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Be Well Champions: Nashville Native Finds Relief at NPL

February 10, 2020

Caralyn L. Uses Yoga, Meditation, and More to Overcome Medical Challenges

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Be Well at NPL is a critical part of Caralyn L.'s recovery. (Photo Courtesy of Caralyn L.)

“Imagine putting your hand on a hot stove, while you have a papercut on your fingers, at the same time.”

That’s how Caralyn L. describes what peripheral neuropathy feels like. The disease damages the peripheral nervous system, causing sensations of cold, heat, and pain at random. There is no cure, and Caralyn has neuropathy in both her hands and feet.

Neuropathy is just one of the conditions Caralyn deals with every day. She was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy in May 2017, which caused paralysis in the right side of her face, from her lower jaw to just below her eye. For six months, she couldn’t chew, smile, or use the right side of her face at all. She said her speech was altered, and sometimes she had a British or Island accent.

At the same time, Carayln was also found to have Type 2 steroid-induced diabetes, heel spurs, arthritis in both feet, a herniated disc, and sciatic nerve damage in her back and legs.

That would be enough to bring many people to despair — but not Caralyn. She tries not to let her medical condition bring her down, looking for new reasons to smile every day.

She finds plenty of them at Nashville Public Library (NPL).

“My Health is my Job Now”

Born and raised in Nashville, Caralyn has been coming to NPL for most of her life. As an elementary teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools, she would often recommend the library’s programs to parents and students in a newsletter she sent out.

In 2015, the library began to play a much larger role in her life. That year, Caralyn attended her first yoga class, organized through the library’s Be Well at NPL initiative, at the Bellevue location. 

Before long, she was coming to Be Well classes for chair yoga, meditation, cooking, and adult coloring across 12 of the library’s locations.

When she was diagnosed with a barrage of medical conditions, her Be Well classes became even more important as a source of therapy.

“I choose not to use medication for the neuropathy,” Caralyn said. “The breathing techniques and clearing of the mind I learn in Be Well yoga and meditation help me calm my nerves. I get better readings when I visit the doctor, too.”

As the years progressed, Caralyn continued to look for new Be Well programs she could attend, while filling her schedule with old favorites. Today, she attends classes about three days out of each week, as well as some monthly classes.

“People ask me, ‘How do you find time to get to all these programs?’ I haven’t been back to work since May 2017. My health is my job now,” Caralyn said. “I go where I need to for my health.”

The Mayor of the Library

While Caralyn praises Be Well for helping her recover, her boundless optimism in the face of adversity inspires those around her.

“I call her the ‘Mayor of the Library,’ because she always knows what’s going on at all of our locations,” said Lindsay Jensen, manager of the Hadley Park location. “She’s this ray of sunshine that tells it like it is, and that’s a fantastic combination in a person.”

That knowledge of library programs, and the endless enthusiasm she has, serves Caralyn – and the community – very well. Caralyn always grabs flyers to pass out at her church and in the community, and usually brings a friend to her classes, Jensen said.

“We’re grateful for Miss Caralyn — she’s an active recruiter for NPL,” Jensen said. “Knowing that we play a big part in her recovery means so much to my staff and I.” 

Setting the Stage for Recovery

Though the physical and emotional relief she gets through Be Well programs is important, Caralyn said that the experience of being at the library is what keeps her coming back.

“The library’s locations are so accessible, and the library staff and instructors are so kind, helpful, and encouraging,” Caralyn said. “The sense of community and fellowship is key. Some of the yoga participants have had hip surgery. We encourage and help each other, and the library staff sets the stage for that.”

Though it’s not easy dealing with her medical conditions, Caralyn said experiences she has at NPL help her find joy, one day at a time.

“I always try to find something to smile and be happy about. Be Well helps me do that.”

Find Your Path to Better Health at the Library

It’s never a bad time to improve your health.

With Be Well at NPL, you have plenty of resources to help you. Yoga classes, health seminars, and smoking cessation programs are just a few examples of the diverse offerings available at all 21 library locations.

Don’t put your health on hold. Check the listings of Be Well at NPL events happening at your nearest library location, and start living a better, healthier life today.

Editor’s Note: While NPL tries to verify all information in our news features, we publish details as they are presented to us by members of our community. These stories should be treated as reference only.

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Ed Brown

Ed's a proud member of NPL's Marketing and Communications team. Some of his favorite books include Dracula, Once an EagleNeuromancerStarship TroopersThe Black CompanyBerserkBlade of the ImmortalBlame! and Vampire Hunter D. When not at the Library, you'll find him spending time with his wife and son, doing interval training, reading, or waiting for the next FromSoftware game.