Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Yoga vindicated!

So, what seemed to be pack pain exacerbated by yoga turned out to be back pain, period. My third yoga class following a pain-free hiatus and two subsequent painful classes was ... pain-free! Thank goodness. The prospect of life without yoga hardly seemed worth living. Really.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Crisis of faith

I'm having a crisis of faith. You see, I have a couple of herniated disks and over the summer I did something that exacerbated one of them. My physical therapist encouraged me to continue yoga while he helped me get the pain under control. And after a month or two, the pain was under control—but still present. Then I went to California to visit the 'rents, and I got the flu, and I stopped doing yoga for a couple of weeks—and the pain went away. Delighted, I headed back to yoga two days ago, and the pain returned. Went back again yesterday, and the pain got worse. As a true believer, I think yoga is the answer to every question the universe poses. So I'm going back to yoga today, and if it puts me in a wheelchair, well, by god, I'll do wheelchair yoga. But I do wonder what I'm doing wrong, and how I can do it right. Giving up yoga is not an option.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Things that go bump in the night

One of the awful aspects of having a life-threatening disease is the constant awareness of death and the overwhelming significance it lends to ordinary activities. I remember when I was a kid hearing the word deathbed for the first time and being delighted by the possibilities. My elder brother and I spent a hilarious afternoon coming up with silly death terms: If deathbed was where you died, then deathpanties were what you wore to die in, and deathtoilet was where you had your last elimination, and deathfood was your last meal, and deathjuice your last drink, and so forth. It was excruciatingly funny to a 5-year-old.

But it's not so funny to a 50-something. One of the things I fear about the possibility of getting a diagnosis that my cancer has metastasized isn't so much the shortening of my life, though I fear that, or the pain, though I fear that a lot, but the unremitting awareness that each action might be my last—the last book I read, the last letter I write, the last thought I utter, the last movie I see—and the heavy responsibility of choosing well and making it count. All that hyperconsciousness and hyperconscientiousness would take the haphazard pleasures out of the end of life and make the whole thing so damn stressful.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lazy woman's yoga

Two random thoughts about yoga slacking:

1. I've been told that just being in a room where people are practicing yoga confers many of the benefits of practicing it yourself. In my experience, you don't even have to be in the room. You can turn on the tube. On mornings when I get ready for work with Inhale (Oxygen channel) playing, I lose that too-early-in-the-morning, empty-stomach, unpleasantly jazzed-up feeling and begin my day on a more copacetic note.

2. Though I hate it when I am forced to take a break from yoga, as I am these past two weeks because of my visit to San Francisco and a cold, and feel I'm losing hard-won progress, I've noticed that a hiatus from the physical practice typically results in greater limberness. Go figure.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Consoling words

The aged, demented mother of my downstairs neighbor died over the holiday weekend. My neighbor's young daughter, in the middle of exams at her veterinary school in Grenada, was distressed that she was unable to come home for her grandmother's funeral. It's no big deal, my neighbor told her daughter. "If she'd been a dog, we would have put her down five years ago."