Forty-five minutes into class we gracefully moved into one of my favorite yoga poses — tree. I love the firm rootedness of the posture topped with beautiful arm branches that grow tall and wide.
Tree pose helps me feel grounded and supported.
However, on one particular Tuesday evening in late summer, my branches appeared to get swept up in unexpected winds. My roots were plucked from the ground as I began to stumble. My swaying tree felt as if it would topple over in this pop-up storm.
I worked hard to combat the movement, regain my posture and stand tall, although wobbly. What was causing my once sturdy tree to lose its strength?
My mind raced from one assumption to another. I haven’t been consistent with my yoga practice over the past few months. Maybe I’m just weaker than usual? I’ve also gained some weight thanks to a round of prednisone to manage a long-lasting rheumatoid arthritis flare over the summer.
Or maybe, I was just having an off day? It really could be that simple.
I started to pay extra close attention to my yoga practice. Things were shifting. My once comforting child’s pose caused extra strain on my hips and chest muscles. My crescent lunges required knee support and blocks for stability. I felt like I was going backward in my progression of flexibility and postures.
Again, I brushed these warning signs off. I must be tired. I need to practice yoga more, I told myself. I need to get back into the groove and work harder. Then, a few weeks later, my body decided to share a few more random symptoms that I could easily explain away.
My computer screen was blurry in spots after just an hour of work. Oh, my eyes must be tired from all these screens I look at each day.
I felt dizzy while driving to an appointment. Oops! I need a snack to manage low blood sugar.
A paper document was blurry and unreadable at the vet’s office. Hmmm, this is odd. Something is going on today.
I stood up after lunch and fell backward into my couch from a sudden onset of dizziness. I’ve had dizziness and vertigo off and on for years, but this felt different.
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I called my doctor. I explained what I’d been noticing and she requested I come in to check on low vitamin levels. Perhaps I was anemic or deficient in essential B vitamins.
I was happy to go and get some answers.
Over the next few weeks, I’d work through a series of blood tests and schedule an MRI of my brain. I was told this test was to help rule out anything serious, but when the results came back, it ruled in yet another autoimmune disease. The radiologist noted multiple bilateral lesions in two areas of the brain that are indicative of a demyelinating condition, such as multiple sclerosis.
The symptoms I had over the later summer months, and for years before then, aligned with typical MS issues. I made excuses for many of them. The dizziness was from being upside down in yoga class or from water in my ears after swimming. The hip pain was from RA. And the fatigue, well, that’s normal when you’re managing three autoimmune conditions!
I’m currently waiting to visit a neurologist specializing in multiple sclerosis to learn more about my condition, how long I’ve had it, and which areas of my body it will potentially affect as the illness progresses.
I’m working through the stages of grief, including shock and acceptance. I’m doubling down on nutrition, stress management and exercises specifically for nerve health. I’ve downloaded brain game apps and bought crossword puzzle books to help keep my mind sharp. I’ve joined an MS support group where members encourage one another with natural, functional medicine ways to manage this disease. I’m talking with friends and family often. My evening reading is the Wahl’s Protocol, which I’m adopting day by day to help slow the progression of nerve damage in my body. I sneak in mantras, meditations and journaling often.
I’ll share more about this newest chapter in my health journey both here and on social media.
Writing about these experiences and the associated feelings is therapeutic for me. It helps me process the situation while supporting those facing similar challenges and creating awareness of autoimmunity’s many faces.
So, here we go… Welcome, 2023!
Until next time,
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