My wife has been doing yoga for years now. I tease her about it, calling it yogurt, and making up all sorts of often unprintable names for the various positions that she has been learning. Unspoken, more often than not, is the reality that she has gotten younger over the years and defied most visible signs of aging, to my eyes, anyway. Every pound that she has lost I have gained two for one (truth). Every morning I see her out there on the patio, in the silence, in the candlelight, stretching and preparing for the day. She is a fairly upbeat person with great interior strength and a capacity for compassion that humbles me. I have no idea what role yoga plays in any of that, but it was about damn time that I should be able to touch my toes again and leaving my coping with stress merely in the hands of pharmacology seemed just plain wrong. So a few weeks ago, I agreed to join her. After all, humility, they say, is good for the soul.
Two immediate points: The folks leading the yoga class really hate air conditioning, which in South Florida in August leads to sweating, sometimes copiously so. Secondly, all of the muscle stretching and rocking and relaxing can lead to accidently discharge of any pent up flatulence, which in the quiet almost holy and pristine atmosphere of yoga is like setting off one of those store alarms as you walk out the door because the scanner failed to clear your purchases properly. And there is no place to hide when you are bent over in the shape of an inverted “V” with hands and feet upon the mat and your butt high in the air. The thought of saying “excuse me” never entered my mind. I think it is left over from childhood with all of that “name it and claim it” teasing we did to one another. Anyway, I bet it happens all of the time, yoga farting. But just to be safe I switched to a new instructor and new class in a new location the next Saturday. And I live in a good-sized city.
My annual physical blood work raised a flag which only proved that my new medications and dosing appear to be working, since the news did not paralyze me into inaction or anxious behaviors. The real test is the waiting. Waiting to take more tests. Waiting for the results. Waiting for the next appointments. Googling around the results for the blood work just for fun and walking away from the computer after I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the various permutations of diseases possible from the results. See, it all can still mean nothing. Three blood tests, a few x-rays and two doctors appointments. It could mean absolutely nothing. I could just have weird blood that gives false positives. And the medications that I am on could be responsible for several of the symptoms that concern the doctors. And so could the depression. This is what really sucks, because nothing is cut and dried. This isn’t like a pregnancy test where you are or you aren’t. Auto-immune diseases are subject to checklists and screening tests and health history and the like. There is no pee on the strip and watch it turn blue (or pink or whatever). And so on I wait for the third round of blood tests to be tittered and sorted so they can begin to eliminate the possibilities, one of which is Sjögren’s syndrome, which sounds like a toast in Swedish: “SJORGEN!” and then we would all down our glasses of aquavit. Unfortunately, it is instead this wild auto-immune disease that can destroy the glands that produce saliva and tears, which would take care of the depression-induced crying, but in that cause the cure would be worse than the disease.
So I wait and take note of how the depression and anxiety medication helps me cope with this and other unexpected challenges of life and the life of a pastor and wait and see what tomorrow brings and the ones that follow on its heels and ever. One day at a time.