I was born with several genetic conditions which have presented unique challanges throughout my life. It took years to sort it all out, but with the help of DNA testing we now know which of my symptoms are cause by an inherited condtion and which are acquired because of accidents or illnesses.
The first condition we idendenfied was a genetic neuromuscular disease called myotonia congenita, or Thomsen's Disease. Although it was a nuisance and kept me from pursuing some of my goals as a young person, it didn't become severe until I was married and had a baby. For the next twenty years I struggled with numerous conditions, from chronic fatigue syndrome and chemical sensitivities to much more serious complications like congestive heart failure and kidney failure. At one point I weighed 65 pounds and wasn't expected to live. We now know I have something called SCID or severe combined immune deficiency which made me very susceptible to viral infections - it's often called the "Bubble Boy Disease." It was really a miracle that I had survived several serious infections.
After I finally recovered from that long period of illness and was well enough to work again (and even exercise), my world was again turned upside down when I was sitting in my car at an intersection and got hit from behind. The resulting injuries included a herniated disc in my neck and a brain injury. This presented a whole new challenge including chronic pain. I don't tolerate any painkillers so I learned biofeedback techniques to deal with it and this has been one of the most important tools I have found for handling stress in any form.
A few years later, after participating in a comprehensive brain injury rehab program, I went back to work as a nutritional consultant at a wellness clinic. While all my experiences had given me new insights into dealing with chronic illness and injury, I still had more to learn. Three different Olympic athletes requested help as they were training for the Sydney Olympics. Though I was able to give advice on their particular conditions, I realized that I knew a great deal about sickness, but not nearly enough about achieving optimal health.
I began taking classes and workshops to become a certified personal trainer. Fortunately the organization I chose for my training recognized that not everyone will be able to work out at a gym pressing 150 pounds. I learned about the proper way to strengthen muscles and connective tissue, how to lose weight safely and permanently, and how to improve quality of life with a fitness program. As I began to apply the principles to my own life, my overall health improved and I was able to do much more than I had imagined.
Although I work with people who are at all different levels of fitness, many of my nutrition clients are disabled or physically challenged in some way. I decided to pursue training that would give me the tools to help them achieve a level of fitness that matched their capabilities.
I am grateful for all the experiences that have affected my life, both the negative and the positive. They have made me the person I am today, and they have allowed me to help others with compassion and understanding. My goal is to help you improve your quality of life, whatever your circumstances. I think you'll find that we speak the same language!
Update: In August of 2003 I was bitten by a mosquito carrying the West Nile Virus. A year of suffering unlike anything I had ever experienced followed. My heart goes out to the victims of West Nile all over the country. My ongoing neurological symptoms have greatly reduced my capacity to work, but I still do consulting and enjoy participating in forums for the various challenges I live with every day.
I have done consulting for the following specific conditions as well as general health and wellness. I don't diagnose or treat any medical conditions, but I educate my clients about nutritional options, exercise, available traditional and complementary treatments, and I help locate specialists.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Porphyria
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