Thursday, January 18, 2018

No One Should Have to Suffer Alone

How a random landscaping injury, a melanoma cancer diagnosis, and surgeries, inspired me to begin offering Compassionate Self-Care, and Mindfulness Based Pain Management Workshops to the public.

Navigating life with stress and discomforts associated with Arthritis, Chronic Pain, and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) can be painful, confusing, and frightening; offering physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that are hard to understand for the patient, their friends, families, coworkers, and their caregivers; as well as for the many medical professionals who are entrusted with our care.  

In 2016, I had an accident which left me with several musculoskeletal injuries, followed by a melanoma cancer diagnosis and surgeries.

As a Certified Yoga Instructor, IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist, and Dance and Movement Educator, with over 15 years specializing in the care and prevention of injuries, one would think that I would be well-equipped to recover from an accident and surgeries with no problem. Unfortunately, it was a lot more challenging than I had ever expected.

I endured over two years of chronic pain, PFD, compounded by the fear, confusion, and frustration of trying to navigate a medical and insurance system that I found to be lacking compassion, and far from patient-centered. 

During my journey back to mind/body wellness, I encountered many people (men, as well as women) who have shared with me how isolated and depressing their lives had become since they’ve experienced an injury, a cancer diagnosis, trauma, chronic pain, and discomforts associated with arthritis and/or PFD. 

I was fortunate, that after quite a lot of hard work, I was able to find my way to several excellent medical professionals to assist me on my journey back to wellness. I know that if it was not for the many years of assisting others who were navigating injuries, stress, and mind/body challenges, I would not have had the awareness of resources, the vocabulary to communicate with medical professionals, and the tenacity to insist on getting referrals to appropriate medical professionals and diagnostics that were essential to understanding the musculoskeletal issues I was facing. I also recognize how my 20+ years of breath-centered mind/body practices, such a Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation, and Visualization were essential to getting through this without the use of prescription medications.

Thanks to my struggles and triumphs with injury, illness, chronic pain, and hearing the stories of others, that I now realize how difficult it is for people with injuries, limited mobility, and chronic pain, who wanted to participate in physical and Mind/Body activities, to find:

  • Yoga, Movement, and Mind/Body Professionals who truly know how to assist people with injuries, limited mobility, and chronic pain

  • Mindfulness tools focused on experiential learning, offered in a professional yet comfortable setting, versus receiving only a weekly lecture and handouts which are what is offered in most clinical/hospital settings

  • Mindfulness tools that can be modified for the many challenges one may be facing when dealing with discomforts associated with Arthritis, Stress, Chronic Pain, PFD, etc.

  • Community Support, guided with compassion, that lends to better self-care strategies between PT appointments

  • Community Support that is focused on what one CAN do, and the GOOD that DOES exist within and around us, even when things are "not so great"

  • A Yoga Professional who understands and respects that each person's journey is specifically their own and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to anything, especially the mind/body journey 

  • A Yoga Instructor who understands that many of the breathing techniques (Pranayama) suggested in contemporary yoga classes to "relax" may be contraindicated depending on the PFD diagnosis, stress, chronic pain, prescribed medications, etc. 

  • A Yoga Professional who understands that pigeon and other "hip openers" are NOT the answer to most hip, low back, SI Joint pain, or pelvic tension, and should often be avoided until there has been a proper diagnosis from a medical professional (ideally a PF PT), and many of these postures can cause discomfort and even harm to participants with arthritis, hypermobility, etc.

  • A Yoga Professional who understands their SOP and will not attempt to diagnose or dispense advice beyond their scope of practice

  • A Yoga Professional who is aware of the power of words and how language can impact a participant's experience with physical and emotional sensations such as pain, fear, discomfort, insecurity, etc.

  • A Yoga Professional who is aware that chronic pain can impact ones cognitive abilities and that right/left differentiation may be challenging, and will adjust teaching style to accommodate these concerns

  • A Yoga Professional who is aware of how pain medication can impact cognition, blood pressure, temperament, etc. and will can adjust teaching style and delivery of information to address these concerns

  • Therapeutic Yoga Classes taught by a Certified Yoga Therapist that can address the specific needs of someone with Arthritis, Chronic Pain, Stress, and PFD, etc.

  • A Therapeutic Yoga Class that focuses more on the introspective, therapeutic Mind/Body aspects of yoga versus the western "wrap your leg around your head" version of yoga most people see in contemporary western media

  • A Therapeutic Yoga Class that can inform, inspire, and empower a participant as they navigate life while experiencing discomfort associated with Arthritis, Chronic Pain, Stress, and PFD, etc.

  • Yoga classes that offer modifications, without judgment, to address the needs, interests, and abilities of a multi-level, multi-demographic class

I am proud to say that I AM a Yoga, Mind/Body, and Movement Professional who offers Gentle and Therapeutic Yoga Classes, Compassionate Self-Care and Mindfulness Based Pain Management classes, Workshops, resources, and all the good things listed above.

I would not say that my accident, injuries, and diagnosis was a gift, but my experiences, challenges, and observations over the last two years have offered a depth and breadth of knowledge that enriches my 15+ years of experience of specializing in the care and prevention of injuries of athletes, dancers, and fitness enthusiasts of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities.

I am thrilled to share that I am now, about 99.5% Pain free, 99% of the time. I am hiking, taking and teaching yoga classes again, and very slowing beginning to work in the garden again.

I look forward to sharing and supporting others who find themselves seeking compassionate guidance, in Yoga, Mindful Movement, and navigating life as they learn to become their best health and wellness advocates.

 Melissa Adylia Calasanz C-IAYT
Certified Yoga Instructor 
Dance and Movement Educator

If you would like to know the specifics of Melissa's injuries, surgeries, and medication-free pain-management strategies, feel free to reach out and ask.
You are also welcome to attend any of her public classes and workshops listed on her schedule below or book one at your preferred location.
And check out her resource page.

Contact Melissa Adylia Calasanz via FB Messenger

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