As I write this, there is a man in the apartment below that is drilling SO loudly that there is no room in our apartment to escape the sound. It literally sounds like he is drilling in my ear. No exaggeration. However, things in life aren’t always comfortable even if that means listening to magnified drilling when you’re trying to study and relax in the evening. Deep breaths, Teele. Deep breaths.
I am taking time away from studying to write this post about how important it is to slow down. That probably sounds like a trivial thing to talk about, but goodness, I am really having to learn how to do that these past few days. Here’s the story: Last Thursday, I woke up and almost fell over when I got out of bed. I was so dizzy and I had no idea why. I never have dizzy spells so, I was a little worried. I checked my blood sugar and it wasn’t lower than usual. I drank water and thought, despite hating ibuprofen, I would take one. It got slightly better throughout the day and finally went away. The next morning I was completely okay, there wasn’t any dizziness and I was thrilled. Later that evening though, I got a sharp pain right in the center of my chest. I had gotten pains before in my chest usually when I was exercising too much or my body was under a lot of stress, however, this felt different. When I had them in the past, they went away after rest, but when I woke up the next morning, it was still there. This was strange..what is going on?
I took yet another ibuprofen and went about my day. However, the chest pain did not get any better. It would go away and come back always with a sharp pain. At this point, I started thinking my heart was having problems. As the evening came, I made sure to rest, took a hot bath, ate well, everything, but nothing helped. I started get a numb feeling in my left leg and sometimes I got a pain in my arm. Being me, I googled all of this and was convinced I was going to have a heart attack. My boyfriend wasn’t home and was out of town which made it even more scary. I thought, “I am going to die alone.” You laugh at this, but trust me, when you’re in the position of thinking you might actually die and it feels like it could be your heart, it is terrifying. I was trying to calm down and realize maybe the stress was causing it, but nothing helped. At this point, I decided to try sleeping it off. I would wake up and be okay, I thought. However, after about an hour of telling myself positive mantras and trying to fall asleep, I knew I couldn’t. My leg was numb, my chest hurt, and something did not feel right. I knew I had to go to the hospital. My boyfriend called his grandparents and they kindly took me to the emergency room. Luckily, the nurse was able to take an EKG fairly quickly and guess what? My heart was just fine. So, I was NOT going to have a heart attack, but then what in the world was this pain? At this point, I had to wait a couple hours to see a doctor and oh, did I mention it was past 2 AM when this was all happening?
The doctor finally came around and all in all, came to a general conclusion that is was my nervous system. The nerves run everywhere in the body especially near the heart and can easily be mistaken for a heart attack. She had mentioned that the nerves can actually get cold and having a weak nervous system as it is, this makes sense. I was told to take ibuprofen for about a week until the pain went away. However, I still felt like there was something that triggered all of this. Last night, I had realized that Wednesday night I had gone to a yoga class and attempted a headstand. Now, this is a warning for anyone that practices headstands in yoga, DO NOT do them if you do not know properly how to do them, if they cause you pain, or anything. I remember I was attempting to do one and something felt off, my head did not feel right and it hurt quite a bit. I came into child’s pose and relaxed. I thought nothing of it until now. After much more proper research rather than on heart attacks, but on pinched nerves, I realized I must have pinched a nerve that night. Pinched nerves are no joke and can take up to three months to heal. This pinched nerve causes random numbness, sharp pains, headaches, and a constant ache. Being 21 and a very active person, I now feel like a complete invalid.
Movement is a huge part of my life. I have danced since I was five years old and danced all through high school and the beginning of university. After I left the dance world, I found yoga, Pilates, running, and other ways to move my body. I am a person who has a very hard time “resting” in fact, I think at times I am incapable of doing such a thing. When I sit for 15 minutes doing nothing, I immediately feel like I need to be productive or get up an move my body. This can be a good thing in that, movement is very healthy for the mind and body, but it can also be unhealthy when you never give yourself time to rest. I never understood that until now. In the past, when I was a little tired and took one rest day here and there, I could easily push myself into still doing and going. However, this has put my body in what seems like a complete shut down. I asked my mom the other day if this was a way for the universe to tell me to SLOW DOWN and a way of my body to scream at me and say LISTEN TO ME. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. I think all those moments where I disregarded my body have almost led up to this moment of complete break down. The first couple days were rough, I kept thinking, “I need to sweat. I need to move. I will get fat if I don’t exercise.” and so many other irrational thoughts. Yesterday, I was able to do a little gentle yoga which I never do, I usually do a good hour of sweat pumping ashtanga yoga and doing this instead felt so strange. It was hard for me to just be gentle to myself, to respect my limits, and take care of myself and move the way my body craves right now. I found it silly how being slow was so difficult for me. After I finished, I felt so unsatisfied. I didn’t even break a sweat, what was the point?
That’s when I realized my values were all mixed up. I asked myself, “What is the real purpose of yoga? Why do you enjoy yoga?” The purpose is to connect the mind and body and that is why I enjoy it, it connects me to myself. It grounds me. It binds me. It gives me not just external, but internal strength, THAT is yoga. The foundation of yoga was not built on torching calories, but to powering the mind. As I thought about this, I realized that I really do need to slow down, I can’t keep pushing my body beyond unhealthy limits. I almost had death before and I better not be going down that path again. Sure, it wasn’t my heart, but what if next time it is? I can’t risk that.
So, here I am snuggled up and waiting for dinner. The lovely smell of cumin lingers in the air. I am taking a mantra of self care, of respect to myself, and being gentle. Health is not only about how much you move, but about listening, especially when your body is practically screaming out for help. This is for everyone. Please, be gentle with yourselves. Know when to push and when to hold back. You are only given one body in this life. Cherish it. Embrace it. May healing vibes be sent to all of you and may you vibrate those to others.