Restorative Yoga…finding my place

Coming to yoga from a place of pain…Aimee’s perspective:

I was afraid my body was not ready for this class.  In fact, after taking the beginner yoga class, I waited weeks before coming back in to give it another go.  You see, the ego whispers to me “That was too hard, you must give up now.”  It is coming from a place of pain.  Pain I have lived with for the last 5 years since developing the symptoms and ultimately the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  But last night on my mat, as I held the pose for a little bit longer, my mind tried to scream at me again to register and focus on my pain.  I then shushed it, and focused on my breathing instead.  And guess what happened?  It worked.

What is restorative yoga anyway?  Basically it’s the best thing ever for your body if you are new to yoga and trying to come at it from a place of pain and/or needing healing postures.  Click the above link to find out more.

Three weeks ago as I was getting ready to take the first class, an acquaintance called me, but I said I had to go get ready for yoga.  She asked if she could go; however, she is not known for her patience, so I explained this was not like traditional yoga.  She said she was fine with it…haha.  We arrived and were told to get bolsters, a blanket, a block and a belt.  She kept asking me questions about what we were going to do.  I did mention I had not taken this class before.  Throughout class, she fidgeted.  She whispered.  She twitched.  She complained under her breath.  I was NOT happy.  Yoga is MY place for peace.  If you invite yourself to come with me, you need to respect that this is already hard for me, and I like to relax.

At the end, oh the end, I was mortified.  Tea was served, and I dearly love hot tea.  As it was being passed out, fidgety gal loudly says WHAT IS IT?  I stared at her.  It’s tea.  Well, what kind??  I need to know.  No you don’t.  Be quiet and drink the tea before I lose my calm on you and go off all Scorpio style in this nice place.  She then got out her PHONE.  Yes, her phone, and proceeds to play on it.  NUMBER one rule of yoga is there are NO cell phones in yoga.  Everyone knows this.  Everyone.  Except her.

Unfortunately, I left restorative yoga more tense than I should have.  I allowed another person’s behavior and energy to seep into my space.  I don’t have time for that in my life.  I just don’t.  So I went blessedly alone the next week.  And again last night.  What I learned was that each week, Lauren works on a different part of the body in the poses.  If I had given up because of my mind, body, or embarrassment of the above, I would not have known that.  I am working hard on shifting my focus.  There are things we can’t control, but when you get to your mat, control what you can.  Slow down you mind, focus on the breath, drop the chatter in your head, and let the others melt away.  It is your journey and yours alone.  No one can do this for you.

I truly appreciate this class as it feels like it goes at your own pace.  Some of us use more bolsters, blankets, or props to get in the pose and get the best benefits.  It does not matter.  This is truly a class to teach you to slow down.  Namaste.

 

Heart

War on me…

The invisible war inside me threatens to take me down.

I suspect that if I were to take the posts about my food issues and put them together in a book, it would be helpful to many people.  I will briefly try to explain what has happened to my body as best I understand it.  When I was born, I was born with the C282y gene that the Irish people needed.  It not being the potato famine and all that, it continues to function in the way it would have by holding onto iron.  Basically, it is thought that this protein functions to regulate iron absorption, and mine is “broken” so to speak. Luckily, the porphyria cutanea tarda kicked in and gave me blisters all over and turned my urine dark.  Warning!  Warning!  Anyway, you can see other posts about all that.  Just use the search button.

So we have a kid loaded up on iron, fed by well water, eating collard greens like they are going out of style and taking her Flintstone vitamins.  Anyone see what’s happening?  Yes, you over there.  Poisoning myself.  That would be correct.  Because my body has no way of getting rid of the access iron.

Now let’s throw in mononucleosis at age 15 which left behind some Epstein-Barr virus and find out that EBV latently persists in the individual’s B cells for the rest of the individual’s life.  Hmmm.  Not sure what happened with this, but I KNOW it was reactivated about 4 years ago which started causing a number of problems and thus spawning more invisible diseases.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was found when my body starting attacking itself several years ago.  To use a bit from the Mayo Clinic:  Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s activities.
Read that part again about coordinating MANY of your body’s activities.  READ it.  MANY.  I exhibited every SINGLE one of the symptoms for all of these diseases, but never in my life had a light-bulb gone off as when my good friend told me to read about Hashimoto’s.  I’m going to let you use the link above if you want to read more about Hashi’s but seriously it was the worst diagnosis.  I just didn’t know it yet.

When I started to feel like I had the flu every single day for the last 3 years, I should have known something more was coming.  The truth is, I did know.  I knew I had fibromyalgia, I knew I was living with pain and the swollen tender points daily, but what I didn’t know was that it was so hard for people to understand and/or believe.  From what I can tell, it is usually triggered by an underlying cause.  Read more about fibromyalgia here.

All this bring me up to date, but what I left out was what I did in between to feel better.  As the years went on, the extreme sensitivity to cold got to me.  My bones ached to their very core.  Still do, but cold is worse.  My stomach bloated like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon.  I would have to go to the bathroom more than normal people, but still couldn’t lose weight.  It was painful.  I went through all kinds of tests, again that portion is in the blog if you search.  Giving up gluten as BEST I could was not good enough.  I really had to be serious.  Then I suspected there was another trigger,  so I gave up sugar in November.  That was very, very, very difficult.  I felt like Paula Deen came over and took away my Southern License.

I am not teaching.  I actually could not continue.  The pain, fatigue, constant contact with infection had my body fighting hard just to stay alive.  Not to mention the phlebotomies, and the fact that now my blood cells are considered Microcytic Anemia stage.  I was dizzy, it was hard to get my breath, and my exhaustion was at the highest it had been since I could remember.

I will not go down without a fight.

I started a process by researching all-natural supplements and what would help my body.  I got off acid-blockers as my stomach was already having issues with digestion so that did not actually help.  I started taking apple-cider vinegar in water.  I added probiotics, see the tab here called Vitalize You for more on that, and I added vitamin D as well as a gluten-free supplement called It’s Vital.  I still have bad days.  Flare-ups, and days I stay in my pajamas, but the good days are now finally catching up to the bad days and for that I am thankful.  I am working with my all-natural supplements business and I am spreading awareness of “invisible” diseases because they sure as hell aren’t invisible on the inside.  Not at all.

Changed

Here is the Work With Me tab if you are interested in learning more on how I changed my life.

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My exquisite spell…

Brief overview of the last 17 years.  Phone call New Year’s Eve 1997, cancerous cells found so I had to have a few procedures on my cervix.  Sorry guys, but it’s true.  Told that if I had too many, might have problems carrying a baby.  I was engaged to be married.  A few months later, my urine was the color of a dark red wine.  Blisters appeared on hands, read more here.  Diagnosis that year was Porphyria Cutanea Tarda.  Told to stay out of the sun, not drink alcohol, and oh yeah, get off birth control.  I was about to go away on my honeymoon.  Awesome.  I happened to need/want all 3 of those things at the time.

Years later, blessed with a healthy baby girl.  18 months later, blessed with another baby girl, through a scary life-changing delivery.  Knew that I was only meant to have those two, but because of the scary news from 1997, I made my peace with it.  Because I was still loading iron, my doctor finally tested me for Hereditary Hemochromatosis.

I thought by now I needed a break in the department of “crazy shit no one can pronounce”.  So I got one for a while.  At this point, I had already been phlebotomized, or pints of my blood taken, for years.  I was always tired, and trying to teach.  After my little one went to pre-school, I was asked to teach again.  I was sought out, which was flattering, by a local principal.  She heard good things about me, but my gut said NOOOOOO, don’t go there.  I didn’t listen to it.  My mistake.  Things happened that were political in nature, and I left the school to work in a private school.  Another thing that erm, was not what I was expecting.  After a few years of a whole different ball game, I went back to public school and found somewhere I LOVED.  I taught pre-school.

As luck would have it, my body was continuing its cycle of let’s try to beat Aimee down because she’s too happy.  So my stomach started hurting profusely all the time, for what I thought was no apparent reason.  I went to the gastroenterologist and had things done…not so fun things.  A procedure I actually put off until the last day of school one year because as you can imagine, I had no more time off.

It also coincided with pain emanating from my spine as well.  Then my shoulder started hurting and freezing up.  I had absolutely no idea what was going on (side note, I was developing autoimmune diseases at the time).  Not a single doctor knew what was wrong.  I taught  the next year in complete pain and would come home and put heating pads all over my body and cry secretly.  This was 3.5 years ago.  I refused to be on drugs that would make me not function at school (side note, I was called Mrs. Happy before this point in my life).  We had no planning periods and it was a full day pre-school with 18 little eyeballs watching my every move.

I could not eat without getting sick.  I actually stopped eating any food before work.  I ate very little at lunch and started developing a plan.  I went gluten-free.  NOT because it was a fad.  I want to smash cupcakes on people who say that.  BIG giant cupcakes.  Anyway, it was not enough.  I still was bloated.  Still had pain.  Still couldn’t eat without getting almost violently ill.  I was tested for allergies.  A ginormous portion flared up, BUT not gluten (no Celiac’s as I was tested).  Sugar was a flare.

Now at this point, I am not sure how the doctor, a ENT guy, didn’t think to say “Hey, wow, these are autoimmune flares”, but he didn’t.  I ended up getting worse off, and more sick after the allergens were introduced into my body and had vertigo for 3 weeks straight and was throwing up so bad I couldn’t keep anything down.

When all of that passed, I came to the decision last year that I could no longer carry on my regular duties as a classroom teacher.  I was tired from the phelbotomies (they had made me somewhat anemic), in pain, and not myself.  Life was, quite frankly, a struggle.  A month after school let out, my hip started going out.  I was now having pain radiating in my left hip and it seemed displaced.  In the fall of last year, I started seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis.  He helped get me moving again and my hip managed to get back in place.  When I realized I could no longer afford him on a regular basis as my insurance only paid for so many visits, I was sad, but I had to stop seeing him.

I spent the next three months under heating pads again.  Day in and day out.  At this point, I was still having stomach issues so I decided to stop eating sugar completely in all it’s forms.  I researched Hashimoto’s Thyroid, which I had finally been diagnosed with as my autoimmune problem.  I read everything I could about it and went “paleo” as best I could.  When I say “withdrawals” from sweet tea were the hardest, I am not kidding. 

Was diagnosed with fibromyalgia earlier this year as the result of the Epstein-Barr virus coming to life in my spine…oh yeah, that was why I was in pain.  I spent 3 months coming out of what you probably call depression/anxiety, but still was going to find a way to treat my symptoms without prescription drugs.  I want to perfectly honest here for my new friends.  I no longer like to eat.  I actually dislike the thought of food because it made me sick for so long.  So new girlfriend, I get where you are coming from.  I truly, honestly get where you are now.  The reason I wrote all of this is to let you know, you are not alone.  Thank you for asking me the questions you did.  I will always answer as honestly as I can so that you know it’s okay to feel this way.  It will get better.  So I hope I have caught you up to where I am now.  I am on all-natural supplements.  I did find a new functional medical doctor to look at me like a whole person and not one of my diseases.  I am feeling better, but I still have bad days.

Break

Finding help…

Winston Churchill once said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  I know that on the outside, a person can look perfectly normal.  Together even.  But on the inside, oh that inside.  It can be a mess of pain.  What do you do if that describes you?  I think you have to do a number of things so I’m going to tell you a few that work for me.

  1. Stop visiting the past.  It’s gone.  It really is.  I know it might haunt you either for good or for ill, but tell it goodbye.
  2. Have a good cry and be done with it.  If you have been holding back for a long time telling yourself things will get better, but they haven’t, just let it go.  When you are done, that hurt is gone for however long you’ve been holding onto it, and you be present.
  3. Focus on getting by one day at a time.  One hour at a time.  30 minutes at a time if you have to.  Do not promise anyone anything.  If they do not understand then why are they in your life?  Goodbye.
  4. Don’t commit to things you are not able to do.  Likewise, should you think you can do something, make sure it’s with supportive people.  Not a succubus of energy.  It’s time to cut those people lose.  Even if you are related.  If they hurt you, drain you, and say horrible things, and don’t realize you need all the energy you have right now, how are they helping?  They aren’t.
  5. Go to counseling.  That’s right.  Seeing a therapist does not mean you are weak.  In fact, it means the opposite.  It means you were strong enough to know you need help.  If you are in a particularly fragile state due to health conditions or just life curveballs, talk to someone.
  6. Seek alternative health professionals.  17 years is a long time for doctors to miss clues.  17 years of pain, frustration and diagnosis after diagnosis can wear a person down.  Do not assume that you are “well” if something doesn’t feel right.  If things are still not adding up.  17 years of missing a single clue…one I kept insisting was there.  Ask around for naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncture, massage therapists, meditation or yoga clinics.  Do not give up.  If you are interested in guided online wellness coaching, you can read more here.

Over the years, I’ve had some supportive people.  Likewise, I have dealt with my fair share of people who honestly would not last a year living the way I do, but give me grief.  Why are you on sabbatical?  Why can’t you commit to this thing 3 months in advance?  Why don’t you try another doctor?  My favorite, “It must be nice not to work.”  I am broken, bruised and tired.  I have been to the bottom and felt like I was drowning.  I have gone through all of the emotions.  I am resurfacing.  I am coming back.  I am healing.  I am 39 years old and have 5 diseases.  I can do this.

Hell

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