Yoga is my AED

I have felt extra emotional lately, and frankly I don’t like it.  I like to think that I have not always been emotional, but Mike begs to differ. I’m not the girl who cries at movies or commercials, but I feel that the tides are turning as I’m getting older. This is not really my ideal situation, but I suppose I need to just accept it and move on with it.


I had two moments lately that made me start putting my emotions in check, and I realized in one situation I was fine with crying and in the other I was not.  Recently, I was asked to be interviewed by WSB for a segment highlighting Project S.A.V.E. which is a program through Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to encourage schools to have extra AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillators) on campus for the hope to save a life if the situation were to arise.  Currently they have 99 saves logged, which is absolutely amazing! I am one of those 99 lives saved because when I had cardiac arrest on October 14th, 2016, I was on Mill Creek High School’s campus and the AED absolutely saved my life (along with the amazing MCHS staff that went into their Emergency Plan efficiently and effectively).  I was interviewed, as well as Mrs. Candy Fleming, our incredible nurse who was the first to activate the Emergency Plan when I fell out.  They interviewed Candy while she was standing in front of the AED cabinet that was used on me and asked her, “How many times have you used the AED?”  She replied with, “I have grabbed it many of times in case I needed it, but I have only had to use it once.”  The news reported followed up with, “and was it effective?”  Candy simply stated, “yes.  It saved her life.”  I’m tearing up just typing it!  I was standing off camera listening to her and felt that knot rise in my throat (similar to what it’s doing now) because that one life she saved was me.  ME!  I’m the one that she saved, and I would be dead if it had not been used on me.  That is terrifying, and sad, and amazing, and crazy! Later, Candy and I were sitting next to each other to be interviewed and I got emotional on camera.  It’s not terribly hard for me to talk about the details of that day.  It’s like an out of body experience because I can paint an exact picture of what happened due to everyone sharing their experience of the event, but I remember absolutely none of it.  My memory of the day is what others have pieced together for me, but I can talk about any of it.  What tugs at my heart (pun intended) is when we talk about what could have happened or the fact that if any one little thing hadn’t gone as it did then I wouldn’t be here anymore.  THAT is emotional!  The fact that there could have been a very different ending to my story makes me feel like crying.


I forgive myself for crying though; I allow myself to tear up and get it all out.  I don’t feel bad or weak; I feel proud and thankful that I’m still alive to tell my story.  I’m the one that gets to be on camera to tell the story and not my loved ones.  I’m so grateful for that detail and ability.


Let’s flip the coin and talk about the other emotional medical battle that I fight which is the c-word.  Last month I spent a weekend in Greenville, SC, to start my certification to become a Les Mills BodyFlow instructor, and at the start we went around and introduced ourselves by saying our name, where we were from and why we were getting certified to teach BodyFlow.  There were only 8 of us, but as the ladies started to speak I was getting serious anxiety. I wasn’t nervous to speak- I never have a problem speaking in front of people- I was anxious because I knew my reason for wanting to be here made me want to cry.  I didn’t want to cry.  I don’t want one of the first things people learn about me is that I’m a crier.  I debated my options in my head:  1- tell them you really enjoy the class and wanted to start teaching (semi true, just leaving out a lot of significant detail) or 2- tell them I am currently battling neuroendocrine cancer and have a tumor wrapped around a blood vessel that is causing me a great deal of back pain and BodyFlow gives me a lot of pain relief (the whole truth).  I couldn’t imagine saying the 2ndversion without crying, but I didn’t feel authentic telling the 1stversion.  I wanted so badly to hold up my chin, say the truth and not shed a tear, and it pissed me off that I couldn’t.  It makes me so mad and angry that I did not see a way to sharing my story without crying. So, what did I do?  I told my story, cried, probably looked a little dumb, probably made a few people feel sorry for me and/or feel awkward, and we moved on.  (I’m fulling aware that “and we moved on” is a prepositional phrase and should be reworded in order to be grammatically correct but sometimes a prepositional phrase is just needed!)


Here are 2 situations where I was talking about something medical about myself, and I allow myself to be sad in one and won’t allow myself to be sad in the other.  I feel that when I cry about cancer it is giving cancer the power and they are winning.  That pisses me off.  I don’t want to give it power.  I want to fight it and tell it to f off!  Crying about it is as if I’m losing.  I’m in it, and I’m losing.  I hate that feeling!  When I can smile through, tell jokes and share my story I feel strong and powerful! THAT is how I want to feel about cancer because I fully intend to squash it and yank the rug out from under it. Try to slow me down?  Try to take me out?  I don’t think so.  Watch this…I can talk and laugh about it because it is so miniscule.


I can cry about cardiac arrest because it’s in the past.  I beat it!  I won! Victory!  You split that V, you dot that I, you shake that C-T-O-R-Y! Tears are fine- they are joyous! They are happy tears!  THAT is the difference.  I carry a personal safety net in my chest 24/7, so even if I have a terrible reoccurrence (God help me, please no), then I will be fine because I have an AED in my ICD which is implanted in my chest.  I have something to make me better, to save me, every moment of my life.  When I talk about cancer I don’t have that safety net, and it makes me irritated when it brings tears to my eyes.  They are not happy tears.  They are sad tears.  I want to get in control of my emotions, so I won’t have that anxiety and discomfort of crying in front of others.


When I got to therapy…God bless therapy- seriously, you should try it sometime…, I was so eager to hear the solution to my problem.  Apparently, the solution is to cry…let it out.  Apparently, it’s understandable to cry about emotional stuff, and if I don’t let it out then it will build up and explode (probably at an inopportune time).  I had a breakthrough moment though when my psychologist said that yoga is my AED. Yoga is my safety net that gives me power and comfort and control over my tumor.  Yoga makes me feel better, and I’m doing it to give me relief!  Heck yes- take that tumor!  Screw you!  I can do something to diminish you (even if only momentarily), and I’m getting so good at it that I can take the next step and teach it.  NOTE:  I’m not getting certified to teach “yoga” but BodyFlow.  BodyFlow is a program through Les Mills that has a much less intense certification process than the 200-hour yoga certification program.  I’m not lessening the value of the program (I actually prefer it over yoga), but I think it’s only fair to specify what I’m doing and not offend the true yogis.

When I got home that day and Mike and I got to catch up on each other’s day, I shared with him about my therapy session.  That whole doctorate in Sports Psychology taught him something because he had already told me to just cry and let it go.  Smart little thing, he is.  I didn’t like his answer, but I suppose I will have to accept otherwise.  He agreed that yoga has become my AED, but he took it one step further and said it’s an acronym for my Automatic Everyday De-stressor.  Yoga/BodyFlow is just that.  It is my automatic make me feel better, go-to move that I look forward to every day.


Well, the good news is that I have officially passed my training and am now a certified Les Mills BodyFlow instructor, and I now teach at the Hamilton Mill BodyPlex.  I absolutely love it!  It is helping me balance out the other nonsense.  What other nonsense, you say?  You probably don’t say that because you are fully aware I have a ton of medical nonsense in my life.  The past few weeks have been rough because…

  • I got my nerve block in Tampa.
  • The block went well, but I’m still having a little bit of lingering back pain from the injection sites.
  • The day after surgery, my right foot turned purple and hip started hurting and bloating.
  • I went back to the hospital/clinic to get checked out and after an ultrasound and blood work found that I did NOT have a blood clot (whew!) or a blood infection (double whew!), so we headed home from Tampa.
  • I followed up with my vein specialist, and he ordered a CT scan for a week later.
  • After an amazing weekend in the mountains with my family and friends, I was still in a great deal of pain, so we went to the ER on Sunday in hopes to get that scan sooner and get some answers/pain relief sooner.
  • The ER doctor found an extreme amount of fluid in my right lung (the side of my body that hurts), and wanted me to follow up with my oncologist and PCP (Primary Care Physician…I didn’t know these acronyms existed until I started this journey).In the meantime, he was going to give me an antibiotic for pneumonia.  (Pneumonia?! Do I have pneumonia?!)
  • My PCP wanted me to see a pulmonologist and get a chest CT scan.
  • 1800 doctor’s appointments later, I had the chest scan, the liter of fluid has reduced down to only about 1/5 of what it was before, so it’s not a concern. My abdomen CT (at the ER) showed my vein specialist that I do have a vein pooling, but it is not a major concern and I’ve probably had it since pregnancies.
  • All of this is great news, except my hip still hurts. Back pain is better, but my hip still hurts. My local oncologist recommended a different medication, and that does seem to be helping; I’m thankful for that!


So, when people ask me how I am, you will usually get 1 of 2 things:  if my hip pain is strong then I will say, “I’m doing okay.”  If my hip pain is low then I tend to say, “I’m good.  Hanging in there!”  With the Taube Trot on Saturday, I’m hoping this post comes as informative as possible. I am so excited to see so many people this weekend, but I also know that I will repeat how I’m doing a whole lot of times.  I truly don’t mind answering, but hopefully this will help speed up the process and we can chat about other fun things too!

3 thoughts on “Yoga is my AED”

  1. I just love you, you. Your heart. Your strength. Your honestly and your attempt to let the tears flow. I’m always up for a good cry – sad or not I can cry with you 😘

  2. Ashley- you are a one in a million. You make a difference. Keep it up kiddo. All of it. Kick that crap in the butt.

  3. I’m so inspired by you and your beautiful family! Looking forward to coming out and supporting ya’ll at the Taube Trot. I’ve been thinking of ya’ll and praying for you every time I go out and train for the run.

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