doubts……..

** This entry is part of my seasonal self-care series, ‘fALLing in love with me’, where I am trying to be more accepting of my self-perceived flaws and look at them as endearing quirks that make me who I am. I want to learn to love me…..ALL of me because I am wonderful, wise, and worthy. **

I love yoga – I mean, puffy heart it something fierce! I started my personal practice again several months back and I go 3-4 times a week. Every.week. I will even be attending a fabulous yoga retreat at the end of October and I am elated. But, I have recently entertained two doubts that cropped up and cast shadows on my practice. I almost vlogged this post but am still tender about it, so the written word is going to get me through this. And I won’t delete it, I pinky swear.

I am the big girl in class. (Andy will hate this part. He won’t allow me to talk negatively about myself, so let me clarify: this is fact, not negativity.) I wondered if this would be the case before I attended my first class and it was. Everyone is really lovely and we are all just trying to stay on our mats but, as I tuck myself into certain poses and catch a glimpse in the mirror, I sometimes feel like a lump on the mat. I try to quickly give myself credit that I am even in class and remind myself that I am more than the exterior reflected back and I love yoga,  my classmates, my instructor. But I have to admit, there is still shame in my heart when I look into that mirror.

I am weak in body; I should stop before I fall off the mat. I stay in a constant state of inflammation (thank you, MCTD!) and my muscles are always tense but I attempt every pose and try to maintain them. I know my yoga practice will only benefit me and helps me deal with MCTD but when I am on the mat and my muscles are screaming at me or not cooperating, my first response is to think: “This is it – the last time……I can not do this.” Then, we swing into Sitting Pigeon and I know we are on the end of class and the finish line is near. After we complete our class my body feels like I have had an internal massage and I know I have to be at the next class.

As my yoga teacher advises: I am trying to find the strength, not the weakness.

I realize my arms support me while in plank. My shoulders, tense as they may be, aid in Bridge. My legs, even if shaky at best, hold me up as I come up to Warrior I and II. I am a fierce Warrioress trying to have gentle eyes and an open heart. xo

MCTD………

I have not really mentioned health issues in this space because I feel like I am so much more than the ‘yuck’ that I deal with but after talking with a special person today that just received the same diagnosis, I wanted to share a little about my journey. Forgive the fuzzy memory, just one of the many pleasures of dealing with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease.

I was 18 and could not get out of bed unassisted.  I just felt sick and knew this was not normal. I was scared. After two visits with a Rheumatologist in Alexander City, AL, I was told I had lupus-like tendencies, given Plaquenil and told to have my eyes checked every six months as permanent damage to the retina was a possible side effect. In less than a year I felt pretty much normal and decided to stop my medications; I’m stubborn like that.

Andy and I got married (after dealing with the false positive for syphilis) and life carried on with aches and pains here and there but no true issues aside from us not getting pregnant which I always felt was due to what I now know as MCTD. We bought our first house almost 8 years ago and I was thrilled with the above-ground pool. Couldn’t swim a lick and hate bugs but I was out there as much as humanly possible enjoying the perks of my new home. Life was good. Then I got sick again.

Looking back, I realize that the sun exposure was the trigger. I was extremely fatigued, a fatigue that even excessive amounts of sleep could not remedy. My joints ached.  It was a chore to get out of bed each morning, my muscles and bones hurt and my range of motion was nonexistent; I even got to the point that Andy had to literally dress me. Deciding I could no longer function in this manner we sought out medical help.

And here memory gets patchy: after several doctors and Plaquenil, chemo treatments, evil Prednisone, and other various drugs I was told I had lupus. I never fully went into remission but life resumed.

Andy got a new job and had to work a third shift on the weekend. I would stay with him at night, trying to sleep in a camping chair. This routine went on for a while and brought on another flare. More meds, another rheumy and more tests later, I had a new diagnosis of Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. I was happy to trade in the lupus for this lesser sounding issue. Then I went online to read that now I was the proud new owner of not just one but multiple auto-immune diseases…… I am an overachiever like that. I remissioned but held my breath. Physically, I was recuperating but mentally, I was paused. Chronic pain is a personal path that can not be seen by the casual glance. Thankfully, Andy never thought I was crazy or doubted that my pain was real.

I now live with a few limitations (I am highly sun sensitive and still battle pain and MCTD claimed my uterus, to name a few) but I have a new reality and I have made peace with that. Maybe I am at the point where my story will help others feel a bit of comfort when they hear a diagnosis that turns their world upside down and is compounded by lack of information, knowledge and understanding. It is scary but it will be fine. You will be fine. xo