Taoist Tai Chi can benefit those with Hepatitis C

  • Oct. 12, 2007 1:00 p.m.

Submitted by Wendy Mackay–How does one maintain an exercise routine when living with Hepatitis C? For some, this is not an issue, as many don’t experience symptoms that prohibit a reasonably active lifestyle. For those who do, experiencing fatigue, muscle aches, pain and so on, finding a way to exercise can be a challenge.The less active we are the less we are able to maintain wellbeing. Living with Chronic Fatigue (CFS) and liver damage often makes us so ill and tired we cannot get off the couch, let alone walk a block each day. Even if you have the ability to push yourself to exercise, it becomes counter productive causing you to relapse and require recovery days before you can get off that couch again. We need exercise to combat the fatigue and feel better, yet exercise can often cause more lethargy when dealing with CFS and liver disease.This was my experience for several years as I became more tired and incapacitated. Any kind of mild walking was too much. Using a cane did not help enough. The more I fought CFS by trying to walk or at least keep moving throughout the day, the worse it became. I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 1999 because these symptoms had increased over the years to the point where I was too ill to function at work or home. At that time, I had been infected for 30 years and was not optimistic about improving my health as it was rapidly worsening no matter what I tried.If I hadn’t ventured to a Taoist Tai Chi internal arts and methods class three years ago I would still be in that state of illness experiencing fatigue, muscle pain and many other ongoing symptoms associated with Hepatitis C. With support from friends and Taoist Tai Chi instructors, I was able to participate in the classes. At first, I sat out most of the sessions. Even the little movement I could do would result in several days of recovery time with increased feelings of illness and migraines. I went into Tai Chi not expecting anything and not understanding what this form of movement could do. Very gradually, over the course of the first year, I was able to attend more of each class and learn the moves. Slowly I began to build up some strength and stamina and regain balance. During the second year most of the migrating muscle and joint pain, including severe and frequent migraine headaches were gone for increasingly longer periods of time. Circulatory, respiratory, immune and digestive functions improved and I could remain awake most of each day without naps. After close to three years of practice the symptoms I experience are no longer as severe or frequent. Flare-ups happen less often and last for a shorter time span.There are medical studies showing Tai Chi is beneficial for people with chronic fatigue syndrome. The more I practise Taoist Tai Chi, the more I’m able to do and the better I feel. It was and is not easy to persevere, but it is fun and so rewarding. Often people with liver disease experience loss of cognitive function, or “brain fog” as we call it. The concentration required when one is practising can help considerably as we use our brain as well as our body to learn Tai Chi. The meditative, calming aspect of this exercise assists the body, mind and spirit to find a healthy, happier balance which in turn aids our whole system to function better and improve our daily quality of living. The reality of this disease is that many of us are unable to continue working or perform manual labour, let alone enjoy any sort of social life. By focusing on what we can do, rather than on what we can no longer do, we provide our body and mind with the tools to help us feel well.Instruction in Taoist Tai Chi internal arts and methods is offered throughout the province. Our Taijaquan instructors are volunteers accredited by the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada. People with a variety of health and mobility issues are able to participate. Drop in to a class near you and watch -ask questions – and try. Be patient and stay with it -give the form of Taoist Tai Chi a chance to help you.Classes are held in several communities on the Islands throughout the year. New fall schedules will be available soon.Resources:International Taoist Tai Chi Society (FAQ and Health Benefits section)http://taoist.org/english/index.phpTaoist Tai Chi Society of Canada – Pacific Regionhttp://www.taoist.bc.ca/