There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but why does it have to be so long ?
I am going to cut a long story short, but if you want the full version of my leg’s history you can read my memoir ‘A Lotus Trail’ It’s all in there, and more……
I crushed my leg in three places under a cast iron rocking horse in the park in 1968, at the age of seven. It was set wrong and eight operations over as many years to try and straighten it, failed – leaving me with a very painful disabled leg and a 1-inch shoe raise. The doctor said I would never walk properly, play sports, dance or lead a normal life and would eventually need a knee replacement….Never! However, this didn’t stop me from partying hard, dancing and backpacking around the world for 20 years. I finally stopped in 2004 in India to study yoga and try and fix up the painful deformed limb hanging from my torso. Daily yoga asana helped me immensely and life went on with the odd day here and there when I would be unable to walk, but a bit of sun, swimming and massage often sorted that out.
My leg finally said no more in February 2023, and with a painful swollen knee I hobbled my way to the airport and got myself to Goa. Finding a house – a stone’s throw from the beach, I settled into a routine of yoga, swimming and plenty of rest while soaking up the sun’s vitamin D. After eight weeks there was still not much improvement and this dark thought at the back of my mind kept popping its ugly head into my suffering body…. “I’ve had a good run but it’s finally over, maybe it is time for that Knee replacement ….. Never!!!” During this time, I met a few people on the beach who were going to a bone and body clinic (https://boneandbodyclinic.com ) in the local town. I had heard about this clinic before and the amazing results people achieve there, but I just didn’t think it would work for me, I mean I’ve been disabled all my life, how can they help me!!! I also didn’t want to spend that kind of money on some maybe. “I’ll be alright, I’ve lived with this leg since I was seven, I can manage it,” I told myself. The bone and body clinic specialises in indigenous healing and martial arts traditions of Manipur, using manipulation therapies, a unique stretching rehabilitation program, and natural medicine to bring the whole body back into balance. Their treatment combines the realignment, repositioning and securing of the body’s joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles. “You should go there” I was told by many different people as I lay on a sun lounger on the beach – “They perform miracles.” This clinic is coming into my life again I thought, but it was expensive and I had other commitments in the Himalayas and the UK that I didn’t want to change so I ignored it. I continued with my busy life – taking care of others as usual, and my leg became more swollen and painful and I could hardly walk. In August I managed to get a doctor’s appointment in the U.K. and was told I needed to increase my shoe raise, which I did and a knee replacement…. Never!!!
Now I had 2 choices: Go to Goa and try this miracle clinic or get that Knee replacement….Never!!!
After the rainy season on September 11th when the clinic opened, I was the first one at their door, crying in agony unable to put weight through my disfigured swollen leg and disbelieving that I had finally made it. “Please be able to fix it” was running through my head as I hobbled through the front gate. The energy of the place was soothing and I started to relax as I sat outside the office watching fat, healthy dogs, cats, chickens, and cows walk around a luscious green garden. Miranda, who was from London, arrived first – a fit, strong woman whose blonde hair was tied back exposing her face with a bright smile and eyes full of love and compassion. Now I was crying with relief and gratitude as we chatted about my leg’s history. Finally, someone who cared and understood my plight, she took me to the treatment room and lovingly sat me down in front of her Manipuri husband Ringo, a small, slim man with long black hair in a topknot. My heart flew out of my mouth as my body filled with fear when he put his hands on my leg to examine it “Maybe I can fix it, but I’ll need three months,” he told me as he studied the red, swollen deformed limb hanging from my body. Three months!! I was planning for one!! I cried again but this time with sadness, why didn’t I come sooner? why didn’t I think I was worth it? why had I let my poor leg get so messed up? Now I have to miss my other commitments in the Himalayas that I didn’t want to miss and spend three months here… I had no choice – I couldn’t walk!! In a tearful, dazed state, I went in a rickshaw to get X-rays and re-organized my life. Once Ringo studied these X-rays, he confidently told me “I can save your knee.” I could not believe it; 53 years of suffering and this tiny little man was telling me my leg could be saved. Gratitude filled my body and again tears rolled down my face as I hobbled after Maranda to the office to fill out all the necessary paperwork and was told to return the next day at 9 a.m.
I arrived at the clinic with a broken heart full of remorse – I don’t want to be here, how am I going to do three months of this? What have I done to myself? How did I let it get so bad? was going through my head on a constant cycle as I dragged myself to the exercise hall at the back of the compound. It was a big open space with a padded floor surrounded by various lush green trees, flowers, and medicinal bushes. The ambience was soothing, peaceful, and healing, and about 15 other people were there. I was surprised to see them all deformed, injured, and in pain. For the first time in my life, I was not the only disabled person in a room and with people who understood real pain and cared about each other. I started to relax until the stretch class started and my peaceful heaven turned into a torture chamber. I had never known pain like it as my stiff body was being told to exert itself into this excruciating two-hour exercise regime. My nervous system started shaking and tried to push its way out of my every pore, as I huffed and puffed my way through. After the first 10 minutes, I was on the floor crying, aching all over with my knee exploding. “I can’t do this; it’s going to kill me!” I thought as I looked up at the bees nested in the roof rafters. Then Japan, one of the cute little helpers appeared and started massaging my knee with this yellow herbal cream – within 5 minutes I was back up and trying again. With sweat and tears rolling down my face, I twisted and turned my body to Maranda’s shouts of “10 to go, 9 to go, come on swing…. breathe… push…” as she effortlessly continued to contort herself into the strenuous positions like a flowing ballerina. But I was soon back on the floor crying again. “No pain, no gain,” someone said to me. “No pain, no gain!!!! I’ve been in pain all my life; this is something else” I thought as I lay there in agony. But I felt everyone in the class was lying there with me, they all understood pain and were willing me to get back up, there was no competition or craving for the teacher’s attention, it was a hall full of love and caring – Then suddenly about 8 dogs came in, and my heart filled with happiness as I cuddled with a black and white one named Dolly, and started to feel better. My bliss bubble soon popped when Ringo appeared and took me off to a treatment room for a knee realignment. I laid down on a mattress on the floor while he pushed and pulled on my leg. My whole body froze in shock and I felt sick and dizzy when a sharp shooting pain rushed up my leg. “Rest, then go home,” he told me. I couldn’t get out of there quick enough.
It can only get better I thought but it just got worse, sleepless nights and painful days as my body ached, cramped and twinged with the new adjustments. Sometimes the pain was so intense it opened up old wounds that bought out my deep, buried mental traumas and the smallest thing could spark me off turning me into an angry monster.
During the second week, I started the afternoon walking exercise class, where I’d walk around the hall in many different styles for 30-45 minutes. These classes were less intense and often fun. But the best was the knee steams, where a cloth soaked in a pot of boiling water with Nonglei leaves was pounded all over my knee – This treatment kills off old and dead cells so new ones could grow, and the full body massages brought me back to life in an instant.
After the third week, I woke up and couldn’t feel my leg, but it was there. “What’s wrong with it?” I thought as I walked around the bedroom in a puzzled state. Then it dawned on me. It didn’t hurt! The constant dull ache I’d had all my life was gone and my leg felt light instead of a dead weight. I went to the toilet and my leg which usually sticks out to the side was on the floor – my knee was bending straight. On closer examination, I noticed my leg looking less swollen and crooked. I rushed to the mirror to check out my bum, it’s usual diagonal position of one cheek up and one check down was straight – Who’s body is this??? I could not believe it. Since the age of seven, I just accepted my disability as me and now at 60 I have a straight, pain-free leg and body after only 3 weeks of this program. I couldn’t wait to get to the clinic and push myself harder. When I arrived, Ringo told me to stop wearing the shoe raise, what??? I’ve just had it increased, surely this can’t be right – I was speechless as I looked around the exercise hall noticing all the other people in the class were improving too. My torture chamber was becoming a place of miracles.
HALFWAY THERE- SIX WEEKS DONE, SIX TO GO
On week six my back twinged as I put down my empty tea cup on the shelf and I was in agony. I couldn’t move without pain and fell onto the floor, “Help me Japan” I called out in despair, he was there in a second massaging my back with the magical yellow cream. It eased a bit so I tried to do the class until Ringo called me into the alignment room. “Ohh no this is gonna hurt,” I thought as I painfully shuffled my way there – But it didn’t!! It was incredible how he pulled, clicked and pushed for a few minutes and there I was with a straighter leg and spine, a heart full of gratitude back in the exercise hall to Maranda’s shouts of….”10 to go, 9 to go, come on swing, hold, breath….”
As the monsoon rains started to decrease, the exercise hall started to increase. Maybe because I’ve been in India for a long time and understood the culture and dress code, I took a double take in shock. The hall of miracles now looked more like the red-light district of Amsterdam. There were women in skimpy underwear stretching out all over the floor making grunts and moans as they prepared for class -The yoga students had arrived!!! I mean the weather was hot, but I felt it was very disrespectful to be dressed like that in this sacred place where the staff bowed before entering and we also did a martial arts bow before and after every class. But no one else seemed to notice, and I’m sure the men loved it!! They now had a clear view of the valley with the distant Himalayas as these women bent forward with their legs open wide. I just kept my focus and went to my space under the fan ready to work hard and go full power. But the almost naked woman next to me didn’t like the fan, so with a compromise we turned it down a notch, but in my sports bra, tee shirt and shorts, I was now stretching in a sauna and my focus was more on not fainting and feeling sick. But I pushed on through to the shouts of “10 to go, 9 to go, come on swing, hold, breath….” with sweat pouring out all over me as I watched the miracle of my body changing shape.
Week eight my 61st birthday came and all I wanted was to be able to sit crossed-legged and swim in the sea. Swimming in the sea was easy but the sitting cross-legged still had a little way to go.
The light at the end of the tunnel
My last week had finally arrived – Three months of hard painful work had paid off, the changes in my body were unbelievable, and a long time coming. There were plenty of ups, downs, tears and laughter, along with physical and mental struggles – but I made it. After 54 years of suffering, I’m now pain-free with a straighter leg and no 1-inch shoe raise. I danced out of the clinic with a smile so wide it was cracking my face. In my little goodie bag were the magic yellow medicine, natural pain relief tablets and steam leaves. I have different videos of the stretch class so I can continue as much as I can and these amazing healers at the end of my phone. The last few years of my life will probably be the best and the bone and body clinic – Priceless.
Thank you for reading my article on the clinic, check out part two to read about my accommodation dramas – coming soon