It’s been a long time since my arms shook in downward facing dog. I’m sure you remember that shaky feeling in your arms the first time you encountered a yoga mat. It eventually goes away, but nearly everyone, no matter how strong, experiences it to some degree.
For the first time in nearly 10 years, my arms shook tonight as I entered downward dog. It was a strange, but good feeling.
I suppose the shakiness is to be expected given the random twist of fate thrown my direction this past week as I lost over half the blood volume in my body, received four blood transfusions, and spent four days in the hospital in intensive care. Let’s just say I’m happy to be here to type these words.
To be quite honest, I’m about as health-oriented as they come. I run three or four days a week, play competitive tennis a few days a week, practice yoga regularly, and do more pushups, pullups, and situps than I can count. I’m a young, healthy guy and this kind of thing is supposed to happen to someone else, right?
Well, last Friday, I woke up early and ran six miles. I had been sick with the flu earlier in the week, yet the run seemed to go fine. Woke up tired Saturday morning, rolled out the yoga mat for a while, and then went to play tennis as usual. Pretty normal routine, but almost immediately as I hit a few balls against the backboard I could tell something was wrong. My heart was pounding, I gasped for breath, and seriously just wanted to lay down on the court and die. Seriously. Something definitely not right. Of course, dude that I am, I played for another hour until I could barely walk (we usually play for two or three hours), wisely bowed out of a few more sets, and went home wondering what the heck was going on with my body. I just figured I was still recovering from the flu and spent the rest of the day dragging myself around at the beach with the family searching for seashells.
It wasn’t until I passed out later that night, smashing my head on the bathroom sink, laying sprawled out on the floor that it occurred to me that something was really wrong. Of course, as soon as my lovely wife found me on the floor (she thought one of the kids fell out of bed) she was like let’s go to the ER right now, and of course, I was like just let me call the doctor on Monday to schedule an appointment. As my heart continued to pound and the disorientation and spinning head persisted, I ultimately agreed to go to the ER. According to the docs we got there just in the nick of time.
The initial blood-work led the doctors to conduct a scope of my GI tract to see if that was the culprit. Needless to say, what the docs said would be anywhere from a five minute to 45 minute scope procedure turned into two and a half hours of cauterizing small tears in my esophagus that were bleeding out into my stomach. Turns out I was trying to bleed to death. Not sure I’d have even made it to the doctor’s office on Monday if I’d gone the normal stubborn route.
Well, the aftermath of the procedure, the massive loss of blood, the transfusions, and the ICU treatment (catheters, IVs, liquid diet, etc) has made this a week to remember. The doctor’s notes said I should expect to be “profoundly fatigued” for the next few weeks as my body recovers from the blood loss. Now there’s an understatement. Since my discharge from the hospital on Wednesday, life has moved at a dramatically slower pace. Despite my continued stubbornness, including trying to go to work on Friday (I made it about two hours before my hands wouldn’t stop shaking on the keyboard), I’m slowly regaining strength. It must have been a small burst of energy that convinced me to roll out my yoga mat tonight. Even with shaky arms, downward dog felt good.
Counting the blessings of life tonight. Namaste.