At the age of 18 I found myself in a wheelchair, the excruciating pain I was in made it unbearable to walk. After six months of attending doctor appointments, getting MRIs, CAT scans, blood tests, and using a wheelchair, crutches, and braces to help me walk, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The doctors I was seeing immediately put me on generous amounts of medication – painkillers, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and sleeping agents. All of these medications combined helped to mask my symptoms for years while at the same time, produced various symptoms of their own. I was constipated, irritable, my short-term memory ceased to function, I developed medication-induced epilepsy, I was losing and gaining weight according to my current medications, and most importantly, I was suicidal. The pain was too much for me to handle and all the drugs only seemed to exacerbate the problem. I was desperate for a way to survive.
I started doing bikram yoga when I was 21; my mom had done research on it and thought I should give it a try. At that point, I was willing to try anything. I truly struggled when I first started doing yoga, my medications made me extremely sensitive to the heat triggering my epilepsy and the exhaustive, agonizing nature of Fibromyalgia made every posture insufferable. Despite all of this, I kept going to yoga because every once and a while, I would not feel pain after class. One month in to my practice, I needed emergency surgery for unrelenting abdominal pain. As it turns out, I simply had endometriosis. I had to stop doing yoga after my surgery because I could not walk, let alone drive to the studio. And about a month after my surgery, my body started to reject the medications I had been feeding it for years. I was vomiting everything I ate, I ran a fever over 100 for days at a time, I was constantly experiencing muscle spasms and seizures; I honestly wanted to die.
My parents took me to go see my FM doctor in the summer of 2009 (I was still 21) and I begged my doctor with tears in my eyes to take me off ALL of my medications. Before I was ever diagnosed, I never even took ibuprofen!! I hardly ever took medicine my whole life and then suddenly, I lived off it. My doctor agreed to end all my medications, however, he was worried that I would not be able to cope with the pain. I had been researching FM for years now and I had an idea of what I would do regarding pain management.
For starters, I moved to Arizona to be in the dry heat, I regulated my sleeping habits, and changed my diet to a 75% raw diet. Adding to all this, I started doing bikram yoga 7 days a week. It took me 6 months to withdrawal from all my medications completely and the side effects were not pretty, however, yoga helped me to deal with them. Bikram yoga was my saving grace, it gave me a place to mediate, a place to heal, a place to relax, and it taught me to love my body for all that its given me. I am off all of my medications now, I no longer have any seizures, I do not end up in the hospital every time I get my period, and I no longer want to die to escape the pain. Doing yoga every day allows me to live my life as close to a “normal” person as possible and for that, I will be forever grateful.
I will finish this testimonial with a quote that I live by and essentially sums up my story: “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” B.K.S. Iyengar