Certified health and wellness coach and author of Kicking Sick, Amy Kurtz shares a moment of change in her life.
She has learned many things over the years about how to live her best life with chronic illness and would like to help you.
The Beginning of the Pain
One night after dance class when I was fourteen-years-old, I ran upstairs to my room. I wanted to do my homework as quickly as possible so I could go back to practicing my dance moves.
As I bent down to get my math textbook off the floor, I felt a shooting pain go from the base of my spine all the way up to the top, like the disk hitting the bell on a strongman carnival game. I had never felt pain of that caliber before. I couldn’t move.
Bent over at the waist, I waddled down the hall into my dad’s study and cried out, “Daddy, I can’t move.” He knelt down and held me.
I rested my back for a few days in an attempt to get over the profound spasm. I tried to dance again, but it hurt too much. I tried to go to field hockey camp with a friend as I had planned, and I couldn’t move from the pain I was in.
The doctors said, “Don’t do it if it hurts,” so I stopped doing most of the things I was used to doing freely. I realized I could never be that active, free-spirited, spritely little girl again. I couldn’t be.
It felt as if the nerves in my low back were jumping out of my skin. I felt pain if I took a walk, played Nintendo with my friends, or just sat on the couch. Even when I lay in bed at night, I felt tremendous pain.
I didn’t know that at the time. How could I? I was just a child.
As a fourteen-year-old girl with debilitating back pain, I was thrust into a scary adult world of dealing with a chronic illness. I had an illness before I had time to truly have a full childhood. While my friends were going to dance class and playing sports after school, I was going from doctor to doctor, trying to find a solution for the unbearable pain I was in.
The Sickness Journey
From the moment I crawled into my dad’s home office on all fours, he, my mom, and I were together on a journey. My parents tried the best they could with what they knew. They were with me all the way. This was new for all of us.
My dad used all of his resources to get me in to see the best specialists in town. My mother was the schlepper and the nurturer; she was by my side everywhere, holding my hand, kissing me, stroking my hair, keeping me giggling, and supporting me.
We tried everything: physical therapy, back braces, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines, chiropractic care, massage, and the application of ice and heat to the affected areas. None of it worked.
It seemed to be a mysterious condition that no one understood. Despite all the treatments and tests, there were no clues as to the root cause of the pain.
Finally, I was put on painkillers three times a day, plus a pill to calm my nerves once a day, and another pill to relax my muscles at night.
When I was fourteen!
These meds were part of my daily routine through middle and high school, and I continued taking them through college. They seemed to work. They numbed the condition—at least for a while. Pain was at the forefront of who I was. It defined me. I considered it to be “my normal.”
I was also aware this part of me was different from my friends. I knew my friends didn’t have pain issues. I just thought I was the unfortunate one.”
Amy gets it.
Starting in her mid-teens she endured two “perfect storms” of illness that progressed into her twenties.
It earned her the label “the sick chick”… and the pain, shame, fear, isolation, and frustration that came with it.
While visiting Israel in her twenties she got a parasite infection (along with having undiagnosed celiac disease and a thyroid condition) and had a total system shut down.
She gained 30 lbs. in 30 days, couldn’t go to the bathroom or keep any solid food down, came home, and wound up in the hospital and in bed for over a month.
She’s radically improved her health and now in her book Kicking Sick: Your Go-To Guide for Thriving with Chronic Health Conditions she shows readers how to jettison despair and become a “glow warrior” – someone who tunes in to her body and intuitive wisdom, takes charge, and builds a support circle of medical experts, friends, and family.
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AMY KURTZ is an AADP Holistic Health Coach, wellness advisor, detox expert, speaker, and writer. She lives in New York City. Check out her full story at amykurtz.com. You can connect with her online on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.