laugh at adversity

My Story

I’m Gary. At 24 I found myself loving life. I had just moved into my own place in Boston, had a great job, and my social life was flourishing. I felt as if I had the world in the palm of my hand.

Later that summer, after spending the weekend tubing at a friend’s lake house, I didn’t feel right. There was serious pain and tightness in my lower back and groin which radiated to my genital region. Slightly embarrassed, I didn’t mention anything and gave the injury some time to heal. However, the pain would continue to return.

After visiting a few doctors, they discovered the pain was caused by a varicocele which required surgery. If you’re asking “what the heck is a varicocele?”, don’t worry; I had no idea either. Varicoceles are 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 opinions, I believed I found the right doctor. He eased my concerns by assuring me that he performed this type of surgery on a regular basis and that it would fix the issue forever. I was excited that I would soon return to a pain-free life.

The surgery went well and I was back to normal activities within a few weeks. However, three months after the surgery, I experienced an excruciating pain and tearing sensation along the surgical site. This would become the start of my medical nightmare.

The Aftermath

I spent the next few months visiting the same specialist on a weekly 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 gastrointestinal tract. This left 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.

For the next few months, I continued to bounce around between specialists and physical therapy, without any success in managing my pain. This trend of bouncing around from specialist to specialist became my new way of life. At this point, I knew I needed to take what happened seriously. I realized I needed to make some sacrifices and lifestyle changes, so I moved back home to focus on my health and save money for the ongoing medical bills.

Six more months passed with no progress. The frequency of procedures combined with a lack of results left me drained. I was physically and mentally exhausted, and beginning to fall into depression.

Having always been very active, my physical limitations were very challenging. I could no longer work out, play sports, ski, or even golf (some of my favorite things to do). Sitting or standing for more than ten minutes was too much to handle. I often spent nights and weekends laying on a heating pad.

Besides going to work, I barely left the house, which obviously was a huge hit to my social life. I began wondering, “Will I ever get better?” 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; I was reaching rock bottom.

The Breaking Point

Soon I would start finding answers. Tests revealed acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and a possible ulcer, which were all likely due to the antibiotic and ibuprofen combination. Around the same time, I discovered the groin pain was the result of a damaged nerve from the surgery and most of the muscle pain was from overcompensating throughout the past year.

My final straw occurred after visiting a pain specialist. After being suggested medications that would only mask the problem and involve known risks requiring my kidneys and liver to be monitored on a regular basis, I opted for a different approach. I had already been force-fed enough pills and procedures with no success and wanted to try a different method.

As my 26th birthday was approaching, my situation became a perfect opportunity for self-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 and put matters into my own hands. With countless hours of research, I developed my own recovery plan.

The Plan

I knew starting small and staying committed would be crucial to my success. By now, I was already experimenting with alternative medicine and had a wonderful team behind me. I had weekly appointments with an acupuncturist, herbalist, massage therapist, and physical therapist.

With their influence and my own research, I started realizing the importance of self-care, especially when trying to heal from a trauma. I put more focus on eating healthy, building a positive mindset, and exercising. After everything I had gone through, I was open to trying something different, a more natural approach.

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. I avoided anything flagged as an inflammatory (foods that cause inflammation in the body). For a while, my diet consisted mostly of organic plants. Thankfully, the frequent acupuncture visits and herbal supplements were also starting to pay off; my digestive issues were improving.

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 helped put my mind in a more calming state and actually reduced my pain over time.

I was still regularly going to physical therapy appointments, but I needed to return to exercising, so I started small. 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 be reminded how important 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 effects began to reverse. I continued to couple my daily routines with frequent alternative therapy visits which have allowed me to get where I am today.

Over the past year, I have continued to experiment with different healing methods. Juicing and meditation became two of my favorite daily routines and proved to be very 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.

The Lessons

If I was able to go back and avoid everything, I wouldn’t. Everything that happened to me, happened for a reason. And I’m blessed to have experienced so much adversity at a young age.

My situation taught me how to create powerful habits. Habits that have not only helped me heal, but habits that I’ve been able to apply to everyday life. Habits that cultivate success.

That is why I am here: to support you and guide you in overcoming your challenges. I can help you apply the lessons and habits that worked so well for me to your own situation.

We all face adversity in some way or another in life. Whether you’re struggling through chronic pain or a tough week at work, regardless of your challenge, I want to help make sure you come out of the corner swinging.

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. Because it’s through adversity where you really begin to understand who you are and what you’re made of. And that’s when you realize your true potential.

Are you ready to start your journey?