Top surgery case study. Fred

Top surgery case study.  Fred

 “It’s great to have the prompts for ease and gentleness.  Really feeling the benefit the closer I get. It just feels so nice. Proper magic”

Top surgery…trans-formation, a work in progress.
I have had the privilege of working with Fred in the week leading up to his top surgery and despite the distance, sending post op ‘coaching-style’ daily texts, with an occasional video, illustrations, poetry, other reading matter thrown in.
It has become a very rich, warm and loving exchange. … exchange because this is quite new territory for me professionally and Fred generously agreed to be my sounding board as we worked this out together.
This is an outline of our exploration, and some extracts of our conversations.
It is a work in progress.

November 11 2021

Pre op zoom session.
*to equip Fred with simple safe practices in the first few hours after surgery
*to find core/spinal and central ease for immediate post-op mobility without fear of stretching
*to offer a way to soften and enliven the muscular fabric of the wing and torso structures with a view to adapting and augmenting this as recovery progresses    *To look towards embodying his new chest in such a way that older holding patterns dissolve.
*To find a simple practice to quieten the nervous system
Using the imagery of sitting on a gym ball and letting the rolling of the ball be the initiator of gentle pelvic sphere movements. This inner receptive/ responsive quality of softer than soft helps to bring awareness to a texture of fluidity in contrast to the more muscular quality of “willed” movement as an “exercise”
Click on the link to watch.
Spinal etude


Sensory support.
We then talked about the breath….the act of inhaling a favourite fragrance (Fred chose honeysuckle) as an anchor at times of stress.
Noticing feet on the floor. The texture of socks.
Awareness of hands. Holding ones own hand as though it belongs to a beloved person. Folding the wings to bring the hands over the heart.
It turns out that the honeysuckle breath became an instant grounding in the lead up to surgery. “It’s great to have the prompts for ease and gentleness” and “keep using my honeysuckle. Really feeling the benefit the closer I get. It just feels so nice. Proper magic”
Gradually incorporating body mapping.

November 19 2021

Day 1
Gentle tail wiggles and honeysuckle …video illustrating softening and “sponging out” as a metaphor for texture

click on link to see video

sponging out 

Day 2 

Baby steps for wing fabric
Connecting with long fascial spirals and “wing-tips”

click on link to see video

Day 3
“Love your back”
This was an intuitive ‘empathetic’ guess which tuned in well to Fred who was feeling the discomfort of his binder as well as some back pain.
Day 4
Notice how your back presents itself to the space behind you.
This shift of focus/attention encourages a return to centre.
Refer back to “baby steps” video and noticing the opening effect of the open palms gesture on the front surface of chest and collar bone area. This can have an emotional component.
Text to Fred
“I think also that the gesture with the palms open may evoke an emotional layer…. It’s very beautiful. If you have a moment here is one of those exquisite moments with that open gesture with a beloved 99 year old pupil called Freda freda/ This little book about Freda and how she applied Alexander over many years was a tribute to her and my attempt to invite people to a little taste of the essence of this precious stuff.
So feet, Back space, Senses, Gesture
These are all part of the unbinding ( apt huh?) release that little by little can make a difference to
the experience of living. Have a great day…I’m playing a concert soon 😁 😁 😁 😁 😁 in my best( one and only yet) bowtie 🦍 🦍 🦍 I really like gorillas”.
“Hope the concert goes well and thank you for this message and brilliant gentle gorilla magic ✨ ”
Day 5
Recording of guided walking /mapping … to take out on a short walk and listen over headphones ( link below)


Fred has told me his binder is tight.
post op binders help to reduce oedema but can be very restrictive and cause some pain.
In view of this I encouraged Fred to think of wiggling from the inside.
Day 6
Caterpillar rib contemplation. Rib sphere rolling.
Using the metaphor of a caterpillar in a chrysalis. That to trans-form it first has to dissolve into a caterpillar enzyme soup or “goo”
Softer than soft. Almost imperceptible. Start by finding quietness within yourself. Warmth. Pause the busy brain. Become a bit gooey from the inside and let the tilting of the goo ( goo is viscous and so can only flow slowly) bring about a small response of movement. There is no resistance in goo so it will snuggle up to the inner boundaries of the chrysalis and then spread itself around before settling.
To which Fred replied “ Goo!!! Chrysalis goo!!!!! I love!!!!”

caterpillar transformational goo


At this point I shared a poem that I wrote in response to being moved by transformation.

They are so beautiful. On the subway
“Stay right there”
There, where she can receive herself.
Where she can perceive herself.
As he is .
No judgement, only warm, friendly curiosity.
The curiosity that simply asks a little question,
here and there.
We take in the beauty of their form.
A sculpture worn by many years of life’s mouldings and brushings. Bumps and blips.
The slights and slips that pass in the night.
A foot tells a tale of turning in.
A curl of the elbow, shrug of the shoulder.
A twist, a shallow breath, a chewed lip.
“How are you doing?”
A whisper of smoke drifts in with the question.
It coils and spreads, sings and croons, apparently aimless, yet not so.
“Be here”
A coyote calls on the plain, howls to the moon and remembers.
They settle back a little.
Shifts his weight.
Takes a look around and eases out.. Softens and spreads.
A spell unbound.

They Are so Beautiful.
Come take a walk. Come home.

Day 7
Starting to talk about the head sphere and some body mapping….


Fred 24 hours after surgery

“Have cried with gratitude and joy about 4 times since I got back to my room….”

“Just doing a lovely combo of the physio stretches and your videos, some wiggles and gooey softness. I learnt about caterpillars completely dissolving in the chrysalis quite recently. One of those weird nature facts that I just love ! Apparently they retain memories…even before they become goopified!!! Whatever caterpillar memories are like…..wild. Thank you again for this!!! It’s such a blessing . “

And 2 weeks post op.


Fred testimony
“JQ is a wonderful non-binary musician, carer, artist, vagabond, and healer, who has been practicing AT for many years and has a deep wealth of wisdom and imagery, as well as really profound intuition around what our bodies and minds and souls need to unravel in the best way! They have been offering me regular pearls of gentleness and ease throughout the process of getting top surgery, and I can honestly say it’s made such an uplifting and nourishing difference. I would fully recommend communing with them if you struggle to find ease and gentleness in your body through the usual routes! ”