Monday, March 24, 2014

New normal: diabetes, yoga, and me (the yoga teacher)

It's been a little over a week since I was sitting in the Urgent Care office for a follow-up to what was at first thought to be two different infections and the doctor told me he suspected I had Type II Diabetes.

"What the fuck?!?!"

But I'm a yoga teacher.

So? Maybe my moderately active exercise and mostly reasonable diet held off the decline in the intricacies of my body's internal insulin management for longer than what otherwise be imagined.  Maybe.

I can tell you that I know that my practice of yoga and yoga teaching literally saved my life when I faced some serious health challenges 20 years ago (giant fibroids and chronic back pain and, and, and).

But I did not see this coming.

I was flooded with feelings. I was pissed. I was sad. I was probably in a bit of shock. I felt a sense of betrayal in myself, by myself. I felt a sense of shame; if only I had followed my own advice to tweak my diet, be more regular in my meals.  And as my analytical mind kicked into gear, this young doctor said, "Stop. You didn't do anything wrong. I look at you and see a healthy and fit 62 year old. Sometimes things happen. And, you may have some grief to deal with. And here is what we need to do to stabilize you…"

That old adage, hindsight is 20-20, has some merit. I WAS receiving information from my body over the last few months (prior to that I'd felt GREAT), but was not interpreting it correctly. As once-was-statistician - my assumptions were incorrect.

I had been experiencing drowsiness at unexpected times, and I started to note (before the diagnosis) that they were cyclical in nature. I told myself that I needed to get my meals to be more regular, a challenge in the yoga teacher world of erratic personal schedules. I was having brain-fog moments, sometimes a difficulty in concentrating. I studied harder. Signs were there.

Then, in mid-February,  I got hit with a 24-hour flu bug, that seemed to keep returning, knocking me lower each time, until I went into a kind of fugue state, not eating (nothing at all) for 5 days, yet still getting myself to my teaching commitments. Finally, I went to Urgent Care, got on antibiotics (some pneumonia was detected in one lung). I was a compliant patient, and after the course of treatment was complete and I'd begun replenishing my gut with probiotics, wondered that I wasn't at 100%, felt maybe at 80% at best. I went back to Urgent Care, requested the same doctor.

Hello to the unexpected. Looking back, I understand now that my glucose levels were rising, rising, rising, and then into an acute situation, triggered by a flu bug.  Thank you, little virus. Without your catalyst, those levels might have just kept on rising, I wouldn't have taken the action I did, and who knows?

I am intrigued that I had been setting up the vinyasa karma sequencing for asana that I am conservative in teaching (halaasana, gomukhaasana) that address the pancreas. I had some cyclical food cravings, from salads with certain ingredients (I'm not really a salad fan), to foods from my childhood (grilled cheese on white bread with american cheese).   Signs were there.


Things have changed, and I adjust to my new normal.  Sharing my journey with diabetes with my yoga students (but mindfully, not obsessively) is part of that.   And I feel good.

Om. Shanti shanti shantih:

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