Having survived a head-on collision (as a passenger) on September 3, 2013 with a fractured shoulder that required surgery, a sprained ankle, major seat belt bruises and minor cuts and bruises, I have been observing my own symptoms from this traumatic event. It might be helpful to make a self-assessment using an integral approach.
1) I get tired easily and can get irritable in a noisy or chaotic environment.
2) Sleep has been sketchy because I have had to keep my arm in a sling and cannot turn from side to side easily. I have been unable to do my morning Qigong routine to move my Qi around. My sleep rhythm is off because I sleep earlier and wake earlier.
3) Daily chores such as showering and getting dressed were very challenging for the first 2 weeks. This is getting easier as I begin to heal.
4) My concentration was very poor for the first 2 1/2 weeks and I could not pick up any books to read (one of my favorite leisure activities).
5) I have tired of repetitive coverage on cable news but would probably do that anyway if I was home to watch news all day.
6) I have resisted visits from friends unless they come alone or as couples and visit briefly.
7) It has been difficult to ride in a car/van as a passenger on the freeway. My anxiety level increases.
8) The lack of structured activities in my day has been challenging, but I have managed to hobble along on a walk by the ocean every day.
Taking the integral perspective, here are my observations and my treatment plan:
UPPER RIGHT QUADRANT - SELF PSYCHOLOGY:
1) A lack of restful sleep effects my level of energy, my focus and my concentration.
2) The physical impairments are cause for irritability. Thank God for my chiropractic treatment three times per week! Unfortunately I have not been able to do my regular morning Qigong...which normally helps to move the Qi through my body! Today, October 2, 2013, after reading Pat Ogden's work on "Trauma and the Body," I consulted a trauma therapist who is familiar with her work and the work of Peter Levine. She suggested that I try to do my Qigong even without the use of one arm...I just did this and feel the Qi begin to move again through my body. I have scheduled sessions with this trauma therapist for October 17 and also plan to get a referral for acupuncture which is covered by my worker's compensation insurance.
3) I have not had to take any narcotic pain killers and relied on a 1000 mg of Tylenol for the first 2 weeks, after which I stopped taking any medication.
4) Min-Tran, a Standard Process product has helped to relax me enough to get to sleep at night but not enough to get a full night's sleep. Sleep continues to be periodic instead of restful and refreshing.
5) Bengay on my left elbow, left knee and sprained right angle seem more like a placebo...but it is a form of self-caring.
6) I think I need to drink more water or fluids!
7) I engage in creative imagination exercises seeing myself as whole and very healthy!
LOWER RIGHT QUADRANT - SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY:
1) I have been able to access an efficient and reliable health care system from the medic who found a vein in a fast moving ambulance to the doctors and nurses who provided care at the hospital to my chiropractor.
2) I have been able to access a great support system including a) a caring sibling and social network, b) workers' compensation benefits, c) community supported transportation for the disabled and d) legal aid on a contingency basis.
3) This experience of being held with loving care and attention gives me a great sense of gratitude for so many caring individuals who have gone out of their way to render whatever assistance they can provide.
4) The deep sense of connection that comes from a caring community provides the motivation to reciprocate in kind in the future. Love clearly makes the world go around!
LOWER LEFT QUADRANT - CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY:
1) My sister brought me some of my favorite ethnic foods which gave me much pleasure and a sense of the familiar.
2) Living in a cultural paradigm in which work is so highly valued makes it difficult to rest on one's self-esteem when we are disabled.
3) Finding ways to stay connected and experience a sense of community through social media and the blogosphere have been very helpful.
4) Finding music and entertainment by surfing cable and public broadcasting channels has been a gratifying distraction!
UPPER LEFT QUADRANT - TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY:
1) It has been difficult to maintain a consistent spiritual practice, especially meditation which has been inhibited by a lack of sleep, concentration and focus. Subsequent to my trauma therapist's suggestion on October 2, 2013, that I resume my Qigong practice, even with one arm, I was able to sit for approx. 30 minutes in my pre-dawn meditation practice for the first time in a month, this morning, (October 3, 2013). This is clearly a testament for the need to integrate the body-mind-spirit unity.
2) Healing thoughts and prayers from family and friends feel restorative.
3) Walking meditation and, after an entire month, silent prayer bead recitations have seemed easier than heart-centered pre-dawn meditation.
THE FOUNTAIN OF SOPHIA - FEMININE PSYCHOLOGY:
This post is an attempt to connect all my insights from an integral perspective. I am being gentle on myself and practicing Loving Kindness towards myself. I am cultivating a surrendered state of consciousness and being open and receptive to what meaning this event has in my life. I am being vulnerable and accepting help and support from so many kind souls. I have been reading and researching more about trauma and whether this experience might call something profound forth from my soul. I feel like I am being guided to become a trauma specialist.
Love, light and shadow,
Jalaledin Ebrahim, LMFT, Ph.D