I was running to answer the phone when I smashed my foot into the kitchen door frame. My fiancé rushed me to the emergency room because we thought for sure my foot was broken. All the fuss and it turned out to be a broken pinkie toe. No big deal and nothing much we could do for it.
The doctor recommended that I follow up with a podiatrist just in case. I had recently switched professions from a sit-down job as a medical receptionist to an on-your-feet job as a teacher. I was experiencing pain in my feet and reported this to the doctor. What I thought was normal pain for a receptionist-turned-teacher to have, he thought was something more. He took a look at my x-rays and suggested I go see a rheumatologist. He thought he saw arthritis in my feet.
The first rheumatologist I saw didn’t run any tests, just listened to my symptoms and glanced at the x-rays from the podiatrist and diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis. I burst in to tears and she told me that I shouldn’t cry about it, I would just take some medicine and be fine.
I burst into tears and she told me that I shouldn’t cry about it, I would just take some medicine and be fine.
This was the first and last time I saw her.
After doing a bit of investigating into rheumatoid arthritis, I decided I needed some different opinions. First I went to a different rheumatologist who said I had arthritis but was not able to specify which type. Then, having grown up around alternative medicine, I decided to go see my sister’s naturopath. This lady told me that I didn’t have arthritis, I just had allergies. She then proceeded to give me a test in which she dug a metal stick into my hand while holding vials of different foods in my other hand. Turns out according to her, I was literally allergic to everything.
For 8 months I went on the craziest diet ever. No corn, dairy, gluten, refined sugar, alcohol, hazelnuts, cinnamon, shrimp, beef, pork, preservatives, citrus fruit, apples, and other random foods were on the list of “no – no’s” for me. As the months went on, I got worse and worse with no results other than constant cravings and frustrations from the diet.
It wasn’t until I saw my 3rd rheumatologist that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
If you know anything about fibromyalgia, and if you believe that there is such thing as fibromyalgia, it’s this; you cannot ever truly understand fibromyalgia unless you have experienced it. There are so many interpretations, lies, beliefs, opinions, and ideas out there about fibromyalgia that the stigma that goes along with being diagnosed with it, is astounding.
Let me tell you a bit about my fibromyalgia. Out of 18 points on the body, in order to be diagnosed, one must have 11 of these points. I had all 18. My acupuncturist told me at times that I had the worst case she had ever seen. What started as a bit of pain and swelling in my feet, spread throughout my body within the initial year of chronic symptoms. My body quickly became completely debilitated. I went from a strong, lean, athletic individual to a weak, over-weight, disabled body within the course of this year.
If ever you have gone through something like this, you will know that it is life altering.
I went through stages of grief as I had to change my hobbies, habits and lifestyle. I could no longer do the things I could do before and I grieved for these things immensely. Hiking, jogging, weight lifting and camping became replaced with yoga, water aerobics, acupuncture and dieting. Ability became replaced with pain. Pain upon waking, pain upon moving, pain upon working, pain upon sitting, standing, bending, shifting and everything else. It seemed as though all I could ever feel was pain. There was no relief from it, just variations in intensity.
After struggling with depression, hopelessness and grief, I realized that in order to continue to live with this disease, I was going to have to learn to accept it and focus on what I had. Fortunately, I have an incredible husband who has supported me in everything I do 100%. Also, I have two beautiful daughters and an awesome passion for teaching. This is what got me going in the morning and made me smile through the swamp of pain.
I began to try everything I possibly could to treat my disease.
Chiropractors, acupuncture, massage, neurologists, sleep doctors, rheumatologists, medicines, supplements, tests upon tests upon tests, osteopaths, detoxes, machines of various kinds, diets, nutritionists, injections, x-rays, MRIs, neurologic feedback… you name it, I tried it. At first I went into everything with full intention and belief that I could knock this thing. Soon, I realized that I couldn’t have this outlook in order to survive. Instead I came to the understanding that I was always going to be sick; I just had to find what helped to alleviate the accruing symptoms. It’s as though, over the years, I built a bag of tools that I could use to battle my disease.
Along with all these doctors, I also came by several more diagnoses. Arthritis and Fibromyalgia being my main concerns, I was also diagnosed with Tsogren’s disease, Restless Leg Syndrome, Anxiety, TMJ, IBS, and Tendonitis. **
My body was a virtual playground for disease and it seemed to thrive off pain.
I felt trapped in pain with no way out. I am not going to put down everyone that I saw or everyone’s opinion on the matter. In fact, there were many and much that helped. If I were to choose one person who helped and supported me the most throughout my disease, it would have to be Bobbette Grey. She has not only been my acupuncturist for the last 6 years, but also my confidant, support system, and friend. Without her, I don’t know what I would have done. It is her well treatment and care of me that helped me to survive these years of pain and depression. In fact, I was able to stay off medication for the first two years thanks to my weekly visits to her office. Some things worked and some didn’t. Some things would get me out of flares or help me feel better. Never once, however, did I go into remission.
Never once was there an hour that I did not feel pain or wake up feeling as though I hadn’t been run over by a train.
I was dragged into Ideal Spine Health Center by my husband. He had been talking about Dr. Todd as if he were a god for the past two weeks and I went as a dutiful wife to appease my husband. He took me to a class that Dr. Todd held there and within the first half hour I had to walk out for a moment to gain control of my emotions. Dr. Todd was talking about everything that I had been through for the last 7 years and explaining in detail as to how he could help.
I signed up for the initial exam that night. I wasn’t going in to be cured or go into remission. I wasn’t going in to change my life. I was going in because I figured, “why not?” If it helps, it will just be another tool under my belt.
I was wrong. Dr. Todd will tell you that it is me that changed my body. But it wasn’t me. It was him. If it weren’t for him and his vision, I would not have my life back.
I am in complete remission!
and most of the time; I do not feel any pain other than the normal pains of being human and quite out of shape.
In a matter of 4 months, I am a changed woman. Every day, there is one more thing that I can add to my list of things that I couldn’t do when I was sick. When I check in with Dr. Todd, I say things like “I just rode a bike for the first time in 7 years” and “I’m sore because I danced too much at school today”. Yes, I see his point when he says that it’s me doing the work. I go three times a week for specific chiropractic, traction, exercises, and work out sessions.
However, there are no words to express my gratitude to Dr. Todd Pickman for giving me a chance to live my life again.