Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mediation and the Needle

Long hours appliqueing and embroidering -- two thoughts come immediately to mind.
1. Some years ago an experiment showed that the act of hand quilting lowered the quilter's blood pressure. I believe this can be -- maybe was -- extrapolated to other kinds of repetitive hand needlework. That is to say, this kind of work is calming and good for the body.
2. In Ibsen's A DOLL'S HOUSE, Torvald, Nora's dense but SO typical husband, finds her emboridering and says he's delighted his beautiful, "doll" wife is not doing something common like knitting with that awful clack-clack of needles, but rather plies her needle with a graceful lifting of the hand as she pulls the thread through the fabric. She is a lovely sight.

Perhaps the Chinese women in these pictures are enjoying lowered blood pressure but they look like women who are involved in the real world and not worried about being graceful for chauvinistic husbands. Anyway, this is a period for meditating about what I'm living through and how I handled the unexpected -- the only bone breaking accident of my life. It's a time to learn something about myself, or affirm what I already knew. Firstly, both Jeff and Kathy commented that I was a "good patient" in that I was calm and not demanding. I know this about myself: I handle the unexpected without histrionics. When I realized I was seriously hurt I also realized that I had to rely on others and that, I was lucky because Jeff knew exactly what to do. I did not have to control the situation. So I could let myself be taken care of.

I note, too, that, when I was in Beijing with the help of a woman Jeff arranged to help me, I had the presence of mind to ask about carriers other than Air China, the one she thought I had to use. And when she said a Continental plane was going to Newark [not aware that Newark is almost New York, or maybe confused enough to think it was the same thing], and was delayed in departing, I firmly insisted she must be assertive in a way she was not trained to be. She must insist they open the closed ticket counter and find me a seat on that plane. She did it. So, I see that I had the sense to know when to be passive, when to be assertive. And the latter despite taking the morphine pills, ad lib, prescribed by the X-ray doctor.

Leslie said I was able to stay clear enough to be aware of what was going on and to be assertive despite the morphine because I am "strong minded." It may also be that I have long known that when morphine or other major narcotics are needed for pain relief they do not have the euphoric quality that induces dependence in people who use drugs "recreationally". I knew that I have a high pain threshold and that, since I very rarely take even a couple of aspirins for pain, whatever drug I take works very well.

I know too, that I have trusted my body and believed in its strength and balance since I began doing yoga more than 35 years ago. I know it will heal and this is a period during which I must listen to both the doctors and my own physical signals. I am not 30 or 40 or even 50 any more, I cannot expect to heal as fast as I might have back then. But I can expect to heal more quickly than many others my age because I have kept my body strong and supple -- and because I was born with mostly good genes -- yes, there's the inherited congestive heart matter, I knew about that too, and the high blood pressure. But, as my [younger] brother remarked, I gain seven years on him -- meaning that I had seven more than he had before having any heart problems. Thanks to cholesterol control and a generally healthier diet and lifestyle -- with walking and exercise.

So my meditations today are satisfying ones. Yes, I'm dealing with a problem I never expected to have. But all in all, I've been better than lucky, I've been pretty smart ... except for that fatal moment when I decided to jump up the tiny embankment to those Tibetan children to give them sheets of sticky stars. Boom. So now, I'm paying for a misjudgment -- literally, of course. I've already had to dispute over $1,000 of incorrect bills. I'm sure that won't be the end. But I've got a lot more appliqueing and embroidery to do ... it'll keep me calm for at least another week.

No comments :