They Told Her She’d End Up In a Wheelchair.

Via elephant journal
on May 25, 2013
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I was 29, a brand new mom, and I had just been diagnosed with a disease I’d never even heard of.

Multiple Sclerosis stops people from moving. They don’t know what causes the body to attack itself, and they don’t know how to cure it. It’s a mysterious and unpredictable illness, and a diagnosis often takes years because symptoms can temporarily improve- or even disappear- at times.

For me, MS is a blessing because it requires that I be mindful of how my mind and body are feeling at every moment of every day.

Yoga and Ayurveda keep my life in balance, and are integral to my path to optimal health. Because if MS is going to try and stop me from moving, I sure as hell am not going down without a fight. ~ Saira Manjothi


Saira enjoying dancer pose on the New England coast where she resides with her husband and two sons.



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19 Responses to “They Told Her She’d End Up In a Wheelchair.”

  1. lisa says:

    thank you for this Saira and Robert!! As a 47 yr old single mom, holistic nutritionist and yoga teacher and practitioner who was diagnosed w/ Hep C at age 29, I can relate so much to both the heartbreak and (for me) fear of being diagnosed with a life-changing (docs basically told me it was a death sentence) illness as well as the blessing it has become in my life. being aware, present, and willing to learn, change and grow has led me to a pretty awesome life. today I work towards both being inspired and informed to inspiring and informing others. and I am grateful for it all. i am living a full and healthy life full of energy and vitality. I am grateful when others share these stories because somewhere, someone may be in despair or feel stuck with their own illness and can find hope and inspiration through others who are walking the path and come out the other side, proactive and present in their own lives. THANK YOU!!

  2. Ellen says:

    Bless you Saira, your upbeat attitude is fantastic. I was diagnosed with MS at 41, with three young children and told all I could do was take steroid injections – which I refused. Happily for me, the diagnosis was wrong. I had combined system disease, the neurologic symptoms of B12 deficiency, without the anemia. 23 years, and many B12 injections, later I am symptom free, but I know the fear your diagnosis inspires. May your healthy ways and determination keep you strong! Namaste.

  3. CBHananda says:

    I loved reading this and felt a strong connection with Saira. I had my first strange MS symptoms when I was 19, and was diagnosed two years later. This was in 1981, and I too have not gone down without a fight. Yoga, nutrition, meditation, good medical care, being social, massage and many other things really help. But the MS has been fighting too, so I wanted to mention my feelings about the title of the article. I feel it implies that if we are just "good" and valiant we will not end up disabled, and that Saira has completely overcome the threat of a wheelchair by fighting the good fight. I truly hope that ends up being true for her (and me), but it seems a little early to state, "They told her she'd end up in a wheelchair. Look at her now."

  4. Robert says:

    Yes. You make a valid point. Unfortunately, there's the possibility of it being too early to state for a very long time.
    I titled it after an inspiring and triumphant moment where she gave a beautiful dancer pose to our shoot. We were extremely joyous. However, I see your point and the second sentence has been omitted. The image has its own voice. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  5. Saira says:

    Thank you all for your kind words! This pose is really important to me because there have been weeks when I have been unable to get out of bed, let alone walk. I have balance issues and I tire easily. This is not one of my usual poses, in my restorative yoga practice, and I tried and tried on the beach to attempt it because I just think it looks lovely.

    When I look at this photo, I see the split second that everything was beautiful. This photo gives me hope. The only image that would have been more moving was me falling, because I got right up again. And I even held it a second longer the next time. It was magical!

  6. Tanya says:

    A very thoughtful comment, thank you. Here is a long but worthwhile article you might like on how our thinking is biased when trying to decide on a course of action for a problem.

  7. Megan Marie says:

    Beautifully said Saira. xoxo M

  8. CBHananda says:

    I understand too, Robert, when I read the sentence as a directive to look at her and her loveliness and liveliness NOW, right now. (I'm not sure this comes through without tone of voice.) Her pose and her equanimity is shining. So beautiful. Thanks again for the photo and article.

  9. CBHananda says:

    It is triumphant and beautiful, and I'm glad you have such a lovely reminder of that moment and that day.

  10. Lisa O'Brien says:

    “For me, MS is a blessing because it requires that I be mindful of how my mind and body are feeling at every moment of every day.” Now, that’s a mantra.

    Love every bit, Saira, and hope to practice with you next time I’m in your neck of the woods.

  11. pranarupa says:

    Saira, check out the work of Ray Peat,
    his work is amazing!! Much of the bioenergetic model that Ray Peat works with beautifully complements yoga.

  12. taddy says:

    Wish you my best to you and your 2 son. hope you will win everything and every time …

  13. Mike says:

    Way to keep your head high and not give up without a fight Saira! I truly hope you can overcome this and become a motivation to others suffering from the same disease!

  14. Bhanu Didi says:

    Such nice article and it is really very inspiring to those who really want such things for their life.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Today is World MS Day. I added my motto to the international manifesto. I don't have a conscious existence that does not have shape to it formed by MS. My dad was diagnosed when I was one year old. He died last year from MS-related complications. The disease's effects on his body halted his promising flight career with the USAF. This effects of the physical affected his mind, and he allowed it to halt his participation in life. I grew up clinging to, then rejecting, then accepting my father as he fell further into despair and self-loathing. My brother was diagnosed in 2009, and only when contracting a possibly fatal brain infection as a result of his MS therapy, started making active choices in life. I salute you, Saira, for your courage, patience, and choices. For me, my part, was to love my father and continuously remind him how valuable he was to me, and I learned to accept him for who he is, not the father I thought I was owed (as I did in the arrogance and naivety of my youth). For me, my part is to love on my brother and show him the ways he is important to me, be easy and gentle with him when he asks me for help to affirm for him that his life is not a burden for me, and to be strong for him when he feels his days of weakness. For me, my part has been honoring the health, vitality, and strength of my body and my capabilities denied my father and brother… and taking such care of myself that I do not squander the opportunity to move in ways they wish they had. Simply beautiful, Saira and Robert!

  16. What an inspiring story, and thank you for sharing your voice with the world. I am never ceased to be amazed in terms of the power of yoga and how it changes people's lives, whether they are struggling with a physical ailment, such as in the case of MS or just seeking restoration of the mind and soul. The world of yogic practice provides healing, balance and beauty in this world that we all share. Wishing you health and well-being. Namaste.

  17. Luna says:

    So good you look so healthy!! It´s incredible all the benefits yoga and ayurveda can have if you do things right!

  18. Sharlynn says:

    I was diagnosed w/ ms @ the age of 33,

    following 7 months of on again – off again symptoms.

    When my neurologist told me I had MS, I was devastated…

    but the next sentence she spoke, (as confusing as it was

    when she said it), over the past 12 years has become a driving

    force for me. Dr Lynch said: “MS is no longer a ‘death sentence’.

    MS is simply a new way to LIVE.”

    We all have our own stories. We all have our own way to cope…

    but learning such a valuable lesson early on has made such a

    difference in my life. I am inspired to read all of your stories

  19. pratibha75 says:

    There is so much that yoga can do – getting the right balance between physical and emotional energies!