In the Spring of 2014 I packed up all the positions I had into a 1990 green Subaru stick-shift station wagon and left Portland, Oregon, headed East. I was on my way to live in NYC, finish college, and (I thought) get married to the man of my dreams.
Funny how life has a way of changing.
Once I hit Colorado I knew something wasn’t right. I showed up at a friends house mysteriously covered head to toe in sores, they looked like scabs or dried skin, but they covered my body overnight. I was afraid, and went to the hospital. They kept me over night and told me they couldn’t find out what was wrong. A day later I ended up in a different hospital, my headed had started hurting so bad I couldn’t drive or see straight. Again, they let me go after overnight observations saying they saw the scabs, but they didn’t know what caused them.
I began to grow tired, and a different kind of tired then I had known before. It became impossible to stay awake. I found myself in Indianapolis, Indiana with family again going to hospitals, doctors, healers. No one knew what was going on. I was diagnosed with Psoriasis, and given medicine. Thinking, “I know what’s wrong.” I flew to New York, started college, still covered in sores that would not leave my skin.
A year after being in NYC with sores I went to a clinic and was officially diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. I was placed on an immune-suppressant, and for the first time since they had appeared my sores disappeared. I thought, “Oh I am healed, everything can turn back to normal now.”
But little did I know that a disease is something that is not cured, rather, it’s managed.
The immune-suppressant does what it sounds like. It suppresses my immune system so I am weaker then the average person. I am able to get sick from things healthy people can’t get sick from, and anything I catch I can never fully recover from. After ending up in the hospital a few times for not breathing proper, or not being able to process food well–I went to my doctor and complained.
I told him I wanted to be better, and that I had changed my lifestyle to be healthier, and that I just wanted a pill or different injection so that I could be the healthy person I knew I was inside. He sat in the exam room with me and repeated himself. He said the same thing over-and-over again until, finally, I heard what he was saying.
“It could be 6 months, or it could be 20 years, but you are loosing your mobility. You have a disease, that means there is no ‘cure.’ Think about ‘managing’ your condition instead of ‘curing’ it.”
He had to say it many times. I couldn’t understand him. How could I possibly process that information? “Loosing my mobility?” I was 26 years old.
Terrified, and alone, I decided to finish college working my way through with my part time job at a yoga studio on 46th Street. I had taken yoga in Portland, and memorized the sun salutations, but now practicing felt different. Suddenly, I was not as concerned with my perfection in the poses. Rather, I was thankful. I lost my wrist, my left wrist, and I started to loose my right knee, my left shoulder, but I kept practicing. I was able to gain back the movement in my knee, my shoulder, and I found a way to move despite not being able to use my wrist. I found teachers and leaders at Viktoria’s yoga studio where I worked who taught me that moving should feel good. It’s not how it looks on the outside, but how it feels on the inside. I learned how to move in a way that was more about self-exploration then self-competition.
It’s one of those beautiful accidents that I found yoga, Pilates, and the women who encouraged me to move despite the pain and my own lack of experience (weakness).
I want to share this beautiful accident with anyone who needs the encouragement to move, weather it’s because we are loosing our mobility, or because sometimes we need a community to find health.
BurnStrong is born out of sickness and disappointment, and while it might not be the most “professional” place, it is attempting to be an “honest” place, a place where we don’t expect anyone to be perfect. Be You. Be Strong. We are here to encourage you along the way.