How I went from being unable to walk to running two businesses
Okay guys. This is something I’ve been considering sharing for a very long time, but up until today I’ve been too nervous. I don't know if it's just me today, or the fact that I drank an entire Pure Zero Rockstar this morning (zero sugar, zero calories, 240 mg caffeine, y'all. I never drink them unless I'm trying to kill a gnarly migraine), but I'm feeling super pumped to share this with you.
Bear with me, guys, it's kind of a wild ride. Trust me, I've been living it.
When I was thirteen, I had several chronic health issues start happening all at once. It started with severe pain in my gut, which after months and months of seeing doctors, none of them were able to figure it out. After about a year, the doctor I was seeing ended up saying, "Well, I don't know what's wrong, but let's take your gallbladder out and see what happens."
I had the surgery and, well, they still weren't positive what was going on, but taking it out definitely helped. The pain in my gut went away.
During the time that we were trying to get the gut issues figured out, I started to have circulation issues in my hands where it would go completely grey and numb. More specialists and tons of doctors later, I was diagnosed with "severe, atypical Raynaud's syndrome", basically because they didn't know what else to call it. The Doc prescribed me a medication to help to improve the circulation in my hands, but unfortunately the medication triggered DAILY migraines. I'd never had more than a mild headache before, so this was super fun. We managed to get the migraines under control with more meds. On top of that, the lack of circulation caused the nerves in my hands to freak out, resulting in nasty pain shooting through my hands that felt like I was being electrocuted.
At the same time, I was struggling with a severe menstrual cycle, I was having full body fatigue that I thought was due to how many different medications I was on (which definitely played a part), and pain in my arms and legs that felt like I'd bruised the heck out of them... AND I was dealing with severe depression and anxiety.
Thank heavens that these problems started when I was young enough that as I grew, my body started to figure itself out and managed to heal a lot of what was going on.
The medication for my circulation plus getting older and growing helped the circulation in my hands start to improve, and as that got better so did my nerves (praise the heavens).
But while those issues were resolving themselves, the pain in my arms and legs was getting worse.
On top of all the pain and the migraines I was still having weekly, I was in my senior year of high school, working a part time job, had three callings at my local church, and was also pursuing my dream of becoming a cosmetologist.
You could say I was busy.
I was pushing myself WAY past my limits, determined to accomplish my goals and not let this pain ruin my life.
My motto at the time was "fake it 'till you make it." I thought if I kept pushing through, hiding the pain I was in-physically and mentally-and smiling wide, no one would ever know how much I was struggling. For the most part, however unhealthy the approach, it worked.
Keeping a smile on my face helped me stay positive in front of others, and I got through.
During the last couple months of both high school and cosmetology school, I started dating Hyrum. I never told anyone about my health struggles, especially not on a first date, but something felt different about Hyrum. I didn't feel the need to "fake it 'til I made it" while I was around him.
I ended up telling him about everything I was dealing with, laughing nervously as I told him, hoping that he wouldn't freak out and run for the hills.
We ended up getting engaged on June 18, my last day of cosmetology school was June 19, and my last day of high school was three weeks prior on May 28.
I know what you're thinking. I was craaaaazy. You'd be totally right, but I'm stubborn and knew that getting married was the right move for me.
Here I was, nineteen years old, cosmetology license in one hand and marriage license in the other, and I couldn’t be happier.
We were married on October 2 of the same year.
Though I was happier than I’d ever been, the stress - of graduating high school, graduating cosmetology school, and getting married within less than six months - caught up to me.
Due to stress, the pain that I mentioned earlier in my arms and legs grew exponentially. It got worse and worse. The fatigue got worse. The migraines got back to being daily. I could hardly walk on flat ground, and I couldn’t walk up stairs without Hyrum to help me.
I had no idea what was going on.
Nearly every type doctor you can imagine later and after a year of not being able to walk more than a few steps without falling, I stumbled in to yet another doctor’s office, this time another Rheumatologist, hoping and praying that maybe this time someone would have answers for me.
I told this doctor what I was experiencing. The pain, the fatigue, the migraines, etc. and he looked at me and simply said;
“I know what’s going on. You have Fibromyalgia.”
Finally, finally, an answer. My whole body flooded with relief.
But wait, what was Fibromyalgia? I’d heard the term in passing, but never really looked into it.
Fibromyalgia is defined as “A disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, mood issues, and often anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).”
Does that sound familiar to you?
It sure did to me.
“So what next?” I asked the Doctor, hoping that he could put me on yet another medication and I’d finally be all better.
The next thing he said made me start to sob and laugh at the same time.
“I need you to do three things.” He said. “First, I need you to start exercising five days a week. Second, I need you to start monitoring your diet and eating better. Third, and most important, I need you to find a good therapist and start seeing them regularly.”
"Wait," I thought to myself. "he saw me walk in here, right?" I can’t even walk without holding on to my husband for support, and even then, I fall because my legs hurt so bad they can’t hold me up. And he wants me to do what?! And why the heck should I go see a therapist? That seems super backwards. "You’re a doctor, can’t you just give me a pill?"
But I was desperate. This was the first time in nearly eight years that someone told me that there was a clear path, and no, it wasn’t a magic pill, but at least I had direction.
With help and support from Hyrum, I started exercising. I’d try to walk, to run, do sit ups, push ups (yeah, that last one is a total lie. I couldn’t do a push up), work hard, get my muscles burning like I thought I was supposed to.
Every time I would push myself, I’d get worse. And by worse I mean I was stuck on the couch in severe pain for several days.
I tried walking a bit here and there.
I went on a diet. I went on several diets. I felt a little better dieting, but man, I love Dr. Pepper so much that being strict like that was SO hard and I always fell off the wagon.
I saw a counselor once a week, sometimes twice a week. She helped me work through my depression and anxiety and figure out that I had PTSD from several traumatic experiences when I was really young.
I saw her for nearly a year, and during that time I grew and changed so much I realized that my identity was wrapped up in “fake it ‘till you make it.” My identity was wrapped up in what other people thought of me. I’d been hiding who I was behind who I was pretending to be.
But who was I? I realized that I didn’t know.
I started to have an identity crisis and changed a lot of things in my life.
I chopped off my hair. (if you haven’t read that blog post, here it is)
I got rid of 80% of my wardrobe.
I started wearing my makeup differently.
I started meditating and praying more.
As I did these things and so much more, my confidence started to grow.
Between this and my sporadic exercising, my pain level started to ease a little bit. I started being able to do more. I had more energy. I opened my little home decor Etsy shop, and that took off.
I realized I’d been letting myself stay stuck at a dead-end salon job and I wanted more. I quit and opened E.P. Studio, my own studio salon!
Happier and slowly but surely getting healthier, four weeks ago I decided to start working with a personal trainer, hoping that maybe he’d give me some guidance to help the physical side of things move a little faster.
My first day, I did three minutes on an elliptical with zero resistance, and two rounds of four different very basic weight training exercises. I couldn’t lift more than five pounds on most weights, but I did it anyway.
We take it super slowly, because if I push myself too hard I end up “flaring up” (the Fibromyalgia gets a lot worse).
After four weeks of seeing him twice a week and exercising on my own three days a week, today I did ten minutes on an elliptical with much higher resistance, plus three sets of four different weight training exercises, then three sets of two others!
That may not sound like much to you, I’m looking back realizing that I couldn’t walk three years ago, and now look at me!
The journey has definitely had its ups and downs, and I’ve still got plenty of room to grow.
Every day I remind myself how far I’ve come. From the girl with debilitating anxiety and depression who was in so much pain she couldn’t walk up the stairs by herself, to the woman I am now.
Everyone has something that they’re struggling with. I’m sure you have something that you’re working on right now. I’m here to tell you that you can do it. These milestones that
I’ve hit have definitely not been an overnight change. It’s been two years now since I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and nearly a decade that I’ve been struggling with one health condition or another.
Whatever you’re working on, take it one step at a time. When I tried to start exercising, dieting, seeing my counselor, and working all at the same time, I only got overwhelmed and my struggles got worse.
That’s the same for any problem, any goal. As hard as it is, anything worthwhile and lasting takes time. Whatever you’re working on, I believe in you. Even small, slow steps in the right direction will get you to where you want to go.
Take the first step. After that step is done, take another. Before you know it, you’ll be miles down the path. I believe each of us are here on this planet for a purpose.
“No one has ever failed who keeps on trying and keeps praying.” - Jeffrey R. Holland.
As we go throughout the rest of this year and into 2019, let’s keep putting one foot in front of the other and improving ourselves each day. You are a warrior. You are amazing.
You can do whatever you put your mind to.