Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Journey From Hate to Health - Part 2

Drugs & Perspective

The only night I can remember spent in that much pain was the day I heard my dad had died. That kind of emotional pain can at times feel physical. But at least there is an ebb and flow, good memories are mixed in with the despair. And with childbirth, there is an ebb and flow as well, there is rest between contractions, and the knowing that it won't hurt forever gave me the wherewithal to plow through. But there was no respite this night.

I was up early out of bed, showered and ready to make an appointment with my general practitioner. I needed something to make the pain go away. Just give me drugs. Make it stop hurting. When they heard I had been in an accident, they agreed to see me right away. After a brief discussion of what happened, he wrote me a script and I was on my way to being pain free. I may have even cracked a smile feeling the anticipation of being normal again. Only, I didn't feel normal. The drugs didn't really take away the pain, they just made me stupid. I was numb all over. The pain was there, but I didn't care. That was about the extent of it... the meds took away my ability to care... Oh yeah, and to speak in complete sentences. My staff... the people I managed at work, laughed at me for two days straight before they said enough was enough. Not only should I not be working, but I shouldn't be driving while taking the drugs either. I went home early that night and went straight to bed.

The following morning I attended a weekly bible study where we broke up into small groups and shared our answers to questions that we had worked on the previous week. The group leader asked me to answer a question. I began with an apology and a chuckle that explained the events of the week and that my answers probably wouldn't make much sense due to my drug induced state. After our group time, one of the ladies came up to me and asked if I had ever considered chiropractic care. She felt that her husband would be able to help me and offered to make the appointment right then. Within minutes I had an appointment scheduled right after our study time. To be honest, the only things I had ever heard about chiropractors were they were quacks and that whatever they did, you had to keep coming back to have it done. It was a never ending cycle. You see that's how they make their money, or so I had been told.

I made my way to the office, handled paperwork, answered questions and waited. Not for long though, apparently I had an "in" and I was ushered to the back part of the office where they did a scan on my spine, x-rays and I answered more questions. I finally met the doctor and he asked me more questions. My GP never asked me any of this stuff. I had never met a doctor like this. He didn't speak. He thought. He contemplated. He mulled. He processed. After what seemed an amazing amount of silence, I was about ready to ask him if HE was alright when he finally spoke. As the appointment progressed, he started to educate me on why the medicine wasn't helping me improve. The medicine wasn't designed to fix what was wrong, it was designed to target the pain and make what hurt, seem like it didn't hurt. It was like taking a massive ibuprofen for a pulled muscle. The muscle is still injured, the ibuprofen just makes the brain think it doesn't hurt so you can keep doing what you want to do without much interference (in a nutshell & in my verbiage). The injury is still there, you just don't think about it as much. He had described my experience exactly. He also explained that if any part of your spine is not in perfect alignment, it  can block the nervous system from functioning properly and that can have adverse effects on any number of things depending on where you are out of alignment. That explained a lot of other weirdness I was experiencing besides the drug induced stupidity.

He conveyed his plan to me on how he was going to proceed with treatment. At that point, I didn't much care what he did as long as "pain free" was in my near future. I can't remember everything he did that day, but I did leave his office with a new perspective on how the body worked and that meds really weren't the answer for anything I was going through. I quit taking the medicine (I threw it away actually) and followed his orders on how to manage my pain. I remember laying in bed a few days later in just as much agony as I had the night of the accident. I picked up the phone to see if I could get an appointment before their office closed. But when they answered all I could get out was my name and I just started crying. They had told me not to worry about a thing. The doctor was getting ready to leave for the day and would stop by my house in a few minutes. WHAT?! I almost laughed. A house call in 2002. Did they still do that? You betcha.

This was the kind of care I was given on a consistent basis. But with him, it was never just about fixing what was wrong or out of alignment, he wanted me to understand and learn through this process. I just couldn't believe I had never questioned the whole "health care" thing before. What he was teaching me made so much sense and what I had been doing most of my adult life didn't. Take care of the root of the problem, don't just treat the symptoms. It's so simple. It is a shift in perspective. It is a whole different thought process that in American society does not come naturally. This is not second nature to our generation.

It took a while for me to heal. I did physical therapy to strengthen and build my muscles back up. When I was done with my appointments, I remember hugging my doctor. For those of you who know me well, I'm not a hugger. Not. But this was a time of celebration, and gratefulness. I left with a new hope and new purpose. I wanted to change the way I looked at our health. I wasn't going to blindly take what was given to me anymore. I was going to make the choices that were best for our family.

A friend of mine, Rob Hill, posted this the other day...
"Don't let unforgiveness keep you from the healing and restoration God has for you. Besides forgiving others and yourself, check to see if you need to remove any hurt, blame, anger or hardness of heart you feel towards God. If you are mad at God confess it to Him and release it."

I don't hate that young man anymore. In fact, I hope that he didn't have problems because of the accident. I'm not mad at God either for allowing me to get hurt. It is evident to me that God has a plan for my life. If I had never had that accident I believe I would have blindly moved forward and that our family would be among the masses of Americans that are on the road to poor health. My perspective would never have changed.

I still wake up each morning in pain. There are some days that my shoulder muscles never release. There are days I wake up and can tell that at some point in my day I will have a migraine because that one specific vertebrae is out of alignment again. And most times if I just keep moving, at some point the muscles may relax on their own and I'll have a good day. Other days, not so much. And so each morning I have to put myself into a state of gratefulness that I am where I am on this journey. It doesn't always feel good, but it sure is a whole lot better than where I was.

And so the next few blogs will be me sharing briefly what I have learned along the way these past eight years. I'll share why we do what we do as a family with the resources so you can search it out on your own if you're interested.

Please know this... this is a path we have chosen for our family. We don't always get it right. We don't expect what we choose as a family to be what is best for everyone. We don't judge others for making different choices and we don't offer our opinions or share what we've learned unless someone asks. If you are reading this, consider yourself asking :) This is what's best for us right now. And what's best for us right now may change in the future based on further education.

It's a journey and I welcome you to join me as I learn and grow in my understanding.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Journey From Hate to Health - Part 1

The Accident

It was 2002, I was a mother of a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I was a stay at home mom during the day and worked at a family business in the evenings. Life was good and easy. It worked for us. We were happy. 

A typical afternoon found me driving north on I-77 to work when I spotted flashing blue & red lights ahead on the right. Traffic was congested, but not horrible. I moved into the left lane figuring it was an accident or someone caught speeding. Traffic had slowed considerably as people looked to see what going on. In my mind I kept hearing my dad repeat over and over "assured clear distance". I had a good 30 yards between myself and the car in front of me when I passed the police car that was sitting on the side of the expressway all by itself. A quick glance told me that whatever had happened was over and he was merely finishing his report. Traffic came to a stop. I still had 30 yards between my van and the car in front of me, that is until the guy behind me plowed into me and pushed my stopped vehicle into the car in front of me.

I was thrown forward and then flew back with such force that it laid my seat back. The entire back of my van was crushed to the rear tires, the front was damaged to the point that my electrical system was disabled. Stunned, I unbuckled my seat belt, stumbled from my van into the median strip and sat down in the grass. The guy from in front of me came over to see if I was alright. His first question was "How in the world did you hit me? You were so far away!" The guy that obliterated my van came over and said "It was my fault, I was looking at the cop car and didn't know traffic had stopped. When I looked back it was to late to stop. My foot never hit the brake. I don't think I hit you that hard though, I was only going 25 mph."

The other driver and I looked at each other with a "yeah right" glance and then we noticed a very irritated Highway Patrolman walking toward us. There was no disputing what had happened. By this time the young man's dad had shown up... and he was an insurance salesman. Enough said. He proceeded to try and convince me that this was nothing compared to other accidents he had seen and that surely my vehicle was drivable. "He knocked out the electrical, it won't even start. Not to mention that my rear bumper is making my tire look like a balloon. Are you serious? You consider this drivable?"

The police officer stated that due to the fact there was so much room between myself and the car in front of me that I would not be cited for his damage. Everything fell on the young guy. I assured the officer that I did not need an ambulance, that I was shaken up and had a headache & very minor neck pain, but nothing that warranted a visit to the hospital. My husband showed up, the van was towed (later it was deemed "totaled") and I went home.

That evening when I went to bed I was moaning and rocking in pain. My neck hurt so bad. I am not a wimp. I delivered two children, both natural, with NO DRUGS! I have a very high pain tolerance. This pain was unbearable. 

As I laid in bed, I hated that kid. I hated him for not paying attention, I hated him for gawking, I hated him for lying about his speed, I hated him because he was the reason I was in so much pain, I hated him because I couldn't sleep, I hated him because I couldn't make the pain stop, I hated his dad for treating me the way he did, I hated the fact that daddy showed up to bail him out. It was obvious that he was the kind of kid that got rescued from his mistakes and daddy made it all go away. I bet he got a new SUV out of it, because unlike mine, his vehicle was not drivable. Stupid insurance salesman.

I was not in a good place and I had no intention of stopping my thought process. Somehow, he needed to feel as bad as I did to pay for what he had done. And if my thoughts could will it... well then, so be it. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

To be continued...