Tag Archives: chronic pain

I’m baaaaaack

2 Sep

I have been away for so long, dear readers. I developed a lot of health issues in 2014 and it’s been a challenging two year hiatus. I decided to come back and revive my blog; I always looked forward to writing, and it’s fun to interact with random strangers as well as old friends in the Blog Universe. Also, I find myself needing an outlet/space for writing about some of my health stuff, as I can feel isolated and stuck since I spend so much time at home these days.

In short, here’s the deal…

I relapsed into bulimia and restricting in 2014 and had to go into treatment. It was immensely helpful, but really, really hard. And freaking expensive, as I had to pay for all of it out of pocket. I thought I had it all figured out and that I had beaten my eating disorder, but that was most definitely not the case.

I had a huge major depressive episode in summer of 2014 while I was still in treatment, and finally started taking medication. Historically, I have been pretty anti-psych medication. However, this depressive episode threw me into the bottom of a black, mucky well and I could not seem to claw my way out.I started to develop agoraphobia as well as panic attacks. I was barely functioning. I needed the help, and I am so grateful that I took a chance and was open minded about something I had always been opposed to; in fact, I had been derisive and mocking about it, I’m ashamed to say.  I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, as well as Bulimia. To see those words, from my psychiatrist, written on paper…I cried for about a week.

During my gnarly depression (which took me a year to recover from!), I started to experience more muscle pain and stiffness, as well as bizarre joint problems. My knees would swell up and hurt like crazy, and it would just rotate from one knee to the other. I’ve always been creaky and achy and stiff, so if you have read any of my blog entries that’s not a big surprise. It kept getting worse, and I was going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Sometimes it would hurt even to lie down; I’d suddenly become the Princess and the Pea, heavy metal Austin edition.

Finally, in January of this year, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Although I was relieved to get an answer of sorts, I was not happy about it AT ALL.I’m in a pretty consistent chronic state of pain. It takes me forever to do what I used to consider “normal” activities: getting dressed, taking a shower, doing laundry, walking the long stretch from the parking garage to, well, anywhere. Basically, it is totally pissing me off and it sucks. I accept that I have fucking fibro, but I certainly don’t like it.

Ashtanga seems like a glorious thing from a distant past. Going to the grocery store is like, a crazy workout. Just going to all of my doctor’s appointments, acupuncture and therapy sometimes seems like a marathon.

This has all been a big lesson in getting humble and staying humble. I celebrated 9 years of sobriety this year, and clearly there is always more to learn. Acceptance, love and tolerance, easy does it, just for today, humility. Rinse and repeat.

It feels good to be back.

 

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Wiggle Your Big Toe

22 Apr

A lot of times, I feel exactly like Uma Thurman in the “Wiggle Your Big Toe” scene in Kill Bill. Sometimes when I am practicing, I am mentally telling my right leg to move forward into a lunge and it just…sits there. Stuck. Gristly. Stubborn. There are so many areas of my body that are a big mystery to me, and my entire right leg is the biggest mystery of all. I like that in Ashtanga, there is a system and it takes as much time as it takes for my body to open—no hurry, no judgement. Just acceptance of this is where I am today in practice, on the mat, breathing and listening to Slayer. Here we are!

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decode my right side. Sometimes I think if my right side could just get unstuck, I would have some kind of massive spiritual liberation experience. All the secrets to my past are locked in that leg, that hip, even my big toe…which is now turning in on itself and becoming more and more painful. The idea of having to have more surgery makes me want to freak out and smash things, especially surgery on my feet.

I worked with a personal trainer who was also an IFBB professional figure competitor and bodybuilder back in 2009. I was really stuck in the binge/exercise purge cycle, and the problems with my right side always flare up more when I train really hard. She told me that I either want to be healthy and fit or I don’t, and all of the spiritual hemming and hawing and hiding out in my 12 step programs were not going to fix the problem. She was like a ripped, beautiful female Yoda: there is no try, there is only do. I could not handle this mindset at the time, and the training was brutal. She suggested I read Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, which is NOT what I was expecting her to tell me! Louise Hay’s theory about problems with the right side?

Right Side of Body: Giving out, letting go, masculine energy, men, the father.

Hmmm…

I am used to calling my right side “my bad side”.  I’ve also spent time working with an excellent Thai Yoga Massage Therapist here in Las Vegas, which was very helpful. She suggested that my right side is not my bad side at all. I was like, “Say What???”. Surely you jest.  I was so used to blaming all of my physical, postural problems on that side—it is the root of all evil! Jaime said that maybe my left side was weak and the right side has been picking up the slack all of the years. She said that both sides needed to be worked on, worked through and integrated. Demonizing my right side might just make it even more stuck. She suggested breathing into that side and sending it mental messages of love and acceptance.

Recovering from an eating disorder and going through the process of becoming a healthy body weight without resorting to my old tricks of self-abuse/dieting is strange and new. My weight loss is very, very slow right now. I lost a pound last month during the Ashtanga Experiment. Part of me was not happy with this progress, and part of me knows that I need to get acclimated to the size I am now before dropping more weight. I’m still not used to being 78 pounds lighter, never mind the next 50 pounds. I’m also getting used to a daily yoga practice and figuring out how my whole life and schedule works with that as a focal point. I want to squeeze in other physical activity aside from yoga, and it is not happening right now. Having a hard time with timing my meals, meetings, service, family stuff. There’s not enough room, unless I want to start not eating dinner or not sleeping!

Sending mental messages of love and acceptance to myself all day long is definitely a huge part of the process. Declaring war on my body and war on my remaining extra pounds does nothing for me at this point. The diet mentality for me is like a feudal lord trying to squeeze the last bit of tribute from his vassals, and the vassals have nothing left to give. They are in revolt and about to storm the castle.

A last thought about my right side from Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With The Heart of a Buddha: “When we abandon our body for our fear-driven stories about pain, we trap the pain in our body.”

 

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