A few years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was embarrassed. I think the first thing I said to my doctor was “How can I have diabetes? I’m a yogi!” Well, I learned a lot about diabetes and I learned that while I ate pretty healthfully, I also did dangerous things like go for long periods of time without eating. I was on a glucose roller coaster, which is one of the fastest ways to become diabetic. I learned how to manage my diabetes. I took the long glucose test and found that while my body produces insulin, during the first two hours after I eat, my cells don’t accept the insulin. I’m slightly insulin resistant. I learned how to plan my meals so I eat every two hours and I maintain an even glucose level. Through diet and exercise I basically kicked diabetes’ butt.
At that same doctor’s appointment I also found that I was anemic. I’m one of the rare people who just can’t get enough iron from eating just plant protein. I absolutely hate how iron pills mess with your stomach. So, I manage my anemia with by making sure I get enough red meat, eggs and dairy products. Again, I was embarrassed. I thought, I’m a healthy person. How can I have this second disorder? Basically through diet and exercise, I kicked anemia’s butt.
Last fall I was in my doctor’s office again and I asked her to feel this grinding in my back, cause I was worried that I had arthritis. She barely touched my back and said “Yep, that’s arthritis.” Now, I wasn’t completely surprised because I’d been in pain and I could feel the grinding and I’d had an x-ray of my hand a few years ago after a car accident and the doctor deemed by hand fine, but whispered that there was a touch of arthritis in my thumb. I wasn’t surprised, but I was upset.
I called my best friend crying. The arthritis in my hand already meant I didn’t practice hand balance poses anymore and because of that I rarely taught them. How could a yoga teacher have arthritis in her back and keep teaching active classes?
Well, you’re probably way ahead of where I was that day. There are lots of ways a yoga teacher can teach active classes and manage her arthritis. On top of that, I’ve been vowing to stop teaching regular classes and focus on workshops and my private clients. I wasn’t there yet, though. I was indulging in my devastation.
My friend called back. A massage therapist, who went to Chinese medicine school and gives exercise homework to her clients, she reassured me that this was okay. In Eastern medicine arthritis is considered easily managed, if not curable. Arthritis is an indication of instability in the body. Totally manageable.
You’re waiting to hear that I kicked arthritis’ butt. Nope and that’s why I’m writing. Cause I wrote this post about how I was going to eat well for the inflammation and learn to stabilize and manage the arthritis. You won’t be surprised to hear that I haven’t really been doing that.
My pain has been relatively manageable, but recently I found myself dealing with it again. I remembered all the things I thought I was going to do and realized that when the pain was better I forgot to do the things that help with my long-term back health. So, here I am again starting over. I went to the Salem Y last night. I spent a bunch of time stretching and on the foam roller. This morning my body felt awesome.
What I know, what I’ve been taught and what I teach over and over is that this thing we’re doing isn’t a one stop destination thing. This thing, this life, is a journey, a long stroll. I forget that. A Lot. When I started writing this post a few days ago, my intention was to come clean. To confess. To atone. Then over the days, I’ve realized, this isn’t a mistake/screwup/failure. This is just life. Some days we balance it well and focus on all the little important things. Sometimes, one thing gets really big and wants to be the biggest, most important, birthday girl. Then we focus on her exclusively.
What I thought might be helpful/good/easier for me is to be accountable to this healing. So please be my accountability partner. Please hear my journey, share any experience/suggestion/help you might have and maybe we’ll do a little bit of healing together.
If you go back to the arthritis post, you’ll find that I think you’re the best readers ever. The fact that I want to share the dirty, nitty-gritty details about my back, its pain and my sometimes resentful thoughts about arthritis and my healing means that I really trust and like you and need some accountability. Thank you for always being there for me.
A few months ago a reader sent me an email praising the blog and revealing a connection with our family, specifically my doctor dad. I was so honored and pleased by the compliments and shocked by her figuring out that she’d worked with my dad 20 years earlier. Somehow, I’ve deleted/misplaced/lost the email. I fully intended on replying. If you’re still out there, PLEASE email me again and I promise I’ll reply promptly!