The Love Story That Overcame The Impossibe
(An excerpt from our upcoming book)
“Many things will catch your eye, pursue those that catch your heart.” --Indian Proverb
This chapter is dedicated to a love story unlike any other. Everything you read here is real and none of it was embellished or changed at all. After much thought I’ve decided to make this the abridged version and give just the key details that help to understand what level of healing was needed.
We didn’t know it but there was someone out there for each of us that would complete us in a way that we couldn’t have imagined, much like the song ‘Somewhere Out There.’
Honestly, I was quite broken back then. Before I was able to find that special someone for me, I first had to escape a deadly cult that I had been born into. They presented themselves as being the only group on earth with the power to save everyone, their teachings were beyond gospel, never to be disagreed with or face building repercussions to the point that many had taken their own lives.
Internally, that religion was based on an intense military structure that was filled with a vehement yelling chain of command that broke most recruits before they could even get situated.
To join the clergy, you apparently had to have a minimal 135 IQ, pass various fitness tests and become willing to give up everything you owned of value, all in the hopes of saving the world. The “elite” position I was granted had a trail of dead bodies of those chosen few cadets who were tough enough to make it through a grueling bootcamp. In the history of my religion, no one had survived that position with their lives for more than a year until they’d commit suicide, or “accidentally fall from a roof...”
Luckily, my grueling position was made easier by living in a room with 12 other statesmen who never had enough time to do their laundry, in a 225sqr ft room, and who were all on wildly different schedules.
I managed to survive it for two and a half years until I found myself atop my religions building and was close to jumping, you know, for the sake of tradition. I can still feel those inviting winds across my hair as if it was just yesterday. A random glowing orb in the sky (caught on camera in Los Angeles) was the only thing between me and the pavement that night.
Even when I was considering suicide, ‘the media, press and the others’ were enemies filled only with disgruntled naysayers that had no rights to speak their “mind controlling lies” to the world, when I was the one who was misinformed. The only source of truth was clearly my group...
I can’t tell you how eerie it is for me to watch the movie ‘Oblivion with Tom Cruise.’
I barely managed to find out that they were the ones who had lost their way, from the founders imperfect visions, and were now simply financially raping their parishioners. It hurts to be betrayed, lied to and beaten. I’ve definitely had my fill there. But finding out suddenly that one’s entire religion had lost its way… was truly soul crushing.
I escaped through the back one fateful night, and was then hunted for two weeks until they finally decided to ostracize me.
I realized only then how precious my freedom was, something I’d largely taken for granted. The world was my oyster now since I still had my many friends that I’d known my entire life…
…Except I soon got Facebook messages from all of them, saying that they ‘were told they couldn’t talk to me ever again… sorry.’
If I had never joined that clergy, I would still have all of my lifelong friends. I would still have tens of thousands of dollars in assets and editing gear and a building roster of editing and film clients… I didn’t lose everything to my name gambling, I lost it by joining a group I thought would literally save the world.
Yet if I never joined, I wouldn’t have learned about true pain and suffering that was required in my journey as a healer. And I may never have met my wife who ended up teaching me far more powerful tools and insights then a lifetime in the pursuit of them.
And thus I say, “God bless the broken road that led us together.” I also love that song. I’m actually playing it right now as I type.
In the long, painful and disorienting years of aftermath-like recovery, I somehow became a micro best-selling author on Amazon, dabbled in the world of filmmaking but left it with too much of a broken heart and ended up being an Uber driver until my luck ran out. A year later misinformation from them on multiple fronts caused me to again lose everything, and very ironically in Vegas.
I came back to LA with my tail between my legs and once again had nothing to my name. How was I supposed to find deeper truths that could lead to peace and wellness across a society if I couldn’t even ‘life.’ I felt like the worst type of failure that could spawn out of human imagination.
A friend of mine allowed me to sleep on their laundry room floor until I got back on my feet, but without a car I found that very difficult to do, especially in Los Angeles. I “brilliantly” decided or at least hoped that if I could find love, then maybe I could find my footing on the broken path of life itself, ironically similar to a romantic comedy I’d filmed a year prior to a few golf claps from my classmates.
Dating was very tough to say the least and in hindsight, I don't even know what I was thinking, having nothing to offer but a kind heart and building muscles.
I managed to find my high school sweetheart and was proud that she managed to become a producer in a major Hollywood studio. She was my only remaining friend in the world. My heart raced as I was certain I was living the ultimate ‘Homeward Bound’ movie. In epic expectations versus reality fashion, her assistant said that she was not interested in saying hi as our relationship “was in the past and had expired,” I assumed like groceries… I only wish I knew if I was more like moldy bread or spoiled milk.
One day I was sitting in a Starbucks, waiting for a woman who had found me on OK Cupid.
In walks this petite, hunched over, soft spoken and fragile creature with black under her eyes from lack of sleep and with slightly green skin from malnutrition. She spoke so softly I felt even mice might ask her to speak up. She mentioned that her spine had hurt a little since a horse accident years ago, but nothing seemed to help it…
She was hoping to order herself a delicious cup of coffee but was too distracted by our three-hour conversation and, apparently, my biceps as I was heavily working out back then.
She was very sweet but I remember thinking, “You don't need a relationship you need a Doctor.” I was afraid I would break her or something like fine China. If her mind could have retorted I’m sure it would have said, “You don’t need a relationship, you need a job!”
I gave her general wellness advice, including a Tai Chi twisting exercise for her back pain and wished her well. How sad is it that we can be so quick to judge others, when we ourselves can be the ones in pain and ‘in need of improving?’ I was impressed when she acted on that advice, which was rare. I placed that ability alone to literally be one in a million.
We kept talking and overtime I found her to be the kindest, sweetest and most considerate person I’d ever met… so that I decided to “give her another chance.”
I learned that she had spent a large portion of her childhood trying to escape her father, having to hop from one hotel in Los Angeles to another, along with her Mother and sister. They were afraid every time they turned the corner, anytime they went to the store, anytime their mother had their back turned for just the slightest of moments felt like potential moments of kidnap.
Growing up like that had to be terrifying. She wasn't really allowed to go anywhere while she feared for her life. She became so overprotected that she became a prisoner, never able to have friends, get hurt, ride a bike, swim or live life.
When she was 17, after the most haunting three hours of her life, she felt her mother’s last pulse to breast cancer and suddenly had to take care of her grandmother who was bi-polar with dementia. Her older sister was off working on a child and family of her own with no attempt to try and help Alex with her new burden.
She was determined to honor her mother’s last wish for ‘her children to pursue a career.’ Daringly, she began her veterinary undergrad days later, simply not wanting to wait a year. She was determined to become a veterinarian oncologist to try and help fight the big fight against cancer so that, hopefully, less people would have to go through what she did.
Despite everything she had been through, she had somehow remained one of the kindest and sweetest and most supporting people I had ever met. I fell in love. I hoped she would never lose hold of her flame, no matter what may be on her horizon, for I could sense winter was coming…
One day, she was really sullen when she said she’d be going to New York for a year for a specialty residency in veterinary oncology. She was certain there was no way that I’d want to come to New York with her and help take care of her moody grandmother. She was so hopeless for love that she nearly deleted her OK Cupid account a day before her message made it through the web to my inbox.
We found ourselves at the Santa Monica Pier a few weeks later, which was near Los Angeles. We were simply looking at the ocean and taking in its beauty. I cradled her against my chest, and held her in both arms despite my runny nose… and mispronounced her name as I engaged... twice. She laughed and said yes. I then triumphantly blew my nose. Eat your heart out Hollywood. We then sat there for hours, just enjoying Santa Monica’s beautiful sunset and each other’s embrace, clueless to the vortex of doom we were sailing straight into…
That night I went to sleep on an air bed in the living room at Alex’s Place. During the night Alex decided to sleep next to me. I could never sleep with a shirt on and had taken it off. The next morning, the grandmother found Alec and I sleeping together. Alex had all of her clothes on and I was only shirtless.
The grandmother preceded to unleash an un-holy hell of vehement shouts and seemed like she was ready to attack. Their Javanese Shiatsu “service dog,” Motita, was a nervous wreck with all of the commotion and ran and barked in circles. I understood her mistake in assuming that we had had sex and all I said was “we love you, we did not have sex, we are both still virgins,” over and over for three hours, as if I was casting an anti-demon spell, until she finally calmed down and apologized. I knew indeed that our future would be a challenge.
I shortly found out that Alex’s parents used to be a loving couple with many photos as evidence. Yet two years after the grandmother moved in with them, they suddenly divorced with such ferocity that, to this day, their international divorce and custody case is now one of the first cases studied by most lawyers. 15 years later from that day, both of her parents were dead.
I couldn’t help but notice that was one hell of a coincidence, fearing what darkness the grandmother might have in store for our future. She genuinely appeared to wish the best for Alex, except that ‘best’ was her giving up on her dream of oncology to work GP in Lancaster, CA. There’s nothing wrong with that per say, but not if that’s simply not one’s path.
I was new to the family, but I could quickly tell that Alex was the grandmothers ‘precious’ and I was interfering with the quality time she wanted to herself.
Even though she claimed she thought god helped us meet, I had actually become an obstacle that she then worked tirelessly to get rid of. She apparently often told Alex that ‘she was certain I was just going to leave her one day and thus she should just leave me instead.’ Sound advice.
We had secured her a spot at an assisted living home in case she decided she didn’t want to come with us to New York, which was obviously going to be tough on her anyway. We gave her outcast sister a chance to make up her cold shoulder actions of the past to their family over time. Naturally, the sister proved herself by calling the grandmother and claiming that we were planning to abandon her, instantly killing that option, or even for us to have a family discussion.
That betrayal of her sister cost us $20,000 in increased rent over the next year and caused nearly endless damages to Alex’s career with endless other costs in addition. The total costs of that move would end up costing us over $300,000 when you also factor in lost income. Who needs enemies with family like that?
We then began the craziest 15-day road trip from California to New York that I could ever have imagined, including their nervous wreck of a “service dog,” Motita. (Cue comedic music)
We landed in the "warm and cozy" state of NY 15 days later to our first Air BnB location. For the next 5 months we’d move from one pad to the next.
Unfortunately, the grandmother didn't qualify for Medicaid because we were technically homeless while every landlord told us that they just were not comfortable with the grandmother and wished us luck finding a place that was. Which of course prevented us from being able to have a stable address that would then help cover the grandmother.
It’s tough to care for elderly these days, especially when they are bipolar with dementia and committed to destroying relationships of their precious. Except now we were being punished with homelessness that led to insane amounts of stress and lost time, having to constantly find the next Air BnB, not to mention how expensive it was! The grandmother also got $500 less a month in benefits because it was assumed she’d be getting benefits elsewhere that she wasn’t qualified for because we were technically homeless as well. Luckily the grandmother assumed we were lying and every week demanded we gave her “her money” that the government had stopped sending. No matter how many times we showed her the bank account she only got more and more suspicious and upset.
We finally found a place that we could stay for a few months but unfortunately, I repaired it so well that the owners decided they were moving back in with only a few days’ notice.
As we frantically chased an ever-dwindling NY AirBnB market, I did my best to keep the household in order as Alex was at one of the toughest specialty internships in oncology in the country. Unfortunately, every day she came home, she came home to screaming wild angry threats from the grandmother or with things she felt was missing or just general evil, despite me spending my entire days trying to see to her needs and asking her if she needed anything.
Despite the calm and loving face I wore, the truth is that I was barely holding on myself, praying for the strength and wisdom to help save my wife from the impossible conditions and level of pain she seemed to find herself in. Mind you, I was a high grade officer in the extreme military like cult that I was in, and found this life FAR more challenging. There were many days I even missed that life, in comparison to this grandmothers wrath that was probably Soromons’ master (as in lord of the rings).
The stress was too much. At this point I only knew that “stress was bad” and I was failing to keep Alex’s stress levels reasonable. I’d even travel the NY subway system to sit outside of her work for hours until she was free, just to give her one simple hug.
Alexandra’s’ pain got worse and worse until it became a chronic level 6 pain and she began to cry herself to sleep from it every night, despite my desperate attempts to massage her pain away while frequently listening to the song ‘The Cure by Lady Gaga” and feeling utterly helpless. Thick or thin she was the one I was married to, the one I was dedicated to and I was failing to keep her pain away…
Ironically enough, the constant fitness demands of traveling the New York commute system kept her reasonably healthy and in shape to stave off her pathology from completely paralyzing her. This lesson later taught me that sometimes motion can be the best healer (but it should be limited to 30% of what one thinks they can do over a day when in recovery).
We went to countless specialists and I remember how crazy it was to see her and her grandmother, at 85 years old, go to the same specialist. Her grandmother took two tests and was considered far healthier than her age would suggest. Alex got 22 tests to no answers to her high chronic pain. Even as the grandmother stood there, and realized how much pain Alex was actually in, her attitude to her insatiable needs and wrath at home would go unchanged.
I hopelessly continued to spend all of my days trying to simply get the grandmother to not scream bloody murder at Alex. Twas a high bar, the very things that dreams are made of. I simply did my best to show the grandmother peace, love and understanding as well as helping Alex to not feel as much pain mentally and physically as she did. She’d constantly say she felt like she was the worst doctor in the world because she couldn’t remember every tiny detail of her 80-200 patients at a moment’s notice. I’d often simply say on repeat, “You’re NOT the worst doctor in the world. You’re a good doctor. If you wish you knew your patients better then let’s spend more time memorizing their details over feeling bad about not knowing everything.”
My own energy was endlessly taxed by the grandmothers’ wrath… but Alex needed constant encouragement and massages simply to prevent the grandmother from taking her down into the pitch black of night, so I simply had no choice but to dig down for the faith, strength and energy that did not otherwise exist.
Alex never once came home complaining about work in these times. All of her pain and stress was coming from the last living family member she knew, that at least pretended to have Alex’s best interests in mind. In that vein, her grandmother admitted that she was also praying every day that Alex would not get residency and she decided it would be “best for Alex” if she simply came back to that same assisted living home from earlier, and worked reception at a local veterinary clinic with $140,000 of student debt.
I had no idea how Alex was able to ‘doctor’ with her current conditions and building fibromyalgia. She did fine but not exceedingly well. Her mentors said that they couldn't fathom doing an internship or residency with a grandmother, while they had no idea how evil this particular grandmother was, and I heavily agreed.
The only “news” we would hear overtime were disagreements between doctors as to whether or not fibro was treatable or whether or not it even existed. I didn’t care what existed or where I could find unicorns, I wanted my wife to get well!
There was no hope. Alex believed she only had ten years left to live and a lot of research on the internet seemed to confirm that. She was certain she could never outlive her mother’s lifespan anyway.
Our love story was ending before it had a chance to begin, and there seemed to be nothing I could do.
Alex even tried to talk with a co-worker about the struggles she faced at home, but that co-worker coldly replied, “yeah well you chose to bring your grandmother, so it's all your fault.” Why have we become so willing to cast judgement against others? Why is it that when we’re in pain we’re only met with more judgement and criticism?
I was tired. My own flames were extinguishing and once they went out… that just wasn’t an option. I was tired of watching my wife cry herself to sleep in pain. I was tired of my wife's own fears that this pathology could end her career before it even had a chance to begin, and with $130,000 in student debt that may end up going to me.
Unfortunately… most relationships end at this point, or earlier, as there is only so much pain we can watch someone else be in, especially if everything we do to try and help them prove to be ineffective enough to stave off their pain. Watching my wife’s pain slowly threaten to take her life doubled that. It was hard enough to worry that we may only have 10 years left together but to think that it was most likely to be like this was hard to face...
But I would not give up.
No matter how much it hurt me to see her in pain, I had to fight to save her.
There was no other choice.
One of the biggest challenges with pain is that it can push those you need the most, further away. The first thing it seems to do is affect one’s ability to love or even tolerate themselves and soon after, the same for everyone around them. One day, during these challenging times, Alex honestly said, “I don't love myself, I don't even know what love is and I feel bad 'cause I think that means that I don't know… if I love you.” Those words were very hard to hear but I knew in my core this too was an effect of pain. I remembered the bright and strong person she was when I first met her, with a singing voice that could melt the worlds heart but ended as briefly as it appeared.
I had faith that the woman I knew was still in there somewhere and I was impressed that she was able to hold her own at one of the toughest internships in the country, whether or not she was able to exceed expectations. I refused to give up on her, even if we’d only been together for months and she had become uncertain about love itself. I knew the real her underneath, despite all the mud, and I simply refused to give in on that person. No matter the odds.
In an effort of desperation, I joined the Swedish Institute in New York because they seemed to be the best in the world with a $40,000 price tag for two years. That wasn’t easy to swallow but I figured that if anyone could help me learn how to help my wife it was them, besides, massage therapy can be an amazing career for those who master it and especially in New York.
(For those who don’t know, massage therapy is simply the mastery of soft tissue manipulation in the aims of easing pain, tension, stress and indirectly, everything that stress fights to inflame and destroy. As a profession, it has only been licensed since about 2001 and as a result the overall skill of the massage world still has a long way to go. If the effects of a massage disappear within days, that practitioner still has much to learn. Two to three weeks are necessary for the hope of permanent change that then makes massage more than a relaxation splurge moment into a vital necessity for life.)
The Swedish Institutes school and curriculum was impressive but unfortunately none of their legendary faculty had experience or even hope to overcome fibromyalgia. Still, I did my best to master their teachings and it took everything I had just to keep Alex’s pain from getting worse.
When someone is in that much pain it's almost impossible to massage them because their nerves are so hypersensitive that the amount of pressure you need to make a difference is simply too painful and their own pain, ironically enough, gets in the way of the very thing they need to help them recover. They fall into the state of which nothing works, or as I call it, “below the threshold of efficacy.” At the same time realize that the more skilled the therapist, the higher their own threshold of efficacy on clients will be.
We tried many wellness activities in the hope that they would help her. Eating better didn't help, sleeping more didn’t help, deep tissue massage wasn't even possible. As my skills increased I later became able to turn her muscles from stone to Jello over an hour of work but then watched, transfixed, as her muscles magically turned back to stone. It was as if her mental pain had gotten so intense that it was instantly manifesting in the body. Much like how a person may tighten their body when afraid.
Since we had the grandmothers nationwide logistics to worry about, we only applied for residency at the location she was at, out of the 15 potential places because we didn’t want to strain the grandmother, who was praying for the death of her Alex’s career. It only seemed fair right?
Naturally, she ended up not getting residency. Her work recommended finding other arrangements for the grandmother and then trying again in three years, which I agreed with but felt it was a wrong potential reason.
Alex was truly devastated. She’d sacrificed her mother’s inheritance, or $20,000, on the grandmother alone (Mostly in increased rent needed for a bi-polar elderly that refused to go anywhere else) and another $10,000 in associated costs for a specialty internship in Manhattan, NY that paid $30,000. Her career seemed to be over with, apparently, no one she could really turn to. The grandmother insisted we all went back to California to give up on Oncology, even though Alex felt like she would be giving up on her own mother and dream of trying to make a difference.
Fortunately, Alex was given a two-year fellowship that would begin in two months, which seemed guaranteed to get residency and a great career move. We were unaware that the field she was getting into was controversial and only because the very person who championed themselves as being it’s leader was the same person who threw it under the bus in order to protect some of their own actions.
Even though she worried she potentially had ten years left to live, she was happy with the idea of spending three of them on additional internships and fellowships before getting residency which would then be another three years. But that was her dream and I fully supported her to the best of my ability. Otherwise, I felt she’d spend her last ten years feeling like a failure despite any of my encouragements.
Alex was expected to complete her current internship around July 12th, but since she was the only one who didn’t take vacation days or time off it should really have been July 6th.
One day, Alex had only two hours left to complete a shift and the grandmother had a heart attack, so Alex naturally went home directly to make sure she got to the hospital alright. That work place later told her that was no excuse for not finishing all of her records, when she had never left records unfinished before.
Although we all made it to the hospital with the grandmother, we feared the Medicaid bill they would send us because although we found a place of residence in New Jersey, that state failed to activate her Medicaid out of intentional negligence. In order to activate her Medicaid, they insisted I took her to over twenty locations and each of them turned out to be defunded, no longer in existence or simply a wrong department. I went back to the first location we’d gone to and it turned out to be the right one but because I was alone, this time, they “couldn’t help us.”
The grandmother’s health turned for the worse over the next few weeks, needing multiple hospital visits, she even took a fall in the kitchen due to water, yet without any signs of water or any sign water would have been there...
The combination of a wild grandmother who was getting more and more frequent chest pains, including falls in New Jersey with insurance that simply refused to cover her… was just too much for us.
We found a two-story house in the next state for $1,500/month which was right on a lake and hopefully big enough to swallow her evil. Around June 15th on a Friday morning we loaded a Penske Truck with everything we owned and drove it 12 hours to our next place, unloaded, got five hours sleep, then set up hospice to care for her daily while we were gone. I also installed an electronic door handle on the front door so they could always get in and Alex made the grandmother two weeks of prepared meals that just had to be microwaved. We then drove 12 hours back to Manhattan, trucks scared Alex so I had to do most of the driving. Luckily 4 Monster energy drinks, 5 coffees and 3 5hr energy drinks barely helped us make it back alive. Did you know that if you manage to hit something in the sky with a WHAM sound it means you shouldn’t drive into the lowhanging bridge ahead that google sent you to in order to save 10 minutes off your trip? Wild.
Over the next several days she apparently never stopped complaining about us to that hospice as she didn’t feel we were doing "enough" and "stealing money" that was never being sent to her, as explained hundreds of times that North Carolina was giving her less money because they "assumed" we were "helping her too much." Why her hospice never tried to help with that mess is beyond us.
Like an arch villain discovering TNT for the first time, the grandmother learned that if she lied enough to hospice they’d investigate us over charges of “neglect and theft.” No matter how many times we showed her bank accounts, they kept harassing us and reporting us and subjecting us to constant investigations, every time could have cost Alex her license to remain a Doctor in America and thus destroy her chances of ever working as a vet of any kind, anywhere. It was as if we had hired Satan himself to care for a Sauroman of a grandmother who seemed intent on destroying Alex’s career and health.
Since I grew up in a cult, I never fully believed in god but in these times I found myself on my knees daily as I prayed for help and strength in the impossible mission of ‘saving Alexandra.’ I felt a little like I was her angel, I only wished I was a better one. I really didn’t want her remaining years to be filled with pain like this… it just wasn’t right...
Yet I’m oddly thankful for these times for they are what forced me to learn more about the art of healing so that my light could complete with the building darkness around us.
When life tries to knock you down, get stronger.
When you think you have nothing left, fight harder.
When you think it's all over, start again.
Every day is literally a new day.
Let us not hold onto the burdens of the past.
The grandmother’s dementia took a turn for the worse and her viciousness became truly beyond reason. She sat herself right in front of the front door of our home so she could greet Alex with nothing but venomous comments like, “It’s YOU’RE fault your mother died of cancer!” She also daily threatened to commit suicide by saying she was either going to take none of her heart meds or all of them. Along with occasional threats to place our rat poison traps randomly into our food.
We sent her hospice a recording of those threats, with the sole plea to help us get her to a place that could better care for her, but they only responded with, “How dare you want to send her to an assisted living home and how dare you record her!”
We went to the state for help, we called the police and even the fire department for help but they too just shook their heads. Yet if the grandmother did successfully take her own life while Alex was at work or I was getting groceries or at school then we would have been held 100% accountable, despite our desperate attempts to get real help which her hospice had ironically been devoutly against.
In North Carolina you easily become the assumed caretaker with all legal risks of care, AND magically have no rights or ability to help them find better care should one find their own resources lacking for the task at hand. We simply had no rights or hope in that truly ungodly state.
Alex was in so much pain now that her spine began to give up. Her ribs began to slip completely out of their sockets and looked like a coat hanger under her skin or something, making it poke out. I simply did my best to keep sliding them in and helping the area fight inflammation. Why didn’t I let a doctor do that? Of course, that was my preference but the doctors she happened to see when it happened just shrugged and let me do it. I considered it was like sliding a submarine back into harbor, knowing that if I went in at any angle other than it’s design, I may do permanent damage.
Alex began to believe her grandmothers words of evil, that she was a horrible person, a thief, and of no use to anyone. I’d often summon a lot of strength just to approach the grandmother and say, “I know you wish you got more one on one time with Alex but she’s trying to pursue a career which was her mothers last wish and your anger and words are making her sick and I’m worried that if this continues she may not have long to live.” The grandmother shrugged as if I had said I saw a piece of trash outside and said, “That’s not my problem if she dies. We all die.” (Cue creepy music.)
We were truly drowning in every sense of the word, and we had no one to turn to. We had no rights to find other arrangements for the grandmother while the state simply didn’t care about the lives of the caretakers. I even paid $100 for a psychologist who declared she was fully competent to live in 2018 on her own because she knew that “100-50=50”… impressive test. While in other states the competency test actually tests to see if you’re able to live on your own and handle your own affairs.
The sheer amount of evil that was thrown against Alex and I was unlike anything I’ve ever read or imagined. The grandmother herself was three times more manipulative and destructive than the cult I was in and the state we landed in appeared to want to compete with her.
I feared that Alex’s health was quickly approaching a ‘point of no return,’ if we hadn’t passed it already. Every specialist we desperately took her to, literally shrugged their shoulders and gave a prescription that was never expected to make a difference, costing us thousands of dollars in deductibles that were only hoped to help with “managing her symptoms.”
These were supposed to be Alex’s years of healing and they were being ruined. I had to act and luckily I found the answer, acting.
I pretended we were being evicted. I spent $80 in packing material from home depot and packed up the entire first floor and bubble wrapped literally everything.
I told the grandmother that unfortunately I didn’t think the assisted living place was an option anymore as she probably lost her seat. She said, as she usually did, “Just send me to the streets then!” I said, “If you wish, then which park would you like to go to? And let’s look at some nice tents for you on amazon.” After thinking for a little bit she said, “Do.. do you think I can go to the assisted living home?” I did my best not to smile, after seemingly years of torment I had finally succeeded to providing space to breathe for Alex.
Once the grandmother was securely in the assisted living home, we still visited her often and found out that the reason her hospice was fighting us so much was because they then had no purpose to serve her and lost out on the money they would have been making. All of that pain, threats and investigations they threw at us, as well as risking the grandmother’s life, for profits.
To me, these days felt as if we’d barley escaped the haunted chasms of Morridor to a gently parting of the clouds, finally allowing us a breath of fresh air and rays of light that would help to give us hope. Alex’s healing could really begin. I had hoped that I’d finally be able to do more than “just” keep her chronic pain from going above a level eight.
Yet her health was getting worse and worse, now plagued by misguided beliefs that “she may not have done enough” for the daemon who cost both of her parents lives and nearly succeeded in taking ours. I began to try and throw new modalities at her in the beyond desperate attempt at trying to find things that would help, no matter how minute the improvements were.
I was operating on fumes.
Acupuncture helped a little but its effects were very gentle and seemed to require a full wholistic approach to see permanent gains. I tried positive energy work, which was something that I used to disbelieve in myself. I was always a believer in the cosmos and energy but not necessarily with a clinical approach to pain and disease.
I massaged her like I always did, which always resulted in her muscles returning to stone. But at the end of this massage a miracle happened. They remained loose.
It was the ureka moment we had been literally dying for. Her gains from that massage would last for another 20 days.
Positive energy was the key between all wellness activities having no effect, to having strong effects. We found that trying to navigate life’s treacherous oceans and hurricanes without also working on positivity like an isolated muscle, while working to overcome stress itself, was simply impossible. What if all we really need is just a touch of positivity in our lives in order to get into more action, and less self-abasement?
In my excitement, we began to get into eating well, gentle motion and one by one all of the wellness activities. Again, she saw no gains until she was doing all of them at once. Most people will notice immediate gains when they pick up and stick to a wellness activity, but extreme fibromyalgia seems to have this additional hurdle of requiring the magic of them all at once to begin making slight permanent changes for the better, day by day. It’s truly challenging work when fibro is usually paired with an utterly crippled ability to care.
All In all I organized quite a treatment plan together for her, which included peppermint and lavender aromatherapy and topically as lotions, a complete heat and ice medical massage approach, all of the wellness activities and a beautiful room to heal her in.
Her chronic pain level began to drop. Three months later she became a better runner than me and has been free of fibromyalgia ever since, with occasional recurrences of pain here and there in areas lacking in proper movement.
And on top of that, doctors no longer agreed that her life span was in danger.
We had achieved the impossible, whether or not her industry accepted her into their ranks we had our lives to live out.
Unfortunately, she didn’t get residency after three years of specialty internships/fellowships and at a large pay cut for the honor of learning more about cancer and hoping to make the odds of residency selection ‘eternally more in ones favor.’
Her career truly felt like it was over despite our impressive story of overcoming the impossible. We had improved too late. I was too late.
Every single place she reached out to as a next move mysteriously turned her down. She was even considering general practice positions that would consider having her focus more on Oncology. It was an ultimate moment of ‘all hope was lost’ and it seemed that these GP positions, at least, would take her, even if it meant the end of her career as an Oncologist for that world generally never lets a person try to enter again once they’ve stopped doing specialty residencies.
Yet she even got turned down by the GP practices. It didn’t feel fathomable to be an intern for another year after doing the last three years of internships and fellowships AND not even gain acceptance in GP positions that fresh graduates out of Vet school will usually take up. Her chances of landing GP positions would have ironically been far higher if she’d never tried to pursue oncology specialty training.
She wanted to give up but I could tell how much she cared about Veterinary Oncology, so I simply wouldn’t let her. I knew how painful it can be when a loved one insists to keep going along a dream we have become certain is dead, much like trying to convince them that the new gold fish is truly just sleeping.
But I knew she could make it. I knew it was her path. I knew the field of Oncology would be better off with her being a part of it.
We kept fighting for our next inches in motion and mental wellbeing as laid out in this book to the best of our ability. The one wellness action we still have a hard time with to this day are affirmations. How silly is that tho? Why can it feel so hard to simply say we have the success, body, mind and career that we wish? I’ll later share my thoughts on it but I generally find it to be one of the toughest wellness activities.
We then went to Richmond for a last attempt specialty internship and managed to grow body and mind enough to impress them enough they became very strong allies heading into residency season. They were truly amazing people that truly helped to fight to bring the best out of their cadets, instead of treat them as passing cogs in the industrial machine.
At the end of that internship, Alex finally successfully landed residency as a Veterinary Oncologist because of her ability to keep fighting, despite the odds. And growing in the face of stress itself.
She lived one of the most inspiring rags to riches stories I’ve ever come across and regret that I’ll never be able to do it justice.
And to think it all began with coffee with a side of biceps.
Life is not easy to say the least, and we can often make it harder by wasting our time beating ourselves up over things we feel guilty or insecure about instead of working to accept ourselves and improve that which we dislike. At least now it feels like we have a fighting chance.
“Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded” – Buddha
When someone tells me that their muscles hurt I say, “Lets help it heal then let’s make it stronger so the same actions (that are sane and safe) no longer hurt it.” It’s the same deal when there are elements in our lives or environments, that can make our life hurt. Same thing. I say, “Let’s work on healing and improve the strength of our center so that no matter what happens out there, our own health, energy, light, power and ability to make a small difference cannot be threatened or obliterated.”
The program I essentially put together for my wife and I, is essentially this book and it took me two years to make it this legible. It’s an honor to be able to share it with you now and I hope it’s somewhat easy and enjoyable to read at the same time. It then took me another year to learn how wellness activities are supposed to work during more challenging times of pandemics and social unrest.
I can't tell you that this book will solve all of your problems, but I hope at least it helps a little, and hopefully in areas you may have thought were impossible to improve, before now.
And above all, keep loving.
There are plenty of people out there that make life less worth living.
Let us become even a slight reason for others to exist.