Meet Mike! Without knowing a bit about him, this picture may not look like much. But Mike could not give us a thumbs up 2 weeks ago. Which makes his story inspiring and one filled with courage.
Reaching Out For Help
I first met Mike through a phone consultation almost 5 months ago. He was facing some tough decisions concerning his physical health and needed some help discussing options. In short, he was terrified to move his arm and shoulder.
He had felt that way for 6 years.
That is a long time.
Mike wasn’t sure we could help. He wasn’t sure anyone could. But he had been reading about frozen shoulder and its symptoms, could identify with some of them but not all.
A bit about what Mike’s life looked like on a day to day basis – He had to hold something constantly so his arm would feel more stable. When he first walked into our office, he had a cloth wrapped tightly around his hand to the point that his hand was almost purple. PTSD and panic were a constant, daily companion for Mike.
He would sleep sitting up, as it was too uncomfortable on his shoulder to lie down. His shoulder frequently would feel like it was tightening up so tight that it was going to cause the shoulder to dislocate. There was a LOT of fear around that happening. Generally that would send him to the ER in sever pain. Simple things like reaching for something, like changing the radio station, would cause the shoulder to pop out.
Mike’s history included incidents of being knocked out, motor vehicle accidents, an impact from a garbage truck while riding a bike, falls, surgeries, fractures, and multiple dislocations of the shoulder.
In his own words, he had developed PTSD around his shoulder and was afraid to relax it. It would hurt too much and might lead to further injury and dislocation.
He knew he needed help and was reaching out to us. If he felt we could help, he was willing to commit whatever time was necessary in order to get his life back.
I talked to Mike several times over the next few months. He expressed some concerns brought up by others that we primarily focus on pain management. We don’t. But it is sometimes what people see on our website. We focus on recovery.
He spoke candidly about his experiences with physical therapy and the forcing of his arm to move. We don’t do that either. The fascial system of the body cannot be forced into healing. Subconscious holding and protecting must be respected and worked with as the client is able.
He wondered about what techniques we might use and requested an in office consultation about 3 ½ months after we first spoke. We highly encourage everyone who feels at all hesitant or unsure about moving forward to come in and meet with us. It can be incredibly helpful to meet face to face and hear your concerns in person.
We were happy to do so and made sure 2 of our team members were there in that initial conversation. It was important from the beginning that we were all on the same page about how we could help Mike, important that he felt heard and understood in how we would progress.
Courage to Move Forward
From that initial consultation, Mike moved forward to a full evaluation and treatment session, and a month later, started a 2 week intensive treatment program with us. This consisted of multiple treatment sessions every day for those 2 weeks.
As he started his intensive program, he expressed that he was a bit terrified, had been in a panic in the days leading up to his first session. But he had decided to just get to it. And was also maybe just a bit excited. Almost afraid to hope but willing to try.
There were many things Mike wanted to be able to do again. Sleep in a bed. Go to the gym. Relax. For the arm to be an arm again.
Simple things for many of us. But for Mike, almost impossible.
I can’t share the details of Mike’s time with us, but I can tell you he is courageous. It takes courage to feel and explore things that have been tightly held for a long time. To show up and do the work of feeling into the body in ways that are absolutely essential for healing.
It takes courage to allow things to start to change, just a little bit, and then feel through what comes next. Often those were sensations of tightening and panic and fear.
It takes courage to come back over and over to the things that are most painful and guarded, allowing the body to be supported, allowing the self to explore in a safe way, becoming curious about what else might be there.
There was quite a bit of “freak out” (Mike’s words) during the first few days and more than a little desire to “run away”. But Mike continued to show up and trust the process of healing. By the third day, he was feeling a bit calmer. By the 4th day, his family was noticing and commenting. After 6 years of panic and fear and pain, Mike was surprised at his own progress.
Progress and Healing!
He even shook hands one day here in the office. That was huge for Mike! And a joy for us to be a part of.
Mike’s time with us zig-zagged back and forth between periods of more ease and range of motion in his shoulder, and moments of panic and guarding. He sometimes felt calmer and more relaxed, and sometimes much more stirred up. Healing is not a linear process and Mike understood this. He had good support at home as well as the gift of time to himself for whatever this process took.
And it paid off. Mike isn’t all the way there yet. But there was a point toward the end of his intensive program where he felt like the shoulder was a shoulder. We all consider that a big win. He now feels like he might be able to start working with other professionals to strengthen the shoulder.
We are proud of him.
Well done, Mike!