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Petrified of an MRI February 9, 2009

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After 6 months of weekly doctor visits and physical therapy appointments, my neck still wasn’t healed from the accident back in July so I finally gave in and told the doctor I would get an MRI, although I was terrified. Being claustrophobic, I was scared to death at the thought of being braced down and put in some tube while beams of magnetic rays captured images of my neck. I expressed my apprehension with the doctor so he wrote me a prescription for Valium. I felt relieved knowing I could take something to alleviate the anxiety, but the more I thought about it, the more I was opposed to it.

I considered my body a temple so it was important to take care of it. Although I’m a yogi aficionado, I’m certainly not a textbook purist. I just do the best I can when it comes to eating healthy and making decisions that affect my mental and physical state of being, which means putting as few chemicals in to my body as possible. I realized taking one Valium wouldn’t kill me, but it was more than just taking a pill. Part of my journey was about getting in touch with my body and mind and finding a healthy balance between the two. Covering up my fear would only suppress it more so if I was afraid of the dark and being confined, then I needed to get in touch with the fear and heal it instead of taking a chemical to mask it.

I decided to get the prescription filled anyway because I thought it would be better to have it just in case I changed my mind at the last minute, but then I got up to the counter at the pharmacy and couldn’t find my debit card. I must have left it in my jeans pocket or a jacket or something because it wasn’t anywhere to be found. I didn’t have enough cash on me so I knew it was a sign. I was meant to embrace the fear and see it through so I let it go and went home. Ironically, I later discovered my debit card in my purse. It was there the whole time so I knew without a doubt that I made the right decision.

I spoke to my mom later that afternoon and she asked me how long I typically meditated for in the mornings. I told her 20 minutes so she said I should just meditate since the procedure would take about the same amount of time. Right! Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? I felt empowered and ready to face my fear, but the morning of the appointment came and my body shut down. The closer I got, the more nervous I felt. My chest felt like it was caving in and my heart wouldn’t stop racing. The back of my throat was constricted and my body tensed with fear. I could feel the switch as the sympathetic nervous system kicked in and my body went in to fight or flight.

The technician could tell I was scared to death so she told me not to worry…that I would be fine…that she could hear me and I could hear her and we would be connected the entire time. The moment she braced me in, my entire body froze and tears welled up in my eyes, but I was scared to cry because I didn’t want to move. I was told that in order for a MRI to be effective, the person had to remain completely still and I didn’t want to go through it again so I was determined to get it right the first time.

I closed my eyes and brought my awareness to the breath just as I did every morning when I sat to meditate. Inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale. But wait…that noise…it’s really loud…oh, her voice…I hear her voice…I’m okay…she’s with me…inhale…exhale…noise….really loud overbearing sounds of magnetic rays coming from the machine…panic…I’m okay…inhale…exhale…more noise…my heart…noise…I can’t breathe…inhale…exhale. 

It was the longest 20 minutes of my life, but I survived the terror even though I was stiff as a board when the technician pulled me out of the tube and released the harness that held my neck and head in place. She smiled and said, “Now that wasn’t so bad, now was it?” I looked up at her and felt the surge of adrenaline rush out from the center of my chest, as my body released the fear and tension from being absolutely petrified. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and the sweet lady just sat there with me, as she gave me the space to release the emotion and fear I had harbored for so long.

I walked out feeling light and free, but being claustrophobic was not something that would just go away at the drop of a hat. It would take time and more experiences of sitting with the fear and making the decision not to run. Had I taken the Valium, I wouldn’t have released what I did, as it wasn’t meant to be a quick fix…it was about me sitting with the fear and breathing through it. Fear only has power over you if you allow it. It’s not going to overtake you or kill you. It may paralyze you or prevent you from having peace in your life, but you are the one who decides, as the only thing to fear is fear itself. 

I took the images to my doctor immediately after and he said, “Wow…these are the best images I’ve ever seen…I’ve never known anyone to sit still enough to get this kind of clarity…you were either calm as a cucumber or paralyzed with fear.” HA! I laughed and said, “If you only knew.”

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Getting back on the mat July 24, 2008

Posted by admin in : Injuries Tags:, , , , , add a comment

My teacher sent me a powerful email, which spoke to me on a deep level. Without going in to detail, she basically told me I needed to get back on the mat and as soon as possible. She was right. I allowed fear to overwhelm me when the doctor said I couldn’t practice because of my injury. I felt hopeless and defeated and I allowed myself to fall in to a place of feeling sorry for myself. I tried to find the beauty in what was happening, but I lost myself and allowed lower emotions to take over. 

Anger, fear, and hurt are emotions that will snowball if permitted. All you need to do is give them a little power by focusing on them and they will destroy you in a minute…flattening you like a human crepe. All it takes is the ego creeping in with negative thoughts and you’ll find yourself spinning out of control. It’s an awful feeling to feel powerless, but sometimes all you have to do is be aware of what’s happening and then you can gain back some momentum. If you try and repress what you’re going through then you’ll probably sit in the drama a little longer than if you surrender and let go.

All you need sometimes is a reminder of who you are and what you are capable of and then suddenly you’re up and running again. A sliver of light comes through and you start to remember your purpose and drive. My teacher’s email was the ray of light, as she reminded me of something very important. She said, “Use your injury to be a better teacher and your neck shouldn’t stop you from teaching or doing yoga…you can’t let it stop you…not as important as yoga is to you…so I say to you get back on the mat…” She reminded me I was a healer and needed to sit down and do some energy work on myself. Why are we the last to heal ourselves? We’re always about teaching and healing and doing right by others, but then we leave ourselves high and dry.

She was right. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got back on the mat. Of course I was limited as to what I could do, but I was moving and breathing and opening myself up instead of getting stuck in the trauma around my neck. Sometimes you have to make a choice…do I want to be a victim or do I want to truly heal and move past the thing that is holding me back. Fear will paralyze you and hold you down so let go and surrender so you can rise above the thoughts to that place of pure consciousness where true healing can begin.

I meditated and then did some self pranic healing. I cleansed my room with sage and then rolled up my mat and went to bed. I woke up feeling empowered and more alive than ever. The victim was gone…there was no more feeling sorry for myself. It was a new day and I was ready to conquer the world. My grounding was back and I vowed to use my injury as a beautiful gift to relate to people and the limitations they face. What happened to me is helping me understand my body more and be more gentle with myself as I flow in and out of poses. It is making me more aware of myself and my students. Injuries help us cultivate more compassion and loving kindness so stop feeling sorry for yourself, roll out your mat, and practice. Be gentle with yourself and make space around the injury…do not become the injury! Namaste

 

  

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Drunk driver July 17, 2008

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Timing is everything. Sometimes you think if only this or only that, but you could spend your entire lifetime thinking about such nonsense. Perhaps things happen for a reason and all those “if only this” or “if only thats” weren’t suppose to happen so something else could happen instead.

There were a multitude of people I could have asked for a ride home from my brother and sister ‘n law’s baby shower, but I passed everyone up so I could hang out until the very last minute, as I was leaving for Atlanta in the morning and didn’t want to say good-bye to my friends any sooner than I had to. My brother’s best friend was my ride home so when it came time for him to leave I had no choice, but to bid my farewell.

Matt and his girlfriend warned me the car would be a mess and there would be no air conditioning or radio. A couple other people made sarcastic comments like, “its always an adventure with Matt…you’re riding at your own risk,” but I just figured they were picking on him. I didn’t actually believe he had a dark karmic cloud hanging over his head, but perhaps I should have taken caution to the wind.

We turned the wrong way as we left the baby shower, but neither Matt nor I realized because we were too busy talking. His girlfriend finally interrupted us so Matt turned around and headed back in the right direction. We were laughing and talking and sharing our feelings about Florida and how they don’t require motorists to wear helmets as we pulled up to a red light and stopped. No sooner did I say, “I think it’s dangerous for them not to wear helmets,” a car rear-ended us going about 45 miles an hour. The driver then fled the scene hitting us a second time.

The light turned green as the driver went around us so Matt chased after him. I think guys have a different primal instinct than girls because I don’t know that I would have thought that fast had I been the one driving. I was still trying to process what had just happened so it took me a minute to realize the car was trying to get away. I thought a second car hit the car that hit us when we got hit the second time. I also had a difficult time trying to put the license plate number in my phone while Matt’s girlfriend called the police. It’s interesting how the easiest things can suddenly seem so complicated in the midst of a stressful situation.

I think the guy finally realized we weren’t going to stop and we already had his plate number so he finally pulled over. My immediate thought was, ”What if this guy has a gun? What are we doing? This is crazy!” I still don’t know what I would have done if the guy got out and started a fight or pulled out a weapon. I’m just thankful he didn’t.

I definitely felt safe once I saw the driver. He appeared harmless even though he and the other two guys in the car were obviously wasted. They were “on” something…from what substance I don’t know, but there was no mistaking their state of mind. The cops didn’t take too long to get there and I’m not certain what happened to the two passengers, but the driver definitely went to jail.

Thankfully the 3 of us were wearing our seat belts and were able to drive away from the scene, but we didn’t walk away free and clear. I have neck injuries and can’t practice yoga or kickboxing until my doctor says its okay. Not being able to practice the thing I’m most passionate about is killing me. It’s my sanity and what keeps me grounded. It makes me angry that some guy was driving around wasted without a care for himself or anyone else on the road, but being angry isn’t going to make things better so I have to believe there was a reason this happened…for better or worse.

I can tell you we were absolutely meant to be at that exact intersection at that exact time. Had we not got turned around, we wouldn’t have been the first car at that red light and if we weren’t there than the guy would have run right through the intersection and may have killed someone. If you think of it that way, we may very well have saved someone’s life. Of course there could be other reasons, but only the higher power knows. This is where trust comes to play…as hard as it may be!

 

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