Updated: Jan 28
It’s the beginning of the year already a few months in but I feel like I spent the first months of the new year still wrapping up loose ends of the last year. But that is okay, right? As long as I accomplished what I needed to?
The beginning of this year symbolized the closing of a year-long chapter, and it felt like the closing of a life chapter I have never felt before. I spent the entire year nursing a severe, debilitating back injury that came out of nowhere, that was unexplainable. All tests and scans were clear. I tried everything to see if it would give me any relief and nothing did. The pain didn’t subside whatsoever. I eliminated certain foods, added other foods, I was exercising then I stopped completely, I prayed, I even took OTC meds which I NEVER do, and nothing took the edge off. Constant, nagging, pain and tension right between my shoulder blades in my upper back. I tried so many things and nothing helped at all. I went beyond the physical aspect and still, nothing seemed to help.
This wasn’t because I was physically weak either, I just didn’t know what it was. I was dealing with some stress. Perhaps there was some type of impending situations I felt approaching that I wasn’t allowing myself to fully face. Doctors saw nothing, which made things even more frustrating. This x-ray the area where I was feeling so much pain, was clear.
It had actually been the best year in my business, opportunities were opening up for me but it was an equally trying year as well. Any progress seemed to come with an exception. Along with normal everyday things you have to take care of, cooking the majority of our meals ( because I don’t just play a Holistic Nutritionist, I care about what we eat the majority of the time) laundry, cleaning, existing etc..our family is aging, our dogs were aging. One more than the other and it began to require more and more of my time. Up to the point where I couldn't do anything else but be a caretaker.
Last October my business came to a pretty sudden halt as all my time was focused on being a caretaker. My husband, so strong through all of this allowed me to voice every time I was upset what exactly I was thinking and what exactly I was upset about. He kept reminding me that as we moved into the holidays and as we get older ourselves it was time to celebrate life, not as though we were moving on and forgetting, to celebrate what was and what we still have.
The holidays came and went, actually they left much later than we thought, we just took our Christmas tree down like, a couple of weeks ago. We had been so busy, it had become a staple in our living room. I did enjoy the lights but I was ready to move on, to put that time behind us.
After the most unusual sequence of events, one day, my back finally felt better. While this may have been in large part because of the amazing gift my husband bestowed upon me, the gift of sleep in form of a mattress topper, something else happened the day my back miraculously stopped hurting...which pointed to something so much deeper than just anatomical problems. Something that happened within the body of another living thing.
So the day my pain stopped was an extremely busy day, our dog Emma had always suffered from severe skin allergies. She developed a painful bleeding cyst on her back that would not heal no matter what we did, no matter what doctors did. It had to be removed. So she was having surgery that day. Along with some mammary tumors she had the cyst removed. The doctor even said the nerves were so hypersensitive, due to how painful it was, they would move during surgery. I was worried about her recovery but also worried about what this would mean for me as a caretaker. She needed hydrotherapy every day, I was scared about her going up and down steps etc...This was before my pain resolved so with my back already in so much incessant pain, the thought of getting an 80 lb. dog in and out of the bathtub… How?? I knew I was going to have to figure it out I just wasn’t sure how.
Here was my view from the bed the night we returned from her surgery. She was comfy on her blanket, and I was doing what I always attempted to do, stretch very gently in the bed to see if my back would relax at all. With my legs straight out in front of me, I stretched my hands towards my feet to grab them, typically excruciatingly painful, and I realized it wasn't painful Quickly I sat back up thinking wow, that was really strange. For a moment I looked over at Emma, laying there, I leaned over to check out her wound on her back...right between her shoulders...a large area RIGHT BETWEEN HER SHOULDERS.... wait...That's where MY pain is... or was. I immediately went to stretch again thinking, it's going to hurt this time, you're being crazy, stop. I began to stretch my arms out... Again… it was not painful at all. I told my husband what had occurred and shortly after laid down to try to fall asleep In my head, I was thinking "I'll wake up with the pain, there's just something weird going on."
The seconds, minutes, days following I was almost trying to intentionally hurt my back like purposely stretch too far or high to see if it would just go back to the way it was and it never has. Here’s to hoping it never does. I couldn't stop thinking about Emma's back, the location of her wound and my back and the same location where my pain was relentless. Could it be possible, that on some level that I was not aware of, I was feeling Emma’s pain? Was I empathizing on such a deep level I wasn't even aware ( something that I have become increasingly aware of over the past few years)...Of course, I felt for her and did whatever I could to help but there wasn’t anything I could really do to stop it from hurting her.
Or had the mattress topper I mentioned done its magic? Hmmm...At this point I would have only been using it for only 4 days...perhaps but, how weird is it that my pain was EXACTLY where Emma's was?
I suppose what I am trying to say is when it comes to our health issues, sometimes we can try everything, see all the doctors get all the tests and still no results. It could be something insanely minute and simple we are overlooking ( mattress quality) or it could also be something we are feeling with and for someone else and be totally unaware...
It could be fear manifesting. It could have even been a collective result of all the millions of things I was trying. It could have been a combination of stress, empathy and that amazing mattress topper. I main never know. What I do know is mainstream healthcare SAW nothing so concluded there was nothing. The options I was given were pain medications and steroids. What would have happened if Individualized care had come into play?
If you have gone with a symptom or condition that is unresolved, PLEASE no matter what just keep searching, keep looking even in the most unlikely places. This whole experience made me do a little research and I know I am just scratching the surface, but I was amazed at some of the stories and evidence I found.
This is not specific to animals but does share some insight about Empathy related to health. In case you don't feel like reading the articles, basically empathic illness is definitely a thing.
So after this had all come to pass and after months of no exercise, barely even stretching I pulled out the equipment again. By equipment, I mean a yoga mat. I promised myself I would start slow and be gentle and have low expectations even though I wasn’t in pain anymore. If nothing else this whole experience taught me how complacent I could get at times.
I’ve come into 2019 with a little bit more wisdom but mostly so much evidence of the blessings from above. The reminder that things are not always what they seem and to make the best of everything during my time in this place has been more apparent now than ever.
While I continue to explore Empathy and Empathy related illnesses I will share as I learn. I think it is worth pointing out how important it is for us to be SEEN by healthcare professionals.
To be seen as a unique person, not just a disease, or a set of symptoms. If my unique situation had been explored would I have been able to heal faster? Ask yourself if you are being SEEN in terms of your health, on an individual level. Or are you just treated as if your identity is your health condition.
As always, I am here to support you if you need it. To make sure you are getting the latest updates on what I just mentioned and all things related visit www.nutritionsteward.com to sign up for emails or you can simply contact me here.