Why Is It Always About Yoga?
Do you ever notice that when you tell someone that you live with a chronic illness, a lot of times you get back questions or advice about yoga and meditation? I came across a photo on twitter a while back that was a picture of someone stretching in an odd position with the caption saying, “Anyone who thinks this will help my chronic pain is having hallucinations.” It seriously made me burst out laughing! Why? Because it is so darn true!
Don’t get me wrong… I believe in the powers of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. I know there is a tremendous amount of merit to practicing those things daily, or as much as you possibly can. As I have stated in a number of other articles, I grew up in a household that looked at medication as poison. Eastern medicine and holistic ways of healing was (and still is to a degree) the first thing I think when new issues arise because it is how I was brought up.
It’s not your fault
I remember going to the ER last year because I couldn’t stop vomiting, was in enormous pain, and my ostomy was filling up at an insanely high rate. An obstruction series and a CT scan revealed several abscesses. I also had a very elevated white count. After being given anti-nausea meds, pain meds, two rounds of two antibiotics intravenously, and about eight liters of fluid, I began to feel better. I was at a local hospital and even though the doctor treating me wanted me to be admitted for a couple of days, I went home with a 10 day supply of two antibiotics.
As I was getting ready to leave the hospital, I mentioned to my partner that I was sure the food I ate the previous day was the reason I was in so much pain and had to resort to the emergency room. I had made some comments prior to going to the ER about how this situation was my fault as well. My partner looked at me with a blank stare and called over the doctor treating me to instill in me that nothing I ate or did caused me to have these problems. Lack of exercising for a month doesn’t make abscesses appear. Eating candy and other crappy foods doesn’t cause an elevated white count. Nothing I did or didn’t do would have made any difference in this situation. While I rationally knew and understood that, I am still always looking for reasons that are in my control.
The desire to be in control
The point of me bringing up the previous scenario is because I think a lot of us with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis blame ourselves for some of our issues. I think deep down we know we have very little control but it doesn’t stop us from trying to explore every avenue in the off chance that we can make things better for ourselves and our loved ones.
We are often bombarded with literature, articles on the internet and unsolicited advice from others about ways in which to “heal our inflammatory bowel disease,” which only adds to the blame game, in my opinion. Frequently, lifestyle changes (such as exercise and diet) are brought up. The immediate response to saying you are too sick to do any kind of exercise or be on a strict diet (many of us know sometimes the most unhealthy foods can be the best on our intestines for some reason) is “Well, what about yoga?”
What yoga cannot heal
Oftentimes, I think to myself, “WHAT ABOUT YOGA?” Yoga isn’t curing my abscesses. Yoga isn’t stopping my intestines from bleeding. Yoga isn’t healing the underlying inflammation of my disease. Yoga isn’t making my ostomy work better. Yoga isn’t taking away the agony. Yoga isn’t going to allow me to finally sleep.
I hope you know that if you get frustrated by people offering their advice, recommending something you physically or mentally cannot do, or giving you reasons why you are still suffering…you are so far from alone. Only those people who are educated about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or any chronic illness, for that matter, really understand what it is that you go through. Yoga and meditation are great but it is not the cure-all everyone thinks it is for chronic illness sufferers.