I’ve been practicing yoga regularly since 2005 and teaching since February 2009 I’ve found that the more I do it, the more I love it. I started because of my history with “Multiple Sclerosis” (MS).
I’ve been teaching multiple levels of Yoga classes since 2009. I teach at four Assisted Living/Nursing Home Facilities one includes an Alzheimer’s unit I teach Chair Yoga at the Allen Eiry Senior Center in Tiffin. I also teach at the Tiffin Developmental Center that includes residents with Autism and a wide range of varied intellectual disabilities. For more information contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My mom passed away 2 weeks after I was diagnosed with MS. So between the MS and mom passing away, Carol and I started looking at life differently. Life’s short and everyone should enjoy it, doing what you want, when you want, and at the pace you want (or try anyway).
In 2001, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
It all started on a hot June day in 2000 when I was working in our restaurant attic on a hot summer day and my vision became blurry. I came down, drove home and relaxed in the AC and within 15 minutes my vision was back to normal. An Opthamologist said I had an eye headache. A year later the sensory issues were back and continued to linger. The doctor sent me to another Opthamologist for further testing. The conclusion, optic neuritis, but no mention of MS.
An MRI showed lesions on the brain, then it was on to a Neurologist. With the MRI results and my insistence the Neurologist reluctantly agreed to perform a Spinal Tap. This showed Myelin (sheath around nerve) floating in my spinal fluid. Doctors conclusion was that if I were a women or lived in Galion, Ohio, he would consider MS. Three quarter of diagnosed cases of MS are women, and apparently Galion is a hot bed for MS.
I fired the Neurologist and my family doctor sent me to the “Mellen Center at the Cleveland Clinic” where they specialize in MS. Within 15 minutes, I was told I have MS, in remission and needed to start on an MS therapy drug. I chose Avonex, an inter-muscular injection once a week that I took for three years. I then chose to discontinue the Avonex due to flu like symptoms that lasted 36 hours. All was well for about two years then I started having vision problems. I was driving truck for Conway pulling doubles at the time. A return appointment with my MS doctor ended my truck driving career do to safety issues.
Conway hired me as a Freight Operations Supervisor which was fast paced and stressful but fit right in with my type A personality. Almost two years as dispatcher everything was fine, then my worst MS exacerbation began. By February of 2005 the wheels came off and I was spinning out of control fast. I was so sick, I couldn’t make it a full day without a nap to combat the fatigue. At one point my vision was so bad I couldn’t drive and had to rely on co-workers and family members to get me to and from work. I received IV steroids several times to combat each new symptom. Eventually things were so bad my MS doctor gave me an option for treatment using chemotherapy. I was willing to try anything so I agreed and started chemotherapy once a month. After my third round of chemo, my doctor stopped my treatments. I was getting very sick from it and it was not helping with my symptoms. Everything the Neurologist tried didn’t work, so there was nothing more that could be done besides the IV steroid treatment to stop each new symptom from becoming a permanent condition. During this time I also went to see a Psychologist to help me with depression caused by the MS.
An example of what I was going through: I got out of a hot shower (a no no with MS) one day and felt something going on with my face. I looked in the mirror and the whole left side of my face was sagging and within an hour the whole left side of my face was paralyzed. I had to lubricate the eyeball and wear a pirate patch since I no longer could blink or control anything on the left side of my face. At the same time the muffler in the left ear stopped working and any sound would blast in with excruciating pain. So, I had to wear an ear plug to dampen down the noise. I also had electric shock from my head down the back side to my heels, a dropped leg, and an occasional spasticity of jerks or spasms. The majority of my issues happened on the left side of my body. These non stop issues were the reason for the chemo. In May 2005 I started on Copaxon, another type of MS drug that didn’t contain interferon, which was causing my flu like symptoms. This drug was a once a day subcutaneous injection which was easy compared to the once a week inter-muscular injection.
With no end in sight of my severe MS symptoms my doctor wrote a two page letter to send to disability and told me if I went back to work in any job requiring me to be on my feet or stressful environment I would have a good chance of another severe exacerbation as bad or worse than what I was going through. I was approved for disability and was on it for three and half years, before taking myself off. July of 2005 is when I began doing Yoga five minutes a day and would have to recover from complete exhaustion and fatigue when I was done. After building a little strength and energy back from doing Yoga I began studying computers and ultimately going to Columbus for Yoga Teacher Training too.
MS and the benefits of Yoga is the main reason for starting this blog. Within a month of starting Yoga in July 2005, I was noticing improvement and the length of my yoga practice grew as well as gaining energy. It got to the point the MS induced depression would be gone for several hours after the practice, and my dropped leg was happening less and not as deep of a collapse as well as my sensory issues diminishing. After a year I was able to stop going to the psychologists since the depression was down to a time or two a month and lasting only a couple of days. Depression now is non existent. Yoga was and is a large part of my success of getting to the point that I am at today. Proof for me that Yoga is healing, we went on vacation and I didn’t practice Yoga the whole week and by the end of the week my leg was dropping and the electric shock was back. After we returned home and two days of Yoga, my symptoms were gone. Yoga is one of the main ingredients that has changed my life. I have changed in so many positive ways as a person since being diagnosed with MS. From the daily actions of everyday life, and how I’m trying to help people with the classes I teach and through this site.
Yoga has helped me with balance, flexibility, coordination, strength, energy, and depression. The list of benefits are endless with a regular practice of Yoga.
In December 2011 I had my annual MS appointment and I had an MRI, the first since 2006. The results were positive, my doctor said I still have the brain of someone with MS but there is no activity. She said whatever I’m doing keep doing it. I continue to live a day at a time just like the rest of the world because nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. We can all end up in the dark, but keep looking, there is light, and with work you can free yourself from the darkness.