The only constant is change. You know it. I know it. Yet anytime I’m faced with the reality of it, it’s like I’m in denial or disbelief.
Six years ago today I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The neurologist who diagnosed me handed me two fat notebooks and said, “Here, take these home. Read them and choose one.” They were the pharmaceutical literature on two drug therapies he was recommending: one a daily injection and the other a weekly injection.
That day changed my life forever.
I’ve written about this journey before. About how the drugs, both immunosuppressants, didn’t sit right with me or with Jeremy, my husband. We didn’t understand the logic behind treating an autoimmune disease with a drug that suppresses the very system meant to keep me healthy. So we opted out of drug therapy and began to research other options for managing my health holistically, which lead me to leaders in alternative medicine like Dr. Terry Wahls and Ann Boroch, who was my primary health care provider for four years before she passed away last August.
The first two years after my diagnosis, I struggled big time. Not only did I completely overhaul my lifestyle and diet, but also things got worse before they got better. I suffered from severe depression and fatigue, to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed some days. And other days I could barely make it up the stairs to our apartment on my own, or I’d go to bed for the night at 3 or 4:00 in the afternoon. I experienced numbness in my legs. I could not imagine life beyond the diagnosis or being healthy again. In spite of those struggles, I kept moving forward.
It was the first time in my life that I felt an inexplicable divine power in my body.
When I did start to heal, I had about three years of feeling more energetic and full of life than I’ve ever felt. Sadly, I haven’t experienced that level of vibriancy in more than two years and the frustrating thing is that I’m not sure why. What change has caused this? Things are not as bad as they once were. But when I need to nap every day around 3 p.m., or when it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, I worry that I’m regressing back there. I worry that I won’t be able to work and keep my job.
It has been almost a year since Ann passed and it’s been a hard year of rebuilding for me. In a lot of ways it feels like starting over. Back to the drawing board of researching to find health care providers who can replace the support system I had with her. For a maximizer like me, it’s not easy to feel like all the work and time and effort I’ve already spent now has to be redone.
One new treatment I have been investing in for the past six months is chiropractic care. It’s a treatment that I’ve never tried before, but the philosophy of body work that aligns the spin to ensure optimal nerve flow makes sense to me—especially since MS is a disease that attacks the central nervous system, i.e. brain and spine. The doctor says that I’m at the hardest part of healing, which can often be the most painful because my muscles are unlearning patterns and creating new ones.
The progress has again been slow and this time painful.
The hardest part of this process has been that through my entire healing journey practicing yoga has been the one constant that helps me to feel strong and grounded. Because of the pain I’ve been experiencing, I haven’t been able to maintain a consistent yoga practice like I’m used to. I still go when I can, even when certain poses are too painful or when I can’t participate for the entire class. Even when there are poses that I used to be able to do but can’t right now. I rest in child’s pose anytime I need to and something about my forehead on the mat makes me cry every time. I used to hate the tears but I am working on releasing emotion when it arises so that I’m not holding it in my body and causing a buildup of stress or tension or toxins, all things that trigger inflammation and disease.
During yoga class today, as I rested in child’s pose and let the tears come, I understood that before I was diagnosed with MS my body was changing and it continues to change every day. Even without a diagnosis, my body will always be changing. It ages. It grows. It gets stronger. It builds muscle. It gains weight. All I can do is to take care of it as best I can. Whether it does what I want or looks the way I want. Whether it can do those yoga poses it used to. Whether it is full of energy or fatigued. Whether it’s in a season of needing extra rest and care.
No matter what I do, my body is in a constant state of change.