Marcel Proust

Pain is ephemeral to me. It’s hard to describe. When it’s gone…I forget how it felt, how bad it was. I just remember that I had been in pain. I vaguely remember abject pain–after my laminoplasty–the neurosurgery performed on my cervical spine. I remember the agony of the bone marrow biopsy I underwent. I remember moaning over and over “ça me fait mal…that is hurting me!” The hematologist was francophone so…all my moaning and groaning was en français. Weirdly enough, changing languages was kind of a comfort to me. It took me out of my everyday NYC scene. Can I describe the quality of those bouts of severe pain?  Well I can say that I would wish a bone marrow biopsy on my worst enemy. As for my post-op neurosurgery pain, what I really remember was the bliss of drinking my first coffee after coming out of the anesthesia. I had begged one of the doctor’s looking in at me for a coffee at Starbucks. He asked me where Starbucks was, and I giggled as I told him that there was one at the cafeteria and one on the ground floor of the hospital. So he brought me a cup. It was heavenly…even though I was so out of it and shaky that I spilled it all over my brand new neck brace and my hospital gown. I wanted so badly to thank that lovely doctor, but in my morphine-induced haze, his name slipped out of my memory. I will never forget that act of kindness!

So now I am in another kind of pain. Pain-wise, well, it’s nothing in the scheme of things. What it is is constant, all-the-time pain. It’s a different kind of stress because it’s been going on since July. It wears me down. However, the quality is different since my surgery. Before it impinged greatly on how I could move. I couldn’t walk much and when I did it was in a funny way. I favored the other leg so both legs hurt. Thinking about Alexander Technique ramifications: I couldn’t do a normal lie down with my leg bent at my knee. I had to extend my leg with a pillow under it. I could not do any chair work whatsoever. Since the surgery, my wound hurts. Scar tissue. Inflammation. And also all my leg muscles are weak, as they atrophied as soon as the surgery happened. When I do my exercises in p/t and at home, well my muscles become really sore, much like after doing mega-weights on leg press at the gym for the first time ever. My limited walking around town to do my errands now wipes me out. On the Alexander Technique front there is good news: well, now I can manage a regular table turn, and wonderfully, I can do chair turns. Next up for me: monkey alone and monkey while putting hands on my teacher.

Impermanence

Impermanence (Photo credit: Philofoto)

I am upset because I have to postpone my return to work for a few weeks. I’m extremely bummed out by this. The healing process is very slow. So I must embrace the slow pace and just trust that eventually I will be fine. And that the remembrance of this pain will fade like the other really severe pain I have experienced in my life.

Pain teaches me lots. In a way it’s kind of a friend as it is a constant companion. “Hey pain, how are you doing?” It helps me examine my use of self. It slows me down. I feel that am really now learning how to inhibit and direct. I must really think about how my body is moving. It puts things in perspective for me. It teaches me to really appreciate not having pain at all. It is clear to me that I am indeed getting better slowly. I have much better range of motion. My muscles are getting stronger. I think pain this time around is more immediate to me because I am so much more aware of my psycho-physical self through my exposure to AT.

So, one of my preoccupations now is fitting in as many AT lessons as I can, despite the circumstances. I am greedy for AT! I ache to start training again.

This pain is giving me distance and objectivity for all aspects of my life. I find that I am stepping back and re-evaluating everything I do. I am re-evaluating all my relationships. It’s like my pain and I are throwing up a bunch of life pick up sticks and they are now falling in the most correct places.

There is a prayer pronounced in synagogue, the Mi She-berach. This particular blessing is recited on behalf of a sick person. I do have dear friends saying Mi She-berach for me right now every Shabbat! Terrific, right? I am being taken care of in many ways.

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

I’m in quite the pensive mood these days…thinking about all the vicissitudes of my life…what to reveal…what to write about.

“It occurred to me today that I’m not as far along as I thought. Writing my story isn’t the courageous act of liberation I had hoped it would be. Writing is solitary, furtive, and I know all about those things. I’m an expert in the underground life… Still, you can only do what you’re able. If this story is written only for myself, then so be it. But it doesn’t feel that way. I feel you out there, reader. This is the only kind of intimacy I’m comfortable with. Just the two of us, here in the dark.”  Middlesex, p. 319.

Pensive

Pensive

Yeah definitely. For sure. In a certain way, me too, I’m an expert in the underground life. And even writing a blog is a solitary and furtive pursuit! I am in meditation mode what with this enforced pause from my normal everyday life. I’m sort of isolated. Some friends come to visit me, and I hang out with others but only in my neighborhood. I am so grateful for their company! I am e-mailing and messaging mega big-time and I am so grateful to be able to communicate with friends who are far away! I play lots of Bach. I feel like a hothouse flower here holed up in my apartment. I’m sometimes sad with isolation as I lie down icing my knee; other times I do remember to smile and I’m happy and content with my routine of rehab, practicing, reading and writing.

Monsieur came over the other day and we seriously and soberly talked. Our talk made me wonder if I could ever share, on this blog or wherever, some of what we were talking about. That would be amazing and liberating…and maybe helpful for others. Someday maybe I will be able to…after my training…when I am teaching…

Nonetheless…big step for me: I did make it down to chez Thomas Vasiliades for what I think of as a real lesson, and it was my first time being there since the beginning of October. It was so great to see the place again! It felt like my regular life was slowly coming back to me even though it will take me months to recuperate. We did chair, table, chair. No activity at this one, my leg being oh so sore. He told me that my left leg muscles were still much weaker than my right ones. Sigh…much more work to do. More serious talking… I am always wondering how the mind/brain can change so drastically when one receives hands on work to the body. I am so interested in the neurological ramifications of this. This lesson was capital: many of my concerns about continuing my training evaporated with this lesson. It is totally clear to me now that I should continue to train after this hiatus.

À propos of some of our discussion, he later sent me this quote from Charles Sherrington, the father of modern neuroscience:  “Mr. Alexander has done a service to the subject (of the study of reflex and voluntary movement) by insistently treating each act as involving the whole integrated individual, the whole psychophysical man. To take a step is an affair, not of this or that limb solely, but of the total neuromuscular activity of the moment, not least of the head and neck.” Sir Charles Sherrington 1857-1952, Neurophysiologist, Nobel Prize for Medicine 1932.

Tom also suggested that I watch this YouTube of Nikolaas Tinbergen’s Nobel Prize lecture. Dear reader, while I am researching out Sherrington, please check out this YouTube!

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

My bicycle is now ensconced on its trainer. With it I am rehabbing my knee. It’s a very retro hybrid bike, a Bianchi Milano Alfine. You know I am fond of things French, but for a bike, gimme an Italian Bianchi any day. Mine is heavy duty. It’s a great street bike. It’s just the thing for riding in the park. This type of Bianchi street bike is ubiquitous in Italy; rare to be found here in NYC. This particular model is not made anymore. I had wanted the bike in Bianchi green, the celeste color, but by the time I got around to deciding to get one, it was no longer being made, and the only one in the city in the small, women’s model was a white one. My former bike was a Bianchi touring bike. I could no longer use the racing handlebars, due to lower back issues, which, by the way, totally disappeared, along with my neck pain, when I started Alexander Technique lessons. I gave that bike away. If I had been taking lessons at the time, I very well could have kept my old touring bike.

Hmmm it seems that Patrick Macdonald, first generation Alexander trainee, had a low esteem of racing bikes similar to my old one I guess. Hmmm did he suffer from lower back issues too? “Among the instrument devised by man which cause mal-coordination, the racing bicycle must hold high place. The belief, held by thousands, that cycling along a road with hunched back and head pulled back and down is a healthy sport is an indication — if one wanted one — of just how modern feelings and mentation are out of step with common sense.” This is on page 8 of Notebook Jottings in As I See It. What’s up with that? And…could F. Matthias Alexander have been lukewarm on biking since he was so keen on horses? But…

Check out this passage written by FM: “I have personal knowledge of a person, by employing the principles of conscious control which I advocate, mounted and rode a bicycle downhill without mishap on the first attempt, and on the second day rode 30 miles out and 30 miles back through normal traffic. This same person was also able to fence passably on first taking the foil into his hands. In each case the principles involved were explained to him and he carefully watched an exhibition, first analysing the actions and the ‘means whereby,’ then reproducing them on a clearly apprehended plan. This, it seems to me, should be a normal, not an abnormal human accomplishment.” Man’s Supreme Inheritance, p. 136. Walter Carrington stated that FM was referring to himself! With all due respect to FM’s genius and abilities, umm…I don’t think so! On his second ride ever…60 miles!!! Gimme a break! None the less it’s an interesting passage. More heresy: what did “normal traffic” mean back then in that place? I’m assuming he was riding in and around London. Right now I’m thinking of those intrepid bike riders in the bike lane on Eighth Avenue around Times Square! Wow those guys are brave what with all the vehicular traffic–cars and trucks, the garment district guys pushing stuff, us regular fast-walking “get out of my way or else…” pedestrians, and oh, those slowly-walking tourists in that mega-busy area. Moi, Ms. klutz here…well I don’t dare to ride there, especially as I was once hit by a taxi on the much calmer Park Avenue!

Ma bicyclette

Ma bicyclette–isn’t it cute?

So…as I was saying…I get on my now stationary bike and rehab. When I first started p/t I couldn’t even pedal my bike at all, even though it is on the easiest gear. I would just use the seated stationary bike at p/t. Now I pedal away on mine 10 minutes at a time. I do think lots about how I’m using my body while pedaling…thinking about all this for the first time ever on a bike. I think about my head/neck/back, and I think about lengthening up. I think about my breathing. I try not to grip with my hands or arms. It’s almost a meditative state that I get into. Of course the trick is to try not to grip in any part of my legs. My left quad aches all the time right now. When you have torn meniscus surgery your quad atrophies like tout de suite. Building up that quad is of paramount importance! If I think “release” it hurts less. Well I’ll work up to 30 minutes on my Bianchi and then start to build up the resistance. I have graduated to the regular stationary bike at  p/t and I use it every time I go there. Anyway, Marcos the bike expert says that the knees control one’s balance–interesting thought right? And that I have to build up my strength and stamina slowly, and by the time the nice weather rolls around again, I’ll be okay to ride.

The second table-enabling Monsieur totally cracks up at the mirror on my bike. He thinks it’s pretty hilarious that I am using it while training. Hey, isn’t it important to check out the scene all the time? Doucette the cat might be up to some mischief behind me!

As I am thinking about cycling and Alexander Technique a lot these days, I decided to go research this stuff out. I found a bunch of articles, e-books and the like on this subject. Here is one on cycling and AT. Here is a blog post written by Mark Josefberg, fellow New Yorker, on AT and cycling in NYC! And here’s a very informative podcast — Robert Rickover interviewing Joe Searby on how the Technique can benefit cyclists.

Since I couldn’t find a clip to play for you, dear readers, of Les petits riens quotidiens…well…below is a clip of Yves Montand singing À Bicyclette. I would say, non-expert that I am, that he has a pretty freed up neck when he is performing.

And check out the hilarious send-up clip below of the Tour de France by Rémi Gaillard. “Allez Richard!” So maybe by the time I can roll my bike out of the house for a spin some people will be around to cheer me along with “Allez Rena!”

Shout out to all my pals on a certain “park bench” for their totally cool input and comments on the Alexander Technique and cycling!!! You guys (that’s masculine and feminine of course) know who you are and you rock! Gros bisous to you!

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

As I have a turntable again, I played my parents’ old vinyl recording called An Evening with Yves Montand. It’s from the 1950’s. It’s a recording of Montand’s first American tour. I think they might have seen him at Carnegie Hall. On it is a song called Les petits riens quotidiens… Alas, I cannot find a clip to include here. But you can find it on Spotify. The lyrics of the song state that things in life are really very simple and that everything starts all over again every day. And it glorifies the little daily nothings of life that perhaps we take for granted. Like the simple pleasure of finding again a friend. Or the echo of a song we love so well. Les petits riens quotidiens is such a song for me. So, I will continue here recounting my little daily nothings as I go about my recuperation. Since I have had to step off my particular merry-go-round right now I am able to reconnect with these simple, exquisite pleasures with abandonment and utter joy. I think that espousing the Technique enhances this joy.

I do have time these days to read lots. Such a blessing! I am currently reading a very particularly chosen mélange: F. Matthias Alexander’s Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen, and yet another re-read of A la recherche du temps perdu, Marcel Proust. This is an amazing mix for me right now and I am meditating on what I am reading in my solitude. I jump from one book to another. I am also thinking a lot about Albert Camus these days. He would have now been 100 years old. I found two links that really inspire me. One is of a recording of his reading his Nobel Prize speech. And a link to the English translation of the speech. How I have managed never to have read this speech before just amazes me. Me, who used to teach L’Étranger over and over again in French and Comparative Literature classes. Well now, as I am trying to find my voice in the writing of this humble blog of mine, I am listening to something so sublime! I am listening over and over. I am reading his words over and over. Here is one quote from his speech: “The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides in this world, they can perhaps side only with that society in which, according to Nietzsche’s great words, not the judge but the creator will rule, whether he be a worker or an intellectual.”

Back down from the clouds: what I would like to do now is to write an homage to my table. It’s kind of a big daily something. Merci beaucoup to my borrowed table! It enables me to have Alexander Technique lessons at home! But really and truly mille fois merci to my three special friends who set me up with the table: to Madame for so kindly offering to lend it to me in the first place; to Monsieur for bringing it uptown to me (big schlep); and to the other Monsieur who arranges it, gives me table turns on it, puts it away, and gets a kick out of the fact that I take photos of it! Shout out to them! You guys are the best!

The table!

The table!

So above is the table with some blankets on it and my pile of books for under my head. The other day was the first day in months that I could do a regular table turn. In other words, my left leg didn’t need to rest on a cushion. Yay!!! Way to go recuperating knee! And below is a close up of my pile of books. Ooh…Le Horla…scary stuff! That the Maupassant is hanging out on my table is sheer coincidence. But fun… The second Monsieur just grabbed a bunch of books off of a shelf and said “Can we use these?” Ergo…

The pile of books for under my head. Ahhh! Le Horla!

The pile of books for under my head. Ahhh! Le Horla!

Not only was I able to have a regular type table turn, I was able to do a real chair turn! Oh happiness! Getting in and out of a chair! I think that I will forever be gleeful about being able to get in and out of a chair with ease and with good use of self! “It’s not getting in and out of chairs even under the best of conditions that is of any value: that is simply physical culture. It is what you have been doing in preparation that counts when it comes to making movements.” From Aphorisms, F. Matthias Alexander.

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

I’ve gone through two weeks of physical therapy now. I’m happy to report that I managed to do five minutes on their highly uncomfortable stationary bike. It’s too big and unwieldy for petite me. This after not being able to do one minute on my own bike, my lovely, retro Bianchi Milano Alfine hybrid, which is now ensconced on it’s trainer, thanks to the expert assistance of the fabulous Marcos of Champion Bicycles. Not completely fixed up though… I do need a riser block for the front wheel, which Marcos is ordering for me.

The really fun thing that I did the other day in p/t was getting in and out of a chair! Two sets of 15 times! Wow! I gleefully did my two sets, slowly, while talking myself through them, imagining that my teacher was there to guide me with his hands.  An AT lesson at p/t! It was a fabulous thing to do, and it was totally unexpected. First time I’ve been able to get up and down from a chair in a few months. I explained to my therapist that this activity is a major part of my Alexander Technique lessons. Went on to elaborate about chair work. She told me, coincidentally, that one of her colleagues had taken an AT lesson the other evening! So I asked her to find out where and with whom, and if it was a group class or a private class.

Back to chair work. A few weeks before my surgery, my desk chair got fixed. It’s my favorite chair. It used to belong to my grandparents. It’s old and beat up. But it is comfortable. And homey. It’s the one I sit on the most. One of the legs kept coming out of the place where it was supposed to be. I was in danger of falling. I thought that falling with a torn meniscus was kind of a bad thing to experience, so my friend came over to perform surgery on it. I had no idea he was a carpentry expert. It’s kind of wonderful when you discover an unexpected talent in someone. Me…fuhgeddaboudit. No chair fixing for me. Well, I do have other skills… So…hoping that I will get as fixed up as well as my chair. And hoping that at my next AT lesson, chez moi, I will be able to use my chair for some real chair work!

Here is my chair, recovering from surgery...

Here is my chair, recovering from surgery…

I’ve been thinking about Gustave Flaubert a lot these days: “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”And “Innovation: toujours dangéreuse.” (Innovation: always dangerous). Well, more on that quotation later. Meanwhile, maybe it’s time for me to dip into Madame Bovary or L’Éducation sentimentale again! J’adore Flaubert!

English: French writer Gustave Flaubert photo ...

English: French writer Gustave Flaubert photo portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

So I had a great day…felt pretty good…attended a flute workshop with Keith, in the nabe; started physical therapy; inaugurated my borrowed table with an AT lesson chez moi! Doucette the cat tried to climb onto the table while the lesson was going on but didn’t succeed. She was miffed. She acted out: when my teacher left, she ran out into the hall, but ran out too far. She got lost! She panicked! She started to howl! So I ran over to her, scooped her up, and ran for my door to deposit her safely inside the apartment. Doucette got lost like this in the hall once before. That was the only other time I heard her howl. She is quiet…she kind of chirps when she does meow.

Previous to all that, I had my first session of physical therapy for my knee. Road to recovery… We went through the exercises, and my therapist gave me a sheet of exercises to do at home. Check out this diagram:

With good posture...

With good posture…

“With good posture” hmmm…I decided not to ask the therapist what this means to her.

Two days later, at my second p/t session, when she told me to sit up straight well you know the drill…I lengthened up and widened… I asked her if she had ever heard of the Alexander Technique. She had heard of it but had no clue about what it was. Oy vey!

That particular day I was not feeling so hot, physically. I was warned that I would have ups and downs, and my physical therapist affirmed this for me.  Sigh, sigh… I know now that I’m in it for the long haul.

But, hey, I did receive my copy of F. Matthias Alexander’s Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, and I did start to read. It took only a week to arrive from the UK. The postman actually brought it up to my door! Not bad! And I did run right into a dear colleague from work on the way to the subway after p/t! How I miss work! Hugs all around! We talked shop! We giggled about the FaceTime chat he and other colleagues surprised me with last week. That was totally cool! And it was the first day of autumn that was cold enough for the heat to be on all day long. Yay! My apartment is nice and toasty! Ah the cheery sounds of the steam heat coming up! Music to my ears! Really!

I’m thinking lots about Willis Reed these days…please click on the links if you don’t know which historic event in NYC sports I’m referring to. Greatest moment in the Garden ever? Most probably. Talk about great use of self of all involved! Let’s go Knicks!!!

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

Let me make this clear: I obfuscate. When I talk about “my teacher” — well “my teacher” is more than one person. “My teacher” is a conglomeration. So…to keep things vague…I will continue, at this moment in time, to obfuscate. One to few; few to one.

But yay! I did have a lesson with my teacher! As you recall, Dr. Z wants me out and about as much as possible, so I figure that the best thing I can do for myself is to go out for lessons.

I did a table turn and and a chair turn. No getting up and down from the chair as yet…but…in the chair I am always more cognizant of lengthening up from my abdomen, so I was thrilled to receive some reminders about this.

Okay my main teachers are mostly of the male persuasion…I admit this fact…so I’m using the pronoun “he” but be forewarned: there actually might be a “she” or two in the mix. Remember in French it is le professeur…no matter what the sex of the teacher might be! So I’m using that particular gender confusion in English.

About monkey: he demonstrated to me the different permutations of monkey that a teacher could use with a student, and positions which would be useful to me right now as I am recovering. We looked at a photo of FM putting a student into a monkey position. This particular photo I had not seen before. But it was similar to the photo I published of FM doing what I called a monkey lunge. It’s all really about the variations of the position of mechanical advantage aka monkey. He gave me some great historical perspective on all this…we talked about of Walter Carrington‘s reminiscences of FM‘s teachings on this matter.

All in all, a fabulous lesson, especially as it came sooner than I had imagined a lesson would happen after my surgery. Eight days after. Pretty good. I am definitely feeling a tad taller right now.

After my lesson I went to the supermarket to pick up a few items…just a few. Good thing, too, because I found to my dismay, when I got back home, that our elevator was not working. I had to hike up to the sixth floor carrying my supermarket bag and my cane. Normally this is no big deal. So I thought “no big deal” and I just took it slowly. Only my second day outside, and the steps are way easier to manage than the day before! It’s a good thing that I didn’t have to walk down the steps. That is more difficult!

Plus a photo of my maternal grandmother!

Some books I can use to put under my head when I do a lie down.

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

I left my apartment building for the first time since my surgery to go see my orthopedist, the estimable Dr. Z. So…I decided to take the subway down, as his office is right by the subway entrance. To be precise, it was the IRT #1 train…the Broadway local…that I decided to take. The bus is too slow and bumpy. A taxi…nah…fuhgeddaboudit. So…subway it was. I took my cane of course. I need it to go down steps, and also as a warning type weapon, to let people know I’m not to be messed with. I live in between two stations. I decided to head for the uptown stop as it has way less steps down.

59th Street – Columbus Circle (IRT Broadway – ...

59th Street – Columbus Circle (IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was walking so slowly up Broadway that I was walking slower than a tourist! Oy gevalt! Felt pretty good about it, all in all. I kept directing. I managed the steps down pretty well. I thought to myself that it was really good that I didn’t have to go down many stairs, like walking down the stairs at the Cité métro stop in  Paris.  I can’t remember if there is an elevator in that station, as taking an elevator there had never been necessary. Well…back to NYC: waited for the train. The train came. It was the end of rush hour and the train had been delayed (so what else is new?) so the train was packed. I got myself into the car. I kept my cane in front of my leg as a “do not come near my knee or else” signal. At the next stop a bunch of people got off so I made it into the middle of the car. Miracle of miracles, a young woman got up to gave me her seat. Not the young men near her. Hmmm…just staying. I sat down, lengthened, widened, went through my whole litany. Cool, right? Told myself to free up my neck. Took out my phone to check something and was careful to bring it up to my face so I didn’t hunch down looking at it. But then some guy carrying a huge duffel bag filled with heavy stuff bumped right into the cane held against my knee. Ouch ouch ouch!!! Figured that something like that would happen.

None the less, I made it to Columbus Circle intact! I walked over to the doc’s office. I thought to myself: “Wow it is so interesting having some AT under my belt to manage surgery recuperation in the best possible way!” I saw Dr. Z. He was amazed at the amount of congealed blood under my dressing. He said “ugh!” (I will spare you the photo). He took it all off, cleaned it up, and now I only have 3 little bandaid type things there, which will stay until they come off of their own accord. He told me he wanted me not to use the cane and to walk around like I normally do and to really get myself moving. Great news to me! And I’m to start physical therapy very soon. We talked some of our usual stuff: basketball, Fordham University–where I taught French and where he went, played basketball for, and where he is the team orthopedist. So…I told him my Lou Carnesecca story…about running into him while waiting for the Ram Van…the intercampus Fordham van service. Yeah, yeah, I’m digressing…

He told me that I could sleep on my stomach, take a bath, wear little heels as soon as I could! Wowie! I’m psyched!

Oops! Not the IRT at all! Wrong city!

Oops! Not the IRT at all! Wrong city!

And then I was back on the subway again, this time going home, feeling so much better psychologically for having seen him. Hey! Maybe I can have an AT lesson soon!

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, torn meniscus.

This blog was supposed to be a journal of my training to be a teacher of the Alexander Technique. However, my training is on hold.  At this time I am not even taking lessons. So now I’ll have to write about how I am using my AT experience to help me get through the greatly reduced, everyday activities that I can manage in this post-operative moment.

I find that I’m using a modified position of mechanical advantage, aka a monkey, well, in my case half a monkey half a lunge. I’m specifically referring to a modified monkey, a lunge monkey. In the photo of FM you can see him doing what I sort of do. One leg is bent while the other leg is not.

FM Alexander demonstrating monkey

FM Alexander demonstrating monkey

So here are some of the ways I am using this lunge monkey to get over physical movement obstacles that I normally do not think about. Now I have to think about how I am going to move all the time. I must be slow and deliberate. No fast, unthinking actions. Those give me a reality check immediately! Ouch!

First of all, I had to put the case of empty seltzer bottles outside of the door. The seltzer man was delivering a new case. Swap out time! I had to move the wooden box and the bottles one by one. Hey…I couldn’t do that the other day!

I talked about feeding Doucette the cat. Let me add to that…cleaning out les toilettes for her. This, of course, is a daily necessity. Actually when I, myself, have to make use of les toilettes I definitely inhibit and direct. Very important this. One of the all-time funniest moments I ever had in a lesson was a chair demonstration by my teacher of how I was to manage. I was on the table when I watched his demonstration. I was laughing/crying so hard at his punch line informing me of what he had just mimed as he sort of plopped onto the chair. Oh the things I am writing about!  But important stuff none the less. I blame my teacher for the previous revelation. It’s his fault! (Big smile here). Back to Doucette: I have to clean up her humongously long hairballs. She eats plants and then has to purge. She very nicely deposits her five inch-plus long hairballs on the floor. Easy to clean up…even now.

Getting in and out of the shower gracefully. This situation is a must-think! Oh it is so lovely to stand under the hot water for a long time! Ahhhh! Especially now. Putting on my various sorts of pants. Not easy. Setting up my step stool and then stepping on it to get stelline pasta from my cupboard to add the homemade chicken soup my neighbor brought over. That was a hard one. I had to really pay attention!

I decided that I have to play and listen to lots of Bach. I think it will do my knee a world of good to be exposed to a mega-amount of Bach vibrations. So I’m playing the E major sonata and listening to Barthold Kuijken do the same on baroque flute. I have to play in an unfamiliar posture. I’m sitting with my left leg extended. So…must think about my use of self constantly when playing right now.

I went down into the lobby to get my mail. There are a few steps down. I took the cane they gave me after the surgery. I cannot walk down steps normally. I have to place one foot on a step, and then the other on the same step.

I cannot wait for the moment when I get myself comfortably into a real monkey so I can do hands on back of chair or on table while standing! I think that this will be later rather than sooner.

Empty seltzer bottles waiting to be picked up by the seltzer man

Empty seltzer bottles waiting to be picked up by the seltzer man