Thursday, March 22, 2018

"Curing" Psoriasis

I am one year into being gluten-free for the purpose of healing my psoriasis.  My last Stelara (immuno-suppressant) shot was in July 2017.  My skin stayed fairly clear, even through the stress of my complete melt down last August.  That's pretty good.  No.  That's fucking amazing! 

Autoimmune diseases are a funny thing.  They are these mystery diseases where no one really knows why your body is doing what it's doing.  The over-simplified explanation of psoriasis:  On the inside, your immune system is over-active and basically starts attacking you.  On the outside, skin cells in certain areas replenish every three days instead of every 30 causing ugly plaques/dry skin.  Stress is usually the trigger for a flare up. 

I made it into 2018 before my skin started showing signs of a flare up (over six months medication-free).  I can't really put my finger on a trigger.  Perhaps more gluten sneaking into my diet for the holidays.  Maybe some stress.  Who knows.  Regardless, it was a minor flare up.  I treated it occasionally with a topical medication and it stayed fairly mild, although it didn't go away.  I started being more careful with my diet, but I still had some patches. 

Then, I remembered the blog I wrote about psoriasis and its metaphysical explanation.  When I Googled it again recently, I just looked at the general theme (and not the specifics I mentioned in my blog).  Fear.  But fear of what?  What did I fear when I was a kid?  My parents splitting up -- sure.  But we had differing opinions on when my psoriasis started.  My parents insisted it was when I was anywhere from 10-12 years old, and I thought I was closer to five years old.  Then about three weeks ago, I found a journal entry from when I was 11 or 12 years old.  I mentioned how I had suffered from psoriasis for seven years.  Boom.  I WAS five years old when I was diagnosed.  I still remember sitting in the doctor's office and he asked me if I ever picked at the plaques.  I admitted I did.  He laughed and said I shouldn't be so honest. 

So what happened to trigger psoriasis when I was four or five years old?  My first memory as a child: 

I was in my neighbor’s backyard catching ladybugs (now a symbol of joy and peace for me) and, as I turned to leave (I remember reaching for the door knob), a visiting dog attacked me from behind.  He sunk his teeth into the back of my head, dragging me around the yard, and trying to shake me to break my neck.  A little girl in the yard with me apparently kicked the dog until he let go and I walked screaming through the house, then the neighbor’s front yard toward our shared fence.  I remember walking into our yard, bleeding, and I saw my mom run towards me, then fall to her knees.  I’ve always thought I was around three years old.  I asked my mom three weeks ago what she remembered.  She confirmed falling to her knees.  She couldn't remember if she was six months pregnant with my brother (which would have made it sometime in December) or if it was when my brother was six months old (which would have been around August or September).  I don’t remember her having a belly, and I remember the shirt I was wearing.  It was a short sleeved 70’s style striped shirt.  I wasn’t wearing a jacket.  So I am leaning toward the August/September time frame.  Also, I have a vague recollection of the stitches in my head coming out around my birthday, which is August 31.  So that means I would have been closer to four years old.  And that means the psoriasis presented itself within a year.  I have never been afraid of dogs, but apparently I bottled that fear up inside anyway.  But that’s my first life memory.  Being bitten by a dog and my mom running toward me and falling to her knees.  And that bottled up fear potentially triggered an autoimmune disease, which I have battled for nearly 40 years. 
Psoriasis sucks.  I realize its really just an inconvenience and slightly embarrassing.  Ugly skin (explaining to people they won't catch it).  Can be a pain when you're a pole dancer because you can't use your regular lotions.  Realistically, it is pointing at some inflammation on the inside, but of all the immune system issues to have, it's a pretty benign one.  But I still hate it. 
About a month ago, I listened to a podcast about EFT (emotional freedom technique) tapping.  What is that? 
"EFT is a form of psychological acupressure that uses a gentle tapping technique instead of needles to stimulate traditional Chinese acupuncture points. The tapping on the designated points on the face and body is combined with verbalizing the identified problem followed by a general affirmation phrase." 
So I wrote a tapping script -- a long one.  Acknowledging, then releasing my fears, as well as many other issues.  Guess what?  My psoriasis cleared in a week.  It is the first time I have healed a flare up without medication in my entire life.  No, that is not an exaggeration.  Although I am certain being gluten-free has helped keep my skin clearer for much longer than it ever has before, this was the first time I actually HEALED myself.  (Another benefit to going gluten-free and healing my gut issues:  I haven't taken a single allergy pill in a year.)
I'm pretty stoked about it, and its just another reminder of how powerful our minds and bodies are, if we will just get out of their way. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Empowerment Through Movement

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining the ladies of Wildcat Parlour, LLC for their second annual Empowerment Through Movement, which offered an entire day of pole and flexibility workshops.

Although I was still recovering from my knee injury, I took Jen's heels workshop, then I taught the Closer routine.  My knee totally survived, and I really enjoyed both classes.

In addition to owning Wildcat, Jen teaches lyra at Twirly Girls.  She's good people and I'm happy she's part of my tribe.  Thank you to Jen for including me this year.  I look forward to celebrating movement with the Wildcat crowd again next year!

Check out our videos below.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Flexibility with the Valentino Brothers: Two Month Update

Week 1

So, in early January, I wrote about how I was going to get flexible with the Valentino Brothers.  And for a full month, I was on it.  I was following the videos three to four days per week.  I was feeling pretty good about it.  I wasn't feeling necessarily more flexible in the moves I was doing with the DVDs, but I did feel more flexible in my yoga classes.  It doesn't make sense to me, but that's how it felt. 

Anyway, the first weekend in February, I was screwing around after doing one of the DVDs, taking photos and probably holding poses a little too long.  I then went to Twirly Girls, where I danced alone for about an hour, then taught a two and a half hour party.  At the end of the party, the girls asked me to dance for them.  It was during that dance that I suddenly knew my knee was not okay.  My knee was swollen and the kneecap kept feeling like it was popping off.  I hobbled around for a couple of weeks, icing and heating, and trying to be careful.  I was skipping pole and lyra classes (see that update HERE), but carefully doing some yoga.  My knee would be "almost better," and then something would set me back.  For example, I was probably at about 95% better, and my Monday yoga instructor told everyone to squat down, and I did so without thinking.  I was immediately set back a week in recovery from that.  I was scheduled to teach at Jen's studio, Wildcat Parlour, last weekend, and I was just trying to keep my knee well enough to make it through that workshop.  Well, I not only survived that workshop (as well as taking her heels workshop beforehand), but feel like my knee is still about 95% healed.  I can't squat all the way down with weight on my knee but I can almost put weight on it if I'm sitting on my knees and start pushing myself back towards child's pose.  So, I'm getting there.  I had put a note in my calendar for today that I would go see Tobe if I wasn't better, and I think I am going to be able to avoid a visit for now. 
Month 2

Last night, after about five weeks off, I tried one of the flexibility DVDs.  I wasn't able to do all of the moves, and I was extremely careful about the ones I did do, but I made it through.  I also did a video to get screen shots.  Obviously, there is no huge difference in my before and after photos from the last two months. 

So, here are some photos (and the two long videos of my ramblings, which is where I'm taking my screen shots from).  Hopefully in another month or two, I'll have something more exciting to report. 

First week:

Last night:

Week 1

Month 2
Week 1

Month 2 (don't mind my creepy face)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Operation Upside Down: Months 7 and 8

I haven't posted an update in awhile.  If you want to read my last upside down update, you can find it HERE.  Where do I start?  I guess here, with the excuses and whining.  I spent most of January sick and February with a knee injury.  Also, I am just exhausted, and it's freezing cold (well, California cold, which is cold to a Californian), so making a 25 mile drive for an 8 PM class requires a special kind of motivation that I just don't have right now.  I'm tired and frustrated, so I missed many classes in the last two months.

I enjoy Janet's Bottoms Up class because I like and trust her.  I know I won't completely squish her when she tips me backwards.  But the 8 PM start time means I don't get home until after 10 PM on a work night.  I enjoy Jen's lyra class, but the 6:30 PM start time means I need to leave straight from work and pray that the traffic gods are on my side.  It stresses me out.  Plus lyra hurts 100 times more than pole.  And I feel like since I've turned 40, I ache a lot more than I used to.  My hands hurt for two days after lyra.  Currently, I'm rocking a bruise across my hips from a forward fold.  I barely did a forward fold.  I'm not trying to be a circus performer.  So what I've determined is that I really go to lyra to see my friends and laugh.

This knee injury has been plaguing me for a month now.  I believe what happened is that I hyper-extended it while doing the flexibility DVDs (you can read the first post on that HERE), then went to Twirly Girls to dance for an hour, and teach a two-and-a-half hour party.  By the end of that night, I knew I wasn't okay.  I've been limping along by icing and heating, taking cinnamon, using arnica and being extremely careful in yoga (I have to do some kind of movement).  I haven't done the flexibility DVD in a month.  I feel like the worst of the pain and swelling passed within a week or so.  But one little wrong step or tweak puts me back in it.  I am 95% better, but that 5% keeps me down.  I can't climb the pole because it hits my knee in just the right (or wrong) spot.  I can't hang from my knees in the lyra.  I can't sit on my knees for any reason.  I tried to just simply squat down on Monday and that actually put my recovery back at least another week.  In fact, as I write this, I should be in class, but I am aching so much (let's blame the rain), that I don't want to chance hurting myself any further.  I am supposed to teach a workshop in ten days so I am just trying to keep myself at this level until I get through that.  Then I can fall apart.  In fact, it is probably time to get myself to the doctor, but I know they're going to tell me to stop doing what I'm doing and I don't want to be told that.

All this being said, I don't feel like I've lost any strength.  On the nights I have been able to get to class, I do get upside down.  I haven't improved, but I haven't moved backwards.  I can kind of get my knees driven upward, but Janet still has to tip me backwards.  I also wonder if part of my problem is that I need a new goal.  If the goal was simply to get myself upside down, I've done that.  My goal never said: get upside down alone or gracefully or whatever.  I also wonder what's the point?  Just to say I do it?  I don't see myself getting comfortable enough with it to suddenly start throwing it into routines.  So, if I just simply wanted to be strong enough to throw my ass upside down, I did that.  I am in the process of figuring out what I want out of pole.  Is it to be strong?  I haven't been taking any flow or dance classes, so I feel like I've lost a lot of that fluidity.  I think I have a lot to figure out in the next month or so.  I only have this one body and I don't want to be lazy but I also don't want to push myself into injuries that could be avoided if I just listened to my body.  I mean, I can't even squat down to 90 degrees.  I don't want to lose mobility, and I feel like that's happening at an alarming rate.

So the whining is done.  Here are some videos from the last two months.

Performing for Robert and Twirl for a Cause:

The day of the knee injury:


This is where I am pretty sure I hyper-extended my knee.  I was doing the flexibility DVD and trying to take photos to show progress over the previous month.  Someone on Facebook talked about yoga being the portal to hell and then a friend photoshopped this.  So, it's kinda true.  But the photo makes me laugh so I am sharing it here with you.

Made it back to class last week, although I was pretty limited on what I could do.

So, there you go.  I really don't know what the future holds for my "pole career."  I am trying to be kinder and gentler with myself in 2018.  Judge myself less.  Love myself more.  And I don't know that pushing myself through injuries is honoring that.  I guess I have a lot to decide, with no real deadline forcing me to make a decision.  I will certainly let you all know what is coming next!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Getting Flexible with the Valentino Brothers: Day 1

I am not a flexible person.  I can touch my toes but I can't do the splits to save my life.  I am even worse at back bends.  Over the last six or seven years, I have noticed I am losing what little flexibility I do have.  I have been in the pole world for eight years.  Many polers are crazy flexible.  Even the ones who swear up and down that they aren't flexible look like Gumby next to me.  Although I envy them on some level, I haven't been motivated enough to want to follow them.  The splits have never been a pole goal.  However, as I'm getting older and things are tightening down (especially my hips and lower back), suddenly staying out of pain IS a goal.  I have seen many talk about the Valentino Brothers on Facebook, so I decided to download their basic package.

The beginner series includes three videos.  I did my very first one on Saturday (two days ago).  It was a seven minute yoga sun salutation to warm-up, then it was a series of static stretches, each held for one minute.  They were pretty basic stretches but I definitely had a little bit of an issue holding some of them.  I was fairly sore the rest of the day and the next day.  I am scheduled to do my second video Monday night.

My take on the videos is that they are fairly simply made.  They come with little to no instruction, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I kind of wish they had a list of things you'd need to get started.  For example, that I'd need some clear wall space in the middle of the video for one stretch.  Or a list of the photos you may want to take to track your progress.  Otherwise, they got the job done.  

So, here's a video I took to help track my progress.  Basically, I'm so inflexible that it should take minimal effort to make progress.  I am shooting to do the three videos over a week, one every other day.  Day 1:  Side Split and Joints Stretching System.  Day 3:  Front Split and Spine Stretching System.  Day 5: General Anti-Stress Stretching System.  I am going to do them for one month, then I will decide whether it is time to get the intermediate videos (I am going to guess I'll be able to continue with the beginner series for another month or two).  

I will come back and share my progress in a month!  Until then, please share your tips and tricks below.  Thanks!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Get upside down with a yoga inversion chair!

So last night I missed pole class.  I had to get my door handle replaced and would have had to rush out to class.  I decided instead to set up my yoga inversion chair, which was recommended by someone in my plus sized poler group on Facebook.  It was AWESOME!  So easy to put together and use.  I am going to get a ton of use out of it.  Now everyone is asking me where to get it, so I figured it was easiest to put out a blog.  I got it on Amazon.  Link below!  I also did a little video for my friend, Keri, so you can check that out as well. 

As most of you know, I am six months into Operation Upside Down.  You can check out my latest blog on that HERE.

Want one for yourself?

Get it on Amazon!

Try it out, then let me know what you think!  Happy inversions!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Operation Upside Down: MONTH SIX!

I can't believe we are already six months into this project.  Although I still struggle lifting into a chopper, I can definitely throw myself into an invert.  Now, whatever happens next still leaves much to be desired, but I CAN get upside down.  If you want to see my month five update, click HERE.  December was another light month for me.  I was in Vegas and I missed another class because I was on a date.  I also only made it to lyra once.  I haven't been to yoga much in the last two weeks either.  Basically, I've been a lazy butt.

Here's how the month went!

I celebrated my 8th twirliversary on December 2nd!

Bad side first:

The slowest shoulder roll ever: