On the Other Side of Letting Go

By Debbie Peterson

Integrative health

I’m often telling clients to let go of the stories they tell themselves. “I need coffee first thing in the morning;” “I’m not good at exercising;” “I need something sweet after dinner . . .”

We all have these little stories. Some of them aren’t so little. Many of them disable or limit us in some way. And, of course, some of them are actually good for us: “If I don’t get at least eight hours of sleep, I’m a mess.” But, most of them just aren’t true: “I can’t just eat one cookie.” We just haven’t been challenged to reconsider them. . .until we are.

This spring, I was challenged with my story of being a holistically minded, healthy, active woman who trusts my body to heal itself with the help of non-invasive, natural ways of healing. I get adjusted chiropractically on a regular basis. I get acupuncture. I take supplements and eat real, whole foods, mostly plants. I get therapeutic massage, and have sought out numerous other practitioners who believe the way I do about healing thyself.

Being active my whole life, I’ve dealt with discomforts and pains in my joints from time to time. That seemed normal–the result of pushing my body too far sometimes. But in the last few years, I’ve felt more uncomfortable and have sought out more help in trying to “fix” my body. In getting MRI’s on my hips and knees as a prerequisite for regenerative medicine (another attempt at having my body heal itself with a little help), I was told I had “advanced” arthritis in both my hips.

My mother had both her hips replaced as well as both of her knees in her 60’s and 70’s. I am built similarly to her. I inherited her problematic hip genes. And I was determined to not take the same path. After all, I am still in my 40s. I am young and fit. But when the regenerative injections didn’t seem to work and my body began to feel more and more pain, I decided it was time to rewrite my story.

I had my consult with the orthopedic doctor last week. He advised a bilateral hip replacement. He said I was a good candidate to have them done at the same time. And, he said, after eight weeks, I’d be back to doing the activities I love to do. I’d have my life back. For several months, I have been in a lot of pain. Most days, I feel twice my age. I can’t easily pick things up from the floor or tie my shoes. Getting in and out of the car is painful, and walking my dog is a slow and painful ordeal. My sleep is interrupted several times throughout the night. I can’t play tennis or be active in the same way as I used to be. This is not the picture of health I imagined for myself.

But, there are (probably) ways for my body to heal itself. I’ve read about the “Pain Free” method by Pete Egoscue and have had the Muscle Activation Technique, which had worked for me in the past to alleviate discomfort and pain. I’m also aware that there has been some success with stem cell treatments. None of these are guaranteed. Neither is hip replacement surgery. But, I know of a lot of people who have undergone the surgery successfully. Being back in the game at eight weeks has won me over. And so my story is being rewritten to include an invasive, non-natural procedure with unnatural materials that will require me to take synthetic medications and have chemicals injected into my body.

As I struggle with this rewrite of my story, I have to trust that my years of healthy living will have prepared my body to be resilient and not adversely affected by this event. I have to come to peace that being a holistically minded, healthy person doesn’t mean I must do everything naturally and reject everything else. In fact, my professional title is “Integrative health and nutrition counselor.” I must integrate.

Letting go is trusting that everything will work out. It’s having optimism that it will be OK. It’s in the letting go that things shift, ideally for the better, or, perhaps better in the long run. It’s trusting that even if the journey is a long one, there are wonders along on the way and at the end we’ll be in a better place.

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