Somatics for You

January February March 2016

Link to some audio recordings of my Saturday Somatics Classes via SoundCloud.

Link to my YouTube Channel (Somatics For You, Susan Koenig). 
     You can see over 30 short somatic movement videos.

Below are links to two longer interviews of myself and Janet Hoagland, by Dana Wilberg, of the cable TV program out of Sacramento, CA, called the "Paranormal Connection."  In spite of the TV title, the interviews are about Hanna Somatic Education.

Each interview has 2 parts; each part is a little less than 1/2 hour.
Interview One: February, 2011
          Part 1
          Part 2
Interview Two:
May, 2015
          Part 1
          Part 2
In the TV studio with Danna Wilberg for our interview (see above): Janet Hoagland, left; Susan Koenig, middle; Danna Wilberg, right.

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Feel So Much Better!

Saturday Class Schedule, 10-11:30 am:
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National Holistic Institute
5900 Doyle Street, Emeryville, CA 94608

Private Sessions with Susan Koenig available

Call 510-848-4129

This is a picture of non-displaced fractured ribs (google images).  This is the kind of rib injury I had - non displaced fractures.
This picture shows the zygomatic bone and various places a fracture might need to be repaired (google images).  My self healing fractures had some effect on my eye socket (no eye problems, thank goodness) and my upper jaw bone, the maxilla.  I have no jaw hinge problems, I do still have some numbness of my upper right teeth and gums.
This xray (google images) shows a fractured radius bone at the wrist.  This is similar to my fractured right radius bone.
These 2 xrays show examples of wrist surgery with various plates and screws (google images).  I was given the choice more like the xray on the left, but opted for no surgery.  The healing takes longer with no surgery.  Originally I was told my right wrist would need 8-12 weeks in a cast. 
Tips From My Daily Routine
What has helped me so much are the various lists I made, so people can help me easily.  A med list where I kept tract of times I took which pills when, or put-on/took-off the patch.  A shopping list - to make sure I always had easy to eat nutritious food like organic, grass fed meat bone broths, mint tea, greens, frozen organic fruit, and organically prepared soups and stews (fortunately in Berkeley all these things can be purchased).  A big thank you to Lily Hill who picks up my Three Stone Hearth order (food company) each Wednesday and stays for a visit.  

A list I call “set-ups” has been crucial.  In order to fend for myself when help is not around, I make sure my last helper has left jar caps loose, tea bags opened, water in the electric kettle (not too much, so I can lift it), pet food on the counter, butter or spreads out on the counter to soften (spreading butter or pesto on crackers or bread is difficult, but doable if it’s not hard).  I keep my water bottle half full, vitamins and pain meds in open plastic baggies (I can’t unzip zip locks yet).  Tooth paste cap needs to be lose, tooth brush handy, and a small glass of water at the bathroom sink.   Also important is warm, loose clothing I can get into and out of myself.  A big thank you to my friends, Eva Waldmann, for the beautiful poncho, and to Arina Isaacson, who immediately went out and bought me a warm, cuddly robe I could get in and out of myself, and a neck infinity scarf I can just throw over my head. 

Exercise/movement breaks are important to me and I often do something even for a few minutes (but also longer) when I’m lying down, sitting, or standing.  I can’t get my casts wet, so I’m still in the sponge bath stage and use a space heater to warm up the room for comfort.  Washing my hair was a problem and we solved it by going to a local beauty shop for a simple wash and dry.

You get the idea; you just have to go through your routines and create your set-up list.  My advice is to not rely on memory, but to go down the list each time you know you’ll be alone.  I now use my set-up list even when, for example, my husband is home so I’m not constantly bothering him.  
Book recommendations dealing with trauma:
    The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.  Eleanor Criswell reviewed this absolutely must read book if you have any interest in trauma, in the 2015, Volume XVII, Number 3, journal of “Somatics.”  She quotes van der Kolk, “Trauma is not only an event that took place in the past, it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body.  This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present.  For real change to take place, the body needs to learn that the danger has passed and to live in the reality of the present.”

    Other books relating to trauma:    The Polyvagal Theory, by Stephen Porges; The Brain’s Way of Healing, by Norman Doidge, MD; and the many books by Peter Levine.
"Mindfulness: To pay attention in the moment on purpose."
           Jon Kabat-Zinn
Monica Roseberry (right) and her partner Jeannine (left).  Monica is my producer and helping me make videos (DVDs and MP4s).  Our first series will be Hanna Somatic Movements.  We'll probably have our first product for sale by this spring.  I'm really looking forward to healing enough that we can get back to this project.
My beautiful work studio.  I look forward to fully healing and working with my clients again!
My Injury
On November 14, 2015, I fell about 8 feet off of a ladder.  I sustained the following injuries.  I had 12 fractured ribs (all non-displaced - thank goodness); fractured and displaced my right radial bone at the wrist - to my feeling self this was the worst injury; fractured the left scaphoid bone below the thumb; and fractured the zygomatic bone of my face, which was declared self-healing and fortunately did not effect my eyesight. I had no headaches or dizziness, but it did leave my upper right gums and teeth sore with some numbness.

I was brought by ambulance to Oakland’s Highland Hospital ICU - which Kaiser uses in cases of trauma. I was there for 2 1/2 days.  Pain meds were liberal, x-rays were taken, right wrist was reset, and both wrists were splinted.  My facial fractures were declared self healing.  Their main concern were my rib injuries and the possible effect of swallow breathing, leading to pneumonia.  Fortunately, I started breathing exercises immediately and only experienced mild discomfort.  (It’s a miracle!)  The care I received was excellent.

I was moved to the relatively new Oakland Kaiser Hospital - beautiful, all private rooms, internet, big screen TV, for further evaluation and recovery.  I stayed there 2 1/2 days before being released to go home.  The care was very good; the food lousy - all sugar and denatured, processed carbs.

The doctors and nurses were adamant that I take pain meds not only  to stay on top of the pain, but also allowing my body to rest and heal with relative comfort.  This was an excellent strategy and looking back I am grateful I submitted.  At Kaiser I was both on a drip and could self administer  a pain dosage at the click of a button.  Research has shown this method of pain control by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain meds patients use. The doctor said I was only averaging about 20% of “normal” usage and believe me, I wasn’t depriving myself.  I also used a Lidocaine (topical analgesic) patch over the sorest section of my ribs, 12 hours on, 12 hours off.  And I continue (4 weeks later as of the writing of this newsletter) to take some pain meds and use the patch.

At my first outpatient appointment to see my regular doctor, I mentioned I had some sores/tenderness on my right buttock cheek.  To my doctor’s and my surprise I had shingles.  “But you had the vaccination for shingles, didn’t you?” asked my doc.  “Yes, I did,” said I.  He explained that I had a very mild case (again, thank goodness!) due to having had the vaccination.  But the stress of the injury had brought it on.  I was prescribed an anti viral medication.

At my first outpatient appointment to see my orthopedic doctor, new x-rays were taken, the merits of wrist surgery or not were discussed, and I opted for no surgery.  Both wrists received new fiberglass casts - which come in a variety of colors.  I chose a perky green.  The casting process was fascinating - an art and science.

My Thoughts
As I write this newsletter, I am entering my fifth week of healing.  I believe having done somatic movements for 25 years has kept my body in excellent shape.  I believe that the muscles around and between my ribs were able to accept the impact of the fall without going into gut-wrenching spasms. I could breathe in relative comfort from the beginning, even though it was probably somewhat shallow.  From the beginning I did my somatic breathing movements, always staying within my comfort zone, and within days I was breathing deeply. From the very beginning, I did bed somatic micro-movements all through my body, and over time increased these in quality and variation.  I continue to do standing and bed somatics - I’m not yet ready for getting up and down from the floor with ease. I continue to improve.

My husband and sisters attribute my positive outlook to my personality and experience. I remember just having landed on the floor after the fall (I don’t think I lost consciousness), that I knew I was hurt, and that my life was going to be greatly interrupted, and I had a choice to fight or give in to the process.  I quickly made up my mind. In order to facilitate my healing, I needed to be as positive as I could and use all my internal and external resources: Hanna Somatics, mindfulness practices, social support, visualization, nutrient rich food - lots of bone broth, foot massage, and project full recovery.  I had an immediate, wonderful support system with my husband, sisters, friends, dog Chester, and cat Louie - although I don’t love him lying on my chest, I do allow it for a couple of minutes.

My Work with clients since 1976 and seeing the effects of injury,  depression, and stress on the healing process, helped prepare me for using my injury experience as a healing journey.  I have so many people to thank.  My teaching partner, Phil Shenk, reminded me to use visualization.  I’m visualizing a crew of tiny people climbing up and down my bones fixing and repairing them 24/7.  I see them cleaning out debris, repairing bone breaks, running energy around and through the bones and joints, making sure blood and lymph circulates properly, and lately they’ve even been singing to the bones and surrounding tissues bringing healing vibrations to my healing journey.

My injuries leave me with the use of my 4 left fingers (not the thumb).  All 5 of my right fingers are not casted, but originally were part of the first splint.  When I first got the cast on my right wrist, my fingers were swollen and I could hardly move them at all.  Over time and with practicing somatic finger movements I am slowly gaining more function, but still strongly rely on my 4 left fingers.  My spine and lower body are fine.

I’ve had lots of help.  My sister, Robin, dropped her life and flew up from Burbank, CA, to help me for the first 12 days out of the hospital.  My husband, Paul, got a much needed break.  Injuries stress out family care givers too and his constant hospital visits, taking care of the home front and pets, and communicating with family, my work colleagues, clients, students, and friends all fell to him.  My sister, Marcia (lives in Berkeley as do I), was also on the scene for errands, shopping, walking the dog, whatever.  Hiring a friend and student of mine, Janet Jacobson, to come in three times a week for a few hours each time (after Robin went home) has been great and gives my husband and sister, Marcia, a much needed break.  

I gain more vitality daily, but take lots of naps, and can only be at the computer or have social visits for short periods of time.  I love books on tape, netflix (Grace and Frankie, and Rita), amazon video (Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle) and cooking TV shows - helps my appetite.  I am just beginning to be able to read.  Working on this newsletter is a big deal!  I thank my sister, Marcia, and my computer tutor, Isaiah Smith, for their assistance.   

Messages of kind thoughts from so many people, colleagues, students, friends, and family help keep my spirits positive.  Thank you.
Videos:  the following videos demonstrate the somatic movements I am using in my healing.  I’m doing all movements pandicularly: slow, comfortable contraction of the target muscles; slow to very slow release out of the contraction to lengthen the target muscles.  I watch my fatigue levels, but usually do 1-3 repetitions.
Video 1: Finger Movements
Movements for Fingers: (both wrists are casted), finger flexion and extension; forearm movement.

Video 2:  Jaw Movements
Movements for the Jaw: open, close, side to side, circles, diamonds.
I do many somatic movements in bed, sitting, and standing.

See my YouTube channel for many idea.  Of course I need to adjust the movements to accommodate the casts on both my wrists.
My cat, Louie, loves to sit on my chest - not the greatest while my ribs are healing; and my dog, Chester, loves to lie over my legs.  But they really do help me sleep and heal.  Notice my "perky" green casts on both wrists.
My husband, Paul, and our dog, Chester - nap attack!  Paul deserves it - he had to help me constantly for the first few weeks of my recovery.
My 2 sisters (Robin Kim, left, and Marcia Dillon, MD, right, I'm in the middle) along with my husband were and are a constant presence during my recovery.  I thank them so much!

"And I decided that angels aren’t different sorts of beings, from imaginary places, with wings and harps — but ordinary human souls performing the fundamental human duty of caring for each other. ''  Written by my husband, Paul Herzoff, from a memorial letter to his friend and astronomy professor who died recently.  This certainly applies to my sisters and husband in caring for me.

Copyright © 2016 Susan Koenig, All rights reserved.

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