I have, generally, regarded myself as a no-nonsense, unfailingly practical, eternal believer in the power of Western medicine. Every ailment, from the swollen glands that landed me in the hospital as a 2-year-old to the ear infection that felled me the day my baby brother came home from the hospital; from the nasty bout of tuberculosis I contracted as a teenager (Oh, that’s a whole ‘nother story) to the fungal overgrowth I sometimes experience as a blotchy all-over rash, can and has been cured by the magic of pill popping or salve applicating. For the twelve years of my life wherein I made amounts of money that are most accurately described as a “salary,” I worked in the pharmaceutical industry- and if that doesn’t indicate a deep and abiding belief in Western medicine (and, I suppose, capitalism), I don’t know what does.
In addition, I would also consider myself to be a hardcore skeptic when it comes to all things “woo-woo,” such things being: visualization, meditation, herbal tea drinking, acupuncture, supplements, and of course, yoga.
I assume you can see where this is going? I am nothing if not boringly predictable.
Interestingly enough, I started going to yoga classes (I cannot bring myself to call it my “practice”) at the gym at work, where I felt myself to be surrounded by people equally invested in the power of Western thought and just as skeptical as myself about this yoga business. And indeed, there were people in class who appeared to be there only for the stretching, but then there were the twisty bendy ones, the serious believers, the one who know the Sanskrit names for poses (I tend to refer to them all as OW-MOTHERFUCKER-ASANA, but I think that’s wrong).
I dipped my toes in pretty carefully; thinking I’d take a class “just to see what it was about” only to find myself rearranging my entire workday schedule in order to make a noon class twice a week. I thought I was fooling everyone by cracking jokes during class while everyone else was seriously working on their revolving triangle, but eventually I had to admit it even to myself: YOGA FUCKING ROCKS. By this time I was shooting dirty looks at people who walked into class late and interrupted meditation and centering time (I realize this is antithetical to the practice of yoga, but one fucking thing at a time, ok, people?). So I became a full on yoga lover, and when I left my job, I swear one of the things I was most distressed about, as in even more than the money part, was the losing of a free place to take yoga twice a week.
In vaguely related news (shut up, I have to tie all this shit together somehow), since completing the half marathon (OMG, almost 2 months ago, where in blue fuck does the time go?), I’ve been plagued by worsening symptoms of cold, numbness, and tingling in my left foot, to a point where walking 5 blocks is a total fucking chore, and let’s not even start talking about running. These sensations persist and worsen the longer I stay on my feet, so now, instead of building on the foundation of running I put into my half-marathon training, I sit on the couch and complain bitterly about not being able to exercise. It also meant that there was no yoga for me either, since not even THAT could be done without whatever the fuck was happening to my foot acting up. This, it should surprise none of the 2 people reading (fine, one person), turns me into a rancid living companion, as exercise is the one thing I can count on to be the little added mood-lifter that makes life essentially worth living.
And, I should have fucking seen it coming, Western medicine completely fell down on the job. Two months in, and I have no diagnosis, no real treatment plan, and a very real fear that the hiking trip I have planned for late April is not going to happen. So, I’ve eaten every word I ever said about Eastern medicine and philosophy, and plunged headlong into anything and everything I think might help. Acupuncture? Sure, why the fuck not? An herbal tea to open my heart chakra? Absofuckinglutely. Massage and physical therapy? Yes, please, more and more. Fish oil, vitamin B complex, ginkgo biloba, and coenzyme Q10? Sign me right the fuck up, I will take 18 trillion pills every morning like a geriatric heart patient.
I have no fucking clue if any of it is working, but I’ve managed to go to three yoga classes this week with minimal discomfort, so here’s to you, ancient Chinese medicine. If you can make it so I can run again, I’ll take out a full-page ad in the New York Times lauding your accomplishments.
And Western medicine? I never loved you that much anyways.