Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TIA, migraine, David Swenson and David Keil.

A week before Christmas I woke up in the morning and decided not to go to Mysore. I do not remember what was the exact cause, but this unfortunately happens to me rather often lately, so I don't think it was anything extraordinary . I prepared my food for the day, woke up Victor and took a shower. In the shower I was kind of daydreaming - something about my family back in Kazakhstan, my brother and my late mother. I got out of the shower and realized that I couldn't snap out of my day-dreaming mode. It felt like my day dream had ended, but I was not back in my mind for some reason. Victor was asking me some questions, and I answered them(all of which I do not quite remember now), and even though I did know the answers to his questions, I just sounded my normal ignorant self. So I started thinking "what am I supposed to do now? Uhm, I guess go to work. What am I supposed to do there?" That was a more difficult and distressing question to which I did now know answer. I tried to ask Victor, but he felt justifiably puzzled. I tried to assess my overall state and realized that my left side of the face had a kind of tingly-numb feeling. "Sh*t, I am having a stroke!" That was my first thought. The second - "Here goes my yoga practice". Both made me very sad, but for some reason I did not feel fear or anxiety. The memory loss and disorientation lasted about five minutes, and after that I informed my boss that I was not coming today and rushed Victor to get a taxi and go to ER.

We spent around 10 hours there. After all kinds of tests, including a CAT scan, MRI, MRA and multiple prodding and poking I was discharged with a diagnosis of TIA - transitory ischemic attack. It did not sound too serious, but after proper googling I found out that TIA is considered to be something like a "mini-stroke", caused by clotting and is a good indicator that a maxi-stroke is coming. Victor asked me then - OK, now what can you change in your lifestyle to make the possibility of a stroke smaller? You really should have kept a couple of vices for a case like that. There is just no way one can lead a healthier lifestyle than you do!

To make a long story short, my current diagnosis is a complex migraine ( which is indefinitely better than TIA). I had migraines my whole life and thought I got rid of them 6 years ago when I went cold turkey on all caffeinated drinks. But apparently migraines stayed, though a pain of a headache was gone. Otherwise it seems that I am ridiculously healthy. My neurologist was shaking her head and bitterly complaining how difficult it was to diagnose a person who did not have a single thing wrong in all the tests performed. So yay, I think. I still need to keep a diary for the neurologist and eventually have to take a some kind of anti-migraine medication, but this is nothing compared to the life of constant expectation of a stroke.

So here. I did not want to write anything before I would know for sure if things are OK or not. Now back to our camels, um, I mean yoga.

First of all David Swenson's workshop this weekend. It was awesome. In addition to being a yogi who can fly, the guy is also a comedian. He was really funny and I think he would make better money working as an entertainer. I did learn a lot, though. One of the things he said got stuck in my head firmly - do your practice at 80% capacity. If you do at a 100% all the time, you will be sore all the time and one day you will push ( or your teacher will) a little harder, go over your 100% and hurt yourself.

Now, after David Swenson's weekend, which left me sore all over (I guess even when you work at 80%, 6 hours of yoga a day is a bit too much), I am doing a week of Mysore with David Keil. First of all - there are too many Davids in my yoga life. Second - ouch! There is just no 80% in David Keil's vocabulary. The first two days went like a blur. Today, my feeling of joy of practice was tinged a little with self-pity when I started doing my urdhva dhanurasanas. Low back was sore since kapotasana, energy level was below zero and I was contemplating weather I could sound pitifully enough to get out without dropbacks. Then David said - Alfia, stop doing backbends, do eka pada shirsasana instead. Gulp. The most difficult part was to keep balance in a forward bend, but still the pose is doable. The exit was far from graceful, but oh well. Anyway, the point is that the bruised and fragile feeling in my lower back was gone! Apparently it just needed this stretch of having a leg behind the neck and all was cured. Wow. From now on, eka pada is my new favorite pose!

Unfortunately, when I am back at my regular Mysore studio, my last pose is still bakasana. I think I will get a split with David Keil faster than I will get eka pada with David Ingalls. That is OK, though. My practice is so long now that I am not really looking forward to making it even longer during my normal practice. Once in a while I will just practice at home, doing just the second series up to the last pose given by David Keil, and it will make me secretly happy


Christine said...

Oh my!! So glad it sounds like things will be ok.
I felt the same after David (Keil) added leg-behind-head to my second series practice....ahhhh. It seemed strange that they felt great because I'd always struggled with supta k.

Agreed, there is no 80% in David's vocabulary...laughed out loud at that! I spent a week practicing with David a couple weeks ago and was way sore by the end of the week, but also exhilarated and happy.

Happy Practicing!


alfia said...

Hi, Christine!

Thank you for checking it. I was wondering if other people felt the same relief after eka padas.

I am happy too, in an exhausted and painful sort of way. Would never miss the opportunity, though, even if I had an imminent stroke looming.

Happy practicing to you, too. I hope everything is good in your world!

Karen said...

Hi Alfia,

I had migraines for years. Now I just get the neurological effects, but no pain. It's a bit amusing, now that I know it isn't a stroke or aneurysm. You might wnt to check out Oliver Sacks' book, Migraine. He's a wonderful author, neurologist, and migraineur.

alfia said...

Hi, Karen:

Sorry to hear you have migraines, too. Isn't interesting that you too have them but no ache? I find it so bizarre, considering how much pain they used to cause (not that I am complaining, mind you!). Thank you for the suggestion, I will certainly read the book. :)

Christine said...

Hi Alfia,

One of my students is headed to the D.C. area in a couple weeks for work. Do you have recommendations for Mysore classes around D.C.? You can get in touch by email with any info you're willing to share about class schedules, teachers in the area and such....hibiscus102 (at) gmail (dot) com

Thanks and hope you are well!!

Arturo said...

dear Alfia
i know you posted this a long while ago. i hope you are doing well. keeping you in my intentions. funny, but i have headaches only on sunday evenings lately, and it's mostly because i spend about 6 hours studying Chinese typically on sundays. the effort must give me the headache.


View my page on WoYoPracMo