laugh at adversity

My Story

The Intro

I’m Gary. At 24 I found myself loving life. I had just moved into my own place in Boston. I had a great job, while also building a startup on the side. My social life was flourishing and it seemed as if I had the world in the palm of my hands which felt great! And it was great, until it wasn’t anymore. This would be the start of my story.

Later that summer, after spending the weekend tubing at a friend’s lake house, I didn’t feel right. There was a serious pain and tightness in my lower back and groin which radiated to my genital region. Slightly embarrassed I didn’t mention anything. I gave the injury some time to heal, but the pain would frequently return. After visiting a few doctors, it appeared the pain was caused by a varicocele which required surgery. A varicocele is essentially enlarged veins, due to faulty valves that do not allow the blood to drain properly back to the heart, and instead become swollen and sometimes painful.

The Surgery

After a few different opinions, I was convinced I found the right doctor. He eased my concerns by assuring me that he practiced this type of surgery on a regular basis. He also convinced me that the issue would be fixed forever so I could return to a pain-free life. The surgery seemed to go well and I was back to normal activities within a few weeks. After a couple of months had gone by, I felt a painful tear along the surgical site, which would become the start of my medical nightmare.

The Aftermath

I would spend the next few months visiting the specialist who performed the surgery on a frequent basis, but the pain was only worsening. He suggested pelvic floor physical therapy and prescribed antibiotics, even though tests for an infection were negative and recommended ibuprofen to help the pain. The high dosages of antibiotics and ibuprofen over a long period of time ended up destroying my gastro intestinal tract. This would leave me in chronic abdominal pain and a strict diet, resulting in the loss of 20 pounds. On top of it all, the location of the pain was also causing incontinence issues.

This would begin my “wild goose” chase of seeing countless specialists in an attempt to understand why I was in chronic pain. For the next few months I would bounce around between specialists and physical therapy, with no progress in pain. I realized that in order to recover I had to make some sacrifices and lifestyle changes so I moved back home to focus on my health and save money for ongoing medical bills. This trend of bouncing around from specialist to specialist would become my new way of life.

After spending six months with no real progress, I was depressed and frustrated. Constantly going through procedures with no success (and at times causing worse issues) left me drained, both mentally and physically. Having always been very active, I was challenged by my physical limitations. I could no longer workout, play sports, ski or even golf (two of my new favorite things to do). Sitting or standing for more than ten minutes was too much to handle, which led to spending nights and weekends laying on a heating pad.

Besides going to work, I barely left the house. I lost many friends because I was constantly turning away invitations due to my limitations. I began wondering, “Will I ever get better?” Sadly, I even contemplated why I was still here and why I was putting myself through all this pain. This was by far the darkest point in my life, slowly I was reaching rock bottom.

The Breaking Point

Soon I would start finding answers. After numerous tests, I was diagnosed with acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and a possible ulcer. All of which were likely due to the antibiotic and ibuprofen combination. Around the same time, we discovered the groin pain was the result of a damaged nerve from the surgery. After visiting a pain specialist who wanted to prescribe me numerous medications that would only mask the problem, in addition to regularly known risks including monitory my kidneys and liver on a regular basis, I opted out for a different approach. I had already been force fed numerous pills and procedures with no success and wanted to try a different method.

All of this was happening just a month away from my 26th birthday, which became a perfect opportunity for reflection. I realized I had so many more years ahead of me and wasn’t going to allow the side effects of a surgery ruin those years. I told myself that I would overcome this. With countless hours of research, I developed my own plan.

The Plan

In order to overcome my situation, I knew starting small and being committed to my recovery would be crucial. I had already been experimenting with alternative medicine doctors while waiting for my western medicine appointments. By now I had compiled an excellent team consisting of an acupuncturist, herbalist, massage therapist, and physical therapist. All of which became great resources during my recovery and advocates for natural healing methods and positivity.

With their influence and my own research, I started to realize the importance of eating healthy, positivity, and exercise are to one’s body, especially when trying to heal from a trauma. After everything I had gone through, I was open to trying something different; a more natural approach. I decided to attack my recovery in three ways: healing my mind, body and soul.

The Recovery

After researching diets, probiotics and natural healing foods, I removed all alcohol, dairy, processed foods, caffeine, sugars, and red meats from my diet. Additionally, I avoided anything that could be flagged as an inflammatory, meaning food that causes inflammation in the body. I moved to a mainly organic plant diet, with the exception of salmon, turkey, chicken and certain grains. Acupuncture visits twice a week and herbal supplements were also helping improve my digestive issues and reducing my pain.

Then I began focusing on converting negative thoughts into positive ones, which became the catalyst of my recovery. Practicing positive affirmations and gratitude on a daily basis became a routine. I also began meditating, which required a lot of patience, but quickly proved its worth. Meditating really helped put my mind in a more calming state and helped reduce my pain significantly over time.

I was still regularly going to physical therapy appointments, but needed to return to exercising so I started small with light stretching. Every day I went to the gym to stretch for 30 minutes and as the months passed, I was able to add to my gym regimen. I started practicing yoga, continued meditation, and continued to realize the importance of eating the right foods can be to one’s body. Although these steps seem simple, it was not easy, and I experienced many setbacks, but slowly the damage began to reverse. I continued to couple my daily routines with frequent acupuncture, dry needling, massages and physical therapy visits which have allowed me to get where I am today.

Over the past year I continued to experiment with different healing methods. Juicing and meditation became two of my favorite daily routines and proved to be most beneficial to my healing. I may not be 100% back to normal yet, but as each month goes by I get closer and closer to my goal of being pain free and active again. I’m continuing to learn and experiment with different healing methods all the time.

The Lessons

Along my journey, I’ve learned that although doctors and modern medicine can be great and are able to accomplish miracles for some people, they’re not always the best option – nor are they always right option. I’ve also learned the importance of investigating and depleting any other natural methods of therapy before part taking in any surgical procedure.

If I was able to go back and avoid all of this, I wouldn’t. I truly believe that everything that happened to me, happened for a reason. I consider myself blessed to have been put through so much adversity at a young age. The reason I am here is not just to tell you about my story or how “great” I am for being able to overcome my challenges. I’m here to remind others that they’re not alone. Let’s face it, everyone has challenges.

We all face adversity in some way or another in life. But you can overcome any challenges you face, no matter the size, as long as you have the will to never quit and the desire to reach your destination. That is why I am here: To be in your corner, to support you and to help you overcome those challenges. Whether it is struggling through chronic pain or struggling through a tough week at work, I want to help others make sure that regardless of their challenge, they come out of the corner swinging. Because it’s through adversity where you really begin to understand who you truly are and what you’re made of. And that’s when you realize your true potential.

Are you ready to start your journey? Then lets get started!