What I hope you take away from this episode is this:
- You don’t have to wait for your pain to go away before you start to feel alive again, or at all as was the case for me
- Being able to look at your patterns and habits with curiosity and not judgment is key to being able to shift behavior
- Your attitude and mindset play a massive role in what is possible for you
This is the Pain Changer Podcast, Episode One. Coming up on our first ever episode of the pain changer. Katie shares her story. You’ll learn how she found herself disabled by her early 40s, which led to a massive transformation in her life, including a completely different outlook, career and life than the one I had rendered her disabled. She is now fully active and living a fulfilling life today with very little pain. How much of Katie’s story mimics your own. As we dive into this show, my goals are to educate and entertain.My name is Katie Wrigley. Welcome to my podcast. As we dive into the show, my goals are to educate and entertain. Entertainment may look like a funny anecdote or maybe a joke. The joke may or may not be appropriate. Initially, I had intended to start the show with a dirty joke, then I decided that maybe you guys should get to know me a little bit before I fully unleashed my wacky sense of humor on you. Today’s humor is going to be laced into my story, the story of my own pain journey that altered the course of my life. As I share this episode with you, I truly doubt I would still be here. If I hadn’t made such a massive and drastic turn in my life when I hit the point of disability. If I was still alive, somehow, I can guarantee you my quality of life would have been nowhere near the level it is now. This may sound crazy to you. But I am super grateful that I made all the decisions I made that led me to where I was. I’m even grateful that I was disabled. Without all that I wouldn’t be exactly who I am today. Oftentimes, I’m asked how I got into pain management. It’s an irrelevant question. This is what I refer to as my 900 degree career shift. You see, I come from the corporate world where I spent the last 24 years 16 of those were focused on cybersecurity sales. The last four were spent explaining what a life coach is to my corporate peers. I’m hoping that by now, you know we don’t stand on the sidelines of your life screaming go you now, you will hear me give a go you when you kick ass, but those are earned. Life Coaching and more specifically, pain management coaching is a lot more than being someone’s cheerleader and mega fan. It’s about meeting new where you are and helping you shift perspective to make life a lot easier and more enjoyable to live. My path to pain management was totally organic. I rendered myself disabled by the time I was in my early 40s. Looking back, I’m not even sure when the pain began. Some of it was from a car accident in the late 90s. But as I’ve been getting in touch with more people from my past, I’m finding that they are remembering me struggling more than I remember, in part because my struggles became much harder as the years went on. And I didn’t change much of what I was doing. Suffering was my norm. I was miserable, both mentally and physically and I had never known any other way other to live. And I had never really known any other way to live other than suffering, stressing and working myself to the bone. I had six bulging discs in my lower back facetted joint that they assume I fractured but they can’t tell because the arthritis around it is so severe. In case you are not well versed in spinal anatomy and I congratulate you if that’s the case. Those are the spiny things on either side of your spinal column that feed the peripheral nerves out to the rest of your body. I’ve also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, frozen shoulder, several sprains, chronic tendinitis, several fractures, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS, complex PTSD, a herniated disc in my neck, along with bone spur, nerve damage, and my upper and lower body and centralized sensitization. And those are just the diagnoses that include pain, I think, given several others as well. You may be wondering, how the hell did I do all of that to myself? Did I have an accident? Well, yes, yes, I did. Several of them actually. But that’s not the only reason. The biggest culprit of my former disabled state was from a long series of very poor decisions that I made for myself in my life that led me to finding the end what traditional medicine can do to help. I was a ha Atmos and I had run out of options outside of surgery. Can you say a train wreck? Looking back? I’m honestly not sure how I thought traditional medicine can help me. Since it only touches a third of the equation. doctors tend to shove antidepressants at you when you start repeatedly presenting with a lot of pain. But they don’t really tell you why. What’s funny about that, they both act like the pain is in your head. And they also have a magic pill to fix in pain. But I expected the doctors and those pills to work magic. What about all those ads on TV with those blissful seen of some smiling active people? What about all those ads on TV with this blissful scene full of smiling, active people, and they became smiling and active because of a magic pill. So what if it can cause a no leakage? I want that life. What actually happened is that I wound up spending months feeling like I was trying to convince my medical team that the pain was real. And this wasn’t the first time either. This is a mistake most people make because that’s what you’re trained to do. Look for help outside of yourself to fix whatever mess you got yourself into. The reason I’m sharing this story with you, as well, your story is uniquely yours. I know you’ll hear some consistency between themes with my story and your story. The origins of my bad decisions started in early life. This may be the case with you as well, or maybe not. Over a period of several years. When I was a little girl, I was repeatedly abused by someone outside my family. I then did everything I could to deny that trauma. But I always knew on some level that it was there, the topic of repressed memories would come up and my abuser always came to mind. Always, I would immediately dismiss it. But my body always knew. I started having massive anxiety attacks when I was 12. So bad that I would vomit and or start hyperventilating. I had nightmares almost every night. Sometimes so bad, I would wake up screaming. It became an anxious race for me to try to exhaust myself in any given day. So I fell asleep before anyone else in my house did. The level of anxiety I had if I was the last one up was just through the roof. I have never felt more alone than I did those nights where I laid awake trying to talk myself out the ledge while my family slept. Now I want to pause here to say that I have really awesome parents. They are so awesome that in 2020 I moved as close to them as I could get 20 minutes away. It wasn’t until I shared my truth after coming out of disability that they had any idea of what I had endured. Sharing my truth with them was very cathartic. They truly did the best they could and they love my sister and I so much. They did what they were told to do with me. And I never communicated the depths of my panic attacks and anxiety. This episode is actually the first time I have talked about all of this with anyone. Because I wanted to make sure I had healed that part of my past before I spoke of it. There was a lot of power and what my coach and friend Melanie Curtis says about healing and sharing. It’s best to share from the scar, not the open wound. Back to my story. My parents did what they were told to do and medicated me due to my poor behavior. Let me tell you, a kid who isn’t sleeping without exhausting herself and has nightmares when she does. She’s not going to be the sweetest kid on the playground. In fact, she’s probably going to be a nightmare. Picture Checky Do you remember that psychotic doll? Okay, maybe I was older than Cecchi. And maybe I wasn’t as cute or as murderous. But I was a friggin nightmare when I was a teenager. I tried getting drunk when I was 14, which didn’t help. But it didn’t stop me from continuing to try to escape with alcohol. Yes, I just admitted to being drunk. Before I was old enough to drive new I am not condoning that. As you’ll see, this was just the very beginning of my decades of bad decisions. Then I tried weed when I was 16. That gave me the munchies and the giggles and I slept better. Okay, weed was good. It made me happy when I was high. And my dreams were always so much better on days I smoked. This started a long road of self medicating well before pot was legal at a state level and considered valid medication. Before I finished high school, though, I endured another trauma. A couple of them actually. Midway through my senior year, I was sexually assaulted. A friend who I’d known throughout high school wouldn’t take no for an answer one night. That was only the beginning of that trauma though. You see, he flipped it around on me a few months prior Prior to that event, we had all been drunk at a party one night. I was super flirty with him and a little aggressive, which I apologize for later. I did take no for an answer that night, though. But no one else at that party knew the conversation he and I had after that night, where I apologized to him. They only saw me throwing myself at him. So when someone asked him after he assaulted me, whether we had slept together or not, he put it all on me. He told them, I wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I coerced him into sex, not the other way around. For the remainder of my senior year of high school, I was bullied. My house was egged almost every weekend, and guys at school were flat out rude to me. The guy who assaulted me tried to put me out at a party. But luckily, a good friend came to my rescue and got me out of there. Other guys would come up to me and flat out asked me if I wanted to have sex with them, because they had heard good things about me. Others called me a slip behind my back, I started I started ditching school so much that I almost didn’t graduate. And I failed out in my first year of college due to my mental status. I tried to tell one person what had happened to me. And this person had been brutally assaulted by a serial rapist in her younger years. So she told me that I didn’t have anything to complain about. And I believed her. Or I tried to believe her. It took me another year before I attempted to tell anyone else. It was only after my behavior was so awful. And I had alienated so many people I loved that I spoke up. After a little therapy, I started to come to terms with what had happened to me my senior year, still avoiding my early childhood trauma though, and I was able to hold it together again. Go back to school and turn my grades around, which got me accepted into Northeastern University in Boston, where I got my career I where I got my IT career started through their Co Op program, and I graduated with honors. I told myself that my success in school and career was evidence I was healed, and I continued to stay rooted in denial. Ignoring the many meltdowns I had, from time to time, when all of the weight of my past felt too heavy, and I had emotional breakdowns. All this was going on, as well as the start of excessive binge drinking and cannabis use. All this was going on, as well as the start of excessive binge drinking and cannabis abuse. But weed wasn’t enough, I still had an undeniable need to run and numb. I ran from my family and myself. I did this through a high pressure career first and it working all hours the day and night. Then my career shifted to cybersecurity. At first it was with large installs at all hours of the day and night again. Then I moved to pre sales were up to me to cinch the deal from a technical perspective. So my salesperson could close it as a win. I thrived on the difficult high pressure jobs, the long hours 70 to 100 hour weeks, no joke. And the 70 to 90% Travel gave me a great way to numb without guilt, just buried myself in my career. That was healthy, right? Except I incorporated no self care at all. Only in starts and stops when my health would take a turn. By the time the weekend rolled around. I was so tired that all I could do is smoke weed, binge watch whatever is on my TV long before binge watching became socially acceptable. Then I would feel guilty that I had flaked on my friends, and just sat home getting high and stuffing my face with crap that wasn’t good for me. I started having inexplicable medical issues on and off starting in 2007. This was my first introduction to all the helpful comments people will give you. Do you have that in your life to a team of Captain Obvious with all these awesome suggestions that make you either want to punch them? Or roll your eyes and say, Gee, why didn’t I think of that? Except Oh, yeah, I did already think of that. Thank you. Have you reached a point yet where you can sigh smile and find some kind of gratitude for their platitudes? Yeah, me neither. But I’m much closer now to gratitude than irritation. I know they meanwhile, and I know they do for you too. This also taught me to ask people what they tried before I push my advice on them. Although sometimes it sneaks out if I’m not paying close enough attention. I’m sorry if I’ve done that to you. No one likes to be advice elated. Get it. Advice elated. At first, I will get several weeks in between bouts of being knocked on my ass. And this was before the chronic pain real They kicked in. Like I said, I’m not sure when it really began. I claimed 2012 is the year my pain got a lot worse, but there were days when I was bedridden and 2018. I claimed 2012 As the year pain got a lot worse, but there were days when I was bedridden in 2010. With body pain. Claim 2012 as the your pain got a lot of worse, while Jesus. I claimed 2012 as a year pain got a lot worse. But there were days when I was bedridden, and in 2010, with body pain, and the diagnoses kept piling up the years I felt a reprieve were fewer and fewer. In case you’re wondering, no, of course, I hadn’t changed what I was doing by very much yet. In fact, as time went on, and I had more gratitude for the easier days, the harder I was on my body in my quest to live the hell out of my life. Or at least that’s what I told myself. Around 2013 I had less and less time in between health scares. I was already hurting all the time, too. But I was trying to suck it up. So I started to try to have more fun in my life to counter my stress. I was enjoying a lot of success in my career, which has led me to engage in skydiving and to buy a super fast fancy car that I drove like a bat out of hell, as well as dabbling in recreational drugs. I dabble I mean, this is tough to admit, I was an addict. myself, am I enabling friends all commented that as long as you’re keeping down your day job, you don’t have a problem. Hi. I call bullshit. I absolutely had a problem several of them. by 2014 and 2015. I couldn’t remember a time I didn’t hurt. Navigating health hurdles had become my norm, and I was known for it. My back pain had started in the late 90s After the car wreck, but between my bad landings from skydiving, my drug use health and poor life decisions. I was constantly hurting a hysterectomy in 2015 due to prolific and severe endometriosis was met with a major complication that had less than 1% chance of ever happening. Now, this one is both serious and funny at the same time, I wound up springing a leak after surgery. It was two days of internal bleeding before I realized it though, which resulted in the beginning of sepsis and 72 hours of IV antibiotics. Luckily, someone came by my house and got me to the ER because I was out of it. Now for the funny part. I sprung a leak because I pooped wrong. No shit. Pun intended. It’s a true story. Did you know there is a right and wrong way to poop. Neither did I. Not until I did it wrong, which, ironically was followed by Squatty Potty commercials that gave you a visual manual of how to properly poop. All while watching an adorable little unicorn take a dump with a smile. Now you know, poop carefully my friend. You’re welcome. I’m starting to digress on the Squatty Potty. I do love me some unicorns, pooping or otherwise. The sepsis is important to the story, because the person who got me to the ER saved my life. Literally. My gratitude blinded me to their true intent. More on that in a minute. Now, it’d be easy to chalk up all my body pain to skydiving. And honestly, it was a huge reason why I hurt so much. I also tried to blame it all on skydiving while I continue to make a mess of my personal life without any accountability. But if skydiving was the only reason, then traditional medicine would have helped and fixed it. Also, I would have been disabled while I was skydiving not almost two years after I hung up my rag. And those years between hanging up my rang and becoming disabled. The level of codependency I had within my personal relationships was incredibly high. I had no idea what a boundary was, let alone how to vocalize it. I let myself be convinced that a marriage to someone I wasn’t attracted to and wasn’t in love with was a good idea. The person I married was also the person who saved my life when I was septic. Just saying that term septic makes just saying that term septic makes me feel like a GIANT TURD. All this led me to the time I not so affectionately referred to as the time I blew up my life twice. By 2018. I’ve been living for 18 months, I’d had a knee replacement divorce a few police visits to my house. I’d lost 45 pounds inside six months, and my lower back was an agony. My back had been misdiagnosed for years as it turned out. It was nowhere close to just muscle as I had been told repeatedly. An MRI a doctor finally ordered to prove to me that I had valid reasons to have back pain. The knee replacement snowballed all of my body pain, and that’s when the car at the knee replacement, snowballed all of my body pain. And that’s when the CRPS kicked in. I had a lot of trouble trying to heal. The surgery was picture perfect. But I lived in a house full of people who didn’t care about me, and would rather steal my pain pills than help me. My mental state was awful. I cried, all the time, anxiety was through the roof again, it was pure hell to be me for a few months after that knee replacement. I got stuck in scar tissue twice. And they told me I would need another surgery to remove this scar tissue. And it would be almost the same recovery I was still going through from the actual knee replacement. At that point, I just started bawling. crying a little bit just wasn’t enough. I was miserable. Everything hurt. My life was a damn mess. And I just wanted to crawl into bed and wait for it all to get better. At this point in time, I was very heavily medicated. And I had about 20 minutes of energy per day. I was staring down a life full of pain and limits and it was terrifying. What I did instead was reached out to the life coach I had already been working with on and off for a year, Melanie Curtis and asked her for help to find someone focused on wellness specifically, it was clear that I had done such an epic job of screwing up my life that I was going to need not one, but two coaches to help me dig out one for my life as a whole to help me shift all those unhealthy habits that helped me land in pain, and one focused on my physical body to attack it from that set. I mean, hello, I was watching to mushroom clouds dissipate. Clearly, I needed to help. My wellness coaches Shannon Hernandez, she was my first introduction to pain management. And I thought Shannon was insane at first. She wanted me to try shit like practicing forgiveness and telling my leg which I hadn’t yet been able to fully extend that I loved it. What the fuck? You want me to do? What? Forgive the people who almost ruined my life and love my leg that won’t behave? Well, I had already figured out well, I had already filled out very lengthy paperwork and committed to work with her. So as may as well give her a shot. I can always go back to my old ways when I saw she was full of it right? She was saying crazy things like, you may not need to have surgery, and you can heal yourself with your mind. And I legit thought she was nuts. Or she was smoking something I had never got my hands on the idea that she was covertly taking EPA drugs I hadn’t heard of. I won’t lie that sounded appealing at the time. To my surprise, after only a couple of meditations around forgiveness, and feeling like a mad woman. As I told my leg that I loved it. I stopped limping for the first time in 18 months. Go me, hey, I can be my own coach too. You know, she had my attention. And I started trying pretty much everything she wanted me to try. She helped me see my own role with those who treated me so badly. And that without my lack of boundaries, they would have never had the opportunity to do as much damage as I allowed them to do to me. It was really hard to see that my own part in the mess that was my life. And it was also one of the most empowering things I learned to do fully own my shit. I tried pretty much everything Shannon suggested. She even wanted me to try some eye movements and I had mastered I tried pretty much everything Shannon suggested. She even wanted me to try some eye movements and I had massive resistance to doing so which I find hilarious and ironic. Now since I’ve movements are a huge piece of how I help my clients. Gratitude became a regular practice I still do daily. If you’re ever around me at 8pm You’ll hear my alarm to remind me to practice gratitude. Facing all the emotions I had fled from for decades is what really shifted things in my physical body. anger, grief, disappointment, resentment, hatred, shame, and guilt. Now, my level of denial was so high that I needed the help of plant medicine to really fully help me face all those feelings. Finally, drugs I couldn’t abuse that would actually help me heal wounds. plant medicine helped me finally face my trauma even after it became undeniable ice still wanted to deny it until I spoke to a couple of psychotherapists about what I had discovered. And they validated that my experience made complete sense from a psychological perspective. In fact, the therapist I had worked with for eight years in Atlanta, so that it made more sense than anything we had ever discussed together. It was clear I had finally faced. In fact, the therapist I had worked with more than eight years in Atlanta, said that it made more sense than anything else we have previously discussed together. It was clear, I had finally faced the missing piece that was driving my self destructive behavior. Basically, my denial and fear were so high, I chose to allow myself to reach a point of disability before I could face it. Even as I started to face it, I pretty much complained every step of the way. Dealing with emotions was incredibly hard for me. I had done such an epic job of avoiding feeling that I had to be taught how to feel things again. No wonder I wasn’t happy. If you disassociate to a point, you don’t feel much of anything that will include happiness to finally facing that trauma and no longer allowing myself to deny it had a massive and immediate impact on my pain levels. All of this resulted in me starting to have the foundations of a healthy happy life. But in 2020, I’m still dealing with relentless nerve pain down my left leg, and it was weakening my leg despite the fact that I could hack mountains and be active again. Treatment after treatment was yielding little to nothing. I tried radiofrequency ablation RFA where they fry the peripheral nerve with a needle to lessen the maid. I did that twice. I tried cortisone shots, four times, chiropractor, acupuncture, float therapy, meditation breathwork, the RFA encoded. VR thing cortisone would help for a few weeks, the chiropractor, acupuncture, massage, all of that would help for a few hours. But nothing was really touching that pain and I was losing more and more strength. Everyone started to tell me I was going to need neurosurgery. And I’m sure that after you’ve heard my accounts of my hysterectomy and knee replacement, both of which have more than a 90 percentile chance of success. You understand how terrified I was to face surgery with a 5050 chance of success. Then a friend of mine, Cory, randomly popped up out of the blue after 18 months. After chatting a few times and catching up, he sends me a special on Gaia. If you aren’t familiar with that app, I highly recommend it. You can get it via Amazon Prime Now to the special was an interview with Bill McKenna, the founder of cognitive movement, Corey sends it saying I think you’ll get a lot out of this. I’ve been working with this guy in cognitive movement is amazing. I’ve been sleeping like a baby for the first time in my life since I started working with Bill. So I check out the special and I’m riveted. Shannon had planted the seeds year before. So I check out the special and I’m riveted. Shannon had planted the seed years before you can heal yourself with your mind. If this dude was for real, he was on to something. I think Cory for the suggestion, and I reached out to Bill and asked if I could book a session. Cognitive movement uses a brightly cover. Wagner movement uses a brightly colored ball. And I didn’t have one yet. But Bill said that that was okay. To my complete and utter shock. My back pain went away. I felt immediate relief followed directly by a massive panic attack. That was confusing. I had wanted my back pain to go away for years. What was with the anxiety. As I paced my house fluctuating between joy and panic. I give it some thought. Something Shannon had told me years before suddenly came to mind again. pain becomes part of our identity. Well then, I guess that had happened to me too. So I dug deep and thought about something Bill said there’s a cookie for us at whatever level we are on. If there wasn’t a cookie, we wouldn’t stay there. So I thought, What’s my cookie? Those are some bitter as cookies. Let me just tell you, I still cringe a little to admit this to you. But it’s important. I realized that my pain gave me an hour if I didn’t want to do something. Rather than not committing to plans and staying in integrity. It was easier to just tap out the last minute due to body pain. The other more delicious cookie was career related. And it made me feel superior to my colleagues. I was out there kicking ass and I was working around chronic pain. I could keep keep up with what they were doing while I hurt like hell. Since I didn’t yet have a ball for my first session, the change of my back didn’t stick. I’ll explain in a future episode why that is. My sample was enough though. So I signed up for a three day cognate movement virtual event. And this time, I also bought a ball. At the end of it, my back felt so good, I put together a piece of furniture. That was all I needed to experience. I completely embrace cognitive movement, both personally and professionally. Professionally, it was the missing piece I was looking for to help my clients more easily. I became certified in 2021. Personally, it’s been a key to massive transformation in my life, the list of ways that it’s impacted, not just my physical pain, but also my entire life is pretty long. And I’ll be sharing those with you on stories throughout my the list of ways it’s impacted, not just my physical pain, but also my entire life is pretty long. And I’ll be sharing those stories with you throughout my podcast. Shannon had been right. I healed myself with my mind. That’s my journey. That’s my story of my journey with pain. Thanks so much for listening today. I hope you found a lot of yourself in my story, not because I want you to be miserable like I was. It’s because if you do, then that means there’s a lot of hope that you can have a similar outcome for yourself to throughout this podcast, we’ll be diving into a lot of the various pieces I spoke about in here and taping it. Throughout this podcast, we’ll be diving into a lot of the various pieces I spoke about in here and taking a deeper look into why those elements add to the experience of pain. Not just for me, but for you too.