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I returned to Canada in June, 2007 with a great deal of hope. Given the climate of the Ontario (Canada) healthcare system at the time, it took a number of weeks to secure a doctor’s appointment, approximately three months to undergo an MRI and another month to receive the results. During the four months plus that had passed, I was advised to abstain from all physical activity. Anything light, including stretching was a potential threat.
The fear was that a bone and/or fragment could shift and lead to paralysis. The MRI results, received in November, concluded that there had been no prior threat. During the unexpectedly long wait however, my body had ‘healed’ in a way I can’t help but question. My thoughts would have been to assist the situation during such a pivotal time via stretching, physiotherapy, light activity and/or massage. I felt well in Thailand compared to the months that followed.
Both movement and inactivity caused pain. I can’t adequately gauge the physical distress I was in, yet I recall it being constant and it was a great source of misery. Returning to employment, I could no longer work in any type of chair and sat on a Pilates ball every weekday. Sleeping provided little comfort and often was a difficult pursuit. In addition, the humidity and low temperatures of the Canadian winter increased the pain. Despite my distaste for regularly taking pain killers as I distrust the long-term effects of their use, I sampled a few and not one quelled the suffering of my condition.
I attempted a variety of therapies, from traditional Western medicine to various Chinese methods to Reiki. At one point, I was telling friends in jest should drinking raw chicken blood potentially heal me, I was up for it. I was trying everything and anything to improve my situation until a particular therapy or therapist proved to be ineffective, or one that I could no longer afford. The necessity of working overtime to cover the costs of my therapy was propagating the physical pain.
It was an endless cycle of defeat which was incidentally costing me thousands of dollars and weighing heavy on my heart.
Various practitioners would offer differing advice, some more akin to my beliefs than others. One expressed that I had the spine of, if I remember correctly, a woman in her eighties and it would cost me approximately $15,000 over the course of three years to improve my condition. Most told me to abandon muay thai and concentrate my efforts on lighter activities.
Understanding this logic, something inside me rebelled. During the months and year that followed my 2007 trip, I returned to muay thai in conjunction with lifting weights, practicing yoga and partaking in whatever else I felt inclined to try. Inactivity, aka sitting at a desk all day, I felt was of greater danger than training muay thai. Often, it was during training that I felt relief. Often it was in a muay thai gym that I felt free. Granted, on occasion I over strained my injury, but I felt it was worth it.
I continued training and preparing for my next visit to Thailand in early 2009. This trip was the planned commencement of my nomadic life. I sold the majority of my possessions, rented out my condo and followed my heart to study, fight and further the art of muay thai within me. The first few months in Thailand were difficult on my injury, but in time, my condition improved. The intense training schedule of a Bangkok gym in conjunction with regular visits to Thai massage were strengthening my body. In autumn 2010 I sold my condo and returned to Toronto to finalize the transaction. During this period I visited my chiropractor for an assessment.
Had I destroyed my body doing exactly what some doctors told me was the worst possible thing to do for my health?
My spine was deemed in better condition than it had been before I left.
Returning to Thailand I continued to train, thus follow my dream and I paid attention to the subtleties felt in my body. If I thought I was in need a massage, I took the time for one. Running incline was much easier on my body and more effective, so while others completed their morning runs on the street, I found an extinct volcano to climb. At other times, I ran in fields or swam, which isn’t customary of muay thai gyms.
In addition, I took the principles I learned during physiotherapy in Toronto and intuitively created my own exercises in Thailand. I researched strengthening methods online, adapted them to fit the requirements of my body by feeling out nuances at any given time and continued only with what I felt worked. In short, I ventured in search of knowledge, combined it with the wisdom I had of my own body and followed my intuition. Again, if I listened solely to outside advice and that alone, I suspect I would be in worse shape than I am now.
I sought the help of traditional Thai therapies – massage, herbed saunas and I regularly visited a man who, to this day, his identity is unknown to me as there were extreme language barriers regarding his title. For the sake of this piece I’ll call him a healer.
I witnessed him perform healing methods I had never witnessed prior to meeting him or after.
In regards to my personal situation, the first time I met with him, I explained what had happened to my back. During that visit he dug his elbow around my break and subsequently rid my hip of the stiffness and popping that occasionally occurred. Western doctors had told me it was just something I’d have to live with.
Five years after the fracturing of my spine and three and a half years of training on concrete, I feel fine. I’m not perfect, sometimes I can feel the strain on my back after sitting for long periods of time and I have very specific sleeping conditions. That being said, my journey towards full recovery hasn’t stopped, the motivation being, I have presently surpassed all that I was told was possible.
Does this defy logic? Perhaps, depending on whose logic we’re speaking of.
I often stress on MBSB the importance of valuing one’s intuition. I believe healing is often due to personal wisdom married with external knowledge. Following your heart, and by that, as an extension, for some, pursuing your dreams has a great deal of positive impact on the state of your health.
Lastly, in regards to my allergies, they have drastically improved. In 2007 I returned to an auto immune specialist, was tested low for the disease I had previously tested dangerously close to positive. I haven’t been tested since as there hasn’t been reason to. Please note, not all of my allergies have disappeared, but most of them have. Clean food? Clean air? I have no idea why, but I’m thankful for the change. I’m also convinced they wouldn’t have dissipated sitting at a desk in Toronto.
Follow your bliss. Amazing things can happen.
I hope this has been beneficial.
If you have experienced anything similar, please tell us about it!
Read this series from the beginning: