“Movement Like Breathing” by Diane Chavez, MA, LMHC
November 15, 2015
My doctor told me the other day that I have Secondary Progressive. “You have permanent damage in your spinal cord.” Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the protective covering surrounding the nerves of the central nervous system.
Let me start from the beginning. Haa! what beginning? Well in this context I can say I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 20 years ago. I went quite a long time following my neurologist’s recommended treatment plans. I went along with the pharmaceutical plan for about 15 years. During that time with western medicine, how can I phrase this mildly? I felt as though I was losing my soul. Not so mild (sorry). Well, alongside the MS diagnosis, I was diagnosed with chronic migraines in 2004, which actually started in 2003. I had a migraine headache every day for over ten years. At the beginning of 2009, I was on 7 different medications, PLUS an injection 3 times a week. This is what I refer to as losing my soul. I believe I came into to world, let’s say, ahh… kinda natural. But soon after, doctor’s filled me with chemicals to help my body from diseases, etc….my poor little body.
Well, back to my story. I was taking seven pills a day plus an injection 3 times a week, and my body felt like it was dying. Yes, I admit during my developmental and adolescent years, I took my share of aspirin or Tylenol, but by the time I was 38 I had had enough pharmaceutical chemical trash in my body that I couldn’t even feel my body – yet alone my brain – to even be aware if I felt good or bad or anything. It’s not like “Oooh!, I am on so many drugs I don’t care about anything.” It was much more than that. I didn’t have the emotion to realize I didn’t feel an emotion. But somehow, miraculously, I was aware of that.
In April of 2009, I was living in New Mexico. I decided, for my life’s sake, to go to the ocean. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area and I had developed an affinity for the water. I sat on the beach staring out into vast waves and constant movement like breathing. That was my breath. I wanted to have a chat with the universe. To be frank, I was fucking pissed off! I believe I was lucky to be born with a mother and father who loved me. I had felt supported from the second I was born. So with that (healthy attachment theory), I say I was born with a tenacious spirit inside of me and I loved life.
When life presented this challenge of excruciating pain every day I just wanted to die. I go back to my story on the beach in 2009. I asked the universe two questions: 1) Do I want to live this way? 2) Do I want to die this way? The answer undoubtedly was “No,” of course. At that moment I decided to ‘choose life’. I knew what I wanted to do with and for my body. First thing, get off all the medication. I did just that. Today I’m still off. Within two months, I got off all the meds and I lost over 30 lbs. I was never a heavy woman but my body was releasing and detoxifying so much. I can’t imagine what was in my body. It was about 17 years daily of being on some form of western medicine. I knew I needed to do a 360° change in my life. Yes change. At the end of 2009, I met up with two wonderful spiritual healers. They were guides to help me on my holistic journey. I also am grateful for Southwestern College’s Art Therapy and Counseling program. While there, I was empowered to look inside my soul and love it again.
So now, it’s been seven years since I’ve been off western medicine and my doctor tells me I have permanent spinal cord damage (with demyelination lesions on my spinal cord) and that is why I can not walk more than a mile. After two miles my left leg just stops working. The past seven years have been the happiest years of my life. My first thought when I was in the doctor’s office listening to her was “I know you are going to suggest some sort of treatment plan.” So as I previously stated I went off western medicine in 2009; it took about 4 years for my headaches to go away (holistic healing doesn’t always happen quickly). My last headache was in January 2013. Because I really can’t walk more than 3 miles without falling over, I was interested in hearing what she had to say. “With this stage of MS, there are not a lot of options. And most medication plans are 50% chance of you walking better.” Haa!
So here I am today, with not a decision to make. I made that decision a long time ago. The absolute best thing I ever did in my life was getting off western medication. I don’t even take aspirin. I don’t think I believe in permanence anyway. I actually looked it up and no. 2 definition was “Not expected to change”. That’s my big hoorah in life.
I believe in Brain-Shifting, what I call our ability to change our brain. We are always changing (more to come in a book I’m working on). That decision saved my life. I can walk. I can dance. But most importantly I can feel my emotions. They are not hazed over or glazed in some foggy chemical mess in my head. My head is clear. And this is who I am. I decide not to inject my body with anything. I know exactly what I put in my body. This makes me feel healthy and happy. I am proud to be alive and emotionally stable. Even more so than many people I know. I believe we all have our own paths, and I do not judge choices others make about what treatment plans they choose. This is my path and I’m grateful. And someday I still want to run a marathon. I’d suffice for walking rather than running. That’s just how I like my life… slow and graceful. Thanks for listening.
Diane Chavez, MA, LMHCA, Art Therapist