I'm using muscles in the ways they were meant to be used, rather than abusing certain ones while ignoring the others. I can go to the gym and carry the weight plates without stumbling. I'm able to flex my feet and point my toes and keep my ankle bones together while on the guillotine or the reformer at Pilates.
Rereading that sentence, I find that it is fairly gruesome. The reality is much gentler:
My plies and squats are symmetrical. Every once in a while I can balance on my right leg in tree pose. At times, I can walk up and down a flight of steps without holding onto the railing. I'm using the step machine at the gym; not the Stairmaster, where your feet stay on the same step, but the Stepper, which requires each foot to move off the previous step and onto the next-plus-one.
I'm recovering deep nerve connections, previously buried beneath scar tissue and arthritis and separated from their other halves by the path of the bullets. When they meet, there are still little explosions of joy (otherwise known as deep, searing, pain) but the result is remarkable. It surprises me still how much easier it is to move well when I can feel what I'm doing.
I don't creak and stumble when I arise from bed or the couch. I can take a confident first step, even if I have to take a moment and stand still as I wait for my parts to recognize one another, and the connections between them.
Proprioception - where my body parts are in space - is a lost art where I am concerned. Proper alignment, without a mirror or a friend nearby, is next to impossible for me to achieve.... though I'm working on it. Being able to feel all my connections is very helpful.
I put this all together this afternoon, after a Pilates instructor complimented me. She's in town for this weekend's annual Fletcher Pilates Conference. She heard my presentation at the Pilates Method Alliance's conference and she was amazed at the progress I'd made in the intervening 18 months.
Her critical eye examined me as I stood and we talked. She was so proud of me. She agreed that Pilates is wonderful. She told me, again, how remarkable my recovery seemed to be. She was not overwhelmed by the passage of time, as I am. She was focused on my present status.
It was nice to have what I've been feeling myself confirmed by a total stranger. I have a long way to go, for sure, but I've come quite a distance thus far. I think I'm going to concentrate on that for now.