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No seriously – I will be forever grateful for your contribution to my work and my continued quest for Health and Happiness. Thanks to your generosity I will be able to continue to live my best life and focus my efforts on the sharing of knowledge and the raising of awareness of how chronic pain impacts the lives of those who suffer from it.
First Steps to Healing
As part of this project I want to offer my patrons as much information as possible to help them on their own journey to health and wellness. Once a month you will receive one article on one of the different elements that I have incorporated into my own daily routine. All the articles will be included in the final book and will include information like the importance of hydration, diet, exercise, the benefits of yoga and mindfulness techniques.
All of the above plus each month you will receive a new chapter of my current project – ‘Too True – My Synchromystic Healing Journey’. Each new chapter will reveal the different encounters I have had over the years with some truly unique individuals who assisted me in finding my way back to happy and healthy. Every chapter is full of insight and information on the different aspects of healing including the power of the human mind, depression, addiction and how chronic pain affects relationships. For Fibro warriors… most importantly I will be sharing how to overcome and rise above current limitations so that you can discover the best of you and get back the life that was stolen from you.
Yes you CAN get your life back.
In 2009 I embarked on a journey that forever changed how I looked at the world, and the people who reside upon this strange ball of creative genius floating through space. I know, it sounds like a bit of an overused explanation of a personal journey, this idea of forever changing your life simply by taking yourself to another part of the world, but seriously, that is exactly what happened. I took a chance, left life as I knew it behind and ventured off to Manila, Philippines where I began the writing of a book that has not only altered my personal perceptions but is in danger of altering the perceptions of all those who read it. When I left I had no idea what the book would be about and as I wandered aimlessly around a country I knew next to nothing about the book began to unfold. What transpired was not only the writing of my book ‘Truth – My Synchromystic Journey’ but the creation of a documentary about street children that named itself Beyond Strength.
Nothing about what I have done has been what you could deem ‘normal’ and if I hadn’t lived the story myself I certainly wouldn’t have believed it possible yet there it is, waitress turned author and film producer in the span of three months. The journey never stopped, though over the years I have faced my fair share of challenges which have resulted in me putting aside my personal projects more than once, I wouldn’t change a thing.
My biggest challenge to date has been my health and in the last few years I have been forced to focus my efforts more on the healing on my body/mind/spirit than the telling of truths yet my true passion has always been and will always be the exploration of the nature of humanity. Simply put, I crave the human connection and though my physical limitations have more than once stopped me from connecting with others on the level that I once did, I have yearned for the day when I was healthy enough to get back out into the world and share with my readers the wisdom I discover in conversation with ordinary individuals like yourself.
That day is today…
After years of working on healing my body I am finally at the point where I am ready to jump back into the exploration of humanity by way of my interactions with the people I meet. For me life is about sharing… the sharing of experience, the sharing of wisdom, and most importantly the sharing of those truths that we tend to hide from the world. Authenticity is what I am after. Truth is what I seek.
The sharing of those truths I discover is what I do.
So here I am ready to invite you, the reader on a journey into the hearts and minds of those who have chosen to find peace and joy in their lives by walking away from the expectations of society.
My current project – ‘Too True – My Synchromystic Healing Journey’ is a deep dive into what it means to live with and rise above the challenges of Chronic Pain syndromes like Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome. I do not plan on sugar coating the realities of such a life nor will I apologize for my casual and often blunt approach to communicating those realities. I do promise however to share you with everything I have learned in the ten years that I have been actively seeking answers with regards to how to manage, live with and even, dare I say, thrive, while living with Chronic pain. The journey has not been an easy one.
Although I do occasionally blog about the healing methods I have discovered and have produced several videos and articles over the years on this subject this is the first time that I have made the attempt to put them into a book. I plan to follow the same format as my original book which was divided into three sections. The first section told the back story of how I ended up in the Philippines writing a book in the first place, the second was a collection of letters written to a friend back home during my time there and the third was added years later as a way to sum up how the journey had impacted me and my life.
My current book will also be presented in three sections, and depending on your level of interest and commitment to this adventure you will be awarded with the opportunity to not only learn about life through the eyes of your fellow human but to share in all of the unique insights into health and wellness that I have discovered over the years. I am offering not just a chance for the exploration of humanity but a chance to dive into the power of self-discovery in healing.
As I am currently residing in Costa Rica while I wait out the winter months in Canada (my body and the cold do NOT get along) I am venturing out occasionally into the town I currently live in and connecting with locals. Through candid conversation about life, love and the pursuit of happiness I am discovering that we all have within us both the capacity for good and for evil. It is the balance of the two that gifts us with the precious diversity that is life on Earth.
While I am here I plan on taking on the daunting task of being a voice for those who society has for far too long refused to acknowledge.
The truth is that we aren’t talking about chronic pain on the level that we should be. It seems society fears to face the truth of the monumental impact that untreated chronic pain is having on individuals, the people who love them and ultimately our success as a race. For those living with chronic pain life is about hopping from one tormented now moment to the next. They live, every day, all day, trapped in bodies that seem to have failed them. Yet despite their suffering they continue to fight through the pain in an attempt to reclaim the lives that have been stolen from them. They are warriors and they deserve to be recognized for the strength of spirit that they possess.
It is my vision that this project will not only shed light on the reality of those who live in sorrow and torment but will offer hope to those seeking to heal and rise above their physical challenges. The answers are there, it is merely up to us to strive, to seek and to find.
Shall we begin?
By way of invitation... I am happy to gift you with a bit of an introduction. Please understand that as this will eventually be a professionally published book, the copy that I offer here is the original draft. Copyrights and all that. Still I hope you will find my rough to be fairly polished as I do put time and effort into making it as reader friendly as possible.
An excerpt from the intro...
The truth is that if I could not dredge up some semblance of purpose for the pain that I have suffered from for years, I would have long ago taken my own life. I don’t type those words lightly, and I have only recently been willing to openly speak about the suicidal thoughts that go along with chronic pain. I remember one particular instance when I was on the road with my husband (a truck driver) and unbeknownst to him I spent the entire three days on the road (when awake) wishing I could just die because death would be easier. Seriously, for three days straight, I sat in the passenger seat of his truck, thinking about, wishing for, sometimes even mentally begging for death. I never told him, I never admitted how much I was suffering, I never asked him for help. I just sat there, day after day, watching the road in front of me, silently contemplating how much I wanted it to just be over. No thought to him really or how it would affect him, no thought of my treasured girls and how it would impact their lives, just ‘please let me die’ playing on repeat in my head like a broken record. I don’t even have the decency to be ashamed of it. I am not sure that I should be ashamed of it. When your body feels like it is at constant war with itself - though I know now it is not - it causes torment to one’s person that goes well beyond the mere physical experience. How does one even begin to describe the myriad of emotions that come along with having a condition that the doctors and society still don’t fully understand. I hope in the process of this sharing that I can shed some light on the experiences of countless others out there suffering from chronic pain. Certainly I cannot speak for them, and my own personal perception of things may be vastly different than that of another. It is my hope, that if I am perfectly open and honest about the things that Fibromyalgia has done to destroy my sense of self-worth and purpose, if I am authentic in my sharing of the repercussions that chronic pain has had on the financial, emotional and physical security of myself and my family, then maybe, just maybe, people will come to understand the dangers and severity of chronic pain and begin to take seriously the heart-wrenching plight of warriors around the world trying to eek out an existence while wishing they didn’t exist at all.
What does it feel like??? That’s the question I get the most… Even that is something I struggle to describe. For those who have experienced time in training, in the gym or on the field or who have hard laborious jobs that require intense physical activity, you will know the weak watery feeling of over used muscles that comes only minutes after you stop whatever strenuous activity you are doing. You also know the achy, bone deep weariness that leads to an early rest and the necessary slow encouragement of angry locked up muscles to allow minimal movement the morning after. That’s just a normal day for me. That’s what my every day, without a flare, or injury or undue emotional stress is like. That is why I practice yoga, why I have studied meditation for pain management, why I am (within reason) exceptionally careful of my diet and am diligent with my supplements. All these things I do because I know that they help my every day be not quite as bad as a combination between the minutes and morning after a hard day at the gym.
Of course that’s just the muscles…
Do you know that sickly, dehydrated state that comes with having had a few too many the night before, the sensitivity to sound and light, mixed in with a little confusion of where you are and how you got there? Yeah… that’s a pretty normal thing for me as well, although I don’t get the enjoyment of having the alcohol (yes occasionally I do drink but I pay for it for days) because my body and alcohol do NOT get along very well at all. They call the confusion part Fibro fog, a quaint little nickname meant to take the fear out of not being able to remember the PIN number to the bank card you just used 15 minutes ago at the store at the other end of the mall. There’s not much science being done by way of figuring out where Fibro fog comes from, but I can attest to the fact (from firsthand experience) that sleep deprivation caused by untreated pain can result in loss of memory so severe that doctors consider early onset Alzheimer’s. That little adventure is something we can dive into at a later date, the point is, I believe that Fibro fog is the direct result of the nervous system being so completely overwhelmed that it can no longer process information properly. I have often described Fibromyalgia as being in a constant state of fight or flight, where the senses are heightened and the brain is so focused on survival mode that any extraneous information (like a PIN number or your husbands date of birth) is quickly pushed into the recesses of the brain that are not easily accessed.
As for the dehydration, given that I always have at least one refillable bottle of water with me at all times, and rarely drink coffee, pop, or alcohol, dehydration definitely should NOT be an issue. Yet many mornings I wake feeling as if my body is lacking the life giving force that is H20. It took me awhile to figure it out but after several years of confusion over why my body did what it did, I finally realized that it happened after days when I had had processed foods or food otherwise high in unhealthy ingredients like unnecessary preservatives and other fun chemicals. I also noticed that I would be extremely dehydrated on mornings after I had cleaned the house (before I switched to natural cleaning products) or used harsh chemicals for any reason at my job. Even the act of dyeing my hair would lead to a rough couple days, though I stubbornly continued to dye my hair for years, only this year opting to chop it all off, let it grow in naturally and rock the grey that my red hair dye has been hiding.
And of course there is the much ignored yet ever present sensitivity to touch. I won’t get into this too much at the moment because it warrants a chapter all its own but I want you to consider this; what must life be like for someone who feels pain when someone brushes their fingers over their skin? The impact this one symptom alone has on the relationships of couples who find themselves unable to be intimate, or on parents who find themselves unable to hug and comfort a crying child is enough to make most decent people weep.
Along with all of this comes my life long companions, depression and anxiety. Now it can be said that depression manifests as physical pain when left untreated so again, the question could be asked what comes first. For me personally, the answer apparently is the pain, as doctors have tried unsuccessfully to treat the depression with medications and counselling without treating the pain – which by the way does not work for me - and learned through trial and error that the depression goes away naturally once the pain itself is treated. It is the same with the anxiety, though I have also learned that the anxiety is an integral part of having a condition that stems from an overactive central nervous system. One simply can’t be on the edge ALL the time (fight or flight) without being on edge all the time.
All of that, just a regular day… a regular day, every day, for years and years and years… Diagnosed in 2004, but suffering symptoms for years prior, this has been my life for over 20 yrs. Fuck… Three times I have tried to type the next sentence and three times I have erased it because - Fuck… apparently I need to digest that and I’m the one who has been living with it. I can’t imagine right now what you must be thinking. How the hell does anyone survive living that way without going completely insane (which is not to say that I am, completely sane that is but…) Yeah, I wouldn’t believe it either, in fact I didn’t and that I believe is where we started. With me acknowledging that I didn’t believe, and accepting that had I not personally experienced it, I might never have believed. Better people than me then are those who have stumbled onto my life’s path and offered understanding, compassion and support. Forgiven are those who never understood, who were unable, though they tried, to grasp the severity of this syndrome and what it does to those who suffer from it.
I have thus far only scratched the surface, only given you a glimpse. I have yet to discuss the reality of a flare, or the truth of the unpredictable nature of Fibro. I have only alluded to some of the solutions I have found on my journey. There is so much more to it than what a simple few paragraphs can cover, because Fibro along with its multiple symptoms that change from day to day and patient to patient, has as many different causes. I mentioned PTSD which is now being studied as one of the main causes to the onset of this debilitating disorder. Physical trauma can also cause a first flare as in the case of my mother who never healed from an accident that happened years before the pain, the pills and the alcohol finally took her life. There are those who believe that it is hereditary, the result of a dormant gene that is passed down generation to generation, until it is activated by trauma. Others say it is nothing but a random short circuit in the nervous system brought about by repeated emotional or physical stress. Some, like myself, even believe it might be part of our evolutionary process, and oh my goodness, won’t that be a rabbit hole to dive down at some later date. The entire topic is so ridiculously complex as to be laughable. The patients who suffer from it don’t understand it, the doctors simply pretend to understand it and society as a whole struggles to accept that it even exists. Yet exist it does…
The grim reality is that there are an estimated 2% of Canadians suffering from Fibromyalgia, and globally the number reaches 3-6%. That is roughly 420 Million people who wake up every day of their lives in pain and confusion from a medical mystery that science has yet to solve. A syndrome that science has, to be perfectly honest, shown very little interest in exploring let alone curing.
So there it is, the first ramblings of an unstable lonely mind about the medical condition that inspired a trip to the jungle and awakened a unquenchable thirst for answers and ultimately solutions to a global plague. Am I cured??? No, certainly not, though there have been times throughout the years when I was half convinced I was. Is there a cure??? I wholeheartedly believe there is, not because of all the things I have learned over the years with regards to natural medicine and the workings of the human mind and body, but because once, a few years ago, I let myself accept for a brief time that there was no cure. That ‘knowledge’ almost killed me. Loss of hope robs us of the ability to continue to fight and so I continue to believe. Simply put… I believe solely because I can’t face the dark reality of living the rest of my life (possibly another 40-50 years - I am 43) in pain, every minute, of every day, until the day I die.
and an offering of hope...
It is only a little over three years ago that I could barely walk, was unable to dress myself and found the usage of basic technology like a cell phone to be overwhelming, if not impossible.
Today I am back to embracing life and all that it has to offer. It was a long hard climb but thanks to the assistance of some truly remarkable individuals i found my way to health and happiness. I am off almost all of the medications I was initially told would be my life long companions and my body is not only pain free (most days) but able to accomplish great feats like three hour long hikes to waterfalls and advanced yoga poses. So how did I get here?
I certainly did not do it alone, so as much as this is a story of personal triumph it is also a testament to compassionate nature of the many healing hearts that I have been blessed to encounter along the way. So yes... it is more than just my story... it is our story and I hope it inspires within you the strength and the courage to embark on your own journey to health and happiness.