*Disclosure: I am not a medical professional. I am NOT issuing medical advice. I am just sharing how I addressed my symptoms and my experiences. This post contains affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions are mine and were in no way influenced by the companies.
In the fall of 2012 I made the decision to treat my chronic illness naturally and alternatively. At this point I had been living with excruciating pain from fibromyalgia, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and endometriosis for 12 years. During those years I treated my conditions and pain pharmaceutically. I never experienced relief or improvements. In fact my conditions were rapidly getting worse and opioids would occasionally mask my pain for an hour or two or barely take it down a notch. I was lucky to sleep for 4 hours and most of the time I only slept in 20 minute increments. To add insult to injury, the side effects from my prescriptions, including opioids, were adding more health issues and pain. In this post I am sharing how I began my alternative journey, what I did, and how I went from being consumed with pain and not being able to walk, sit, or stand for more than 5 minutes to walking 4-9 miles a day and no longer needing a wheelchair.
The first step in taking back my life
My first step was to discontinue my pharmaceutical treatments. I was able to stop some medications immediately, while others required that I taper off instead. **Remember, I am only sharing what I did and am in NO way suggesting that you do what I did!** To my surprise I experienced a few improvements. This was because I was no longer experiencing the side effects that my prescriptions had been producing. One thing had become clear after I ceased taking opioids, they were to blame for my frequent and extremely painful urinary tract infections. I never had them before I had to take them daily for pain, yet was in the ER several times a year because of how painful they were during the 12 years that I did. I have yet to have another since I stopped taking prescription pain killers.
It was this point that made it possible to know what symptoms and pain I was actually dealing with because of my chronic illnesses. The symptoms and pain I needed to get under control included: fatigue, brain fog, muscle soreness, muscle spasms, joint pain and swelling, nerve pain, psoriasis rashes, pain in my jaw, feet, spine, hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, neck, wrists, and hands, reactionary pain, abdominal pain from adhesions stemming from endometriosis and surgical scarring, digestive issues, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Besides wanting to rid my body from the chemicals that were obviously not helping me, I chose detoxing before beginning any new treatment in order to not confuse my results. I wouldn’t know if something was really working if I still had prescription drugs in my system.
My first step in addressing pain
After completely detoxing, I was ready to tackle my pain. Since there were so many various symptoms to address I decided to focus on one at a time. Although I couldn’t walk, sit, or stand for five minutes, hold a pen, and would drop everything I picked up I chose not to focus on one area of my body, but instead my first goal was to reduce my overall pain level. Widespread pain was the result of my body reacting to its pain sources. The pain that consumed me head to toe was so intense that it was impossible to know where those sources were. I needed to relieve my body of reactionary pain first in order to know where my true pain sources were located.
I began by using medical marijuana for pain relief. In the years prior my response to doctors who wanted to blame some of my pain on depression was “I am not insane, I am in pain”. Although I truly was depressed and it increased my pain, it wasn’t the source. I knew that in order to address my depression, I had to first experience a significant level of pain relief. But it had to be true pain relief, not a Band-Aid that hid it or just having it reduced by a smidgen. Medical marijuana (MMJ) helped tremendously right from the start. For two years I was unable to sit in the passenger seat and had to lie in the back seat of our SUV whenever I left the house. Yet, just a few hours after my first dose of MMJ, I was able to ride upfront without crying. That evening I enjoyed dinner out with my husband and daughter and for the first time in many years it didn’t bother me to sit at the table. I could hear what my family was saying and converse with them, because my brain wasn’t consumed with pain. I was calm, not anxious and I loved every minute of it. After just a month of using MMJ my overall pain level decreased, nightly insomnia was no longer an issue, I needed less naps, and the joint swelling in one finger and thumb had decreased so significantly that I regained use of those digits. An overall lower pain level also helped improve my anxiety and depression.
Accepting what was and taking responsibility
Although I experienced a few unexpected improvements in addition to reducing my overall pain level from MMJ, I had no idea how long it would take to see more improvements or if I would improve at all. It was important that I learned to be okay with the fact that I might never improve or regain the physical abilities that I had before. I also had to take ownership over my healthcare. In my eBook Make Pain Your Bitch: How to Dominate Your Chronic Life, I share how I came to accept my life as it was, acknowledge changes that needed to be made, and how I made them. I also issue challenges to help you do the same. No matter which symptom you decide to attack first, you will fail if you refuse to accept the life you have and your responsibility to make it better and livable.
Tackling minor pains
You may wonder why I didn’t go after the major sources of my pain first. The reason for this is because they were so severe that they were constantly lighting new fires for me to put out. I also find it is easier to deal with one major pain, rather than 100 minor pains spread throughout my body. Although the pain in my sacrum and spine was the worst of my pain at that time, I could find ways to keep it stable when it was the only pain that was nagging me. The minor pains I addressed where muscle and joint pain in my hips, shoulders, and neck. Now when I say minor, understand that I used to consider a pain level of 8 as minor. To get these areas under control I had to experiment more with MMJ and began including CBD products. CBD products do not have the psychoactive properties that MMJ does. CBD will NOT get you high and is legal in all 50 states. I used MMJ edibles in small doses for daytime pain and larger doses at night. CBD topical oils are fantastic at reducing topical pain at home and on the go. As soon as I would feel that a muscle was tensing up or was already wound tight, I would apply a CBD oil and poof, like magic the muscle began to relax. BTW my favorite topical CBD oil is from BioCBD+. You can read my full reviews here: Capsules, topical oil, and vape.
At this point I was ahead of the game. Instead of waiting for the rest of my body to react to its main pain sources, I was able to nip them in the bud. This made the areas that needed to be addressed next even more clearer.
Taking on the big guys
At this point I had eliminated many of the symptoms that had plagued me for years. I was down to several major pain sources and since I had the other issues under control it was easier to address them. By the fall of 2016, the major issues I was still dealing with and that were keeping in a wheelchair were pain in my lower spine, sacrum, hips, feet, and abdominal pain from adhesions. Also included were changes in the weather that would cause swelling around my spine and neck which would render me useless until the weather system passed.
I began addressing everything except the abdominal pain by using icepacks, rubbing CBD oil on them, getting weekly massages to loosen the muscles that were squeezing those bones, and figuring out what types of physical movement increased or decreased my pain. In November of 2016 I began using PEMF therapy from Oska Pulse. However, not understanding how much more effective this form of treatment could be if I used it regularly I didn’t experience much relief from my worst pain in the beginning. Yet, just using it for several hours a few days a week, I noticed that my stamina was increasing, my good days began out numbering my bad days, and I was recovering from flares faster. By January of 2017 I was able to begin exercising by using my Oska Pulse during and after my workouts and by finding forms of exercise that didn’t aggravate my sacrum or spine. Prior to using Oska Pulse I had experienced a major ripping inside my abdomen which relieved me from that pain for a few months.
Abdominal adhesions did more than pull and tug at my sidewall and internal organs, they would also strangle my bowels. The only way to relieve that pain was for a surgeon to go in and remove the adhesions or for me to wait for them to rip and loosen their hold. This created digestive issues that no amount of dietary changes was going to cure. Yet, because I had already had 8 abdominal surgeries, my healthcare provider refused to perform another. Instead they offered me end of life pain management!! In March of 2017, adhesions took ahold of my bowels once again and this time it was worse than it had ever been before. While my doctors were ready to allow adhesions kill me, I wasn’t!! It was time to refocus my attention from my spine to my abdomen. After hearing how PEMF therapy could help loosen or prevent more adhesions, I began treating my abdomen daily. Gone were my days of only using my Oska Pulse for a few hours, I used it from the moment I woke up and didn’t stop until I went to bed. I still run my Oska Pulse all day, most days, however I am often able to take a day off or share it with another family member throughout the day.
PEMF therapy with Oska Pulse saved my life. Within days, the hold that adhesions had on my bowels had loosened. Within weeks, I was able to eat normally. Within months my belly no longer hurt with the pain that had made my life a living hell for the past 14 years.
A funny thing happened while I was treating my life threatening abdominal issue. Without realizing it, I had been treating my spine and hips at the same time. You see Oska Pulse works within a 22 inch radius, so when I had it on my belly it was directly treating those other areas as well and when seated with my legs crossed I was also treating my feet! I discovered this after four months of fulltime daily use. Suddenly, there was an evening when I realized that my lower back didn’t hurt and that I could walk throughout the grocery store without increasing my pain level. Since then I spend my days moving my device from one major pain source to the next to keep them all lower than I ever thought possible. I am not cured, I still experience pain, but the pain I do experience is very low and it doesn’t prevent me from functioning the way I did before becoming chronically ill.
To infinity and beyond!
You might think that my work was done, but it wasn’t. I was still experiencing some digestive issues and knew that if I ever wanted to get my bad knee fixed, I would need to lose weight. I attacked and have conquered my digestive issues by changing what I put into my body. With the exception of when I eat out, I follow a raw and organic diet. I do try to find organic options when out, but it isn’t always available. What I found is this: I do not have a problem with sugar, as long as it is in moderation. I do have major problems with artificial sweeteners, especially fructose syrup, increasing inflammation throughout my body. I don’t have an issue with dairy, that is as long as it is organic. Gluten is not my enemy, it is non-organic wheat and other crap that manufactures put into their products.
Eating organically has rid me of diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and unnecessary pain from inflammation. In addition I have amped up my exercise routine and am losing weight. Exercise would have never been possible if I hadn’t been able to get ahead of the pain game. MMJ, CBD, and PEMF therapy are what have made it possible for me to exercise not just regularly, but daily. They are why I was also able to retire my wheelchair in January of 2018. My pain management plan includes diet and exercise, because the healthier my entire body is, the better I feel, and the more I am able to do.
Where I am today
I am not cured. I still experience flares, mainly weather related, but they are not as severe and painful as they were in the past. They also don’t last as long as they used to and I am continuing to recover faster from them. Click here to read about my current pain management plan. The aches and pains from my chronic illnesses no longer hold me back with the exception of my knee which has loose cartilage and bone fragments jamming into my joints and occasional intestinal inflammation believed to be damage sustained from all the years of adhesions pulling and twisting them. I still take and enjoy naps when my body demands them, but they are no longer a daily activity. Instead of dreading mornings, I am excited to wake up each day! I love starting my morning with a 4 mile walk. While medical marijuana gifted me with 8-10 hours of sleep, my sleep schedule wasn’t regular until I added physical activity. I am only up late when I choose to be and only sleep past 7AM when I have chosen to stay up past midnight. My pain management plan has made it possible for me to do the things I loved to do before I became chronically ill. Speaking of MMJ, I no longer need to medicate for pain during the day. I use MMJ every night and use CBD and my Oska Pulse during the day.
In addition to how I combat pain I had to make some other changes in regards to my life and attitude. Check out my eBook Make Pain Your Bitch: How to Dominate Your Chronic Life. In it I explain these changes and why they were necessary. I also issue challenges to help you recognize the areas of your life that may be holding you back and give you ideas on how to remove those obstacles.
My advice to you
- Find a way to reduce your overall pain level.
- Accept your life as it is and change the behaviors that are making your chronic pain and life worse.
- Focus on one major issue at a time.
- Stop rewarding yourself with food! You are not a dog! Nourish your body with real food and your body will reward you!
- Exercise. Movement helps tremendously. My hips stiffen up when I sit, but loosen after I begin walking.
- Be patient. I began my journey 6 years ago and my most significant changes only occurred in the past year. Giving up is NOT an option!