Chronic pain, joint pain, muscle aches, chronic fatigue, sensitivity to cold and touch, stomach pain, and nausea, all of these symptoms were all too familiar to me just a few years ago. The doctors put a name to my problems around 2008, fibromyalgia, subacute cutaneous lupus, hypothyroidism, costochondritis, and arthritis, when I was still a student in college. I went through the surgical technology program trying new pills, throwing up in clinicals, missing classes, struggling to stay awake, and overall having a difficult time; but I persisted and graduated with the best student award.
I loved being a surgical tech! Assisting the surgeon and seeing the human body in ways that most people will never get the chance to see. It was incredible! The body has always fascinated me, since I was a child. It’s ability to heal and transform is miraculous, but my body could not handle being on my feet for hours on end standing in one spot. The doctors had me on a handful of pills, 13 everyday! It seemed as though I had fallen into a repetitive cycle; wake up, go to work, take a nap, wake up to eat dinner, then back to bed to wake up and do it all over again. I was exhausted!
My friend introduced me to cannabis via a volcano vaporizer, “The cleanest way to smoke” he said. I noticed a difference immediately. My body seemed more relaxed and I was able to get a restful night’s sleep for the first time since high school. After that night, I continued to smoke everyday when I would get home from work.
After a few months of consuming, I felt a huge urge to move my body. I now know that it was the plant spirit guiding my body and mind to begin my healing journey. I took my first yoga class in 2013 at a Bikram studio where the class is 90 minutes long, the room is kept at 105 degrees, and the humidity maintained at 40%! It is designed to make you sweat! That class challenged me in more than just the physical. It made me ask myself questions, it made me push myself, it showed me that I am capable of so much more than I had previously thought. That practice awoke something inside me that wanted more; more of what life had to offer. I kept going back several times a week and noticed that I was gaining energy, strength, flexibility, and the courage to take my health into my own hands.
The pills I was on never really seemed to help; they were just chemical bandaids to a much deeper problem. It seemed as though the new pills the doctor would give me would give me side effects. The next time I would see the doctor he was ready to give me a new pill for those side effects instead of adjusting the prescriptions. I had had enough of being a chemical guinea pig. I was ready to find out what my body would do without all the pills. I wanted to know where I truly was, so I could decide what I wanted to do. It was up to me to take my health into my own hands. If I needed the pills then I would get back on them, but I had to know for myself.
In 2014, I was planning my wedding and had to cut back spending which meant cutting my yoga studio membership. This did not stop my yoga practice. Never let money stop you from your goals. I began carving out time and practicing yoga via YouTube tutorials several times a week. I experimented with different styles of yoga, a variety of teachers, and really started discovering my body. I immersed myself in yoga; I bought and read books, read articles, practiced more and more. When I took my lunch break at work, I would sit outside by myself and work in a few sun salutations before going back inside. I was sneaking in more yoga poses in work to help my aching body get through the day. I was falling deeply in love with yoga and out of love with being a surgical tech. As much as I had enjoyed being a surgical tech, I was not helping people the way I knew I could. This was a realization that came after years of seeing the health care system being ran like a business. Putting profit over care is not how healthcare should be. There has to be a better way.
Shortly after getting married, my husband started experiencing severe back pain, to the point he gave his guns back to his dad and cancelled his life insurance policy (they would pay for suicide); he didn’t want an easy way out! He knew cannabis concentrates would help with his pain, but in Texas this was a felony, and having never been in trouble, we didn’t want to start.
In the spring of 2015, I gave my job a 2 day notice, we packed as much as we could in our car and headed to Colorado. We left friends, family, and everything we had ever known for a chance to live a better life free of fear and pain. We were able to stay with some friends on their couch while we figured out our next move. Learning what cannabis products worked for us was challenging. We saw the cannabis doctor and got our medical card with a recommendation for THC and CBD. The rest was up to us; to find what worked for our bodies. Going to the dispensary when you are new to cannabis can be very intimidating. Many stores carry a wide variety of products, brands, and ways to consume your medicine.
Research has shown that fibromyalgia could be an endocannabinoid deficiency, so I started getting as much cannabis in me as possible via patches, creams, lotions, tinctures, edibles, concentrates, and flower. I over did it and under did it and found what worked for me. I quit the rest of my pills cold turkey, and put all my faith in cannabis. If I needed to go back on some of the pills I would, I just needed to know where my body really was without pharmaceuticals and if cannabis could handle my problems. The first product we found that worked was Mary’s Medicinals Transdermal Patch the Sativa and Indica, as well as the 1:1 THC to CBD. This patch allowed my husband and I to complete trips to the grocery store without leaving a cart full of groceries in the middle of the store because of intense pain. We were slowly getting our life back together.
It took me about six months to return to baseline and truly start healing; this is when I started my daily yoga practice. I would practice at least 10 minutes a day which usually turned into 30-45 minutes. I challenged myself with a few 30 day yoga challenges on YouTube then went on to do a 90 day challenge! After a several months of daily practice, I noticed my body getting stronger and more flexible, and I was feeling more comfortable with my decision to move to Colorado. I was finally beginning to feel healthy despite my daily pain.
In May of 2016, I was ready to try out an Instagram yoga challenge which meant posting a picture of myself in the pose of the day for all of the world to see. It was intimidating, but I faced my fears and did my best. The IG yoga community is incredible! Yogis from all across the world come together to share their practice, encourage others, and give advice. I have deepened my practice and shared my journey with family and friends, and wanted to share my love for this practice with everyone.
Since moving to Colorado, I have lost over 40 pounds, I eat a mostly plant based diet, I have more body awareness which allows me to control my pain much more easily, and my mental health has improved through meditation which has allowed me to “rewire” my thought patterns. When I first started my yoga journey I was lacking in strength. I was unable to push my body off the floor with my knees down; now I am able to balance my body weight on my hands! A consistent yoga practice helps unlock your true potential, on and off the mat. I am now hosting my own IG yoga challenges and teaching classes a few times a week. I put emphasis on creating self love, overcoming negative self-talk, and establishing a strong yoga foundation in postures by building strength, flexibility and balance. It is so important that we treat our bodies and minds with respect as we are spiritual beings having human experiences. You are capable of anything you put your mind to. You just have to do it.
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