How I Overcame Disability

My journey from chronic pain and disability began in 1999 when I was diagnosed with arthritis in my left hip. The treatment was an NSAID and at first it seemed to help a lot.  But, over the next few months the pain increased and I needed the help of a cane to walk.

A year later a tear in my right rotator cuff sent me to a surgeon. This was a repetitive injury from my 30 years working in electronic assembly.   I had the repair surgery done in order to return to work. However, in spite of several weeks of physical therapy, my shoulder did not heal properly and resulted in loss of use of my right arm, and I was in a lot of pain. My primary care doctor labeled me as disabled. The treatment then became narcotic pain medication and rest, which I did for the next three years. During that time, I became comfortable with my situation. Also, during that time, my hip deteriorated. I still needed the help of my cane to walk, so with cane in left hand, and right arm useless, this was a challenge. I went up and down stairs on my bottom as I was too weak to walk the stairs.

I learned that people in our lives will see us and treat us differently. Friends stopped coming around. Staff at the doctor’s office spoke to me like a confused old lady, and since I was continuing to live as normally as possible, I was often questioned; “Is it really that bad?”  I often did not go out of the house in order to avoid the constant questions, disbelief, and “helpful” advice.

 After three years of narcotics, repeated doctor visits, repeated tests, several different medical opinions, being dismissed, and finally actually hearing, “There’s nothing medical science can do for you,” I began to rebel and to take charge of my health, and myself. I chose to take a different approach.

I consulted a holistic nutritionist who was sharing his findings about mold and fungus that grow in grains and can cause inflammation and joint pain. I took his advice and began to follow his dietary suggestions. I ate less bread and drank more water. In two weeks’ time I began to stand straighter. With this change in diet, adding a few vitamins and herbal supplements, I continued to improve. My shoulder remained frozen, so I made some adjustments to my home and activities so I could do for myself. Three years later, I was able to stop using my cane and to walk by myself.

In 2009, I developed a blockage in two coronary arteries. I allowed to have stents implanted, however, the blood-thinning medication that was given me and the standard-of-care treatment, caused an artery to close, which triggered a heart attack. My red blood cells were rapidly depleting and I was in Intensive Care for several hours before one of the doctors recognized the situation and changed the medication. Soon after, my red blood cells began to multiply again. This side effect was rare and unexpected.

Returning home, I resumed my vitamin and supplement routine and added a few more that were recommended by an integrative cardiologist. I continued to take the five medications that were prescribed to me along with the vitamins, herbs, and further dietary changes. After a couple of years, these medications began giving me adverse effects and, one at a time, I discontinued taking all but one. That was a blood pressure medication and I knew to not stop it suddenly as that can result in a blood pressure spike.

I began searching for a primary care practitioner who worked with diet and natural measures, and, in 2012, I was blessed with meeting an integrative medical doctor who helped me ease off the medication and onto other healthier measures. He diagnosed me as pre-diabetic and we made some more dietary changes and added another herbal supplement. This approach corrected my blood sugar and I am no longer pre-diabetic.  This doctor also directed me to a physical therapist for my frozen shoulder. This physical therapist said he had a different approach, myofascial release. Nothing else had worked, so I gave it a try. And it worked! It took several months, but my shoulder gradually loosened.

 While I was in treatment one day, God spoke to me and said, “I want you to learn to share this blessing.”  I went to massage school to get my license to touch, then went on to train with John Barnes, the founder of this myofascial release method that worked miracles for me.

 In summary, I spent twelve years in chronic pain, limiting my daily activities to deal with the pain. Three of those years I lived in fear of “your next heart attack” and I came dangerously close to being diabetic. A holistic hands-on approach to my life has changed me completely. To date, I take no medication, chronic pain is gone, my health has been restored and my youth has been renewed. I check in with my doctor yearly and all my blood tests are in a healthy range. A treadmill test, cardiac ultrasound, and a cardiac CT scan showed no blockages. My heart has completely healed and, according to one cardiologist, it’s as if the heart attack had never happened.

This is what I want for you. For you to take charge of yourself. To help you learn what changes you need to make in your life so that you can be the healthiest you possible.

~ Sharry Smith