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Friday, February 3, 2017

Fibromyalgia: What I have learnt from my journey of pain


I was recently asked, "What has fibromyalgia and/or chronic pain taught you about yourself".

Here is my answer to this question.

I have learned so much and continue to learn about myself through this journey of pain. If there is one quote that sums it up for me, it is, "My pain birthed my purpose". - Trent Shelton.

Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions do not have to define us. They become a part of our lives, but they do not DESERVE to encompass our lives. I've learned that I am courageous, strong, powerful, driven and empathetic. I deserve happiness and health. My life is important and meaningful. I've learned that even in the face of adversity, I can conquer anything.

I love when people ask for positive fibro stories. Most of the time all you hear about is the negative ones. Here is mine. I hope it empowers and inspires at least one person.

I have always known that I was meant to help others, but I never knew in what capacity. I have had medical problems most of my life (mainly migraine headaches and girl problems) and have just learned to manage them, but in 2007 when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Reynaud's Syndrome, my whole world changed. I could no longer work, I was constantly drugged up on pharmaceuticals, got kicked out of my apartment, car repossessed, lost friends, moved in with my mother.

At age 27, my so far successful life was spiraling out of control. Then, along came cannabis. I couldn't believe how much it helped me. Living in California, I had the opportunity to grow my own medicine, so I did. I was slowly beginning to pick up my life. I started using cannabis daily, exercised, changed my diet, started meditating, and really started to concentrate on what my body was telling me and trying options rather than the "magic pill" I thought would take it all away. I started working (my body could only handle about 30 hour a week, but I went), moved in to a new place, bought a car, and started picking up the pieces.

During this process, I realized I couldn't exactly go back to my corporate recruiting job and toke up in the lobby of the high rise, plus smoking gave me a high that made it hard to focus. I had to find other ways to use this plant. I decided to try to infuse some oil using the cannabis flowers I had grown. After rubbing it on my painful spots for the first time, I knew I had found what I needed.

This was perfect because I was about to be hired to a great company supporting the president and I needed to be clear headed and able to manage my pain throughout the day. I could add a few essential oils and nobody would even know I was using my medication at work, and I was focused since topical do not typically provide a psychoactive response.

In my off time, I started working on a concept for my new company, Therapy in a Bottle. I slowly developed a line of cannabis topical products that sold in several California dispensaries. Through that experience, I learned that a lot of the people that I needed to reach with these products, were not going in to dispensaries, and I also couldn't reach out to anyone outside of California due to federal law.

I sat down with some of my herbalist friends, did some research and found a group of botanicals that were proven to be very helpful in reducing inflammation when used topically. The decision to create a second line of products was an easy one to make. I worked very hard to come up with a formula that offered the same therapeutic value and level of efficacy as the cannabis would. It's a well-balanced synergistic botanical blend.

When I lost my corporate job last year due to layoffs, I decided to try my hardest to work on Therapy in a Bottle full time. I completed the development of the non-cannabis line and reformulated the cannabis line to include all of these other wonderful botanicals that were working so well for pain. Now, my company makes enough to pay the bills and overhead costs, and we are continuing to grow organically.

I love the opportunities I have to go in to senior communities and veteran halls to talk about botanical therapies and let them try samples of the products (only non-cannabis) to see for themselves the miracle of nature. It makes me happy to help others see the alternative options that are inexpensive and readily available to them. When I get an email or phone call from someone saying that they have gone off of their pain meds by using our salve or they avoided surgery after trying our products, it melts my heart.

Those personal testimonies are like gold to me. Knowing that my grandmother can get relief from her arthritis by just soaking her hands in our soak and rubbing the salve on makes me feel like I have given her a wonderful gift.

I still struggle sometimes to manage my pain, but I have built an amazing box of tools to help me conquer that daily challenge. On the days that I feel like giving up, I make sure to re-read the testimonies and keep moving forward.

So now you can see why the quote makes sense. My pain really did birth my purpose.

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