I suffered from chronic inflammatory arthritis for many years. Through a holistic health mindset and lifestyle, I miraculously healed myself and became a triathlete and marathon runner.
That same miracle is inside of you, too!
At age 23, when I was in my first year in the U.S. Marine Corps, I was diagnosed with a type of inflammatory arthritis. The exact label isn't important; the doctors kept changing it anyway. And regardless of the label du jour, they just kept prescribing the same drugs.
For years, I did everything I could to fight the disease. Conventional medicine, alternative healthcare -- you name it. I tried everything I could find, looking for the silver bullet that would free me from my disease once and for all.
My journey was one of low points and lower points.
One major low point was when I could no longer meet the stringent physical requirements of the Marine Corps, and I was told I had to go. That was a tough one. I loved being a Marine, and when I no longer measured up, it put a huge dent in my sense of self worth.
Some of my lowest points were as a Dad. When I was in pain, I couldn't do many of the things I wanted to do with my son, Matt. I felt like I was letting him down.
I remember well the morning I woke up with an excruciating flare up and decided to go to an urgent care clinic for some medications. Again! As I limped slowly and painfully out the door, Matt, who was just a toddler at the time, offered me his blankie to comfort me.
Although I was deeply moved by Matt's generosity, I felt pathetic. Here I was, a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, supposed to stand tall as a trusted leader, yet my four year old boy felt the need to give me his most treasured possession. (Well, loan it to me, anyway...)
And I'll never forget the tears in Matt's eyes a few years later, when he was 6 years old, and another flare up forced me to cancel a promised trip to Disneyland. The ache in my heart at disappointing my little boy was far worse than the crippling pain in my limbs.
Recently, Matt (now a grownup) reminded me that during his middle school years, when he was a hockey player, I often had to use one of his hockey sticks as a crutch as I hobbled around the house.
It was during that period of time that I had my lowest of lows. I was a Chiropractic student and was in the midst of the worst flare up I ever had.
Today, I look back and remember it as "The Big One."
Each morning, it took me about five minutes of painful struggle, with the aid of my hockey stick crutch, just to get up out of bed. And that was after 20-30 minutes of psyching myself up to do it.
I spiraled downward to a state of utter despair and apathy. My pain was so intense...so debilitating...so constant...I got to the point where I no longer cared whether I lived or died. As I lay in bed one morning, the prospect of yet another agonizing effort just to get up out of bed was more than I could bear. I looked up to God and said, "Enough is enough. Either cure me or take me."
His answer was clear: "Cure yourself or take yourself."
"Yeah, thanks for that."
I just wanted to quit.
Initially, I was quite peeved at what I thought was an "I don't care about you and your silly disease" response. But soon after, I experienced a beautiful and important epiphany.
I realized that I had been expending all of my energy fighting "IT" (my disease), and I came to the profound awareness that IT was ME! I was only fighting myself!
From then on, I stopped focusing so much on my pain and began to do all I could to maximize my boundless human potential. I was no longer going to let the disease be my identity. Pain or no pain, I began to work on living the best life I could possibly live.
At this point, I need to tell you that my epiphany didn’t come out of nowhere. The foundation had been laid years earlier.
Early in my struggle with the disease, I began chiropractic care. And, although it didn’t "cure" me, it was the one thing that helped me more than anything else.
I’m convinced that chiropractic care allowed me to remain in the Marines years longer than I would have without it.
I considered chiropractic the cornerstone of my approach to my health. And I still do!
In fact, chiropractic had served me so well that when I finally had to leave the Marines, I decided to devote my life to chiropractic, and I went to chiropractic college.
The beauty and power of chiropractic, though, for me wasn’t just in the adjustments. Even more important was the foundational philosophy of chiropractic that was beginning to change my life.
For a number of years, chiropractic care -- and then my chiropractic education -- had made me aware of the magnificent innate healing wisdom that we all have inside of us.
Today, I refer to that healing wisdom as The Doctor Within.
At first, that was just an understanding in my thinking mind. You’ve gotta understand that for my whole life prior to chiropractic, my frame of reference about health was conventional medicine. When that’s what you’re born and raised with, you don’t change, at a core level, just because your mind grasps something new.
So, after years of understanding and even teaching this new philosophy -- at an intellectual level -- my conversation with God finally allowed it to sink in at the deepest level of my being.
This new holistic mindset became the groundwork for my healing miracle.
I didn't notice any physical changes right away but almost immediately, I began to feel better and better mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
I wasn't aware of it yet, but my healing miracle was beginning to unfold. It happened gradually...and revealed itself unexpectedly...
In late 2005, as I was coming off another doozy of a flare up, I woke up one morning and felt...different. My symptoms were pretty much the same as the day before, but I felt a higher vibration inside. After that, my flare up subsided more rapidly than any previous flare up ever had.
In May of 2006, I went to Spokane to walk in the annual Bloomsday Run. (Although it's known as the "Bloomsday Run," the majority of the 50,000-ish participants walk it from start to finish.)
On a lark, I decided to see if I could jog for a short distance. To my very pleasant surprise, I ran the first four miles before I stopped to walk. When I crossed the finish line I had run over six miles of the seven and a half mile course. There are no words to describe the thrill I felt! I hadn't run four miles nonstop in over 25 years...and I hadn't run at all in over 11 years!
My eyes welled up with tears of joy and gratitude. It felt like the most miraculous moment in my life!
And the miracle got even better...!
I took up running again, and even started triathlon training. In 2007, I ran three triathlons -- including a half Ironman -- and my first marathon!!! Even in years past, when I had been an athlete, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would ever run a marathon.
Today, I'm still active and feel healthier than ever before. I practice martial arts, and love trail running, hiking, snowboarding, kayaking and plenty of other outdoor activities. I'm having the time of my life!
The most important lesson I learned on my healing journey goes right to the heart of what "holistic health" really means.
Turn your attention from fighting to thriving, and allow yourself to heal from the inside out.
That's where you will find your own miracle...