my new(ish) favorite pain-relieving modalities





* Honest, genuine reviews and experiences…not a sponsored post.

I get a lot of questions regarding how I’ve managed my pain this past year without medications, injections, or surgery. Honestly, it’s difficult to answer because I’m constantly trying new things and tweaking old practices. I’m also quite a ways off from having everything figured out. Nevertheless, these are tools I use above all others to try to keep my symptoms under control…at least for today!

Kinesiology tape: Not everyone supports the use of kinesiology tape, but I’m a big fan. It helps keep my hypermobile joints in place and reduces inflammation.

Infrared heating pad: Infrared heating pads are more expensive than their electrical counterparts but, in my opinion, worth every penny. Their heat penetrates deeper than a traditional heating pad, they increase blood circulation, and they emit low EMF radiation. Win, win, W I N !

Chinese herbs: In the course of one week both my acupuncturist and my shaman recommended I take Chinese herbs. As if the timing of their separate suggestions wasn’t coincidence enough, their specific herb recommendations were practically identical. While taking these herbs doesn’t directly influence my pain (yet), they do promote a sense of physical and emotional calm. With my muscles, joints, and mind in a relaxed state, I can more successfully manage my discomfort.

Essential oils: My current favorite essential oil for controlling spikes in pain is lavender. Using a carrier to help it go farther, I rub it over aching muscles, joints, and trigger points before going to bed at night. It’s a beautiful thing.

Anti-gravity running: I finally gave up long-distance running in 2011 when it became clear that my body could no longer handle it. For years I tried to find some form of exercise that didn’t exacerbate my symptoms, eventually giving up. I didn’t realize, however, that the decision to stop moving made everything worse. A few years ago I discovered the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill. It allows me to walk or run at as little as 20% of my body weight and get moving even on the bad days. (If you’d like to try an AlterG, you can click here to learn where there are available machines near you.)

Diet: I couldn’t begin to manage my symptoms without following a strict diet. While my body’s needs are constantly changing, there are three big things that I consistently avoid: refined sugar, wheat, and dairy. They wreak havoc on my body by increasing inflammatory responses, promoting spikes in pain, and making me feel all-around lousy.

Acupuncture: I go to acupuncture at least once every month. When my symptoms are particularly challenging and I need extra help, I’ll add more sessions. I feel so fortunate to have found Noell who is not only a fantastic acupuncturist but has also provides me so much support and guidance as I try to navigate this path towards healing. (By the way, Noell offers distance Spiritual Healing sessions so anyone can benefit from her insight no matter where you live!)

Meditation: If you follow me you’re probably rolling your eyes right now because this is something I bring up a lot. I can’t help it, though, as it’s truly the crux of everything I do. Meditation helps relax my physical body (which can stave off discomfort or even bring down pain during a flare) as well as promotes mental clarity to help me better relate to my world. It enhances everything I do in the name of pain management and has helped me live a happier day-to-day life.


I hope you can find something here that helps you. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!


one year out

Tomorrow will mark one year since I went to the Chronic Pain and Recovery Center at Silver Hill Hospital. It’s unusually unsettling to compare where I was then to where I am now, feeling so far from that moment in my life but also not quite ready to celebrate yet. There’s still so much to understand, and so much to shake out.

When I identified as a sick person there was an entire community with whom I could comiserate. This past year, however, I set aside any diagnosis that was deemed incurable by standard Western medicine. If a doctor can’t offer me more than tools to manage symtoms, I’ve done away with their diagnosis entirely and am seeking alternative treatments. Unbeknownst to me, however, in making this decision I weakened the connection I once shared with the resillient group of chronic illness fighters I’ve grown to know and respect.

In efforts to fill this little void, I decided to look to people who seemed to live the lifestyle I wanted. I found yogis, plant-based foodies, athletes, you name it, but also couldn’t quite relate to their message. I’d try to incorporate something they were doing into my life and I’d hit a roadblock. I wasn’t physically able to do one thing, or it wasn’t medically advisable to do another…whatever the reason, I inadvertantly identified another group of people with whom I didn’t fit.

For a while there was something frustrating about this limbo. Eventually, however, I realized how unproductive this feeling is, and finally stopped worrying about all the little surpurflous things so that I could focus inward; there was, after all, a lot which demanded my attention. That’s when things finally started to click.

Something incredibly fun about starting over, and not having too many people to influence your process, is that the possibilities of where I can let this take me are, truly, endless. There are no rules or expectations for people like me, so I’m free to handle this however I’d like without the fear of not measuring up. Sure, there’s the crippling fear that comes with having absolutely no direction, but that’s mostly fallen by the wayside as I, for reasons I don’t understand, am convinced that I’m on the right track.

So, I guess that’s it for today; one small snippet of the countless things that have changed in one short year.

how are you doing???

I was recently catching up with a friend, and the topic of how I’m feeling came up. This question and I have a long, complicated history. For several reasons over the years, I’ve dreaded it, and even now it continues to baffle me. How do you tell someone that everything is still pretty much the same, medically-speaking, but that life is overall better? How do you express that you’re working towards accepting your health as it is yet you’re in pursuit of 1-3 treatment options at any given moment? If I don’t lose them with my contradictory responses, I most likely will when they ask what I’m doing to manage my symptoms and I answer with a strict diet, acupuncture, and meditation. Their eyes glaze over and/or they think I’m crazy…and that’s where the conversation usually ends.

So, this friend and I are going through things and I’m trying to excitedly explain what’s going on and what’s ahead, and she meets my eyes and earnestly expresses how sorry she is. It was a kind expression of sympathy, but I was a bit confused. I quickly answered, “Oh please, don’t be; I’m happier than I’ve been in years!” She agreed that I seemed that way, but it’s left me wondering how successful, or unsuccessful, I am in conveying how I’m doing at any given moment.

The New Year, a birthday, and the nearly one-year mark since I was admitted to Silver Hill Hospital’s Chronic Pain and Recovery Center have reminded me to examine now and compare it to how things used to be. When I do this, I realize that practically everything is different. I no longer dread making plans with people, I feel a sense of control over my body and chronic illness, and I can clearly see wonderful days ahead. When I get up in the morning I don’t drag myself out of bed wondering how I can still feel so tired. I wake up well-rested even before my alarm goes off, and I’m ready to greet the day.

Things are not different because I got a new job, am in a relationship, or won the lottery. I didn’t get some miracle surgery that cured me and allowed me to fully participate in life. I didn’t even realize that my pain was something I fabricated and have finally moved past it after years of wallowing. Nothing in my life changed, except for absolutely everything. And by everything, I’m pretty sure I just mean me.

So to all who know me (or don’t) and wonder how I am, the answer is short and simple. I am happy.

How are you???