when i was a little girl, i thought your feelings were located in your armpit. i remember overhearing someone say, in mock distress, "you're hurting my feelings!," and thinking ah, so that's what sensation there is called. feelings.
one of the most mystifying aspects of recovery has been the emotional valence of healing. some things make sense: frustration, fear, anxiety all fall within the predictable emotional range. more difficult to understand has been melancholy. i've felt melancholic a lot over the last week, and I have tried to figure out why: i know that I tend to turn fatigue into sadness, for instance, and it stands to reason that once the shoulder is feeling a little better i would have room to process all the subsidiary effects of the surgery: the trauma to the body, the dependence, the assault on my self-esteem, the self-brutalizing blame for getting myself into this position in the first place, and so on. you don't have to be deeply freudian to figure that's all got to come out sometime.
still, i do expect some connection between what happens in the moment and how i respond. so to feel sad today, after a good weekend, and on my way out of physio, which came after a spell in the hot pool and a ride on a stationary bike with a good book, was surprising. i mean, what i just described -- a little exercise, a good book, some flirtation, my time my own -- is pretty much the ideal life. i couldn't understand why i felt so blue, like everything was dissolving. i wondered if it was dismay over how quickly time is passing while i measure my day in shoulder flexion. i wondered if it was about missing the river valley, wanting to see how all my running trails smell in the spring. i wondered if it was about my job, if i was starting to fret about going back. i wondered if i was doing the right thing with my life, whether i am on the right path. or maybe it's the gray day, or something hormonal, or plain old garden-variety physical pain sublated into an emotional register. i thought about all of these things as i cried my way up the 105th st hill.
my acupuncturist took one look at my tongue and said, "gotcha." she could see weakness in the heart meridian. the heart is the emperor of the body in chinese medicine, and the emperor was not on his throne. as a result, all of the other portfolios were scrambling around, not knowing how to do their business -- like canada under mackenzie king, perhaps. surgery can mix up the meridians themselves: a coup de corps. my acupuncturist said that typically when this happens, people question everything: their jobs, their partners, where they live, how they act, what they want -- everything. you feel lackluster about your work, you wonder about your destiny. i'm not saying it's necessarily like this for you, she said (i continued to say nothing), but you don't have to worry. the cause for how you are feeling is not coming from outside, but from inside. what we need to do, she said, is call the emperor back to his throne.
i was in.
the points were completely different from anything we've done before. she needled heart one, heart three, and heart seven. heart seven, down by the wrist, connects the heart and the head. it allows you to know what you want, and to do it. heart three, inside of the upper arm, is the destiny point. she said, "pay attention to the images that you see while this needle is in." (i have more thinking to do about these images: the green, the water, the books.)
heart one, first point on the heart meridian, is like sticking a needle into the center of your heart, down through the myocardium to the endocardium, between the atria and ventricles, to wake it up. this point will recall the emperor and make you feel like yourself again -- which it did. within a half-hour the melancholy had receded and i was back to myself: curious, competent, outward-looking and vital.
the point is located in your armpit.