Of Turkeys & Seizures, Family & Voices
To everyone who has sent me emails and left messages, I thank you. The outpouring, the sentiment, the love - it means a lot to me.
This Thanksgiving I had a seizure. A rather bad one. Something the medical community calls a Grand Mal. It was brought on my several weeks of pushing to launch a new program - the Mindful Diet - two new websites, as well as keep up with an increasingly busy schedule of videos, talks, events and client needs. All of which I love doing. All of which brings me meaning and provides purpose to my life. Most important, all of which I would not want to live without.
I had been pushing myself for several weeks, trying to get it all done so I could rest during the holiday. And yes, as I tell so many of my students, time is always the forgotten factor. I forgot to give myself permission to take more time then I did. As one of my brothers would say, I pushed the canopy for too long, and the parachute collapsed around me.
After an early morning of yoga alone on the beach and a long run on the sand, I settled into a chair on the deck to read. I was looking out over the Gulf coast of Siesta Key when one of my brothers noticed the book drop from my hands. He saw me start tremor.
Thankfully I come from a family who does not panic quickly. They called 911. They also kept my windpipe open until the paramedics arrived. Even as I stopped breathing and started to turn blue they kept it all working.
I woke up in the Sarasota Memorial hospital. I had been sedated for 36 hours, my air-flow maintained through a breathing tube. My hands had been restrained to prevent me from pulling it out in my sleep. My wife was there by my side. She had been since landing - since hearing of my seizure on her flight down - which is not an experience I would wish for anyone. And no, that is not a call I would want anyone to have to make or receive.
The seizures were brought on by my pushing myself for too long and too hard. It was exacerbated by dehydration from my workouts and from the excitement at seeing my family together. It is what happens when I push the canopy for too long. It is also what happens when I stop being mindful to the realities of my life. To the physical that, like it or not, often intrudes over the spiritual, no matter what kind of good we are in the middle of.
When I woke it was Thanksgiving Day. Of course my family was there with Turkey, all the sides and so much more. To them I remain forever grateful and also humbled. I was starving. I was also exhausted. I ate. I also slept.
What happened later that day does not diminish anything they did for me. If anything it enhances it. When I returned to the property we had rented and everyone had gone to build a sandcastle, I turned on some music from our aging iPad. What played was a song that only my father would have listened to. It was an old Willie Nelson tune that seemed to call from across time and space. As if my father was letting me know of his presence.
He passed away in Sarasota several years ago and his memory was one of the reasons we were there. Yes, there are dozens of explanations that I can find for this if I really want to look. But I don't. I am happy to know that something as metaphysical as love can change the physical outcome of life. That no matter how much doctors and technicians tell you it can't be - it is.
Yes, the physical may slip away. But the spiritual remains, sometimes stronger than ever without the weight of gravity bringing it down.
As the holidays get busier and your lives get crazier, remember to step back and remind yourself of what is most important in your life.