Susan: Healing my Body with Pilates

My Courageous Journey

Dear Friends,

I have never written a Blog before.  This is a Pilates Blog and a Gratitude Blog.  This Blog is part of my healing as I share with you the most difficult and inspirational journey of my life.  I am grateful to have the chance to do this and I am grateful for my Pilates training as it helped to prepare me and is helping to sustain me and heal me during this difficult time of my life.

Many of you know me and some of you do not.  I spend most of my time teaching at the Doylestown Studio.  Perhaps those of you who do not know me have heard about my ordeal that began in April.  On April 13th I had a tumor removed from the center of my spinal cord (at T6).  Thankfully it was benign.  How ironic for an individual who has spent the last 15 years taking care of her spine through the art and practice of Pilates!

I must thank all of you who have sent me cards, notes, flowers, books and goodies!  I am tremendously grateful for your thoughtfulness and love.  Your energy and love was a large part of my healing.  I must also apologize for being insulated and protected during this time.  Although I wanted to thank each and every one of you personally, I did not have the capacity to pick up the phone or even write a note.  As a matter of fact, I turned my phone ringer off for two months.  Quite a feat in this day and age!

Many of you know that I spent 7 weeks in inpatient rehab at Good Sheperd Rehabilitation Hospital.  During this time I had to learn to walk again.  No one could tell me if I would ever walk again.  I had therapy every day for 3 hours.  In between therapy I slept.  I have never been so sick in my 57 years.  I have never been so vulnerable that I can remember.  If not for my caring nurses, therapists, doctors, family and close friends I think I would have died. 

Everyone at Good Sheperd knew that I taught Pilates.  Everyone agreed that my knowledge (that which was held in my head, heart and body) of Pilates would tremendously help my recovery.  They were all correct.  However, in the beginning, the path ahead of me was overwhelming.  I could not stand up, I could barely sit up, and could not feel my legs or feet.  Yet, somehow, I could still find my powerhouse…my abdominal muscles… a little tiny bit!  Many of my abdominal muscles were not being innervated but I could still access some of them.  Having this little bit of access helped me begin my rigorous therapy.

I had a “pity party” almost every day.  I told my brother that every day was a living hell.  I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror in my wheelchair and cry.  How could I, of all people, be in a wheelchair? And, yet, every day was filled with blessings- blessings that I believe I would not have seen and felt if I had not suffered this relatively rare spinal cord injury.  You all blessed me with your thoughts and prayers.  My daughter and son blessed me with a love and care that I could have never imagined receiving.  My significant other, Tom, blessed me with a selfless love.  My mom, brother, close friends held me with great care and witnessed my suffering.  And my nurses held my hand as I came to terms with my illness always accepting me as I was, where I was, helping me to understand what I needed to heal.

Pilates helped me to heal- whether I was walking, lifting weights, learning to dress myself, or simply sitting up.  Pilates never left me.  Halfway through my stay at Good Sheperd I began working with a physical therapist, Wendy, who was Pilates trained.  Good Sheperd has a fully equipped Pilates studio in their outpatient facility.  I continue to work with her once a week and I work with June Hines at our Doylestown studio once a week.  This in addition to my regular PT.  I am grateful to have June's expertise and love to support and help me to heal. 

So, this is about my Pilates healing journey.  I will try to write to you all every week sharing my Pilates progress with you.  I may include a few photos.  I will include my exercises, my challenges, and my thoughts and feelings as I retrain my body. 

I am now walking with a cane!  Every medical professional I have seen agrees that I am way ahead of schedule and attributes this to my Pilates training!

Looking forward to talking with you next week!

My deep gratitude and love,