Friday, August 03, 2007
Me and Tai Chi
This is a picture of the actual building in the Clarksburg countryside where I go to take tai chi lessons. Yesterday, on Thursday, I restarted practicing tai chi again with the approval of my surgeon. My instructors noted that I was grinning from ear to ear with happiness. I am convinced that tai chi saved my life in both April and May of this year. I believe that without a doubt.
Tai chi teaches you to focus and control your energy. It is sometimes called moving meditation. I moved myself from the operating room gurney to the bed in ICU. The epidural that was still in my back helped, and I was ready to get out of bed, which is probably explained by the epidural, which stayed in for three days. I was out of bed the next day when the surgeon came in and let me.
Diabetics heal a lot more slowly than normal people. Yet I healed ahead of the curve. My surgeon has told me twice that he thinks it's my attitude, the fact that I got out of bed and did roadwork, walked with my IV pole and the saline around the hospital rebuilding a little strength and causing the blood to circulate.
The bandages came off two weeks after surgery. You can see a thin line about 4" long from my belly button up. I guarantee you that isn't attitude. I have continued walking, but the surgeon didn't want me to go back to tai chi until yesterday. The fear is that you stretch or twist too much and rip out a stitch internally.
I was released for return to action Thursday, and at 9:30 am, I was on the mats. There are 6 sets of routines that comprise the Form, as the routines are called in tai chi. I do Yang's Long Form, the name of my particular brand of tai chi. I was a little nervous, not having done the form since April. I had done the first set in my living room the night before, and run out of energy.
I warmed up with the rest of the class, and did the first set clean, watching the woman who also teaches me swords. I decided to also try the second set and went into it as most of the class started dropping out where they were learning something. I got into the third set and shut down before we got to the kicks. I didn't have any strength left for that. I rested through the rest of the third set, then I tried the fourth set with the instructor. I made one small mistake, but I was moving a bit too fast. I then sat down and watched her finish the last two sets. She had definitely improved her already excellent skills. I told her this afterwards, and she told me she had a breakthrough.
I went home, and promptly fell asleep. I had done three of the six sets in the form, and I hadn't made a fool of myself. It's going to take work, and I am out of shape. But, I will make it back. For something that looks easy, it's amazing how much of a workout you get, and it's zero impact. I am so happy to be back.