How Yoga Saved My Life

With the COVID-19 crisis in full swing, it seems like the right time to talk about healing. I think we could all use more talk about health, and less talk about sickness. So, I thought that for my blog post today, I would talk about what started me on the road to wellness.

After the neck injury I described a couple of weeks ago, my condition deteriorated exponentially. Suffice it to say that I began to believe that I was going to die. For months I couldn’t keep any food down, my body was wracked with nausea, and I was exhausted in a way I’ve never experienced before or since. I intermittently had active tactile hallucinations, and nobody knew what exactly was wrong or how to help. Every test or intervention that the doctors tried only seemed to make things worse for me. It all seemed so hopeless that I formulated a plan to end my own life if things didn’t start to improve.

A coworker of mine who struggled with Crohn’s suggested that I visit her neurologist, Dr. Powell, and I was willing to try anything, so I managed to get approved by my insurance company for a second opinion appointment with him. He was a bit manic and unintelligible, but he made some extremely helpful suggestions.

“What stood out to me most was that he gave me something to do that would help me get well.  I needed to drink Gatorade, do yoga, and increase my Topamax to a therapeutic dose.  I could do all of those things.  While Dr. Huott had simply said that I might get better ‘with time,’ but there was nothing more they could do for me, Dr. Powell had given me tangible things I could do to get well.  He had given me hope” from I’m Sick, Not Crazy.

The value of hope and something actionable is without equal. Where other doctors had given me the message that I had zero agency in my own wellness, and that they were the only ones that had any power, Dr. Powell’s message was that I could take control of my own healing. By giving me something to do, he had done more for me than any of the other doctors or tests or procedures of the past year combined.

The next day, I began researching local yoga studios, and by the end of the week, I had a membership. I started with gentle yoga, which mostly consisted of candles and laying in different positions. After a few weeks, the exhaustion of the past year began to lessen. I worked my way up to yoga one, and the nausea abated to the point that I wasn’t taking anti-nausea medication 24 hours per day. By the time I was practicing level two, hot yoga, I was able to eat full meals again. Yoga saved my life.

Western Medicine doesn’t have all of the answers. It’s great for broken bones and antibiotics, but there are more things that doctors don’t know about healing than most people dare to believe. If your doctor has told you that there is nothing more to be done, please hear that as nothing more that Western Medicine can do, and look elsewhere. A combination of yoga, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic worked for me, but there are many more options out there. Don’t believe that they can’t help. I’m living proof that they can.

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