Well, I was going to post something all science-y and geeky tonight for my blog post. However, a friend of mine's post about her road to recover for her health inspired me to write about my own.
Some people know the full story of how I went from 10 Centimeters of Ulcers in my GI Tract to teaching others to become in charge of there own health and wellness. Well. Here goes nothing.
It all started in 2010 in early March. I went to the Emergency Room over a bout of GI issues that didn't seem to go away. As I waited in the office, I thought to myself, "This will solve it. Get a few antibiotics and I will be okay." I waited around for an hour or so as my issues weren't life- threatening, but at some point, I did see the doctor. I explained to them my issues of not being able to keep any type of food sensibly down, among other concerns. They had me take some antibiotics, and sent me on my way. Little did I know, that visit would send me down a spiral of a good solid month being in and out of the hospital.
My memory of the month and a half afterwards was definitely a blur. Mind you, at the time I was working at Starbucks, going to school, and doing a show, with rehearsals running late into the night. Having to get up the next morning at 5 AM to open at 5:30 was no easy feat.
As time would on, the symptoms would get worse. I was constantly losing weight (at 6' 9, losing weight was not something I could afford considering how active I was.). I was having trouble sleeping, and my concentration in school was failing miserably. You could ask anyone in my class group that the typical Lee was no longer showing up to classes or rehearsals. I was starting to fall asleep in classes due to fatigue and my body being in overdrive. I couldn't dance because of the constant pain and agony I was in just trying to function. Food seemed to be my worst enemy and the only thing that felt better was sleeping in bed and doing nothing.
Fast forward to about a few weeks after the first visit, and I was walking home from school, and half way home, I buckled over in pain. I couldn't make my way home, which was less than a 15 minute walk from the school.
During this time, I was in rehearsal for a show. I was miserable, could barely focus, and was constantly running to the restroom. It got so bad, that I guess the choreographer of the show had to come check up on me. She was and still is a wonderful human being who gave me the hard look I needed to go back to the hospital.
That was one of my two overnight stays in the hospital. My first stay was about 4 days if I remember correctly, and I was starting to feel like I lost hope of the future of my health and vitality.
They ran blood tests among other tests during my stay. (Magnesium citrate is NO FUN. Forewarning you if you google it.) All the typical results showed up negative. No Ulcerative Colitis, No Crohns, No Lymphoma, No Diverticulitis. Nothing.
Fast forward some time later and I am back at the rehearsal for the show. I felt my health slowly getting somewhat better. Some energy was improving and I thought to myself, "maybe it's over."
I was wrong, again.
near Easter, I went to a friend of mine's get-together where a few of us were eating at the table. I felt fine as we were hanging out. Mind you, she lives a single block away from me. Not a long walk. Half way down the block, I buckled over in extreme pain. Back to the hospital I go.
Another round over 4-5 days in the hospital and more tests. At the end of it, I had to quit the show since it was so close to opening. I had to quit all my dance classes. I didn't know who I was anymore. I was 50 lbs or so light than when I was in early March. I missed my family terribly ( three people I know during this time also passed away, one of them being my dear Aunt. Screw you, Non Hodgkins Lymphoma.) I saw no hope in sight.
During this time, I continued to work partially, and tried to hold it together at school. I was trying to keep my grades up and gain back the life I had.
Little did I know July 23, 2010 would be the day that changed my life forever.
A friend of mine, Hunter, whom I will never forget for the rest of my days, recommended I go to yoga. I was reluctant at first. I thought, " I am a dancer. I don't need yoga."
Hesitantly, I said and we booked a bus to NYC to go get some R and R and go to his friend Catharine's yoga class. We met her for dinner the night before, and I felt some semblance of myself coming back together.
We spent time relaxing in the pool and the hot tub prior to class and taking in the view from Chelsea Piers Gym. Time rolled around for the 5:45 yoga class, and I was a bit anxious but eager to see what it was about. The class flew by quick, and was a challenging class, but it felt unfreakingbelievable to move again. Near the end of class she had recommended that we think of something we care for.
Now, I am a huge huge huge momma's boy. She has and is my rock and my confidant. We talk and share about everything and anything and I will always have a special place in my heart for her.
I started to feel the tears stream down my face, and Catharine came by and assisted my shoulders to relax.And just like that, the sob fest welled its way out of my body. All of the pain of the ulcers, the grieving of the people I didn't get to say goodbye to, the stress and anxiety of school, the resignation that I had to leave my show, my bitterness towards people that were healthy, my anger for not being able to do it all, all of it had shown up in this moment.
Granted, there was only me and hunter and one other guy in the class. So , you gotta imagine the embarrassment but also relief running through my body.
After that, I was hooked.
That same August, I walked into Back Bay Yoga and took my first public class at 4PM on a Monday. The teacher's name was Bonnie Argo, and I remember being in this class, my second class ever, having the realization that I wanted to teach this sacred practice.
She and I kept in contact as I finished my senior year at the Boston Conservatory. I knew that NYC would not be where I wanted to live, and so after my senior year, I got a job at lululemon and worked there for about a year while I finished my yoga teacher training. I cannot thank lululemon enough for the gifts they have given me to go after what I want, and to find my own trail, however hard that may be.
I finished up my yoga teacher training, and well, the rest is here in the present moment. I continue to teach yoga and now also strength train privately. I add a ton of different lenses to how I teach, but it all comes down to one mission:
You. You and your health and vitality. What fulfills you. What lights your soul and body on fire.
Fulfillment will always be the path. The rest will change inevitably.
The biggest lesson I had learned in this whole process is that circumstances will come and go. Your health has and will always come first. It is not worth suffering in agony to fill a dream that doesn't align with you. It takes brutal honesty to have the difficult conversations that will set your path that is a match to your spirit, your wants, and needs. Fulfillment is no easy task, but it is so damn worth fighting for.
Follow your path. Blaze it Brightly. Much much much Love from this tall man.