back pain

Tattoo Update. Bring on Operation: Cover Up the Cover Up!

#21 on my 26 Before 26 is to finally finish my biggest tattoo. In May, I decided it was finally time to get my arse in gear. A couple of months ago, I went ahead with it and basically lost all my money, bawled like a baby, and got shouted at by  the most insensitive, arrogant twat of an artist ever. But last week, I was lucky enough to find a professional who can FIX EVERYTHING!!

Long story short: probably half a decade ago now, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to get matching tattoos with the guy I was with at the time. (Told you I was a smart cookie.) You all know about the epic levels of crapola in THAT relationship, and we were both left with solid, giant black tattoos of our initials intertwined. All I can say is thank heavens we artsied it up a bit and you can barely even tell they’re letters, but STILL, I was branded for life with what felt like an eternal reminder of my younger self’s moronitude.

Flash forward to the present. One of my best friends happens to be dating an INCREDIBLE artist, who drew me up a gorgeous cover up based on the artist’s instructions – “has to be all black to be able to cover it up, and has to be pretty giant.” He designed something PERFECT, and I was so excited to get going with it – a phoenix, symbolising growth from the ashes of the past into something better. We got about a third of the way through the outline before I couldn’t continue – there’s no way I was lasting more than 20 minutes of someone telling me what a baby I’m being and tattooing way too deep regardless of the back pain situation.

So for the last few months, I’ve had this. A piece of outline of a cover up which doesn’t look like anything. I’ve been more okay with it than I thought I would be – the bottom line is it’s no longer what it WAS, and it shows it’s on its way to becoming something else. Which is a good thing. The bad thing being that it kind of looks a bit rubbish.

Last week, I met with someone at a studio close to where I work. A coworker had recommended it to me after she’d gone there for a piercing, and told me just to check it out, saying it was very clean, they were extremely professional, and they even had nurses on staff, so if anyone was going to understand the back situation, they were.  After a few weeks waiting to get in, I went on my lunch break, and met Ivy. AKA MY NEW HERO. She took pictures of my back so she could show me the “ghosting” that’s already started to happen on the outline part. Because he went WAY too deep (apparently if you know someone’s going to have a hard time with the pain for whatever reason, you can outline in a light grey so you can do it really fast), way too dark, and didn’t stop when all the blood started going to the surface (remember those exercise pictures?) so black (apparently the least viscous ink) bled into all the capillaries. Hence it already starting to bleed out. She also informed me the design had way too little white space and would eventually all become one black blob (original jerk artist told me he was going to redesign it with more white space, and DID NOTHING), so long story short: we couldn’t continue this design.

But before I started crying, she also told me black wasn’t the way to go. With cover ups, you use colour and shadow to distract the eye AWAY from the thing you’re covering up. With something big and black, there’s an enormous central focus which makes it look MORE like a cover up. She showed me pages of cover-ups of black tattoos she’d done. Big, gorgeous, colourful, organic looking cover ups that looked amazing. She said this was going to be one of the most challenging things yet, but yes, we can do it. We get to wipe the slate clean. Yes, it’ll have to be ENORMOUS. Yes, it’ll be a 20-30 hour piece. Yes, it’ll cost a fortune. But yes, it’s going to be AWESOME.  I can still get a phoenix. We just have to incorporate colour, a light source (so the left side can be in shadow), and now I get to pick whatever style I want.

So for the next little bit, I’ve been instructed to Do My Research. Find loads of pictures so she can pull together the elements and design something that incorporates the styles and colours I actually like. I’M NOT FATED TO A GIANT BLACK MAN TATTOO. I’m SO excited, and I can’t wait to move on with this!! It’s going to be a long process… but I’m ready, full of renewed hope, slight terror, but determination. The finish line is finally in sight. Bring it. 🙂

Tattoo Update: Wherein it all becomes VERY REAL and VERY SCARY

This past weekend, I did it.
I made the appointment.
To transform something tainted by history into something beautiful, meaningful and new.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared the story of one of my tattoos.    It’s been several years since I closed the door on that chapter of my life, and though I’ve since got other tattoos, this one remains firmly stamped on my back, huge,  a continual reminder of pain,  of mistakes, and of my darkest hours.

In life, I try to learn from mistakes and bad experiences – with people, it can be through the choice to forgive, or to opt out of negative forces.  With work, it can be to focus on how I can better contribute to the future, rather than on errors I may have made in the past.  With anxiety, it can be to remain fiercely determined, taking little steps along the path to finally being free of the fears that have held me back for so long. But with a tattoo? It’s not so easy.

Finances definitely play a part in why I haven’t yet done anything about it.  This thing is six inches high and solid black, and expanding it into something that’s going to really mean something is a big undertaking.  But the biggest reason so far is the pain. My back is an ongoing puzzle I’ve spent the last few years desperately trying to solve. Chronic pain along the right hand side of my back, from the top of my shoulder down to the top of my hip.  I’ve lost count of how much money I’ve funnelled into health care providers; chiropractors, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, massage, and even cortisone injections (that was a fun one.)  I don’t have coverage for this sort of thing, but I’ll do whatever it takes to figure it out.  It stops me being able to do things I want to.  Dance, exercise, go bowling – even going to the movies I carry two tennis balls in with me, placing them in the back of my chair, trying to alleviate some of the pain.  These days, I’m going for incredible amounts of pain deep-tissue massage once a week and diligently doing my exercises every other night. They’re agonizing, and I feel like a total wuss. But I keep my eyes on the prize.

This has, by far, been the biggest reason I haven’t done anything about my tattoo. Yet. But this weekend, I made an appointment for 18th May (that’s two weeks, people!) to get the outline done.  A friend of mine is dating an incredible artist, who worked with what I had and designed something that’s not only amazingly gorgeous, but exactly what I want on my body for life.  It’s an elaborate phoenix, the body of which will cover what I have and extend into artistic and intricate wings that span across the entirety of my upper back.  I love the idea of rebirth and constantly growing into something stronger, better, and more beautiful.  I can’t wait for it to be finished and to show the world.  And it’s a perfect fit.

But I can’t deny I’m afraid.  The artist said we have to get the outline done all in one session – which he imagines will take at least two hours. After that, he told me, I can come back as many times as I like to get the shading done – if I can only stand 45 minutes, I can do 45 minutes.  But two hours? Intimidating, to say the least. Since I’ve started the massage sessions, it’s doing better in that the muscles no longer go into spasm at the slightest touch. But the pain is still there, and the skin very sensitive. I can’t take pain killers beforehand, as they “thin the blood”.  I’m debating going for the cortisone shots again the morning of. But then I remind myself I went into convulsing shock and had to be escorted home in a blanket.

When I’m faced with difficult situations, I try to weigh things out. When I first started facilitating workshops, I was terrified. But I weighed out my fear of public speaking and of judgment with my desire to pass along information that will ultimately help my audience live better lives.  The latter desire was stronger, and that’s what I used to get through it. I also kept in mind that I can’t control what other people are going to think of me – so there is no sense in worry consuming my mind over something of which I have no power. All I can do is the best I can.

In this instance, I’m trying to use the same balancing act to get through it. The first hurdle will be the hardest, but if I can do it, it’ll be the first step on fully closing the chapter on something I have no desire to revisit ever again. I’ve made the mistakes, and I’ve learned from them. They have done their part in shaping me, and shaping the way I look at life.  They have played their part, and it’s fair to be able to close the book and shelve it away for good.  Yes, my desire to do that is stronger than my fear. I know it’s going to be hard. But, as with so many things, the things that mean the most are sometimes the hardest to do.

Wish me luck!

The Next Tattoo Chapter

Many years ago, as some of you know, I was in a relationship with someone who was bad news bears (thank you Ashley for teaching me my new favourite expression!!). I’m not going to go into too much detail – it was hands down the most difficult period of my entire life, and led to my darkest hour – a story to save for another day.  But during this relationship, in a fit of pre-deterioration, honeymoon period infatuation, we decided to get matching tattoos.  Smart cookies, no? Luckily we were slightly smarter than getting red hearts and lovebirds carrying scrolls bearing each other’s names forever branded on our skins, but we still went ahead pretty hardcore. We got a design comprised of our initials, superimposed on each other and stylised in a way that looked nothing like letters, but some sort of chunky tribal symbol.

The relationship declined, the heart was battered to a pulp, and eventually the memories disappeared into the archives of Life Experience, yet the mark on my back remained.  A constant reminder of the naivety of my younger self, the mistakes, the time I sometimes wish I could take back. But I constantly remind myself that life throws us these things to give us opportunities to learn and grow. Perhaps I was a stubborn girl back then. Perhaps, had I not gone through what I did, I never would have had any reason to push myself forward, and strive to reach the potential I hope I possess. We can become bitter about the past, or we can become better because of it. With everything, no matter how difficult, I try to stick to the latter.

But last week, I came to the realisation that I wanted this thing off my back more than I was scared of the pain it would undoubtedly cause. Many of you know about my back condition, and may remember my desperate attempt at relief a few months ago, involving dozens of injections along my spine… and promptly going into uncontrollable convulsions. (You can’t say I’m not a trooper!)

So the thought of getting this tattoo reworked into something I’m not ashamed of, though extremely tempting, is also extremely scary. I met with an artist this week who informed me that to get what I want (and effectively cover up what I have), will in all likelihood end up being half a back piece.  The size doesn’t scare me – I love tattoos, and I love the idea of having something meaningful on my body for the rest of my life – but the extreme pain does.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m HARDLY a wuss – I sat through this one in one sitting while heavy black shading was done over my SPINE – and I know if I didn’t have this problem with my back muscles, it would be a walk in the park (I have a second one on the nape of my neck, which is pain-free, and I didn’t blink an eye).  But this is in Prime Pain Area, which leaves me more than a little nervous.

Nervous, but determined. With less than 8 months to go until my wedding, I want to get this taken care of. Pronto.  Even if it means going every three weeks just for an hour at a time until November. The trouble now, is finding something that will work with what I already have.  I loved this one here – but it has too much white space to really go over the chunky black I already have.  I love Celtic style tattoos, too – but they have the same problem.  I’ve decided I really want to get a phoenix – I love the symbolism of continual growth and new beginnings. But I don’t want a big chunky tribal symbol taking over my whole back because it’s the only thing that works.  This is where I come to you guys. Do you have any idea what I could do to cover this thing up, in less than 7 total hours (I don’t think I could tolerate the pain for more than an hour at a time), that doesn’t involve a thick black MAN tattoo?


Last week, we’d been blessed with sunny skies and temperatures hovering just slightly below zero (officially coat-free weather!), and I know that spring is in the air.  Unfortunately spring here in Winnipeg means vast amounts of water and brown slush everywhere for several weeks, but with the imminence of warmer horizons I can’t help but feel excited as we move into another season.  As we move forward I have to remind myself to reflect back – those New Year’s Resolutions aren’t going to be maintained if they’re not addressed every once in a while, so today: a quick check in, to make sure my arse remains firmly in gear.

My first was to read a book a month. I know this is a laughably puny goal compared to some of you literary connoisseurs but my heart has always belonged to the written word, and it’s a goal I was determined to keep (if not exceed). I’m happy to say I’m still on track, and last month picked up The Lovely Bones – I refuse to see a movie without first reading its inspiration, and so far, it’s absolutely gripping.

Second – the whole driving thing.  The resulting treachery from daytime melting and nighttime freezing has left even walking a feat not to be undertaken without protection, so it’s still on the backburner for now – but this time in a month or two, I may very well be reporting to you from the driver’s seat.  Or (likelier) from behind my Driver’s Handbook.

Third: Becoming pain-free.  I started seeing a massage therapist earlier in February who had a background in osteopathy (gold!), and have been seeing him weekly since.  Yes, each session involves lots of pain, yelling and tears, but is balanced out nicely with information that actually makes sense – and a weekly dose of nerdiness as we chat about Star Trek and Scandinavian power metal. Definite bonus.  Apparently I have a case of “sacral and pelvic torsion” at the base of my spine, trapping all the nerves on one side and making the entire other side of my back hurt ALL THE TIME. The way he explained it made sense, for once – so I’m going to plough through another few sessions and see how it feels at the end of March.  Fingers crossed (I only have coverage to carry me through until then, anyway!).

Number four: Losing the anxiety.  I taught my biggest group yet in February, and through initially terrified by an almost-full house, relaxed halfway through and found the key to comfort and confidence is to make things funny.  People who don’t really want to be there will relate more easily if you make them laugh, and once you’ve caught them, they’re more likely to retain/be interested in the information.  I’m going to revise my PowerPoints over the next few weeks, learn to relax a bit more, and make people laugh.

I’ve probably said this to you already in an email, but everyone who commented on my “Real Self Portrait” post– you have no idea how much you’ve helped me in addressing that part of my nervousness.  Thank you so much for sharing and for reaching out – I’ve learned recently that other people don’t see or pay attention to the flaws I see in myself.  I’m just retraining my mind to not be so quick to criticise myself and actually give credit to some of the positive things other people say about me.  You’ve helped me so much in my ongoing journey and for that I am truly thankful from the bottom of my heart.

Five! Cooking! Did any of you try the awesome salmon recipe from a few weeks ago?  Recently we’ve made a few more dishes, no exploding noodles this time but a great (simple) lemon pepper shrimp pasta.  We’re going to move on to more adventurous things in the next couple of weeks, I swear, but I’m still learning lots along the way.

And lastly – singing in front of peopleLiLu posted a great guide on how to pwn at karaoke recently, and Sweet and I have been powering through Rock Band on Friday nights and I’m getting more and more comfortable. Maybe I’ll have the guts to vlog it sometime. Or try real karaoke.  But the most important thing is it’s not intimidating me half as much as it used to – I’m almost excited to get back on stage!

So how am I doing? I think this is the first time I’ve really held myself accountable to keeping my annual goals, and it’s a fun process. I’m learning, I’m happier, and I’m growing.  And big thanks to you guys for helping keep me motivated. How are you doing with your resolutions?

And PS: Totally recorded my vlog and answered all your questions last night.  GOODNESS am I awkward on camera!! Will post on Friday… 🙂

A three-week check-in (with video!), and a fond farewell

Before I head off for a week full of indulgence in the Caribbean (! – I still can’t quite believe it myself), I figured it’d be a good idea to do a little check-in and see how I was doing on keeping those resolutions I made for the new year.  This is the first time I’ve ever formally set out a list of tangible goals for a year, and actually had anyone to really keep me on track – your encouragement, as well as the support of friends, family, and coworkers has made an enormous difference, and really motivates me to succeed in sticking to my resolutions.  Unkept resolutions usually become that way as a result of one day’s worth of declarations, and several weeks of disregard.  Unacknowledged resolutions have zero potential to be accomplished, and I’ve found that having a support system, as well as a changing of habits and schedules, makes an enormous difference in dedication and achievement.  Since 1st January, I’ve added a couple more resolutions to the list – so I figure now’s a good time to share them, and also to see how I’ve done for the last two weeks! 

1. Reading. I vowed to read one book per month (a seemingly rather tiny goal in comparison to some of the resolutions I’ve seen, but a long way from my two books of 2009!), and for the last fortnight I’ve made the effort every couple of days to set aside some time before bed – I’ve been going upstairs an hour or so earlier, curling up and reading a wonderful book.  I’m rediscovering my lifelong love of literature, and I feel there’ll be no problem at all if I keep to my altered schedule.

2. Cooking. Sweet seems to have undertaken this little resolution as well, and recently, we’ve had quite the culinary adventures.  We started with the avocado creamed chicken and baked parsnips, and after unintentionally overdoing it on cream and butter, have pulled out the Kitchen Bible his sister got us for Christmas.  It’s full of tonnes of recipes from all around the world, and even has little pictures of what it’s supposed to look like, which keeps things easy.  We’ve made tuna-pasta bakes (and, in comic misunderstanding, set our mouths on fire when two whole chilli peppers were crushed onto MY PLATE rather than being mixed into the whole 8-serving-dish); a delicious and ridiculously easy Italian dish full of spices, asparagus and sundried tomatoes (who knew buying them in oil made such a difference?); Chicken Jalfrezi, and an Asian beef concoction full of experiments (cooking vermicelli noodles are the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen – here’s a video of Sweet’s initial attempt, taken while preparing for a house fire!).  I’ve learned different ways of preparing food, and the best part, in addition to actually being able to see exactly what you’re consuming, is spending an hour in the kitchen actually doing something together instead of blobbing in front of the TV.

As for the daytime; I’ve switched my breakfast to a regular morning helping of All Bran Strawberry Bites.  It’s very healthy, and the strawberry part’s on the inside, not those horrible freeze-dried flakey bits of fruit they use in other cereals, so it actually tastes nice too.  I make sure I have a big glass of water before I head out as well as the coffee, to balance out the hydration, and I’ve started keeping bulk packs of water bottles under my desk, as well as a bag of apples.  It’s a wonder I didn’t get scurvy in 2009, but this year, as well as cooking more, I’m vowing to eat more healthily all day long, too.

3.  Kicking the anxiety. I found myself toward the end of the Christmas holidays starting to worry about going back to work, about if I’d forgotten things, about getting back into routine, about doing a good job and of course, about standing up and teaching my little class again.  So much so that on the day before work I lay awake for hours, my closed eyes’ attempts at slumber sabotaged by my mind’s constant looping of thoughts and concerns, and was barely able to function the next day.  But Friday rolled around, and after a week of getting back into a schedule, I went into work with a skip in my step.  It was Teaching Day, and instead of worrying, I told myself I can do it, and I’m actually looking forward to it.  I’ve been doing it for a few months now, and have become more comfortable with my material, and if I think about it as helping people; giving them needed information, as opposed to the old “all eyes ore on me and everybody wants me to fail” mentality I struggled to escape, I found myself floating through the morning.  My heart rested as normal, comfortable in its pace, and not beating up a storm trying to escape my chest.  Doing a 180 of your thought pattern is a tough thing, but as with my other resolutions, it’s all about changing habits.  It’s working so far – now to keep at it, aim for bigger classes, less prep, and even applying it to other areas of my life.  (Body image, anyone?)

4. Losing the back pain.  Unfortunately, I haven’t. I’m still in horrible amounts of pain all day long, but I’m actually sticking to a schedule here, too – a daily schedule, with (somewhat excruciating) strengthening exercises to help support myself using muscles I haven’t used in ten years, modified situps in an attempt at some sort of toning, and, thank you Kijiji, I bought a second hand little elliptical machine for my living room I plan on using three times a week.  (Which also ties in to my added resolution of fitness).

5. Learning to drive.  It’s still winter.  All sorts of treachery lie on those roads.  This one I can hold off until spring.

6. My other added resolution: sing again! I used to sing in a punk rock band and have no nerves or qualms about performing to crowds.  It was full of adrenaline, excitement, and being that in control of music that rocked was the best feeling ever.  Since I lost my confidence, singing plummeted to the very bottom of the things I wanted to do – but I always secretly loved to belt out the Wicked soundtrack whenever nobody was home.  So I bought a couple of karaoke games for the Wii, and Sweet and I have been taking turns rocking out, which is surprisingly AMAZING amounts of fun.  I told my dear coworker about them – and she confessed she had the same goal!  We’re going to keep each other on track, and hopefully at some point this year, actually go do karaoke.  In front of strangers.  Or maybe I’ll just pull a Jenn, and serenade you over the small screen – at least that way I’m less likely to fall over in a fret of nerves.

So my dears, I think I’m doing okay! How are you doing with your resolutions?  Tell me all about it, and I can’t wait to hear when I get back.  While I’m away I’ll be leaving you in some very capable hands (all of whom I adore dearly) – much love to all of you, and thoughts/prayers against missing luggage would all be very much appreciated while I’m gone. 🙂

Also – everyone who stopped by to comment on my second entry in the Weddingbells finals is a total rock star.  Seeing all your comments pretty much made my day on Monday and I’m so lucky to have you all in my life.

See you on the other side, lovelies!

A Back for the Future

Some of you may know I suffer with chronic back pain. I’m at the point where eight years into this progressively worsening condition, it’s getting more and more difficult to see hope for a pain-free future – I dragged Sweet along to my most recent doctor’s appointment to step up and ask the big questions: “What’s the long term plan here? She can barely sit through a movie without being in pain. Is she ever going to be able to carry a child?” I try not to think about things that aren’t in my immediate future, but as much as a fight it, it’s my natural tendency to plan and prepare. We’re getting married next year, and hopefully a few years down the line we’ll want to start having kids. If it hurts me to sit at a desk and I can’t carry the shopping in – how the heck am I going to get through pregnancy?

But that’s something to think about at a later date. Maybe. My doctor tells me to take it one step at a time, but I’ve been taking steps for years now, and it’s getting worse. I want to find something that’s going to work now so I’m physically in a good place when I really need to be. I’ve been referred to countless massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, X-ray clinics, even neurologists (at the latter of which I promptly burst into a hopeless and rather embarrassing fit of tears), none of whom have any idea as to what to do.

It’s easy to give up and resign yourself to dealing with it; a handful of drugs in the morning, a heat pack through the day, and evenings filled with lotions, mini massages (<3), pillows and inactivity. But I want to be able to live properly. I want to be able to help around the house and do the ironing to feel like I’m contributing. I want to be able to go to the cinema without being in agony and sitting with two fists behind my back. I want to be able to walk outside without feeling like there’s a series of knives sticking out of me, and I want to be able to be hugged without my entire upper right side going into spasm. So I’m ready to try something new.

Last week, I went to see an athletic therapist; a friend of Sweet’s who’d worked with him in the CFL last year. After spending an hour with him, I had a new set of activities – gone was everything I’d ever been told about stretching, strengthening, and exercising. I had a new set of evening-only instructions, a new base of knowledge (who knew how the way you get up from a chair could say so much!), and a new hope that I’m on the right track.

Then today, I came home from my first appointment with the new doc in town, a specialist in Chronic Myofascial Pain who does all sorts of dry needling and trigger point injections.  He did an exam, went through everything I’d tried, and told me there were three ways of dealing with this kind of pain.  1: Physical manipulation.  Stretching, physio, massage etc.  Hasn’t worked.  2: Drugs!! All sorts of pills that could potentially damage the stomach; not great for daily pain.  And 3: Injections.  There’s various kinds: dry needling (wiggling needles around inside the trigger points), injections of local anaesthetic into the sorest spots, and injections of steroids or botox.  I went with the middle one.  The idea was that if the worst areas could be numbed temporarily, it would stop the nerves sending pain signals to the brain and allow me to actually work on strengthening and stretching without pain.  The nerves are apparently “hypersensitive” – when pain signals are sent constantly, it gradually makes the muscles hypersensitive meaning pain at the slightest touch.  Which is exactly my case!


I was in tears.  I was a total baby; it hurt more than anything ever had and was just over and over and over again.  He couldn’t even get to my lower back, so I had all the needles in my shoulder down to my mid back; we got a couple in the lower back but my face at this point resembled a member of a KISS tribute band who’d gone swimming in full makeup.  I was embarrassed, in pain, and I left to go back to work in total shock.  I didn’t realise it until I got back and couldn’t stop convulsing and feeling absolutely freezing, so my dear coworkers bundled me up, fed me some applesauce and sent me straight back home.

Right now I’m still a little shaky.  My shoulder kind of feels numb but my lower back is even more intense, and I can’t lift my right arm up because it suddenly weights a hundred pounds.  I’m going to go bundle up, lie down, and pray this is somehow going to help.

And dread what Sweet’s therapist friend has to say when I go back tomorrow and tell him that instead of exercises, I had a dozen needles stuck in my back and went into shock for an hour.

When too much becomes too much

As you may know, I’ve been experiencing an ongoing battle with a chronic pain condition that started about eight or nine years ago, shortly after I arrived in Canada. As a sixteen year old child, healthcare practitioners didn’t take my complaints of being unable to sit for extended periods without constant pain along the entire right side of my back seriously, but encouraged me to come back and get cracked, adjusted, or whatever it may be. I stopped going for treatment several years ago because nothing was working; I became discouraged, poor from not having healthcare benefits, and resigned myself to having to live with it. A couple of years ago I had an accident resulting in a compression injury to my upper back and being couch-bound with the latest in conical fashions stylishly wrapping my neck. The injury exacerbated the ongoing pain, and for the last year and a half since, I’ve been in constant pain extending from my right shoulder to my right hip, along the entire stretch of the right hand side of my spine. It doesn’t stop. I have a heating pad strapped to my office chair and often take breaks to stretch because it gets too bad to be able to sit for the whole day. I get home and find I can’t even sit upright on the sofa, watching TV with Sweet, because it hurts too much. The only time I’m without pain is when I’m
lying on my back, face up. I can’t exercise, go dancing, or go bowling. The temperature’s dropping and I’m finding it increasingly more painful to walk home at night.

Six months ago, I finally qualified for some benefits through work. At last! Horribly overpriced benefits, but mandatory benefits, so I intended to take full advantage and try and get this thing sorted out. I went to physiotherapists, massage therapists, a chiropractor several times a week, an acupuncturist, my family doctor, an ergonomist and today a doctor in sports medicine. I was even a “case study” for ten weeks for a student at the massage therapy college. A common conclusion from several of these people: myofascitis, or myofascial pain syndrome. Huh? The symptoms fit the definition of fibromyalgia, but a determining factor in that is that the symptoms are in all four quadrants of the body. Mine’s all packed into one. So the condition was explained.

The “fascia” encases all the muscles in the body, allowing them to move together, maintaining structure and acting as a shock absorber. It’s a dense connective tissue that interpenetrates all muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels from head to toe, and in my case, has become so tight around all the muscles on the right side of my back that they are held continuously in spasm, unable to relax. This accounts for the pain being there ALL the time.

Every treatment I’ve had has done nothing. I’m 24 years old – “young people don’t HAVE these sorts of back problems”, I’m told. I’ve been sent for X-rays, blood tests, you name it, but each practitioner starts from scratch and none of them communicate with each other. Apparently “every trigger point is active”, making it difficult to withstand any pressure – massages are excruciating. Today I went to a sports medicine clinic armed with the advice of an ergonomist, who’d told me if anyone would understand it, it would be a doctor in sports medicine. Long story short, I came back from the appointment, arrived at work, and promptly burst into tears. It was the same thing I’d experienced everywhere else. Unnecessary x-rays, stretches, and a referral somewhere else.

What do you do when everything you’ve tried has failed? When you’re experiencing something so apparently uncommon that nobody knows what to do, and passes you off to somebody else?

I talked to a coworker I’m close with, who had some encouraging advice. I don’t make a habit of writing about my spiritual/religious experiences as it is something that is relatively new to me, but a lot has happened to me in the last few months that has no other explanation. A year ago I was a wreck; nervous, self-conscious, no self esteem and forever plagued by the thought of what other people must be thinking about me.  Sweet came into my life, I got a wonderful job, and everything started me on a journey that’s led me to where I am today.  I’ve read books, prayed with coworkers, had highly spiritual experiences and been part of what can only be described as miracles.  I’ve learned that I wasn’t put here to doubt myself, worry about what other people think, or be anything less than the good person I want to be.  I’ve learned to unload my anxieties and keep praying, and I’m sitting here having done presentations to other reps in the field, developing a curriculum and my very own class scheduled to start at the end of the month.  I never would’ve thought it possible before I learned all I have.  I kept trying to solve my issues myself, and failing.  When I put my trust and faith in God, I grew.  My coworker instantly posed the question to me: what if that’s what I need to be free from this pain? I’ve spent years trying to solve it myself, seeing different therapists and doctors and healers with absolutely no results.  What if I need to do with my pain what I did with my anxiety? She said her church had a “Healing Prayer” every so often, and had personal experience with debilitating pain being instantly cured as a result.  She said she’d go with me if I was willing to give it a try.  “No more tears, Grasshopper” she told me.  And it just so happens there’s one this weekend.

So, this Saturday night I’ll be experiencing something very new to me.  I’m putting my faith in what she’s told me and hoping for healing.  I never thought I’d overcome my fear of public speaking, and I’m amazed every day at what’s happened.  Maybe this is what I need to do.  How incredible would it be, to be able to tell that story, and be free to live life properly again?