My doctor told me last month after a four-minute office visit that I probably had a slight medial Meniscus tear in my right knee. Having no other information, and because she'd been my doctor for 23 years, I followed her instructions to lay off of running and other strenuous activity for a few weeks.
After almost a month with no real change on the horizon, and an increasingly agitated mental state, I went to see my acupuncturist. I've written about my acupuncturist before, many times. I call him "the healer" and he truly is. In a blog I wrote back in 2011, the healer told me that I needed to be mindful of how much I was asking of my body. That visit resulted in more morning meditation. A month later, he told me I had a blockage in my gallbladder channel that was affecting my decision making. After finally deciding what school my daughter would go to, my hip pain subsided.
And yesterday when I went to see him, limping my way in, carefully guarding my knee against any sudden movements, he laid hands on me and said, after about 20 minutes of "analysis", "Laura, I don't think there is anything wrong with your knee. I believe you that it hurts, but it's not because your knee is injured....." and he continued on with what is going on with different parts of my body. My Peroneous Longus is insanely tight as are the adductors and the IT band in my right leg. But my knee, it's fine.
At first I felt kind of embarrassed. God, I'm such an incredible drama queen. Is there anyone in my life who has not heard about my traumatic knee injury? But the healer reassured me. "Your knee really does hurt. I believe you. But it's pain from being misaligned from the tightness in these other areas of your body."
As my wise healer continued to work on me, I felt a huge wave of relief overtake me. I wasn't surgery bound. I wouldn't have to live the life of a middle aged woman with "bad knees." I experienced, for the first time in a month, the pure joy of being more than my knees. And with this joy came the great reminder that permanence and attachment are easy and dangerous traps to fall into. When I received the initial meniscus tear diagnosis from my primary care doc, I dove headlong into the idea that I was never going to be able to run again. I visualized painful knee replacement surgery in twenty years. I stopped doing the physical activities that I love the most because I honed in on one perspective; I limited my own possibilities for healing.
As soon as I left my healer's office, I walked differently. When I got back to the studio that afternoon to teach, I sat in Vajrasana, my favorite teaching position, and it actually felt good. I could tell my knee was tight (because I've barely moved in a month!), but my perspective on this pain was all new. Hours before, my thoughts would have gone to, "Laura, you can't do this. You're going to do more damage to your knee!" But now I could let that go. I had new exercises that would help stretch my other tight muscles, and I knew this would lead to less pain in my knee.
The body is complicated. It's so easy to isolate, blame different activities or specific weaknesses for injuries. But we are complex beings. Pain and discomfort are our body's way of saying "wake up and listen." It's easy to do what I did-- to hear the body's message as a scream; to go into crisis mode. But sometimes the message is just a whisper, a gentle reminder to pay attention to the whole system. We are all so much more than our knees.