From chronic pain to healing - Founder Craig's health journey
Chronic pain and anxiety
Throughout my life I have suffered a lot of chronic pain, anxiety and health conditions
From the youngest age I can remember I have suffered from anxiety. At the age of 17 I started to experience intermittent back pain and at 23 was diagnosed with Sherman's disease. My anxiety was also worse at this time and I was diagnosed with Generalized anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
The pain got to the point where my upper back hurt 24 hours a day. Suffering constant chronic pain affects your mindset giving you more anxiety, depression and prevents you from exercising and taking part in some everyday activities.
Ankylosing Spondylitis diagnosis
When I was 33 I started experiencing pain in other parts of the body including my hand and eyes and was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis a type of Arthritis / Autoimmune disease.
I was given anti-inflammatories and over the counter medication for the pain. I was on numerous medications for my conditions including 2 types of antidepressants, 3 different tablets for pain and a tablet for heartburn.
I was referred to a group class to discuss Ankylosing Spondylitis where I was told that the condition would continue to worsen and I would be in pain forever. This mindset did not sit well with me.
Changing my mindset and diet
My wife, Sam was studying naturopathy and encouraged me to take another path with healing my pain. I had already gone vegetarian for ethical reasons but started to cut out dairy and processed foods as well.
Following this diet started to help reduce the pain and anxiety and I was able to get off an opiate patch pain killer I had been wearing for years.
In 2010 Sam and I travelled to England so I could take part in an exercise program to help my back. This did help with scoliosis in my back, reduced the pain in my back somewhat and gave me confidence I could do more types of exercise.
At age 40 I became vegan cutting out all animal products all together. I also try to eat only whole plant foods at much as possible. This further helped with the pain and anxiety and reduced symptoms of ADHD which I had developed. I was able to start doing more exercise including some weights and running.
About 6 years ago however I did start suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. I tried keeping food diaries and tried different diets including a low FODMAP diet but I was still experiencing symptoms. After finding no link between what I was eating and my symptoms I discovered information on the link between the brain and the gut. I was referred to a psychologist where I learnt about pain centres, neural pathways and TMS - tension myositis syndrome.
Working on the brain as well as my physical body has been a big game changer. It not only helped strongly reduce my IBS symptoms but also helped reduce other pain I was suffering in the body. It has also helped further reduce my anxiety.
Photo - Sam and I when we were in the UK doing my course
Being able to exercise again and living pain free
I can now easily run a few kilometers every day without suffering any pain or discomfort. This is something I could only have dreamed of doing a few years before. I have three young children and being able to run around with them and be pain free has really changed my life.
I am however still a work in progress. I am continuing to work on the brain to further reduce the intermittent IBS and pain and also work on reducing my heartburn a symptom I have had for over 20 years.
The only medication I take on a regular basis now is one for heartburn. I only have to take pain killers occasionally and can go weeks and even months without having any.
No matter what diagnosis a doctor gives you there is often hope to get better and recover. If you believe you will stay ill and in pain your whole life you probably will. You need to do your own research, look in to alternatives and believe that you can make a change in your body.