Anyone who has been through a devastating illness knows that it affects not only the physical body, but also the mind, heart, and spirit–often more deeply than the physical body. The despair that illness can bring is enormous, yet there is a deep respect and desire for the body and the mind to always be united. Sometimes we forget this, but yoga and meditation can help us to remember.
In the fall of 2004, I began to develop strange flu-like symptoms that would not go away. Earlier that summer, I had been prescribed three rounds of antibiotics for a constant sore throat I had been experiencing. Soon after taking them, I developed headaches, nausea, lethargy, body aches, fatigue, and uncharacteristic weakness, along with muddled thinking and blurred vision. My blood pressure was elevated and further tests indicated borderline diabetes. I was given blood pressure medication and the name of a nutritionist who might help me regain some of the weight I was rapidly losing. It became evident that the heavy, rich foods she suggested were wrong for me when I began experiencing intense, tremor-like attacks after eating. Soon, I was making visits to the emergency room, where the attacks were diagnosed as either hypoglycemic or complex partial seizures. The attacks kept escalating along with new symptoms such as uncontrollable shaking and unsteadiness while standing and walking. My yoga practice (yoga postures, breath work, and meditation) came to a standstill. Whereas yoga had helped me get in touch with my body’s signals, now there seemed to be a disruption in what my brain was trying to send to my body.
I received EKGs, CAT scans, MRIs, gastrointestinal tests, and more tests for allergies and parasites. From October 2004 until the end of 2006, I visited more than 20 conventional medical doctors, who used the latest technology available but could not diagnose my illness. I was hospitalized seven times, was referred to several “specialists,” and was prescribed 36 pharmaceutical medications. My concentration and attention span disappeared, and my mental fatigue worsened. A film settled over my eyes, making it impossible to read. Soon, I became bedridden. The doctors were exasperated and so was I. They said that, on paper, I was just fine. Continue reading