Another YTT graduation, missed. 

My thoughts are in this room today…

…where I should be doing loads and loads of student teacher sun salutations, as well as teaching them myself, and then graduating as a certified yoga teacher. 

Today completes the October session of YTT at Asheville Yoga Center. The training is held in the room pictured above. I had planned on going up there Tuesday of this week to finish the last 3 days of YTT that I missed because of my stroke. But, going back will also be like showing up for AP exams when it’s been 6 weeks since your prep course.  And you were in the hospital for a while:/ And, as I began to dig in to prepare for the exam last week, I realized I wasn’t ready, and didn’t want to do it. So, I canceled. 

I’m pretty sad today. I’m having a hard time getting back into asana (postural) practice at all, let alone at the intensive level that teacher training is. I realized that, since I’m barely, and rarely, doing asana, I am really not ready to do those intense last few days, or 50-ish sun salutations in a row on the final day.  

Today, I did get myself to a yoga class, though. I saw a woman who also did her YTT at Asheville Yoga, and when she hugged me I nearly started to cry. There are some emotions around this stroke that are still building, and I haven’t really begun to process yet. Or, maybe, with me grieving today over losing YTT, again, maybe I am starting to process. 

New find, and more about stress.

I’m into protein bars.  It’s kind of a weakness, to my mind, because it’s a highly processed food, but also maybe a strength, because the protein content is so filling it helps prevent me snacking.  So I guess this is a “sorry, not sorry” food for me.

My favorite two brands of protein bars are Quest and B-Up.  Recently, Quest came out with two new flavors, but they never showed up at the places I usually buy mine – Trader Joe’s or Publix.  (My B-Up brand bars are ordered online, and I suggest taking care not to order them when it’ll be hot out because, sitting in your mailbox or front porch in the South Carolina heat,  they kind of melt down.)

I finally decided to “treat yo self,” as the kids seem to be saying, and put an item on my errand list to actually, proactively FIND these two new Quest flavors.  And I did!  At GNC.  

The Blueberry Muffin flavor is appparently a little bit harder to find, so if you’re going to go to GNC to buy this, you may want to call ahead and see if they have it.  I actually ended up at two different stores to get these and for each purchase, I took advantage of the buy-3-get-1-free deal, so I’m pretty stocked up on Quest bars for the moment!  

I actually really liked both of these and recommend them, if you’re into this type of food.  The Blueberry Muffin was especially good, and I haven’t even tried them heated yet – which is the way to pump up these bars for nomminess (just microwave for 10-15 seconds, on a piece of parchment paper).  

My weight is absolute crap this week.  It is a bummer that I have gotten fatter.  My pants with real waistbands (i.e., that snap or button) are almost all a bit too tight.  It’s making me want to reach for stretches.  Ugh.  Today I weighed 184.8. When I was in yoga teacher training, I dropped to 176.6, and stayed there throughout my hospital stay.  But before that I had been a little over 180, so maybe it’s not a HUGE gain, but I still really feel it. I saw something today that made me think that part of the weight loss at yoga teacher training was the amazing good vibes there.  I absolutely loved it, even though the days were very long and sometimes physically demanding.  It was just a place of so much nurturing, positivity and support.   I was reminded of this whenI saw this post on Facebook today:

Could the difference in my weight have to do with happiness hormones at yoga teacher training, and stress and unhappiness hormones after my stroke?  Something to ponder.  I’ve had a lot of stress since then, both due to the stroke itself and also partially because my mother did not contact me at all in the hospital, or since, and I’m a little bent out of shape about it.  Her reason: somehow I or my husband was “condescending” to her, and she felt “not wanted.”  She had asked if she should come visit and we said no, not now, as that would have meant a houseguest, and that would have been an absolutely AWFUL time for us to have a houseguest.  Over a month later, she then e-mailed to ask for the stuff she left at my house a few months ago – basically a passive-aggressive move that looked like she was breaking up with me.   I’ve been ruminating on it a lot these past weeks, and it has been a source of stres.  

I’m still eating low-carb but probably drinking more alcohol than is best.  I could and should probably take more alcohol breaks.  

Do you eat protein bars, or have another “sorry/not sorry” food?

My stroke story, part 2

Before I continue with my stroke story itself, I have a related update – the results of my CT angioscan two weeks ago (ugh, way too long since updating) and my appointment with my neurology doctor this past week.  Blood flow in the brain is continuing to improve, but, the area where I bissected the artery still has no blood flow in it.  The surrounding tissues have apparently compensated for this by contributing blood flow.  But, it is disappointing and kind of scary that this area – the one where loss of blood flow gave me a stroke – still has no blood flow.  The doc said it could heal in a month, in a year, years from now, or… never.  But, she says it’s OK, the blood flow is adequate with all the compensatory blood flow that surrounding tissues are contributing.  Still, for me, it’s kind of a mixed bag.  And also, it’s kind of scary, as it makes me think there’s still a clot around that injury that could break free and float up into my brain and cause a regular type of stroke.  I need to e-mail her and ask if that’s a risk.  My next CT and follow up appointment will be in 3 months.  I continue to take aspirin daily as a blood thinner.

I told her about gaining 10 lbs in 2 weeks after leaving the hospital and she agreed that that was something to take seriously.  She did not, though, have any idea what it was, but speculated it could be a cortisol response to the stress.  This was actually something I should have thought of, as I’ve come to believe that I have a stronger than average cortisol response.   It’s starting to back down a little so I will give it another month and if it’s not resolved, I will connect back with her.  So that’s the current medical landscape for this particular stroke survivor.

By the way, PSA here: did you know that stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer?  Basically if you experience, or see any one experience, anything that seems neurological like dizziness, slurred speech, inability to recall dates/people/events, facial droop, paralysis on one side – please call 911 immediately.  I’m not sure it would have helped me, but also I was very lucky that my symptoms weren’t that strong.


So, the Part 1 of my stroke story is here.  I forgot to mention in Part 1, though, overnight and in the morning I had several episodes of hiccups, coming out of nowhere. This was weird and pretty out of the ordinary for me. It turns out this is a symptom of the type of stroke I had, due to its location in the back of the brain; the classic stroke you’re familiar with occurs in the front of the brain, and doesn’t typically involve this symptom.  A lot of my symptoms were not what we think of as typical stroke symptoms, which is part of why I wasn’t sure I needed help.  The hospital’s ultimate answer on this: anything that’s unusual for YOU, and which may seem neurological in nature – call 911 and let a health care professional decide if you do or don’t need care.  Don’t make this decision yourself.

So, after realizing I couldn’t swallow, which finally made me realize I needed medical care, I then waited over ninety minutes for my husband to arrive to the Namastay House, where I was staying. (This was my choice – now I see it was a mistake, I should have just called 911).  While waiting, I checked my face for facial droop and now, alarmingly, I definitely saw some. This, along with being unable to swallow, scared me. Eventually my husband arrived and I was scattered and panicky. He was really spare and did not seem able, really, to process what was happening… at all. I showed him my facial droop and asked if he saw it too. He didn’t! This just made me angry. I clearly had a lot of facial droop on my right hand side. He said he couldn’t see it. This really frustrated me. I felt like I had to advocate myself, for my health, to the very person who should be advocating for me. Instead of getting that support, I was left feeling like I was having to fight him to recognize my problems. Maybe this was an overreaction. Maybe not.  Maybe he’s just not at his best under stress and this type of scare.

Then, I was worried about insurance and getting care out of network, since we were out of state. I had my husband call the insurer to get advice and clearance on where to go and what to do. My husband was a little flabbergasted by this, but didn’t really express this. He calls the insurer and goes through some motions with them, and then tells me we just need to go to urgent care, it doesn’t matter if we’re in-network. I, meanwhile, don’t want to get stuck with some crazy bill because we haven’t done the right thing with insurance. We waste maybe 20 minutes doing this.

We got to the urgent care and told the intake receptionist my symptoms. She got a funny look on her face and didn’t ask us to write down anything, didn’t give us anything for intake, nothing like that. Instead, she got up from her chair and went and got someone else, to tell them what we had just told her. A nurse called us back. I told him what had happened, and it was difficult – I was hoarse, and talking was demanding. Having to repeat myself was tiring and a little annoying. After I had unloaded this second time, the nurse told us we needed to go to a hospital, that I needed a CAT scan, and that’s where I’d get it. My problems were beyond the scope of the services they offer in urgent care.


My husband now tells me he had thought I might need to go to the hospital.  Oh.

So, we ask the nurse how time-sensitive it is – do we need to go to the local hospital, like NOW, that’s 10 minutes away, or is it medically reasonable to drive back to our home town, which is a little over an hour away. If we go home, and if I’m admitted to the hospital, I’ll be in-network, satisfying my concerns about cost, and satisfying my husband’s logistical concerns about having me being in a hospital, and the relative ease of seeing me, etc.  The nurse tells us that it sounds like we’re outside the six-hour window for a stroke drug, so he thinks it’s OK for us to drive back to Greenville. So, we proceed to do this.  (Later, my neurology nurse practitioner tells me this was TERRIBLE advice, that I needed to get to a hospital right away – this is standard protocol for strokes, I think which this nurse seems to have known I had.)

At this point, I start processing for the first time that I’m not just going to a hospital, but I actually may be *admitted* to the hospital.  This thought had not yet occurred to me.  I realize if we go right now, my husband will likely have to come back to Asheville and pick up, and not only that but pack up, all my stuff, which is sort of strewn around a shared house, not to mention making the long round-trip drive.  Not knowing what my own conditions and demand would be, this didn’t sound great. I suggested that instead of going straight to the hospital, we go pack up my stuff together, quickly, and take it with us, to save him that trip. I can always just cart it right back if I get to go back to yoga teacher training, right? We realize this leaves my car, so I text my sister (who lives locally there) and ask if she can come get the key to take care of the car if needed.

We get back to the Namastay House and I stumble around packing up not just my clothes and books, but things like dumb food items. My priorities were clearly slightly off! We spend maybe 15 minutes doing this, then wait around a few minutes for my sister, who was supposed to be arriving any minute. She finally gets there and things had already been weird between us lately, and this was sort of an awkward and scary moment, me seeing myself as so unsteady and unbalanced and kind of fried, and her seeing me this way (I’m the older, by 10 years). She takes my car key and tells me her fiancé and she will be moving the car right away, and I feel grateful and taken care of. In terms of this detour back to Namastay House instead of going straight to a hospital, I guess we probably spend an extra 45 minutes total making this trip, packing up, etc., which I mention because looking back, I see I wasted a LOT of time getting care, even once I decided I needed it. I am still processing this aspect.

We drive to the hospital in our town, which happens to be in the building adjacent to where my husband works. He pulls up to the ER entrance and I stagger out of the car. I am really, truly staggering at this point, not just unsteady but really struggling to get to something to hold onto to be able to stand on my own two feet. I can barely walk the few steps from the car to the door. After I stand, everything is spinning, and I am outrageously dizzy. As I head for the entry door, I’m so off kilter that register some disbelief that I’m doing this on my own two feet, that no one is helping me! I reached the door and I grab the rails attached to it, and just hold on and catch my breath there for a minute. An older man is approaching the doors from the inside with a wheelchair, and he maneuvers it around and it looks like he is going to go out the door past me. To part of me, this makes sense: I’m getting around on my own two feet, that must be for someone who needs it. But part of me is outraged: don’t you see me?! Where’s my ***ing help? Where is my husband, anyway, why isn’t he helping me? The man with the wheel chair pauses next to me, and then I realize the wheel chair is for me. Oh, thank God. I feel like I’m barely standing, even with my death grip on the doors. He wheels me back to intake, and I climb on to a hospital gurney. They ask me my name, address, symptoms, etc., and I sigh and I’m annoyed and frustrated because talking is DIFFICULT. I wonder why my husband isn’t stepping in and talking for me? Not only that, the intake nurse often can’t hear me, or gets distracted by something else, and keeps asking me to repeat myself. This continued to happen over and over throughout the day – I probably had to tell my story and my symptoms to 10 or 12 people there – and it became just SO frustrating and annoying. It mystified me: I thought, “Can’t people hear and see how hard talking is for me?! Is this person REALLY not even trying to listen?” Even my husband continually asked me to repeat myself. Are you fucking kidding? It was kind of a big deal for me to get those words out the first time, at all!

Then, though, those few times he did try to help tell my story, when asked when and how “it” happened, he kept describing this happening in “a yoga class.”  I had been saying (accurately) that I’d been in an intensive yoga teacher training for the prior two and a half weeks.  Being “in a yoga class” sounds pretty different “an intensive teacher training lasting weeks”, which is what I was trying to get him to say. Even so, though, I couldn’t point to a specific event that happened in training, I could only report that I’d been doing yoga intensively for two and a half weeks and yes, had done more aggressive postures, and for much more time, than I usually do. But saying this happened to me “in a yoga class” was just way, way off the mark and really seemed to me to convey the wrong impression. Writing this up, though, I wonder if I over-reacted? I do think he should have expressed himself differently but I guess I was pretty agitated that day. Which may be understandable…

I also couldn’t swallow, remember, and that got pretty uncomfortable, with saliva pooling in my mouth. Before too long, they gave me a suction wand, like they use at the dentist. Everyone was lighthearted about it but later, they made a big deal about needing and having to use a suction wand, and that that evidenced what rough shape I was in. I guess being lighthearted about it at the time was to keep me from worrying, but honestly it made me think my situation was not that uncommon or that big of a deal.

In the ER I met with person after person after person, and had to keep retelling my story to each and every one of them. This got exhausting and frustrating, went on over several hours, and looking back I’m wondering why I wasn’t getting any actual medical care sooner. After a few hours, I think, I finally got a CT scan, and that got read pretty quickly and then we finally got somewhere: the ER doc came in and said the CT scan showed that I had bissected my right vertebral artery. I can’t remember if it was this doc or the neurosurgeon I saw later that told me that I had actually injured the artery in three different places. The ER doc told me the most common source of this injury to this artery was through chiropractic adjustment of the cervical spine (the cervical spine is basically the neck portion of the spine; crazily, I had just learned about the spine for the first time in yoga teacher training).  He said this also sometimes happens to “little old ladies” at the hairdressers, hanging their heads over the shampoo bowls.  So keep that in mind!

I had no idea, though, how I injured it! Not just once, but three different times, and once bad enough to bissect the artery!?  I instantly recalled a class where we as we held a pose, we were looking up and back, and the teacher told us to look back one more ceiling tile, i.e., hyperextend our necks a little bit more. I remembered doing handstand prep and telling the teacher I felt weight on my neck, because I thought you weren’t supposed to; she replied, “you will.” Was that it? I recalled doing a shoulder stand and getting assistance to get higher into the shoulder stand – I was in more like half should stand on my own. And then I held there. Was that one of the injuries? I recalled doing plow pose, which I don’t usually do these days, and holding it for a bit. We did fish pose one day, and I held that for a while, and I really haven’t done that asana much in the past year.  Was that it? Who knows?

I met with a nurse practitioner as one of this stream of people and I think it was her that told me that, as a result of the injuries to the vertebral artery, I had had a PICA stroke. She told me this was an unusual type of stroke, with different symptoms than a “classic” stroke because the PICA artery is bilateral, i.e., meaning it operates on both sides of the body, so you don’t have the more classic stroke symptom of arm or leg weakness on just one side of the body. Also, the location of the PICA stroke being on the back (posterior) of the brain was different than a classic stroke, which apparently happens in the front of the brain. This means it causes different symptoms, and this was why the F-A-S-T test didn’t really pick up the stroke symptoms, and when I googled PICA stroke later I found an article mentioning how the classic F-A-S-T stroke test just isn’t very “sensitive” to detecting a PICA stroke. Essentially, it requires some expertise and observation of the symptoms by a health care professional with experience with this type of stroke. Also apparently one symptom of the PICA stroke is the hiccups!  And also the nausea and vomiting, which I had had both in my initial “event” and overnight.

I had arrived at the ER around 2 pm, and finally ended up getting transfer orders to get admitted and moved into the hospital at a little after 7:00. It was a long five-plus hours, with telling and re-telling my story, repeating myself, correcting my husband, being unable to swallow, etc.  But between all these things, there was also a lot of down time, a lot of waiting, so I spent a lot of time on my cell phone checking Facebook, playing games, looking at Instagram, etc. It was kind of a surreal combination of the completely mundane and the mind-bendingly novel.

I wasn’t just admitted to the hospital then, I was admitted to the Neurology and Stroke ICU. This was all kind of freaking me out. On the one hand, I’m my normal self checking Facebook, but on the other, I can’t swallow, and when I stand up, I can’t really walk. It really was a strange and disorienting combination of completely normal parts of life and completely abnormal new activities, peppered all along with people regularly looking at me with horror. I couldn’t understand.  Also, I hadn’t slept at all the night before (what with the dizziness, nausea, vomiting, hiccuping, etc.) and this added to my low mood and exhaustion.

Sometime around the time I was being moved to the ICU, I began to be able to swallow again. I hadn’t eaten in about 24 hours and I was hungry! I asked if I could get something to eat and was initially told yes, but then was told no by the neurology doc or nurse practitioner. They needed to see me first. Ugh!

I met with the doctor and nurse practitioner a litte later and they “authorized” a milkshake, so my husband went out to McDonald’s and got me one. It was great, I was really hungry and it hit the spot, and it was also (I won’t lie) a comfort food on a very uncomfortable day. Later I looked up the nutrition facts and learned that that large strawberry shake has 130 grams of carbs in it. I would NEVER have guessed the carb count was so high! Lesson learned. If faced with getting a milkshake again, I’ll definitely get a smaller one.  It was the only thing I ate all day, but still, that kind of sugar level is not what I want for myself, especially in a state of distress, meaning my body needs NUTRIENTS not garbage, which is what sugar is.  If only I’d had some protein powder to toss in, then it might have been redeemed a tiny amount — there’s only 11 gram of protein in this shake, which to me is a shameful, tiny speck of protein compared to the utterly whopping level of carbs.  In case you occasionally indulge in this, be aware.  I know I will be.

My lunch date yesterday

I had my first (and I hope last) post-stroke follow-up CT angioscan yesterday, making this beast my lunch date:

My doctor’s appointment is a week from yesterday to go over the CT results.  I’m hoping we’ll be seeing blood flow back in my PICA and vertebral arteries!

My body and weight are kind of crazy.  The vacation “gain” is actually seriously kind of crazy, way more than what I usually gain, and especially considering I really wasn’t eating all that differently from when I was in the hospital and had numerous off-template foods – somewhere between every other day to 75% of the time, I’m estimating.  Also it wasn’t so different from other vacations, which also involved off-template foods, or more frequent booze, yet which involved less (and sometimes NO) weight gain.  Despite numerous forays off my food template in the hospital, my weight was the same at the start as at the end, 176.6.  Then, when I got home and was eating better, I somehow gained about a pound a day for several days, then I stabilized for a couple days, and then on vacation was gaining on average a pound a day again.  These are just enormous gains for me!  I have never had weight fluctuations like this.  

About half of the vacation gain came back off, but them some came on again, so I’ve been sitting at 184.6 for several days now.  My body LOOKS different, my clothes are fitting different, clearly I have had real weight gain though honestly I’m living on my low-carb template.  Certainly I’m more compliant than I was while in the hospital, yet I somehow weigh almost 10 lbs more?!  This is really frustrating.  I honestly don’t think this gain is justified, and all I can think is that, after a trauma to the brain, which I had, all bets must be off.  My body must just be recalibrating, but it’s still really frustrating.

Or the gain could be a delayed reaction to that temporary increase in carbs?  I just don’t know.  But the gain is big, much bigger than the food change.  I suspect that more complex body chemistry is going on for me right now, though I know this is hopeful.  My point is I’m not in denial.  I’ve cut the extra carbs back out, yet the weight is holding strong.  My body is just definitely behaving differently from usual.  And differently than it ever has before, weight-wise.  I am in new territory.  And it’s hostile!

The reason I had added more carbs was a rational one, not a “momentary weakness” one, that made due to contemplating my A1C reading: I realized I had had a low, and great, A1C not long after the move, when I had had a period of *weeks* of having had more off-template foods.  (A1C is an estimation of your average blood glucose level for the prior couple-few months.). That got me to thinking that higher carbs actually led to a lower, better A1C for me – meaning, a better blood sugar level generally.  And, now, actually, I have a possible recent reconfirmation of that, as they took my A1C while I was in the hospital (about a month ago) and it was a little higher.  It still wasn’t bad, but being higher was weird to me as I’d been eating much more consistently on-template for the couple months before that.  Then, as it happens, I had to have it taken last week again, which was the week after vacation and within the month after being hospitalized, both of which involved more carbs, and yet my A1C went down again.  So, I almost feel like my A1C is telling my that a little more carbs is actually better for my blood glucose.  But my weight is suggesting the opposite!  And of course the conventional advice is the opposite, but my results are what they are.  And, I do remind myself: weight is hormonally controlled, and there are all kinds of hormones that affect it, and I’ve had a freaking BRAIN INJURY. Which is still healing.  It seems possible if not likely that hormonal levels were and are affected, and that’s where this extra weight is coming from.  

It’s a reasonable theory, and, but, I’m going to continue to watch this, CLOSELY, keep eating l0w-carb as that’s what’s worked for me for all this time, and hope for healing and improvement in my weight.

One other thing I realize that I’ve changed recently is adding artificial sweeteners back into my diet, modestly.  Maybe that’s the problem?  Something to think about.  

My Stroke: What Happened, Part 1.

I am writing up a detailed recounting of how my stroke went down.  I’d love to create a short version at some point, and maybe I’ll be able to in the future, but right now I really can’t.  I can only do the detailed version, and it’s taking me some time.  Here is the first part:

Tuesday, August 30. It’s 1:00, we just finished our one-hour lunch break and I’m preparing for my assigned class of “assisting” that afternoon’s master yoga class, by giving posture assistances to students.  I’m jealous of the students taking the class, actually, because it’s a restorative yoga class, which I crave.  It’s been an  intense 2 and a half weeks up to this point, I’m kind of exhausted, so I’m jealous because I really want to TAKE this class!  I say so to a class mate.   Later she jokes that she thought I might be faking because I had said this.

As class begins, I’m feeling really hot, and I figure it must be the room.  And, I am frequently hot – in life generally, and in this yoga training especially.  I figure it’s just me and sigh, and hope my deodorant does it’s job as I am going to be kneeling very close to and even directly over my fellow teacher training students to assist them!

About 10 minutes into the class.  I’m feeling hotter.  I become very dizzy.  I am in the middle of giving arm, hand and head adjustments to a student – I am feeling so dizzy I think I need to stop, but I don’t want to skip doing her right hand when I’ve done her left.  Then, I want to “finish her” by doing her head; I don’t want to leave her hanging because I’m feeling dizzy.  Her name is Hannah.  I am so, so dizzy, and so hot, but I finish with her and escape to a kneeling seat on my shins, my body resting on my thighs, kneeling behind Hannah.  I am incredibly dizzy, incredibly hot – to the point of dripping sweat, and my mind just keeps saying, “Something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s really wrong.”  I realize I am going to have to leave the room.

I get the other assister’s attention and signal that I’m leaving.  She hurries to follow me out.  I tell her what’s going on and she says she can see how bad I am, and how much I am sweating.  I fear she thinks I am faking.  I am extremely dizzy and can not walk without grabbing for the wall.   She asks if I want her to call 911.  How do I answer?  How should I know if I need this?  It feels bad, I feel bad, but how do I know if something is ambulance-worthy?  I tell her no, let’s see if this passes.  I hope it passes.

I sit on the bench for a while right outside the door, waiting for the dizziness, and heat, and sweating, to pass.  They don’t.  I feel awful.  Something’s wrong.  I try to walk down to the main hall but have a hard time doing it – as I walk, everything is careening to the left.  I grab the wall to my left to make it down the hallway.  I get to the end and I’m feeling nauseous, so I head into the bathroom.  There is a little stool in there – thank goodness! – so I can pull it up to a toilet and just rest with this nausea.  I vomit.  This is unusual for me – I never vomit.  Something’s wrong.  I’m so hot.  I’m crazy dizzy.  I’m nauseous.  I may have vomited again.  After a bit I got up and laid on the little bench in the bathroom (there’s a bench in there, hooray!!!).  I think about the class I’m missing, how I’m supposed to be assisting the students, and how I’m failing to do that job while resting here in the bathroom.  I worry that people will think I am faking.  I wait for the heat and dizziness to pass, but they still don’t.

I go back into the hall when the nausea has mostly passed, but walking makes me nauseous again, so much so that I kind of fall down, and lay down on my back in the hall.  As I look up at the ceiling the room is spinning.  It’s making me more nauseous.  Oh, God.  Something is wrong.  Why isn’t this passing?!  I drink some water and get up onto the bench and lay on my side.  That’s a little better.  I wait for the heat, and dizziness, and nausea to pass, hope they will pass, and I think more on how I need to get back into that yoga room and do my job of assisting.  I am cheating my fellow assister out of my support, and the yoga students out of the assisting they’re supposed to be getting.  I wonder how long it will take for me to feel better.

People come out of the yoga room. The class is over.  My lead instructor and some fellow students ask how I’m doing, pat my arm, and are gentle with me.  I’m OK.  The heat has mostly passed.  I’m not nauseous anymore, but I don’t feel great.  I feel off.  Something still feels wrong.  The rules of yoga teacher training are, though, that you have to be in the room for training.  I have to go back in.  My teacher will help me make a nice nest (and my fellow assister helps with this also) but I have to go back in, or make this class up at a later teacher training session.  So, I go back into the class but stay curled up in a blanket in my nest the whole afternoon.  For part of the class, everyone gets up and does yoga postures, but my teacher tells me I don’t have to.  I still participate orally.  A classmate buys me a coconut water.  I feel grateful, but also bad, and I want to reimburse her.

That afternoon, I’m feeling mostly better.  My heat, nausea, dizziness and vomiting fade to a slight residual headache and vague residual dizziness, but I am able to drive myself to eat dinner and then to my temporary home for the week with several of the other yoga teacher training students.  I text my husband that I had a weird sick out incident that afternoon, and we text about it a little, but I tell him think I’m mostly feeling better.  I do some homework for a couple hours.

About 9 pm, the dizziness starts returning.  I can’t really walk without holding onto a wall again.  I call my husband and tell him I’m feeling badly again.  He was sick when I was home over the weekend, so we wonder if I’m getting what he had.  We decide I should try to get a good night’s sleep and see if that helps.  I try that, but my dizziness gets progressively worse.  I really should have told him this; he really didn’t get it or know what I was going through.  I walked out to the main area of the house and saw one of my housemates, Callie.  I tell her the dizziness is worse and she asks me if I could be having a stroke.  No!  I do NOT WANT to be having a stroke.  This can’t be a stroke.  Plus, I don’t have any weakness on one side.  Isn’t that what a stroke is? We wonder if it’s just stress, not sleeping the night before, my husband’s illness, etc.  I rest in my room a while, knowing I really need to do more homework.  I kept feeling physically bad, though, and I’m not able to do any work (or God forbid any yoga), so I turn out the lights and got into bed.  In the dark, the dizziness gets so bad the room is spinning.  I have to turn the lights on to try to stop the spinning, and to rest.

It’s a dizzy, fitful night, and I really don’t sleep at all.  I become nauseous; the bathroom is around the corner and up and down a one-step landing, but I don’t want to have to travel all that way feeling so bad, so I bring my trash can by my med so I can vomit into it.  I vomit a number of times.  My door is closed.  I know my housemates (other yoga teacher training students) are worried about me.  When I hear them getting up for the day – early, about 5:30 am because that’s how yoga teacher training goes – I open my door and call to them, and tell them what’s going on.  We google the test for a stroke: it’s F-A-S-T.  “F” is for facial droop. We all analyze my face and feel like there may be a tiny bit of droop on the right, but it’s hard to say honestly.  “A” is for arm or leg weakness, especially on one side.  I hold both arms out, and we don’t see any sign of weakness.  S is slurred speech.  Nope, my speech is fine.  Callie asks me to repeat a simple phrase she creates; I do, there are no apparent issues, so we don’t think “T” is triggered (“T” is for time to call 911).

Callie encourages me to at least drink some water, that it’s always good to hydrate, and I do, a few swallows.  She and Melanie empty my trash can for me, and replace it by my bed.  Unfortunately the bag breaks, letting vomit onto the floor and they go to clean it up.  I feel physically awful, and now I feel horrible that I am starting their strenuous day this week.  I also feel gratitude for their care though.  I’m glad I’m here with classmates rather than at an anonymous AirBnB, dealing with this essentially alone.  I can’t go to school this morning, they’re going to have to go without me and will tell the lead instructor what’s going on.  Maybe I’ll be able to be there by the afternoon?

The class starts at 8:00; at 8:05 my lead instructor calls me to check in.  I am hoarse at this point, and tell her I’m not doing so well.  I ask for information for the local urgent care, as I may need to go, and she gives it to me.  She still seems chill, though, like maybe I’ll be able to return that afternoon.  I lay back down to rest.  I feel like utter shit.  At 9:20 our maid service calls, and I text with my husband about it.  This prompts me to get up and see how my legs are doing.  Still not so great, but I make it to the kitchen.  Someone bought donuts yesterday, and I decide this is a good time for me to make an exception to my “no sugar, no grains” practice, and have a little damn donut.  I cut half a donut, bite into it and chew.  Kind of stale, but OK.  I go to swallow and can’t.  It feels like I’m drowning, oh shit, like I might choke on this donut!  I have to spit it out, into the sink.  What the hell is going on?!  I try another bite, and again can’t swallow.  I spit it out.  I try to drink some coffee to wash things down but, again, I can’t swallow.  OK, now I know I need medical attention.  I call my husband and tell him I need medical intervention, let’s discuss what I should do.  I learn that I’m super hoarse when I go to talk to him.  He asks me if I can drive myself to the clinic!  Clearly I have not communicated how bad this is!  I tell him, um, no, I can’t even walk.  He’s just starting to get how bad I am.  He’s only an hour away so he will leave work and come up, and bring me to a clinic.  I wait in bed. I do a guided meditation for healing at some point that morning, feverishly (or foolishly) hoping I can help my body heal.

Track steps to health and wellness, but not to weight loss.

Fitbit seems to be the latest fashion accessory.  Even at yoga teacher training, I was surprised to see fitness trackers on so many wrists.  Among a professional crowd, which is where I usually find myself, a Fitbit seems to be the latest fashion accessory, one that quietly affirms one’s fitness intentions and hence, to my mind, even one’s implied moral value, since you’re conveying an image of trying, and caring, and investing in, and monitoring, health and wellness markers like steps, activity levels, calorie burn and even sleep.

And that’s all fine.  But, I personally haven’t given in to it.  To me, it’s just another gadget priced at the point to get you to say, “why not.”  Another toy to part you with a bit of your money.  A fad, really.  Also the privacy issues are what stopped me cold (I won’t be waiving my privacy to everywhereIgoallthetime, thank you very much.)  But, the peer pressure does quietly mount, when most people around you are wearing one, and you aren’t.  Does your naked wrist say, “I don’t care!  Fuck it!  All the Twinkies and laziness are MINE!!!!”  If so, I don’t really like that very much, but, I’m willing to live with it.

And, but, if you’re wearing one of those things to lose weight, just be sure you know that a study just out shows that people who wear fitness trackers lose less weight, and then re-gain more weight, than people who don’t use this technology.  One summary story here, and the link to the study itself (published in JAMA) is here.

I’m personally struggling with lower energy levels than I had before “all this” (yoga teacher training + injury leading to stroke + 9-day hospital stay), but I’m still exercising regularly.  Just not as much as before.  I guess I’m still working back up to it.

I’m also writing up my stroke story, and it’s taking me a little time, as writing it up becomes reliving it.  It’s a little too detailed but, for myself, I kind of want to capture all those details.

I’ll also write up my yoga teacher training.  It was so amazing, and so uplifting and inspiring, that it was just such a shame to then wind up in the hospital for 9 days, which squashed the ability to carry that “lift” with me.  I carried it for a while, but it just faded under the weight of the stroke and hospital stay.  I hope to return October 18-21 to finish yoga teacher training, and I hope to pick that lift back up in preparation for that finishing period and also as part of it.

My weight is slowly fading back down.  Basically it went up a little over a pound a day (averaging) on vacation, and thankfully it’s been coming back down a bit over a pound a day.  I hope that continues til the whole damn gain is erased!  That level of gain was and is a real shocker.  One thing I have to admit, this body is GOOD at stockpiling weight!  It’s also pretty good at responding to a stroke, though, so I have a newfound awe and respect for my body that I’m trying to remember, and hold.

Back from vacation, and getting back to normal post-stroke. 

We had a great time on vacation last week, which was a beach trip near Charleston, SC. With that location, in addition to the beach, we got to enjoy Charleston a little also. It was our first time there and we loved it.

On the beach, our first day: 

Our tour guide at an interesting spot in Charleston: 

At the semi-famous Angel Oak, outside of Charleston: 

My stepdaughter joined my husband and so it was a family week. We all really needed this beach week and together time after my stroke, which was a real medical scare. Also, it was actually really good for me to take an exercise break also, and a life break, and just continue to rest and recover. 

I ate more off-plan than I ever have since going low carb (which was first just lowER carb), over 2.5 years ago. And, I had the biggest vacation gain I’ve ever had!!!  I left weighing 179.8 and came home and weighed in at 187.2. I gained a hair more than a pound per day!  This was off the charts and has me sober in more ways than one.  I’m remembering each and every off-plan thing and regretting some of them. I’m definitely reconsidering my pre-vacation decision to have more carbs, including allowing in some sugar. I’m getting back to low-carb basics and taking a vacation from alcohol altogether this week. I’m also getting back to exercise (didn’t do much of that at all on vaca), but I’m also trying to be conscious of just easing into it. 

Happy Monday! 

Getting back to normal

I was finally released from the hospital last Friday evening, after 9 days there.  Really not fun to have that happen.  When I got home I had essentially been gone 4 weeks, with three short, 36-hour breaks that involved unpacking, laundry, re-packing, decompressing, trying to catch up on some sleep, etc.  What this means: it’s been a long past month.

My husband found a good link on the same thing that happened to me, as reported by Yoga Journal a few years ago, here.

This week, I’m trying to gently ease back into my normal before we have a vacation at the beach next week. I did a 45-minute strength training class Monday, a 45-minute walk yesterday, a 45-minute step class + 15-minute core class today (I did a fair amount of the moves “off the bench”, on the floor, as it felt like a bit too much), plus lots of house cleaning and errand running every day.

From this schedule, you can see that, physically, I’m back at around at least 90%.

My weight has been weird.  Pre-YTT, it had been hovering around 180-181.  In YTT it dropped to 176.6.  In the hospital I had some carbs – a milkshake, twice!  A chocolate croissant (shared).  Some comfort foods like that.  Yet I came home still weighing 176.6.  Believe it or not I had exercised in my room some days, but not nearly enough to offset the sedentary hospital life, including two days of for-real bed rest.

Yet, since I’ve been home, my weight’s gone up every day, averaging over a pound a day, til I arrived back at 181.2 today.  I find this so weird.

I have one idea what this weight gain may be, and it’s peanuts.  I thought I did fine on them, but it’s one food I really haven’t had for the past month, but I have had them daily since I’ve been home.  Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that simple?  We’ll see.

Yoga teacher training got me like…

Yup, it put me in the hospital.  Neuro trauma ICU, in fact. I apparently am a very rare and delicate flower, one who can seriously damage her vertebral artery, doing YOGA. 

This caused me to have a PICA stroke, a rare type of stroke. 

I missed the last 3 days of YTT and have been in the hospital since August 31. 

Crazy, right?  

But, not unheard of.  Here’s a Yoga Journal article my husband found about this very injury, which most often occurs due to chiropractic adjustment of the cervical spine (but even then is still very rare, like 1 in 100,000 people rare). 

Lucky me!  /sarc

I’ve been on blood thinners while the clot (caused by the damaged artery, to heal it) breaks up and blood flow to my brain (gulp) restores, and I should be released today or tomorrow. 

Crazy, right?!

It’s here. 

I’ve been at yoga teacher training for a week, and will be for another two weeks. 

Here’s my temporary home for this period: 

The program is very intended and challenging, but also just incredible. They tell you in advance that it will change you and my reaction to that was basically, “nah, no thanks, I’m not looking for that.”  But it is changing me, and I love it so I am embracing and not resisting. 

There is so much positive energy and support here. It really inspires me to carry it out into the world. 

And the meditation?  I’m actually really getting something out of it. I resented and resisted the idea at first, but now I’m enjoying it and even craving it a little. 

Oh and my weight dropped 4.5 pounds (!) which does not suck at all. Eating is different here, but also really not that different – just lighter suppers, mainly. That seemed to work for me weight-wise on our last vacation also. Something to think about. 

Have a great week. Namaste. 🕉