The Long Journey Home: Part 2: Unfinished Business
So when I last left you…
I introduced the movie and away I limped into my uber to take me back to my safe place on my porch in Beverly Hills… (I have since deleted my uber account).
And now I write from the safest place of all, the house I grew up in. It’s been awesome to be home. I walk around my 2.5 mile radius town and see all the beautiful houses, all the festive lights, the yards, neighbors talking to each other… it’s really comforting to be home. I do love my little town of Winthrop, Mass.
I guess the most beautiful and in some ways the most surprising is my more than generous welcome and homecoming back to my former yoga studio, Down Under Yoga which includes the owner Justine Cohen, my former students whose smiles and energy light up my heart and the current students at the studio that are new to me are open and welcoming. It warms my heart to hear how happy the students are to have me back. I guess you really don’t know what you have until it’s gone and I feel really blessed to have that opportunity again. In 5 years, I have taught in Occidental, Healdsburg, Marin, San Francisco and every studio YogaWorks owns in LA county which is up to 17 now. In each studio, there were little angels that would share their story with me, tell me how much they get out of my classes or how much I inspired them but truly they were really the ones keeping me going on my adventure from home. Down Under Yoga has some sophisticated practitioners that have built a lovely community and I feel really grateful that I get to lead, be and learn from them. It is truly a special place.
Because this is my safest place of all I needed to be here at this time of my life. This is very hard for me to share because like any healer or service provider, it makes me look like a hypocrite because I can’t even heal myself. Initially I thought I was coming home because I had a lot of things happening at home; sick friends, deaths, family health scares … and I thought coming home would feel like a failure but being sick really puts things in perspective.
So… here it is. One of the main reasons why I am home is because I have been really sick. A car accident in June has left me with Post Concussion Syndrome. It has been severely debilitating to my life, my body, my brain and my heart. Everyday I wake up in pain. My life as I know it has been completely transformed.
Last May, my life was finally coming together. After a year and a half of hard work and uncertainty, I was ready to make LA my home. I was full-time at Yogaworks, I had a thriving yoga therapy business, I was dating again, I loved my place in Beverly Hills, I finally could figure out where I was going without Waze and I was starting to find some real friends (most from the east coast of course J) then one month later all that changed.
It was a lot to deal with on my own. I went months without a diagnosis. My western medical treatment was abominable and that’s being kind. I had to diagnose myself and now that I know what I have I can finally talk about it. And as I talk about it, I am gaining resources and insights and I’m talking to people who have also gone through this. Paige Decker, who was a member of the Yale Women’s Hockey team, who suffered a head injury that changed her life forever, started a non-profit and works hard to help people like me find out how to get the best treatment and help support this invisible injury, http://www.theinvisibleinjury.net.
Every day I wake up with inflammation in my head. There is dizziness, fogginess, inability to concentrate, lethargy, extreme fatigue. memory loss. Neck pain. Jaw Pain. Anxiety. PTSD from the accident. Sleepless Nights. Restless Leg Syndrome. GI and stomach issues. I had no appetite so I lost a lot of weight. Sometimes it would take me 2-3 hours to get out of bed. And the sad thing is that I set my alarm everyday for 7:15am and could hit snooze for 2 hours every 9 minutes. The inflammation and fatigue were so bad that I didn’t even realize how much time had passed in between the 9 minute snoozes which the song was changed multiple times to help me wake up faster… it ran the gamut from Tingsha Bells to Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Fight this Feeling to Prince’s Little Red Corvette to George Michael’s Wake Me Up to currently Amy Amy Amy from Amy Whinehouse because it makes me smile but then that gets annoying every 9 minutes…
It was a struggle to get through the day. LA is a bad ass mofo city. You gotta be awake or it will eat you alive. Traffic is truly insane. People are really bad drivers because they are narcissistic and just don’t care and/or they are truly stressed and riddled with anxiety because LA is a bad ass mofo city. As much as I love what I do, I couldn’t show up in the way that I wanted to, most days. I couldn’t practice yoga, I could barely get by teaching and I couldn’t wait for each day to be over and find myself on my safe porch or back in my bed. I feel hollow and empty even typing these words and in complete disbelief of what I endured. And sadly, that started to feel like the new normal. But it was the flare-ups that truly brought me to my knees.
Because I was filled with inflammation, anything could trigger a flare up:
-the santa ana winds switching
-any kind of inflammatory food (alcohol, sugar, dairy, gluten)
-any physical manifested stress (shoulder, neck or jaw tension)
-emotional manifested stress (anxiety, worry, financial pressure, isolation)
-Too much brain processing like computer, driving, reading, etc…
So when the flare ups would occur, I would be in bed from 1-3 days in debilitating pain in my head with the lights off, no food with heating pads, ice and Aleve. I took an uber to the ER twice because the pain was so bad.
The summer was dreadful because it was so hot and would make the inflammation worse. I would spend days in pain in bed and by myself. Everyday was a delicate balance to avoid the beginnings signs of a flare up.
One Wednesday, I pulled myself out of bed in the middle of the day. I was driving to YogaWorks in Larchmont Village to teach my 4:30 Flow, I could feel the pressure building. My head felt like a fish tank. It felt like I was being strangled with pressure rising from the neck up. As the pressure rose, my jaw locked, my cheekbones, face and nasal cavity stung and my head was pounding. I taught the whole class like this. By the time I was done, my head felt like it was 100 lbs. I started seeing spots. I got to my car and laid my head down which helps but I had one more class to teach so I drove to Koreatown YogaWorks. By the time I got there, I was toast. My brain was toast. I couldn’t speak. My words kept crossing. I remember setting them up to flow on their own, going to the bathroom, throwing up and coming back to teach. Thankfully it was a yin-yang flow so by the time the class was over. I was teaching on my back from the floor. I just couldn’t fake it to say goodbye or “Namaste” because I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t lift my head off of the floor. So… #namastayonthefloor. The fact that I can joke about it now lets you know that I am starting to feel a little better.
With comfort and support of my family, an amazing chiropractor, a talented acupuncturist, a healing cranial sacral therapist, daily stretching and strengthening of neck muscles and what is helping me through is breathwork, meditation and my yoga therapy practice.
At first, it was really challenging because I was already practicing and meditating mostly everyday so when I was in pain, it was the last thing I wanted to do was feel the pain. But one night in the middle of the night, I couldn’t sleep and I was in so much pain, I went to my alter space and there is where I found relief. What really started to work for the pain was imagining my head was larger than it was so then my brain could breathe and I would have space in my head and space from the pain and pressure.
I would imagine that the inflammation was being magnetically pulled from my head, draining down into my belly. On my inhales I would feel the pain and pull the pain together at its’ center and then released from my body with black smoke on my exhales. I would do this for as long as I could.
Instead of running away from my pain I went right in. I would try and find the epicenter and then imagine warm lava or cool mercury melting it away. My meditations were first my saving grace for places to avoid being in pain and I really believe that being able to take myself to this place is helping to heal my brain.
Thankfully, after my last flare-up which was one of the worst and longest on Dec 13 that lasted for 5 days, I haven’t had one since. This is the longest and the best I’ve felt in a long time I can see my warning signs and I have go-to’s that are working to keep me from flaring up (with a couple of mini ones in between) I think I have turned a corner in my health and then something happens and I find myself listening to Amy Amy Amy for 2 hours… smh.
Sometimes I laugh at what I write and how serious I am, if some of you really know me you know that I have the maturity of a teenager. And why do I share this stuff?? Because I am a light keeper. I am an alchemist. We are alchemists, turning darkness into light, transforming experiences into gems. We are the vibration shifters. But there’s a process and I like to share my process.
So if I don’t seem myself, I am not. But I will get there because I believe in divine timing – I believe that this brought me back for a reason. Accidents are wake up calls because what we are doing is not working, belief systems need to be shifted, priorities need to be prioritized and a recalibration of what is important is demanded. I believe in divine timing and no matter what I know I am going to be ok.
Pain is the greatest motivator and time is the greatest healer. And from here on out, I take nothing – and I mean nothing for granted. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for The Long Journey Home Part 3.