“In 1990, at the height of my Fitness Instructor career, when I was 38 years of age, my lovely and wise GP told me: “My dear, your left hip has the onset of osteo-arthritis!”
“This could not be right!”, my ego argued, “I’m far too young, this only happens to old people!”
So, I left her surgery in total disbelief, and this is where my journey of Self-Denial began.”
This is an extract taken from my book “How did I get These?”. It follows my painful journey of self-realisation at trying to understand why I developed osteoarthritis, which led to two metal hip resurfacings. There was a realisation that my body had been crying out for my love and attention. It had been really “hammered” throughout my life and I was also being my own worst bully. I was trying to control and avoid weakness, vulnerability, and deal with a total lack of self-worth.
Before I continue giving you an insight on how to avoid osteoarthritis or any other ailment, I bet you’d like to know a little more about me!
My name is Nadia Smith. I am half Asian, half Belgian. I have been married forty years this summer and am in my 66th year, of which I am very proud. We have a beautiful son of 38 who has Cerebral Palsy, and to whom I am therapist, mum and friend. He cannot walk but is a great communicator with a terrific sense of humour. We also had a son who this year would be 37 years old had he lived after his first three days on this planet!
I spent a large part of my life in Africa and travelled to live in various continents with my parents and afterwards, my mother and my husband. Before my babies I trained to be an interpreter. All that changed when my priority became to help my little boy improve his quality of life with various therapies which took us all over the world.
During this period I became a qualified health and fitness instructor and in 1990 I trained as a Qi Gong instructor. I continued developing my career to become a holistic practitioner with an emphasis on traditional Chinese healing methods.
Pracitising from my home clinic, I run a monthly Qi Gong session locally and workshops throughout the UK. I am also the author of the above-mentioned book and a contributing author to The Book of Energy Healing.
The rise of Osteoarthritis
To resume my story relating to osteoarthritis, in the 1980s I started to develop backache which I thought was due to lifting my son, and possibly some of the tough workouts I did. Ten years later I received the verdict of osteoarthritis. Not wanting to believe this, there then followed years of various treatments with all types of therapies. They helped briefly but did not prevent the osteoarthritis from developing. I continued training hard, ignoring the ever-growing pain. In 2005 after a journey to Nordcap on the back of my husband’s Harley-Davidson, the excruciating pain took away all the wonder of the never-ending fjords and ice walls of the Arctic.
Finally, I faced the truth; my left hip had severe osteoarthritis with a burning pain radiating throughout my thigh, knee and ankle. Unknown to me, in order to compensate, my body had for years been twisting around my left hip pulling it out of line and creating aches throughout the rest of my body. Then one of my fitness colleagues pointed out that my pelvis was higher on the left and my torso twisted to the right!
After a lot of research, I found one of the best hip surgeons in Birmingham and had a metal resurfacing done. In 2011 the right hip had to have the same procedure. Now I am the proud owner of two shiny and bionic metal hip joints!
This was the practical solution to fixing my hips!
How did I get osteoarthritis, however?
Through Qi Gong practice and having studied traditional Chinese massage with all its acupoints and meridian systems, I questioned why I had developed it. A long, painful, but fascinating journey evolved through study with various pioneers in body awareness and my own physiological biology. My body became an experiential laboratory which developed my passion for helping others and turning this into a positive experience.
The belief in Traditional Chinese Medicine is that the internal organs house our emotions, which makes sense as our solar plexus has a large network of nerves connecting the viscera to our brain. Emotions are felt there first, affecting the core or psoas muscles which directly connect to our “fight, flight or freeze” reflex. Depending on the circumstances we react instinctively; our neo-cortex or rational brain then decides the next step.
For example, if we have suffered severe criticism as children and circumstances prevent us from running away, the fear freezes us. This tightens our core muscles. We set up a coping mechanism to deal with it, and fear becomes a trapped emotion. When unexpressed it causes “freeze” patterns within the body. In traditional Chinese medicine this relates to kidney and lower back issues.
True to Our Roots Qi Gong is a system which encourages the body to surrender to its natural fluids, helping to restore the flexibility and elasticity of our myofascial and connective tissues, a method which is like a moving meditation and is deeply nourishing and healing. It is a system I developed to help us become aware of, and to work together with our body again.
Tips from this system to help you feel better:
- Learning to deal with our emotions. The author of “Heal Your Body”, Louise Hay, throws a fascinating insight on this. She identifies our ailments and changes our negative focus on ill health by using positive affirmations to change the chemical imbalances caused by negative thoughts.
- In Qi Gong we address each emotion to the related organ and use sound while surrendering to gentle internal and external movements. This allows the relevant organ meridians to stretch and clear blocked energy.
- Being out in nature, in the summer preferably barefoot, as the earth is a magnet with anti-inflammatory properties.
- Addressing our posture, starting from the feet upwards, whether in motion or in stillness. A book which helped me more than any therapist did and which I still refer to now is “Eight Steps to a Pain Free Back”, by Esther Gokhale.
The conclusion I reached through my own on-going self-realisation journey is the importance of being responsible for one’s own health. This makes us more aware of the signals our body alarms us with, so that we can take better care of ourselves. There is nothing more empowering than figuring out how we can treat ourselves better. Loving who we are and understanding that our body is our friend and not our enemy is essential.
“Heal Your Body”, by Louise Hay (Hay House Publishers)
“Earthing. The Most Important Health Discovery ever?”, by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., Martin Zucker (Basic Health Publications)
“Eight Steps to A Pain-Free Back, Remember when it didn’t hurt?” by Esther Gokhale L.c., with Susan Adams