Our warm welcome back to beloved Columbus yoga instructor Julia McSheffery.
Our bodies have a funny way of letting us know when we're meant to take a time out, when our tendency toward control is hurting more than helping.
Longtime yoga instructor Julia McSheffery learned the lesson of releasing control this summer when her body unexpectedly forced her away from her norm — mom, wife, certified yoga therapist, instructor at multiple local studios, teacher to many.
At the beginning of October, our community excitedly welcomed Julia back to her weekly teaching. We're pleased to announce the return of Julia's popular Yoga Nidra workshop on Saturday, February 25. Learn more about this healing workshop here.
Read below an excerpt from Julia's blog about her break from teaching yoga, and how this traumatic experience allowed her to open up to habits that weren't serving her and taught her the value that comes when we learn how to release our need for control.
When we speak about losing traction while driving on an icy road, the phrasing used is "I lost control of the car…" When we speak about rage, anger, or temper tantrums, the phrasing used at times is "I was out of control.” A fire or a pet can get "out of control.” Our health and wellness, though; was it ever really in our control?
Definitions for the word control include: dominate, curb, check, regulate and restrain. Each of these implies an ability to command. Do we ever have that kind of dominance over our bodies, our health or our well-being?
One Sunday night this summer, I found myself clutching my abdomen in spasms of pain that made me moan and cry out. I couldn't walk or stand upright. I couldn't move except to lay there and writhe. My husband was in bed, fast asleep. He couldn't hear me. I focused on my breath, searched within to find an inner voice that was less panicked and more determined.
Eventually, I managed to crawl to the bedroom and was able to wake my husband. That small success gave me illusions. I asked him to help me to bed, determined that I would be okay with some medicine and sleep. Who was I kidding? I had thoughts about what might be happening, but I was wrong. In truth, I really didn't know — I had no idea what lay ahead.
For an hour or so, I lay in bed, trying to be still, trying not to moan. But the reality, that I couldn't will myself out of this situation, became apparent. I needed help, and I needed it immediately.
My husband called 911, and I asked him to gather my insurance card and prescription information. While he did, I decided I needed to move myself downstairs. I felt there was no way that a stair chair or gurney would make it up the narrow stairs in our Clintonville home, so I crawled down the stairs to wait by the front door for the EMTs. Trying to manage the situation, I was attempting to maintain control. Off to the emergency room, in PJs and bare feet at 1:30 am.
It was a difficult trip. Every jostle and bump, every bounce and shift of the vehicle made me tense up and yelp, keening in pain. I was trying to keep quiet — it has to be such a difficult job, being an EMT, listening to people cry in pain and not being able to fix the problem. So I apologized, "I'm sorry, I'm trying to stop moaning. It has to be difficult for you to hear.” Trying to manage things, focusing on taking care of other people, still attempting to maintain control. Who was I kidding?
In emergency at the hospital, the EMTs put me off at the end of the hall. The thought ran through my head, “You’re making too much noise.” They couldn't give me anything for the pain until they knew what was wrong.
While the ER nurse admitted me, I apologized. "I'm sorry for the sounds I'm making. I'm trying to stop. It has to be difficult for you to hear." She chuckled and assured me that nurses were used to that kind of thing. You might be recognizing a pattern to my typical problem solving response — manage, control, fix things for others.
Blood tests, CT with and without contrast... I was given morphine for the pain.
By about 6 AM, my husband and five year-old daughter were at the hospital and we were introduced to Dr. R, a gyn-oncology surgeon. My husband and I looked at each other — no one said the word cancer, but once the term oncology registered, it hung heavy in the air. Suspicions: hemorrhagic tumor, peritonitis, burst ovarian cyst, pooled blood in my abdomen. I needed surgery. All the possible outcomes were laid out.
I would lose my remaining ovary, having had a hysterectomy two years ago. I would possibly lose other things too. The tumor would go and possibly some of my small intestine or colon, a section of my omentum (an apron-like part of the peritoneum). Outcomes: menopause, maybe a colostomy bag, follow up treatment (!?), they didn't know anything for sure yet.
I spoke up, “So is it laparoscopic or will you use the incision site from my hysterectomy?”
“No," said Dr. R, "we need to see everything, so we'll make an 8-9 inch vertical incision. We'll know more once we're inside."
He planned on taking tissue samples for pathology. He asked if I wanted him to stop the surgery if certain outcomes were evident so that he could discuss them with me before the decisions were made ... or would I trust him to make the medically necessary decisions during the surgery and get it all done with one instead of multiple surgeries? I had to face facts — I wasn’t in control and I needed help. I had to allow myself to relax as much as I could into their care. Allow them to have control, or submit to their control? [Read on]