It's been exactly one week since I've written.
Funny, it feels like longer and also like less time has gone by. So much has happened in the short week.
Well the procedure went well, it was a very "wam bam thank you ma'm" kind of experience. Next time I will request that they have me count down before knocking me out or even starting the process. You know, just a little warning like: Hey, you're about to go unconscious in 3-2-1, darkness. Rather than me cracking jokes and suddenly I was powered down, no warning.
Maybe they just get a kick out of doing that, I'm sure it was funny to watch.
Anyway, the first few hours were the most challenging. It felt like I got stabbed and the knife was still in.
Then I remembered that I did basically get stabbed and this is what it feels like.
The first day was great overall-it wasn't as truly horrible as I expected, the second day my body decided that fluids shouldn't be in the system.
After 3 hours of not holding down anything, I was to weak to argue with my parents not to go to the ER.
Luckily, a bag of fluids in my arm and nausea medication + hours later and I was on my way home. Blood work checked out OK and things got better after that. They changed my medication and I haven't had a problem since. Let's hope it stays that way.
This entire healing experience has been quite a trip, I just don't how else to put it. There is something funny about this whole wounded warrior feeling I've been having. Nothing ever makes me slow down, this is so new, yet I know I will be better and stronger in the end. I've had to surrender a lot and accept the fact that I really did need my parents. I needed them more than I could have ever imagined before this last week.
They have been so good to me and so strong and nothing else could have been OK. I feel so blessed and lucky to have both of my parents still with me. So much of me has wrestled with being in Las Vegas (as usual) and now I am simply humbled and feel like I know nothing. Seriously, I don't know anything...I have so much to learn.
I have my follow up appointment this Friday. Looking forward to that..doctor said she'd have pictures! Should be interesting.
I really miss me a yoga class right now.
Oh and another thing.
Yesterday I had a powerful experience and that has completely reawakened my intentions with eating and food consciousness.
Today was the new moon in Gemini and I really felt the "new beginning" energy. I cleaned out my fridge and cooked some fresh veggies with salmon. I hope to continue with this energy, maybe THIS is my new yoga too :)
Well here I am..the night before the surgery.
It hasn't even happened and I am already trying to forget lol.
The mind is such a funny thing, I learned so much over the last decade practicing/teaching and I know that the fluctuations of the mind are just that.
Fluctuations. They come and go, sometimes they linger, some make us happy, some make us cry, some we want to remember and some we are so ready to forget.
I've experienced a lot of fear, frustration and even thoughts of death this past week. It was like a roller coaster. So so afraid of the unknown. Knives cutting into me, stitches, blood guts, ugh!!
Along with that, trying to figure out where I went wrong, what could I have done differently in my life to prevent this?
What is the lesson being taught? What is it that I need to learn?
Regret isn't one of them that's for sure. It tried knocking on my door, but I dismissed it right away..there is no room for you here.
My mind wants to find regrets see, it looks for them. Maybe I should have stayed with that guy..or that other one..he definitely wanted babies. If I would have had a baby by now my uterus wouldn't be so upset lol. Yes..insane and embarrassing as this is to share, it's true. It is the mind and body of a 34 year old childless woman who's biological clock is ticking and the physical body is struggling to understand the mind. They have not yet synched up and several things will need to happen after tomorrow.
Mind and body must integrate: The female reproductive system is about creating, creation, birth, bringing something new into the world. Where creative energy is blocked, there could be blockages in the female physical form..if that energy is not being properly released.
(it is worth mentioning in case you don't know. Fibroids in particular are most common for women ages 27 who have not had children, there is certainly a demographic that is at a higher risk of being affected by this)
I've had more than enough time to reflect and analyze and of course, my situation is my personal situation, however, I have learned much along the way. I've learned from books written by doctors, stories told by women, family history from my mother, and many other channels.
Many things align, different philosophies and ways of seeing the human form. Dr. Susan Lark was the first author who really called me forth to think about creative energy being blocked. She was also the first one to help me see that endometriosis, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts all seem to come together at some point or another. Not for all women, but for many. I happen to be one of those women who has/had all 3.
My doctor here in Las Vegas helped me see how doctors over the years had told me that strong periods were OK, and they're really not. It's a very common issue, particularly in such a male dominated field and also simply because unless you specialize in women's health, you really don't have the capacity to see all that factors that could be at play. Most doctors work under a process of elimination idea and today a friend told me she had her gallbladder removed before they discovered her endometriosis. She went through so much just to get a diagnose.
I feel really fortunate to have amazing doctors, a mother and father by my side. My brothers and their children. I feel supported, I know I'm supposed to be here.
I hope I heal and grow from this experience and help others in the end. Thank you for reading. I appreciate all of your support and love even from the distance. Namaste
Join me at Blue Sky Yoga this week Thursday 5/15 @12pm and Friday 5/16 for Ashtanga Primary Series @7pm!!
Check out their full schedule and other details at www.blueskyyogalv.com
These are the last classes on the schedule for now...hopefully I'll be teaching again in July or mid June if recovery goes well! Namaste!
Enjoy this lovely image from Arroyo Hondo, NM..just north of Taos...beautiful place!
Well..I've spent all day rearranging my space in preparation for surgery. Our home lacks the adequate AC, so I'm consolidating myself into the one room that has AC. It's a slow process, but I got a lot done today. I have help coming over this weekend and the bed will be moved, the last of the heavy stuff.
I'm really nervous about it all but ready to handle this business.
I'm extremely stressed out emotionally so I made the decision to shut off my facebook account. I'd rather hear from the people that read this and have my email and phone number than get swallowed in the vastness of information that is facebook.
I had an awesome conversation with my dear friend Kelly who is expecting a baby girl in late August. It's really inspiring to see my friend grow into a new mom. It's so exciting! I hope I can be there for the birth.
As of now the plan it to return to SIUC in the fall and complete my Master's degree in science. The funding finally came through and I'll have an assistantship, the position I always wanted.
I hope I can assist in Weather, Climate and Society or Meteorology. Those are my favorite classes.
If all goes well that is the plan, however I have to keep an open mind to that fact that this may change. My mom is a priority in my life and family health will always lead the way. Although it was my mom who pushed me to apply and continue on this path.
I couldn't be any more grateful for her.
I could use a hand around here May 23 and 24. I plan on reaching out to some friends to make this happen.
Please send positive thoughts this way..I'm very nervous, scared and I miss my other family in Illinois oh sooooo much.
Thanks for your support :)
I'd like start out with a big THANK YOU to everyone for taking to time to read this and dropping me lines of support.
This is exactly what I have been needing. So many of you have been reaching out and sharing your stories, it means soooo much to me.
It's been really hard to come out in the open about this. There is this false belief I've been carrying around: I'm a yoga teacher...I should be uber healthy...I can't tell people something is wrong!! What will they think?!.
Of course I know that "what people think" doesn't really matter, but since I arrived to Las Vegas I have been working hard to prove that I am a good yoga teacher dedicated to my practice and my students etc. The thought of moving backwards in that process has been pretty daunting. But ultimately I'm human...the human body manifests things that we must deal with and it's never perfect.
Along this ride I've realized that women struggling with these issues need a platform, support...somehow come together and share. If doctors say this is so common, then why have so many of us (myself included) never heard of this before?
I've been wanting to do a workshop geared for women dealing with endometriosis, ovarian cysts and fibroid tumors. There are gentle poses and of course pranayama (breathing exercises ) that can help.
I have also been taking Yarrow in tea form and I need to restock Cramp Bark, a tincture that is added to water and helps with cramping muscles.
In mentioning the great doctor I am working with. I dug up a video I found of her last fall. The main doctor, Dr. Volker operated on my mom 4 years ago. Turns out not only are they the best in town, but I'm soooo lucky to be working with a team of people that focus specifically on minimally invasive surgery. Here's the video if you are interested, my doctor is Dr. Pedroso:
The clinic also has a facebook page, the page has pictures of the robot they use to operate with. Apparently this is cutting edge technology and the robot allows the surgeons to operate with more precision that with human hand wielding the knife.
In case you are interested or know someone else in a similar situation I do recommend this clinic. They have been amazing, my doctor does not walk out the door until ALL of my questions are answered. I feel really good about working with them. Here's the fb page:
Here's a picture of the robot...pretty crazy:
So there it is! I've done a lot of research and the success rate for this type of surgery is about 80%, I hope I fall in that higher percentage.
Also a friend asked if this would take away my ability to have children. The answer is: this should help.
Women with fibroids can have children, sometimes the fibroids grow and can twist and be painful. In other women the fibroids don't interfere at all.
In extreme cases the fibroids will grow along with the baby, I read about a case where the fibroid grew as large as the fetus and eventually baby ran out of room and the mother's health was in serious risk. She miscarried, but lived.
It's possible that I can become pregnant after this and more than likely will need a C-section. When the uterus has a deep scar it may burst during child birth, so it's best to have a C-section in that situation.
Of course that is still a ways away, but I'm researching everything because I'd like to...someday..have a baby..or two :)
I'm scared, but also grateful. I know I'm in good hands and people have come out of the woodwork to show their love and support. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Love and light, namaste.
So for the last 5 years I have been living with uterine fibroids. My good friend who is a doctor was not surprised and wrote it off as being very common she said: men get prostate cancer, women get fibroids and that's the way the world works.
So I kept at it, and kept doing what I could do.
In 2009 when I was first diagnosed I had no health insurance so Chicago Women's Health (best clinic ever), checked my blood work and found that I was anemic. If my levels were any lower they would have sent me to the hospital for an IV. My uterus was the size of a 3 month pregnancy. They suggested birth control and iron supplements. I started with the iron supplements but resisted the birth control for months until I realized that herbs and special yoga poses were not enough to alleviate the pain. I started the birth control pills several months later and in about 6 months things were moderately normal.
In 2010 I arrived to Carbondale to finish up my degree at SIU. I did about 20 minutes of yoga on a Saturday morning and then about 15 minutes of hooping..then I hit the floor. I was over come by an incredible amount of pain that paralyzed me.
I staggered back to my car and suffered for about 10 hours after that self medicating at home however I could.
I could have gone to the ER, I probably should have, but after years of no health insurance the fear of a hospital bill (even with the student insurance I was forced to purchase at the time) was too frightening to face. I did go to the doctor and after finally getting my first ultrasound they found a large ovarian cyst. The doctors assumed that I ruptured it and it would heal on its own in about 6 weeks, the same amount of time that a surgery would take to heal. They offered surgery and of course I said: no.
They were shocked that I had developed this large cyst after already being on birth control for 9 months..I was told: "this shouldn't happen". But it did and what was I to do, but slow down all of my activity.
Those of you that have known me for a long time KNOW what an active person I am and yes...these issues have been holding me back for the last 5 years.
During the rest of my time at SIU, I had an ultrasound once a year and agreed to go on a more aggressive type of birth control: Seasonale. It's a pill that you take for 3 months straight and then get your period, so you technically get 4 periods a year.
I didn't like the idea of altering my hormones that intensely at first, but my periods were soooo debilitating.
I missed work, I could barely function and needed at least 1,600mg of ibuprofen to function.
In 2011 my good friend Kelly E.F. recommended a good doctor and this doctor suspected highly that I also have endometriosis, it does run in my family (mother's side).
She offered me surgery in order to diagnose endometriosis and of course again, I said NO.
They kept finding the other smaller fibroids too over the years, one was big, but not big enough for them to worry.
So I kept going doing what I could and 2012 was probably one of the better years although I was never 100%.
In 2013 I finished school and moved back home to Las Vegas to be with my family, work, figure out what was next etc. My condition has been worsening slowly since last Fall. It is such that I can no longer hoop or take multiple yoga classes in one day. The pain is so great that I can honestly say when the Affordable Healthcare Act went into effect I signed up ASAP. I have been without health insurance since May 2013.
I have had to pleasure to connect with a great clinic here in Las Vegas that specializes in minimally invasive surgery. I met the doctor through my mom and have had a chance to get to know her. After one of my mom's visits, I pulled her aside and shared what I was going through, when she told me that they would accept Obamacare or whatever insurance I had, I was ecstatic!!
On my first visit this new doctor was (is) quite confident that I have endometriosis, I sound like a text book case she said.
So another ultrasound was ordered.
I got the results just before my birthday and I have had a hard time wrapping my head around it all.
Yes, the possibility of endometriosis is still here and they would like to operate to see and clean up excess scar tissue etc.
They discovered 4 small fibroids and one extremely large one. To give you an idea the size of the uterus is 7cm. They've detected a fibroid tumor that is 4.2 cm and is pedunculated. I had to look up the word, it means it has developed a stalk or stem and is hanging off of the left side of my uterus, the left side is the side that hurts the most.
So yea, that's my story..at a time when my good friends are having babies grow inside them, my body is growing tumors...aarrggghh. lol...I have to laugh or I'll cry.
So surgery is now unavoidable.
Also worth adding that with these pedunculated tumors the tumor can sometimes twist and cut off its own blood supply. When that happens it starts to die, my doctor suspects that this is happening inside me because of the pain.
I'm back to needing about 1600mg of Ibuprofen a day and self medication with herbs that are far more gentle on my stomach. I have also been given hydrocodone and acetaminophen, but sadly it's not really working. Either that or I'm building a tolerance, so I stopped using those for now so that I DON'T build a tolerance and the stuff can actually work when surgery time comes.
I know that in my circles of friends many of us are holistic types that will do anything to avoid Western medicine and surgery etc., so before anyone tries to suggest I don't get this surgery please try to understand that a life of pain is not a good life to live.
I can only do so much activity before I have to lay down or sit. I have been functioning at about 30-40% of my normal self.
I can't run, hoop or do much of any activity that is strenuous. Basically all the things I love.
THE GOOD NEWS: I now have great healthcare, thank you Obama. And I'm scheduled for surgery May 22.
I have decided to have all 5 tumors removed and of course whatever else they find when they go in. I've never had surgery.
I'm scared, but I'm ready to live my life again.
I'm ready to hoop, I'm ready rock, I'm ready to run again.
I've been really scared to go public about this but, I'm human...and there you have it.
They said I shouldn't teach yoga for 6 weeks after, I don't know if I can hold out that long...we'll see.
Today was incredible. It was challenging yet triumphant. During the morning, I got to be a substitute teacher for a Horticulture class at a North Las Vegas High School. It's a regular AND adult high school. It had it's challenges, but over all it was great. We got to spend time in the green house. We planted sunflowers and picked some carrots. I had an assistant Mr. Brooke, very nice man with a lot of knowledge. The most challenging part was the kids that were not engaged, but again, the work is being done, those resources are there and most of the people there are trying to graduate. I've really enjoyed the few days I've had in the public school system. It's extremely flexible and day to day so I like it. The kids are great, it's really a neat thing to experience learning and share it like that. During the day I got to reconnect with the book: Teaching Yoga by Donna Farhi. It’s a great book, not only for teachers, but also for dedicated students. It explores the teacher student relationship, ethics and boundaries. Donna is a seasoned teacher and truly comes from a place of love. She also does a fantastic job at breaking down the 8 limbs of yoga in the simplest yet meaningful ways. I’ve done several Yoga Sutra studies over the years and I enjoy the simplicity of her definitions in relation to the context of which she speaks. I’ll have to come back and share her section on mentoring. I’ve had some mentors that did not help lift my potential, instead brought me down. Her definition of mentoring was great and it addresses things I have often thought about. I can’t wait to pick up her other books.
In my reading of the sutras I was reminded of the importance of teaching them as well as the 8 limbs (Ashtanga) Yoga. I incorporated it in my class tonight. It feels good to weave and thread the deeper teachings into such asana themed classes such as Power Yoga. Regardless, the teachings create their effect on people. It’s just so beautiful. We had an amazing class. I loved the energy, I felt so grateful for each and every body there. It was great. Afterwards, a student shared with me that she had done Urdva Dhanurasana (Full unsupported back bend) all by herself for the first time EVER! I am so excited for her! She was glowing, I could just feel the energy and of course I had to remember the first time that I ever did that pose. Many things were difficult for me coming from an injured body. It took me 4 years to do a full plank Chatturanga and there are so many things I am still working on and need improvement. We all come to the practice with different challenges, strengths and weaknesses. This is what makes the practice and teaching so beautiful to me. I feel so grateful.
I’m still getting used to the shorter class styles that people prefer here in Las Vegas. In Chicago most of our Yoga classes are 1.5hours or even 1 hour 45 minutes. Sure, we had 1 hour lunch time classes, but this was the norm. In Las Vegas, aside from my Hips and Twists workshop I have not taught more than 75 min. It has been a challenge for me in many ways to minimize a class to that length of time, but I feel much better about it now than I did 6 months ago. Las Vegas is just a different pace. I am currently looking for places to teach in East Las Vegas particularly:
East of Eastern between Tropicana and up to Lake Mead. I grew up in this part of town. It feels like a forgotten part of the city. We don’t have many trees or public art. I’ve stopped by the City Council Art Commission meetings and have not been contacted by them since. I offered to volunteer, but there was no follow through.
It’s always been a dream of mine to teach kids Geography through art and mural making. I’m a big fan of Philly Mural Arts. They do large scale community Art projects, really neat stuff. Anyways, thanks for reading this. I’ll try to be better about sharing J Namaste
On Valentine's day, I had to pleasure of driving up to the Bay area with my dog and best friend. We stayed in San Rafael, it's about 20 minutes North of San Francisco.
The goal of the trip was to:
#1 check out a Yoga Teacher Training Information meeting and #2 Visit my friend Kara Zamora in Oakland.
My friend and teacher Banyan Gallagher just started a Yoga teacher training and this beautiful studio called Embrace Yoga. The information session included a free class, this was a REAL treat. Banyan and I did our first teacher training at the same studio, Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago, 2005. Since then Banyan has had to opportunity to study with Eddie and Nicki of Maya Yoga, he has traveled to India and many other countries practicing, learning and teaching.
The layers woven into the class reflected his accumulated knowledge. The class included the use of bandhas, mudras, pranayama and kriyas. So often these days you walk into a yoga class and it's purely asana, pranayama based. This is the case in my latest teachings simply because the structures in Las Vegas allow for mostly 1 hour classes which is the norm. It's taken me months to adjust to teaching such a short class. I miss working at yoga studios that include the full yoga experience.
Anyways, after the class we got to sit down and chat. Several of the people in the class were former trainees and all had amazing things to share.
I was able to point out that his style is non dogmatic and multidisciplinary. I hope I helped to inspire some folks to take it.
I wish I could take it! Driving up to the bay area once a month would be awesome, but unfortunately I don't have such resources...HOWEVER...he's got a couple more teacher trainings coming up this year in Costa Rica and Belize!
If you are looking for a great teacher and training, please check out Banyan. He's inspired me to start working on my own teacher training, one that I intend on translating to Spanish. If you ever are in the Bay area check him out, book a private or take a group class. You won't regret it! I got lots more to share about the trip and the rest of my time in the Bay area with Kara. But I gotta run....much love!
Correction. The TruFusion chapter actually began back in December when I was told by multiple people that the studio was hiring. I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Cristin Bartles who was managing at the time. We both had a deep connection to Chicago as well as Carbondale where I just spent the last 3 years at Southern Illinois University. After the madness better known as the holidays was over, I approached the studio again...and again :) until finally I was officially hired.
I can't say enough about the space and the staff. The studio is lovely, all of the staff I have met are so dedicated to what they do. There is a nice fast yet respectable pace at this studio, it feels so good to me.I'll be honest, I've always resisted the idea of hot yoga, particularly in Chicago where the normal environment would never reach such high temperatures. Here in Las Vegas it feels different since we do naturally reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit here. I decided to accept the challenge of learning hot yoga as a style and in return I have started to see the benefits and why I think people like it.
1. The sweating: my goddess, I have never sweated so much in life...but afterwards my skin clean and radiant. I drink water, shower up, eat a good meal and suddenly my energy comes back. Honestly..I've been feeling great and not nearly as wiped out as I thought I might be. It's an energizing practice. It's the 40% humidity that facilitates the sweating.
2. If you can make it through this…you can make it through ANYTHING. There is definitely a deep, profound, elevating sense of accomplishment when you finish these hot classes. Even on the days that I have to drop in to several child’s pose, or set my back knee down, or simply stand in tadasana to catch my breath. I am humbled and inspired when I finish. 3. Progress and improvement is undeniable. Especially with a set sequence like TruFire. This is also one of the reasons why I am so passionate about Ashtanga Yoga. Having a set sequence is a great way to monitor your improvement and progress. You can see and feel yourself going deeper into poses, getting stronger and breathing in that intense heat gets easier and easier.
My class today was a Hot Power Flow. I practiced with the seasoned teacher/practitioner and popular guru Martin Hinton. He is very humble yet powerful in his teachings, his class was a pleasure, I need to see what the other Hot Power Flow classes are like. I have many more to take, but it gave me an idea.
When 8:30pm finally came I had 9 people in the class. Some of them were working on binds so I offered Bird of Paradise once class started. We did a gentle warm up, then a couple of sun salutations with the "dancing warrior" sequence in between. After a deep hip opener (Dragon) I offered the bind in Side Angle (Parsvokonasana) and demonstrated Bird of Paradise. To my surprise about 95% of the students did the bind and most of them stood on one foot even if it was for a second.
I always feel soooooo good when I see people try and try their best. I am so inspired by my students, I feel tremendous respect and deep admiration for everyone who shows up and does the work. I am so lucky!
It truly is an honor to lead people through the experience of self exploration, discovery and growth.
It is an honor to walk that journey with them as well, especially these days that I find myself sweating and feeling humbled in that same room.
Thank you so much for reading this. What a joy it is to share. Good night and Namaste :)
I'm so excited to share!! So some of you may know some may not, but ever since I went to through the experience of rehabilitating an injured dog using massage therapy, my passion for this has grown. Today I spoke with the folks at the Ojai School of Massage in California. They offer a small animal certification program for dogs and cats. I have felt for a long time now..well after 15 years of working on humans, that my calling is also to work on animals. It's going to take time to save up for the training, but I'm determined to do it. They offer a 2 week intensive as well as online training. While I like the idea of on line training, it's cheaper and I can take my time..I do appreciate and respect the experience of meeting like minded individuals that I can connect with. My long term dream is to build a retreat center for dogs and people. Yes, I dream of a place in nature where man, woman and dogs can relax, get massages, do yoga, swim and so much more. It may be a crazy dream to some, but it's my dream for sure. We live in a world with too much stress and tension. We seldom experience simply being. Anyways in case you didn't know me in 2012. Our story is told in these videos. Here's a video of Penny's fundraising before the surgery and afterwards in recovery. Comments, ideas and suggestions are always welcome. Namaste!
Seasoned Yogini, Massage Therapist, Dancer, Lover and Animals, the divine feminine and so much more!! This blog contains my musings, stories of challenges, inspiration and the other things that make me human in this realm. NAMASTE