My Personal Story of Inspiration

At the age of 31, I started to experience some weird happenings with my body.  My first thought was that I was now over 30, therefore it would be normal to have a certain amount of aging signs. When I started to fall more regularly and was experiencing some numbness and tingling in my right leg I decided that it was time to go see the doctor.  I had signs of balance issues, neuropathy in my right leg, memory issues, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, incontinence, and of course depression as a result of all the health problems that I was experiencing. It took the doctors 9 months to find the first major culprit… a large benign fatty tumor inside my lower spine, choking the life out of my spinal cord.  This is far from what I was expecting as, at that time, a 32-year-old woman.

Once they found the tumor, I was sent to the emergency room to meet with a spinal surgeon. The surgeon notified me of the risks of having the surgery, which consisted of more pain, more numbness, and tingling, worsening of all my problems in my lower body, the risk of waking up paralyzed from the waist down, or death.  On the other hand, I could opt to not have the surgery and end up with worsening pain, numbness & tingling, incontinence issues, and eventually being paralyzed from the waist down. Walking had already been an issue for over a year, with lots of falling because of a lack of sensation and control in my right leg. The next day after finding the tumor the doctors took me into emergency surgery to remove the tumor.

Waking up after surgery was the start of a long road of LOTS of pain, much more numbness and tingling, complete lack of bladder control, and the inability to walk.  The doctors and therapists let me know that the chance of me walking without assistance again was just not going to happen. “Don’t get my hopes up” and “You’ll never walk normal again,” were things that I was told by my doctors, whom I had trusted to help me get better.  That was just the first 18 months after the surgery. The road to recovery seemed never ending and full of challenges that I was told would never be overcome.

I got it in my mind that those doctors didn’t know my utter determination to prove them wrong and that I was going to do everything in my power to find a way to make myself better. I dove into research to find ways outside of mainstream medicine that could help me to get better.  I wanted to get my pain under control more than anything, so I started there. In my research, I found that I was lacking in a few major health areas of my life that I could start with and go from there. I chose to start from my foundation, which for me at that time was nutrition and exercise.  “You are what you eat” and “You can’t get movement back without moving,” were a couple of phrases that stood out to me and started my personal journey to recovery.

I knew that it was, “All in or not at all!” for me. I put myself on a transition diet and started doing what I could do of yoga on a daily basis.  I knew that I needed to detox my body and mind, so I started eliminating everything that could potentially toxify my body. I water and juice fasted on and off that first year quite a bit.  I eliminated soda pop, store bought juice, bread, milk and most dairy, meats, and pretty much anything that had sugar in it. I only ate fresh fruits and veggies, along with whole grains, seeds, and nuts.  The yoga was very hard for me that first year, but I could see the progress that I was making. I started out doing yoga in bed and while sitting up in a chair, then over time worked up to getting down on the floor. I also added in some cycling time in each day, if even for 5 min.  At the time I couldn’t walk, so sitting on a cycling machine that had back support, allowed me to get the movement I needed for my legs.

The first 12 months of my transition to a healthier lifestyle was very challenging, but worth every single minute! I lost 60lbs, could move around more freely, and all with less pain by the end of that first year.  I had graduated to a walker for assistance, rather than staying in bed or using an electric wheelchair. That was HUGE for me! I was so proud to say that I had done all of this on my own, without the help from anyone.  With the research that I continued to do throughout the year, I found my passion for complementary and alternative health.

I continued to research and learn on my own and found that I could get a degree in complementary and alternative health!  I was so excited to start my learning journey. I loved everything that I was learning and I was able to help others who noticed the big changes with me and wanted to know what I was doing to get healthier.  I inspired many to start making their personal health journey to being happier and healthier.

To further my recovery, I started working with a Shaman, which helped in ways that have been life-changing.  I knew that I needed to find balance in every aspect of my life, especially my spiritual side. It was just the boost I needed to shed old thought patterns that were causing me some mental and emotional issues. The teachings were so valuable to me and I have taken those lessons and applied them to my daily spiritual practice.

While getting my degree, I continued to work on my own health. I obtained certificates in Reiki and reflexology so that I could start to further help my family and friends with their own healing journeys. I continued to work on my own physical strength, balance, and endurance throughout my time in school - using what I was learning to help myself and others became normal for me.

I continued to use yoga on a daily basis and after a couple of years found that I could more easily get up and down off the floor on my own, could now walk with just a cane, and, more importantly, I started to get off of the medications that my doctor had put me on after the surgery. I also started to work to bring balance to my emotional, mental, and spiritual sides.  This is when I started to learn the importance of Holistic Health. I was feeling the momentum of getting better on every level. I was on a roll and It felt so amazing!

Since achieving the impossible, I have devoted my life to learning, teaching, and helping others to overcome their challenges. I went on to graduate from massage school and got my license as a Massage Therapist, which, for me, was the most challenging experience that I had encountered on my road to recovery. I have earned certifications in several different areas of energy work and bodywork, such as Reiki I, II, & Reiki Master (twice over, with different teachers), Reflexology, and others that I learned while in massage school. I also earned a Life Coach certification.

Taking everything that I have learned over this 11-year journey and applying it in my life and others’ lives has been the best, and most challenging, part of my life thus far. I found empowerment, inspiration, strength, guidance, connection, and so much more. I want nothing more than to help others find their own self-empowerment in order to achieve their health goals…. Oh, and if you have never met me in person you would never even know that I have had such a challenging mountain to climb to be the person I am today.

~Stephanie Fredricksen