After a long Hiatus from blog posting I am back to tell you more of my story as the plot of life thickens. First, things got just crazy busy and stressful through the spring and early summer with family happenings. Then as soon as that stressful situation lifted medical craziness set in.
It was an ordinary Saturday night we were winding down and preparing everyone for bed after a very lovely afternoon with neighbors by the pool. All of the sudden I felt my left arm/hand go numb (pins and needles kind of feeling) from my elbow to my hand. What does one initially assume? Well I was leaning on the counter so it must be my “funny bone”. A few minutes later it was in my leg. By the time I was getting in bed, it was my entire left side of my body. After losing the ability to move my left hand I went to the ER. I ended up going to the ER twice in one week! It seemed to get progressively worse with painful muscle contractions and drastic circulation changes (I believe this was a reaction from the IV steroids administered in the hospital because 10 years ago, the last time I had meds, I also had adverse reactions) The muscle contractions/spasms left huge knots in my back which caused so much more pain. Throughout the week, I saw my neurologist, rheumatologist, and chiropractor.
No one could give me a definitive on what happened. Blood tests normal and MRI showed no MS activity. The one thing they all say is STRESS. This could have happened because of disease or physical injury but the bottom line is mental and physical stress triggered it. (and possibly a gut bacterial infection, which can also be triggered from stress)
Yup, the one thing that I never was able to get a handle on is how to properly deal with the stressors in my life. I like to aggressively work it out through kickboxing and other high intensity workouts. I have since come to realize this is a bit masochistic.
It has been a long road to recovery but I am finding relief in a MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program, I am doing meditation, weekly visits to the chiropractor for adjustments, several massages, and I am learning yoga; along with a very strict anti-inflammatory diet and supplements. Nearly two months later, I still have numbness but it fluctuates on intensity and is mostly just annoying. I have lost so much muscle and am very weak because of it. I lost 6 pounds of muscle and feel as though I look sickly. My muscles are still very tight. It mostly feels like DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after a day of tough workout. Epson salt baths and bio freeze help but don’t make it disappear.
I am loving the daily meditation and yoga and it really has given me a new perspective on everything in my life. The MBSR program was developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the 1970s by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn. MBSR uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga to help people become more mindful. 52 papers were published in 2003, rising to 477 by 2012 and nearly 100 randomized controlled trials had been published by early 2014. Don’t worry, I am not going over the edge to kumbaya; this is all science based and legit therapy. Research has shown that the grey matter concentrations in brain regions that regulate emotion, self-referential processing, learning and memory processes have shown changes in density following MBSR. Additionally, MBSR practice has been associated with improvement of the immune system which could explain the correlation between stress reduction and increased quality of life.
I have downloaded a meditation app for my phone and try to make time for this session every morning. Right now they are short 10-20 minute sessions, as I adjust to this new routine. The app makes it easier to fit the meditation in on the go, versus following the MBSR meditation. I am also very excited to dive into the world of yoga. I have been trying to get to the yoga studio twice a week with the intent on doing daily yoga at home on the rest of the days. This hasn’t happened just yet as I am still very weak and return home from work very tired. I have ordered a few yoga books and workout clothes (I have previously rebelled against the fashion trend of leggings, even for workouts) and am so excited to dive into this new world.
Here we go again. Y’all, this is my type A/all or nothing/stress personality peering through again. Kelly, take it SLOW…..
Please join me on this new adventure in my life and I will share with you all the things I learn along the way and all the ways in which mindfulness can change your life!