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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Putting Out the Hot Spots

So Monday when I got to physical therapy I stretched out on the treatment table ready for some ‘needling’ from the therapist. WARNING: POTENTIALLY SQUEEMISH IMAGE COMING….

At my first PT appointment I became a human pin cushion, uncertain of the impending experience. When it was done I noticed an improvement after a couple days so at my second appointment I told her I was actually looking forward to it. She was a little surprised by that. I just wanted relief. For those not familiar, dry needling is similar to acupuncture where very fine needles a few inches long are inserted into the sore spots. The idea is to bring a fresh blood supply to the injury which will bring needed healing components and break up

the bad blood that is ‘stuck’ from the bruising and injury. That’s it…in layman’s terms. It kinda looks like this, except for me she’s only using 4 needles between my hamstring and calf.

So this week I went in having significant pain. And I DO mean significant. I knew she would do the needling and I was trying SO hard to relax. You really don’t feel much…the initial introduction of the needle feels like a pin prick probably similar to what a diabetic feels when testing his / her blood. HOWEVER….when the muscles are in spasm, there is still swelling / inflammation, bruising, and the muscles feel like it’s one continuous muscle spasm…well….all the relaxation techniques in the world weren’t helping much.

I told her the issues I was having and identified some ‘hot spots’ – those places where the muscle just wouldn’t relax. And being a good physical therapist, she went for them. “Point to the hot spot. Okay….here comes a needle. Let me take this fine tip sharp object and insert it directly into the trouble spot and let it stay there a minute or two. Trust me. It will make it feel better.” Well, the conversation didn’t quite go that way but it may as well have. You name it, she hit it. Her aim was true. Now to her credit she wasn’t trying to cause pain. It goes against her oath. She was trying to put out the hot spots. We had already done a good deal of deep tissue massage which helped. But I still flinched a few times. And yelled once.

What I can tell you is after the residual pain that night the leg feels like it is improving. She gave me the okay to try to start weaning from the crutches as much as the leg will let me. We’re still having some significant issues with the knee area (she wants me to talk to the doc about it since it hasn’t gone away yet) and the hamstring and calf muscles fire in pain at times…but it does feel good to be able to go 20 ft or so without crutches….that is, until it flares when they are just out of reach.

Hot spots. Up and down my entire leg. They need to be put out.


So eating for someone who has a history of struggling with anorexia is a challenge, yet somehow my dietician has found a way to make it something I want to do. It’s actually been going well and she said last night she’s seen a lot of improvement from when we started meeting 2 months ago. Always good to hear. She even said it’s hard for me to see in the week by week but in the bigger picture….yes, I, too, have seen improvement.

Weekends used to be two days of ‘I may or may not eat something, or if I do I’ll just snack on chips or cookies.’ So to suddenly eat at my regular breakfast time, eat something for lunch, and then a regular dinner is…well….something I never thought I’d see.

But we’re not done. All this time we’ve just been focusing on eating consistently. That may sound crazy to some of you but some of you might ‘get it.’ We’re just laying the foundation. From here we start getting more specific with the exchanges. We’ve already added a protein to breakfast because over the last couple weeks my body has told us it wants more.

But old habits die very hard. The ‘hot spot’ that has arisen the last few days is that

I’m finding that I have to ‘make myself’ eat at times…that I don’t feel like eating but I know I have to. I mentioned this to her last night and I love her response: “Yeah. Well you have an eating disorder. It’s going to feel like that at times.”

I don’t want to slip back. I’ve fought too hard to get where I am right now. It’s taken years to get to this point…to first of all acknowledge and own that I do have an eating disorder and not just ‘odd’ eating patterns. That step alone was quite the challenge. Now to realize that I not only have an eating disorder but my feign attempts at eating have been sad at best and I need help was another challenge. So to see old habits starting to come back is disheartening and challenging. As I’ve told both my counselor and dietician, there’s a LOT of energy going into eating right now. And I mean a LOT!


All that energy getting drained in other arenas – healing physically, rewiring my brain to eat right and figuring out what that means for my body after decades of neglect – seems to leave little room for anything else. But I have a very faithful counselor who knows we’ve found some hot spots and she’s not afraid of the heat. In fact it’s so hot that I went into our session this last week very guarded. Not recommended if you want to get anything out of it.

She challenged me. I overreacted. And suddenly the hot spot was a flare up and we had some repair to do. Conflict is never fun but when it’s with a counselor you may as well just settle in and realize you are GOING to work it through…right then…and there is no hiding. In the end it was an uncomfortable session but we came out stronger on the other side.

I was struck with how calm she stayed in the midst of my defensiveness. “A gentle answer turns away wrath” it says in Proverbs. And she was gentle, firm and direct. Sounds like an oxymoron but it’s not….she’s just very skilled. And in the process of it all she is teaching me – through actions and not words – how to constructively deal with conflict. Those lessons can only help me in my relationships with others. I wanted to run and avoid it which would have only made it worse. I’m glad I didn’t. It wasn’t comfortable – at all – but it was productive. And that is what matters.

So that flare up has settled and this week we again attack the hot spot. Am I excited? No.

Only because I don’t like the topic. She knows that. We both acknowledge that. But we also know why I have her on my payroll and where I want to be. And she is faithful. So in addition to expending energy on healing and eating I am expending energy trying to keep the walls down. Maybe that’s why I’m so tired this week!


Safe to say there are a lot of hot spots in my life right now. Just like God to raise the temperature to refine things in the fire. Maybe I shouldn’t focus so much on putting out the hot spots as much as I should in finding Him in the midst of them.

More thoughts on Hot Spots can be found from Jenn at and Leisa at

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