I have shared some of my history in previous blogs and forgive me if I am repetitive at times. The first part that I am writing of the benefits of a life coach is to share why coaching people with disabilities is my passion and life’s mission.
I remember the insidiousness of the diseases going back to my twenties – yeah, I was really old. Even as a child, I was not really sickly but there were many days when I didn’t feel good and my mom would take my temperature, say I was fine and send me off to school. So having times of feeling tired and crappy for no apparent reason did seem normal to me. When I was first diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, I had been feeling poorly for so many years that I just assumed that was what happened when you get old. Imagine my surprise when a new doctor took the time to ask questions beyond “what brings you here today?” He began touching various parts of my body and I nearly screamed at just about every trigger point. How did he know where places where I hurt? I was referred to a specialist, Dr. S, and when I was finally diagnosed, I was relieved. It wasn’t all in my head, I was actually physically ill!
I was foolish for not listening to my body and making myself believe that I preferred curling up with my dog and cat to going out with friends because I had no energy. I was put on medication which had to be adjusted but I still wasn’t up to snuff so I asked my new hero, Dr. S, about alternative therapies. He said that he could not officially make suggestions but gave me the name of an acupuncturist he knew who had once been a physician. I had actually met with a couple of alternative therapists but I didn’t feel comfortable with them. I decided to make an appointment. After three months of weekly therapy, I great improvement and continued for another three months and for the first time since I could remember, I had energy, enthusiasm, and ready to make life changes. I went off all of my medication and decided to treat myself to one of the magical places that I always wanted to visit – Macchu Picchu in Peru.
I had lived in Greece and Israel in my teens and early twenties and loved to travel. Of course, I wasn’t just going to visit Macchu Picchu, I was going to hike the Inca Trail to get there.
It was a difficult but exciting experience. I was not as strong and healthy as I thought but I had no regrets. I achieved one of my dreams and returned home exhausted but exhilarated. I decided to find another job, which was unsatisfying for me and ended up in an even worse situation. I was doing much better physically but frustrated with my work. After receiving my MSW, I worked for six years at a public high school and loved it but decided to move on.
After several positions in a variety of non-profit organizations that never seemed to satisfy, my brother who lives in Alaska called and said they love social workers to be counselors in Alaska. When a door closes, a window opens. I couldn’t sell my house but found a tenant, packed up my two dogs and drove from Cleveland to Alaska. We lived in a small village in the interior of Alaska between Fairbanks and Nome. The only way to get there was by small plane. I was an itinerant counselor which meant travelling to three villages. Fortunately, within a couple of weeks of living in Nulato, I met the love of my life, my soul mate, and my anchor. We moved in together almost immediately (I know, sinful) but everyone thought we were just roommates and it was more convenient for him to dog sit when I travelled. I took a year for everyone to figure out that we had fallen in love.
The responsibility for four k-12 schools was a challenge but I loved it. But all the travel was taking its toll.
After school, I couldn’t wait to lay down and couldn’t wait to get home for the weekend and do nothing but sit on the sofa. Forget going to the school on weekends or staying beyond the scheduled work day. I just couldn’t do it. I finally told my ‘roommate’ Jim Bob about my chronic illness and was shocked that it didn’t phase him. In fact, after three years in Nulato, Jim Bob said it was time to go home to Texas and I was going with him.
A year later, we married and life gets better and better. I have been slowly working
on my M.Ed. in school counseling since arriving in Alaska and will finally graduate in May. I was getting weaker and more ill but oddly continued to feel life is great. My illness is part of me yet I will not allow it to rule me. I now have doctors I trust and am back on medication and its adjustments. Surprisingly, I tried several months of acupuncture treatment but I wasn’t making progress. Also, medication that used to be very effective no longer helped me so the process of stabilization is trying at times.
Over the years, I have learned how to manage my life and body. I walk with the dogs daily, get on my stationary bike a few times a week, and practice a combination of yoga and qi gong that help relax my muscles and ease my mind. I have been playing with aromatherapy and have not gotten good enough to sell products but gave lotions and bath salts away for Christmas gifts. I knit when I feel like it. I work on life coaching and on my project for school. My husband and I grow closer each day and my life is joyful and I have purpose.
I share this history so potential as well as current clients understand that I have been there and know how difficult life can be. But it is possible to take control of your life.
While I have CFS and fibromyalgia, the diagnosis doesn’t matter. If you live with pain, it is possible to live the life you desire and not let your pain and illness control you.