This is a special testimonial from my chiropractic assistant and friend Kyla. Chiropractic has helped her move on in her life to finish her masters degree and as she leaves our clinic to follow a new opportunity she shares her experience. This is a great message of hope for anyone dealing with chronic health issues.
Dr. Mark has given me a second chance at life. I was in an accident as a teenager, and I have spent my entire adult life suffering with chronic pain issues, feeling varying levels of pain every waking moment of every day of my adult life. I sought out many forms of treatment over the years without lasting success.
My issues started with overwhelming neck and shoulder pain with clicking and cracking while lifting my arm. It developed into horrible radiating nerve pain down my arm making writing extremely painful and sometimes not even possible. Sometimes I had to have friends and family help me cut my food, and getting the fork from my plate to my mouth was almost impossible. I would have times when I would lose all muscle control in one of my legs, which was very frightening.
Over the years I saw multiple physiotherapists, a massage therapist, a chiropractor, did postural reconstruction, acupuncture, cranial-sacral therapy, osteopathy, had MRIs, CT scans, had a botox injection in my neck, a cortisone injection in my inner piriformis muscle, 2 muscles in my neck removed and one cauterized, my first rib removed, and spent two summers doing education and coping classes at the chronic pain clinic at the hospital.
Over time the pain became more and more debilitating as I struggled to stay in school and keep some semblance of a normal life. I had to give up all of my sports, which was devastating as I was an athlete and had been scouted by the University of Texas to play on their varsity soccer team.
Eventually I got to the point where I could no longer properly bear weight on one of my legs, and would sometimes be out of the house and get stuck, unable to take another step due to excruciating pain. I had started a masters degree with the hope that the surgery would allow me to finish, and while the surgery did help it was not as much as I had hoped. Unfortunately, a year into my masters I had to stop as my body could no longer cope and I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even focus enough to read anymore. I spent a good part of 2 years spending most of my time in bed, unable to sleep properly, trying different medications and different treatments.
Anyone who suffers from debilitating health issues comes to the realization of how physical, mental and emotional health is intertwined. I was unable to handle the thought of addressing my mental and emotional health aspects for years. I was so focused on the urgency of addressing the physical pain that the idea of taking the time to address the other components seemed like a waste of time and the notion of doing so even angered me. After all, the mental and emotional stress was a symptom of being in pain! I did finally end up seeing a counsellor, going to a grief and loss counselling group, and took classes on mindfulness and meditation, as well as communication skills. While none of these actually helped with my physical pain, I do still realize that they were important tools and a good process to go through at the time.
After a 12 year struggle with all of this, I met and started working with Dr. Mark. Right away things with him were different. Being able to see the functional health of my spine as it moved was something I had wished to see for years! Taking pelvic x-rays from a standing perspective to see the alignment made so much more sense to me as well. Initially I was very scared of him touching my neck as I had had such horrible experiences with this in the past. However, after showing me the video motion x-ray of my neck and explaining to me exactly how and where it wasn’t moving the way it should and that I had lost the curve in my neck, it made sense to me why he needed to adjust it and also gave me confidence that he knew what he was dealing with. This turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made! With his help I have been able to move out of a life of day-to-day coping and have been given the gift of actually being able to enjoy life without the negative cloud of constantly being in huge amounts of pain.
My recovery certainly hasn’t been a linear progression. It has been a struggle to say the least. Working with Dr. Mark we started unraveling the many layers of my dysfunction and injuries. The neck was a huge focus at first, then came the shoulders, ribs, pelvis, and hips. Putting the ribs back into alignment allowed me to take a deep breath without pain, whereas each deep breath I took had hurt dramatically for so many years! Aligning the ribs stopped me from getting sporadic stabbing chest pain too!
Over time as I have become healthier I can easily identify what is bothering me, whereas before so many things hurt that it was impossible to really comprehend where the pain was coming from. That being said, the body is so interconnected that sometimes I will feel pain in my low back when it’s really coming from my neck, or vice versa. Having the Thermal Scan taken at the beginning of each visit is a great tool to give an objective visual reference of how blood and nerve flow is operating along the spine. This tool, combined with Dr. Mark’s physical assessment and verbally communicating to him my symptoms each visit creates a thorough process of identifying the problem.
With the help of Dr. Mark I was finally able to start gradually exercising again. After so many years of little activity I had lost a significant amount of muscle to the point of atrophy in many areas. So regaining muscle was certainly a balance of incrementing my exercise gradually enough to not shift vertebrae out of alignment, and yet enough to start building muscle. Of course, I did end up popping things out of alignment on multiple occasions! But, that’s just a result of living life while trying to regain one’s health, and I know, and have already witnessed, that the more I build up my muscle and core strength, the better my spinal stability becomes. I also take solace in the fact that whenever I have a bump in the road:
-I remind myself how far I have come
-How I’m actually frustrated and scared because of my history with pain and that now that I know how good I can feel, any set-back can feel so overwhelming and frustrating, when in fact it’s just a part of the healing/living process and that I’ve actually been through worse
-And how taking a deep breath no longer hurts 🙂
Dr. Mark is passionate about his work and helping people; he is very kind and explains his findings thoroughly to his patients. I am so grateful to him for helping me regain a functional and enjoyable life! He is truly a talented, amazing man and I hope others can find as much help with their issues as I have. Many doctors and practitioners got to the point where they thought I just couldn’t be helped and that the extremely debilitating pain was just what my life would be like – which wasn’t much of a life at all. But I have found help and I am so very grateful for that! So please, from someone who has experienced it- if you are suffering, never give up hope that life could be better.