The past week or so since my sister arrived have been a bit of an experiment in forensic analysis of sorts! My sister is a nurse, with neurological and emergency specialties. She has watched over me my entire life – and knows me better than anyone else on this planet. She has been a constant supporter of me during my health challenges in this lifetime.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, the night my sister arrived, she suspected that I had a nocturnal seizure sometime during the night. She woke in bed to find me making some odd jerking movements with my legs, but I never woke up. The next morning however, I awoke with a bitten and bloody lip, very fatigued and feeling like I had run a marathon at some point. But at that point I did not put the pieces together.
Over the course of the next few days we noted that I was much more fatigued than usual, I was puffy and retaining water (another hint via my sister’s nursing experience), and my hips and lower back were really bothering me – even to the point of my right hip audibly cracking in yoga class and me having difficulty raising my right leg without increasing joint pain in my hip. The pain was becoming more and more difficult to tolerate – and yoga was becoming painful rather than helpful to my hips and lower back. It turns out that my right hip had popped out of its socket, and had to be put back in sharply. My hips were completely misaligned and torqued, and my muscles were in full spasm. All that, and my doc’s request for my sister to document with her nurse’s eyes the event and send it to him (a request he made when I called to report my suspicions and ask him what, if anything, I should do) tells us that it is very likely that I had another seizure of some sort – but the good news is that I was safe in the middle of a big bed, and I have suffered minimally compared to the others I have previously had. I mean, hey – wonky hips, a bleeding lip and some deep fatigue beat the heck out of a totalled car or losing over two hours and waking up injured and not knowing why or how! The biggest problem with this sequence of information is that we can only go based on piecing together bits of information that point to a seizure – it can’t be confirmed or denied. Better to err on the side of caution in a case like this, or so they tell me. Very interesting…or so my scientific side says!
Yoga teaches body awareness. This awareness helped me to become more aware of the differences going on in my own body this past week, and allowed me to learn to accommodate as necessary much more quickly than I would have in the past. For example, I recognized that the pain I was feeling in my hip joints and lower back was sharp and stabbing – not burning and deep like my MS pain in my thighs, and not chronically aching like my back muscles in general. So – I applied the knowledge in the best way I could – allowing my body to “be”, and not push it past a point of pain as I may have done in the past. I was able to recognise when my right core muscles gave out in yogic poses despite my focus and attempts to engage my core muscles for proper alignment in the pose – this told me that my MS muscle fatigue was overcoming my core integrity – which in turns meant I needed to slow down, honour where my body was at that moment, and rest, or risk further injury.
I fully believe that, for me at least, yoga is a vital and crucial element to coping and surviving with a chronic illness. Given my body’s penchant for seizure activity , the daily and variable challenges of MS, and the general stress of trying to maintain quality of life with challenges life throws at you – I cannot see how I could ever go back to a life without yoga. I can’t – but more importantly, I won’t. Even with all the challenges, my ability to recover and cope with anything that gets thrown at me, be it in my own health journey, my professional life, or my personal life, has improved noticeably and dramatically since I began to embrace yoga and the yoga lifestyle. I am able to achieve more and more moments of pure restful peace – whether just enjoying sitting in a quiet glade in the sun, or lying in blissful Savasana after a particularly challenging seesion of hot yoga, or sitting hand in hand with a loved one, listening to my own breath. (I know – it sounds at times like I am “preaching the value of Yoga” – but I know first-hand how much it has improved my own life is such a short time, and I wish everyone could have that same experience themselves in their own lives, chronic illness or not!)
Sometimes, dealing with a chronic illness like MS means being a bit of a forensic analyst of sorts – and sometimes it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees in the myriad of symptoms that we deal with. Isn’t finding a tool to help in that process, no matter the form, always a good thing?