In an unfortunate twist of fate, I succumbed to the stomach flu this past Sunday, the night before I was supposed to go back to work after spring break. I’ll spare you the grotesque details of my illness, but let’s just say that it’s the worst I’ve felt in a long time. Thursday was the first time I was able to eat more than 6 saltine crackers and a banana in a day, but even now I can’t manage my average food intake.
I’m not someone who can take a day off. I’ve gone into work with head colds, laryngitis, accident injuries, and terrible RA flares. A workaholic, if you will. But this time, I couldn’t manage much more than to lay on the couch all day and sleep for 16 hours at a time, despite how much I desperately wanted to get up and answer my work emails. I didn’t have the energy to open a laptop or read a book. For the first time in a very long time, I went two whole days doing absolutely nothing. I couldn’t even pull that off back in February after my accident.
Sometimes I think I need these kinds of things to remind myself how I need to slow down and become more aware. I feel great now in terms of my RA. But the 4 days spent in bed were driving me absolutely insane. If a stomach virus was slowly killing my soul, then clearly I’m out of touch with the reality of having an autoimmune disease. If anything, this is one more reminder to appreciate how much I’m capable of doing at this point in my life. I’m not confined to just merely existing like so many others battling health issues, and while vomit is one of my worst fears ever, I’ll count this experience as a humbling moment.
I mentioned a few posts ago that I was in a car accident and was worried that my RA would jump out of remission. Since, then I’ve been working hard at physical therapy to try and feel “normal”again, or at least get back to the point I was prior to the accident.Up until last week or so the pain in my neck and lower back was still bad enough to ruin my mood regularly.
I’ve been commiserating with a friend over our various aches and pains: she broke her back years ago and has foot problems, and I’m a health mess in general from my RA and now from my accident injuries. She convinced me to start taking yoga with her. There’s a new studio a 15 minute walk from my house and they were offering a new student special. She brought me the class schedule. “We’re doing this. We need to,” she said.
Given my track record with yoga, I didn’t think this plan was going to go very smoothly. Doing yoga in front of my TV was always torture enough. Was I really going to attempt Downward Dog with my old lady joints in front of other human beings? Could I keep up with the pace of the class in general?
We signed up for our first class, Yoga Basics, this past Saturday. Quite honestly, if my friend hadn’t pushed me to go and she hadn’t been sitting on the mat next to me, I probably would have never done it. But I’m glad I went.
I walked out of that first hour long session feeling euphoric. I considered the possibility that I was only feeling a placebo effect, but I’ve gone back three times since and I’m still floating on a cloud after every session. No one there is judging my old lady joints. I’m stretching out muscles I forgot I had. And even though it’s only been a few days, I’m already beginning to feel stronger. I managed to do a plank for 30 seconds Monday night without falling!
I’ve experienced other benefits from my short time as a yoga student, but that’s for another day. What matters most is that I’m able to function normally again. No stabbing pain in my neck as I lean over a child’s desk. No back pain when I need to stoop to pick something off of the floor. I’m feeling stronger than I have since I was 18 years old. Best of all is that my creaky joints aren’t bothering me much anymore, except on rainy days. I’m still not letting the RA win.