Stepping into the unknown
Over the past year or so, I haven't made an effort to hide my struggles with my health, a hospital admission, diagnosis with ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory bowel disease), or my recent surgery removing my entire large bowel. Quite the opposite actually. I have written about my journey both in catharsis as I took each new step but also to help educate others as I was all too often met with a blank stare, a suggestion to 'clean up my diet', or take probiotics when people asked me what I'd been up to in recent months, or quite simply what was Ulcerative Colitis.
To the friends and family (and total strangers) who actually stopped to ask me more, to explain they knew nothing about it or hadn't heard about it, thank you. Speaking openly had been a huge part of my journey to self acceptance.
At the point of diagnosis last October (how has it not even been a year!?) I vowed to never let it get in the way of living my life. Steve and I hopped in our VW camper, and drove the 900 mile round trip to Ireland for Christmas. Steve did most of the driving, I sat with a hot water bottle strapped to my tummy. He bought a chemical toilet to keep in the van should I need it. We altered where we ate, tried multiple odd elimination diets in blind hope, I missed out on social occasions for the fatigue and pain I was dealing with. Without even realising, it had become all consuming and had quietend the bubbly social person I'd been before.
In April this year, to suddenly find myself housebound with pain, chasing up doctors and forcing them to do more tests, I found out I was more critically ill than I'd been on my first admittance and diagnosis the previous October. This resulted in an almost 4 week hospital stay & a life changing (and saving) operation to remove my large bowel. That was a big month. Shit went down. Literally.
However as I write this, I am lying in bed having just returned from a 10 day trip in the highlands in our camper van. No toilet scares, no hot water bottles, no high dose pain killers. Just spontaneous drives, beach walks, hill climbs, cake eating, gin drinking, and sea swimming. Someone said to me a few weeks ago that if I was choosing to live, I had to make sure I really did that. On the day I ran, a*** to the wind (bag and all) into the chilly Scottish sea on a rare sunny September day, I never felt more liberated and alive!
And so with the 4 months post surgery date approaching, I graduated from my yoga teacher training course which started in April, having had to take a momentary hiatus while I had a 'little health blip'. To say I am grateful to Helen & Demelza of MUDRA for supporting me and taking the extra time to get me through the course once I returned would be a huge understatement. Yoga has been one of the very few things that has been a constant in my life over the past 6 months. Whether that be bed stretches or eventually a full practice. Even now when I get tummy pain, 9 times out of 10, fitting in even 10 minutes of yoga has helped.
With all this being said, I'm finally reaching my point. I am now a yoga teacher. Not a patient, not all consumed by my health but accepting it is part of me and moving into the next chapter and a new adventure. I want to share my experience living with inflammatory bowel, because I do, very much every day, in hopes I can help better educate people but also support others and provide hope. I know first hand just how beneficial yoga can be to the body and used as a tool for healing: somedays just for your mind, other days for your body. It is possible to live with an IBD and still lead a full, happy and loving life, yet it still seems often unspoken about.
So here goes, my offering as a yoga teacher, realising with the help of some very special women that my past and all it's experiences are part of who that teacher is. A better and more diverse part, a part that has humbled me, frustrated me, taken me back to the roots of yoga, taught me to be more empathic, but also made me more focused, driven, more excited and ready to teach. I feel so incredibly grateful to now be able to help others on their own journey.
There might be less of a focus here on my health, I don't know yet. What I do know is that I am stepping into the unknown, into a new adventure, ready to shed what needs to be shed of my past, and take forward from it that which will best serve me.
The past doesn't make you weak, it doesn't make you any less reliable or valued. It makes you stronger, more focussed and more passionate.
|| Katie Flora Yoga ||
My practice is a fusion of a background in dance and a love of vinyasa yoga. I bring a fluid & creative approach to my classes, encouraging strength building and a connection to our bodies through continuous movement.
I understand the fragility but also strength capable in each individual. I am passionate about exploring how movement can help heal both our body and mind.