The Fear is Always Worse than the Reality

This morning I had another follow up appointment with my kidney nurse and afterwards she had a vascular nurse, who is the expert on fistulas, come in to look at my new fistula. The nurse was quite excited by how good it looks. The vein is growing as it should and there are nice long, straight lines of vein (apparently that’s a really good thing). She liked how it sounded as well. She was impressed by my hand strength and said that most people that are healthy don’t have the same strength. And then I asked her about the exercise I will be able to do. I’ve been getting various answers on this – my online research said I could lift between 5-10 pounds. The nephrology (kidney) nurse thought 25 pounds and the surgeon had no idea. Finally I found someone in the know!


She says that after a couple of months I will be able to do regular yoga. Knowing that yoga means different things to different people, I asked for clarification. I asked specifically, “will I be able to do a side plank?” where I am supported by one hand and the edge of my foot. I know if I can do that I can also do a regular plank pose, chaturanga etc. She said yes!! the only thing I won’t be able to do is compress the arm. So holding a baby in the left arm or doing a forearm stand and even a sphynx pose wouldn’t be great for me. But the rest is fine. So all the fear that I would never do yoga again in the way I do now was unfounded. Of course, if other people had been able to answer the question for me it would have saved me a whole lot of anxiety. But that’s the thing isn’t it? I was feeling sad and anxious about something that was not real. It was not in my reality and I had such a sense of loss.

Therapists refer to this as fortune telling. We start telling a story of what’s going to happen – and that story isn’t usually the best outcome. This part of my life has been so up and down with so much uncertainty. You’d think I’d be used to it now. There’s a lesson in this for me – let go of outcomes. I keep reminding myself that I don’t know what’s going to happen and that there might be outcomes that I can’t even imagine. But then every new situation that comes up I become fearful all over again.

Looking at worst case scenarios has been a coping strategy in the past. I look at that scenario and then figure out how I can deal with it (and I always can). But in this situation with health and fitness on the line it’s so hard! I feel like I can’t deal with the worst case. and then I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. For when life suddenly changes and sucks out loud and I don’t want to play anymore. But every time I encounter one of these situations and end up coming out better than I feared I’m reminded that nothing is written in stone.

Maybe one of these days the lesson will really sink in!

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I got a thrill yesterday

I had surgery yesterday to create a fistula at my wrist. This is an access point for dialysis. They basically joined up one my veins and arteries and created a loop under the skin so that they can clean my blood of toxins. I was emotional going there. I asked my sister if we could just go for a drive instead but she carried on to the hospital haha. They took me early, which was great. It meant I didn’t have to sit for hours contemplating how life was about to change again. I had the sweetest team there. Dr. Sally Bird was the anesthesiologist and she was an absolute doll. She made sure I understood my choices, that I was comfortable with everything and expressed a lot of compassion and empathy. When she found out I was a yoga teacher and had taught the day before she decided I would beat the odds and get back to teaching. Before they put the nerve block in my arm she even made sure I understood why his was happening. My sister had expressed concerns I had about how much this one small procedure would change my life.  It’s not life-changing for most people because most kidney patients don’t spend time balancing in their hands! They aren’t really used to otherwise healthy people in this particular area of medicine. Dr. Bird had told the whole team that I was a yoga teacher so they were all talking about that and joking with me. The two Dr. Wong’s (no relation) were lovely as was the third doctor whose name I don’t recall. The nurses, doctors, staff- everyone I encountered were phenomenal at keeping me upbeat and okay with things. 

My three sisters were there when I came out of surgery. I was surrounded by love. They all understand all the implications of this. They understand the emotions I’m feeling. The feeling of loss. And they all understand how difficult this has been without my mom. It’s been a tough 6 months. Luckily I’m a tough girl.

Before leaving, the nurse went over all of the instructions about what too look for and how to care for the fistula. One thing I need to check several times a day is that I have a bruit, or thrill, in my arm. Now that the vein and artery are joined together there’s a particularly strong flow of blood that will get stronger over time. It feels like a bit of a buzz underrated the skin. One of my sisters felt it and said it felt like little bees under there. We all had a feel of that, marvelling at bodies and the things they can do. And then with instructions to my partner to be my butler, my sisters were gone. I didn’t sleep a whole lot last night as it was difficult to get comfortable. But al in all everything is going well and I’m already thinking about how I can accommodate doing yoga without sun salutes. I’ll figure it out! Of course, I do know that real yoga happens in our hearts and souls. And that is still intact❤️

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