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Four Years Later, I'm FINALLY PAIN FREE
October, 2018 - Issue #169
Four years ago, I started to experience severe pain in my upper back. The best way to describe this pain is what Atlas from Greek mythology, also known as the titan who held the world upon his shoulders, may have felt.

I was a level-eight on the pain scale daily, with peaks during the day of 10 to 12. Convinced I had spine cancer, I went to my doctor. Her first question to me: Did I do yoga? I wanted to punch her. I own and operate two full-time businesses and had two kids under the age of 4. My youngest had just been diagnosed with severe autism. No, I wasn't doing yoga. At that stage in life, I was feeling pretty good if my clothes didn't have snot and graham cracker crumbs on them.

I was given an x-ray, a prescription for a muscle relaxer and physical therapy. The drugs didn't improve anything and physical therapy was much of the same - no change.
Many people and physicians chalked this up to stress. I knew better. Years went by and I pushed through the pain. I worked to the best of my ability, made time to exercise, advocated for my kids and tried to remain a great wife (Shout out to my husband for loving me even when I got home and couldn't pretend I wasn't in pain anymore - and for all the elbows dug into my shoulder blades trying to give me a reprieve.).

Over the last few years I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on massage, trainers and acupuncture. If it would make the pain stop even for a little bit, I did it. Last August, I promised myself I would not live one more year in pain. My 42nd birthday marked my commitment to answers and a solution. If I was going to keep functioning at the level I needed to in order to take care of myself and others, the pain needed to end.
photography by Cyndi Hardy
photography by Cyndi Hardy

I went back to the doctor and was given a new script to address the nerve pain. I also got a referral to a neurologist. After reading the raging storm of side effects for the new drug, I tossed it. I saw the neurologist and he was more concerned with the migraines I've had since age 9 than the back pain. He was adamant I try the prescription that was floating around my garbage can, so against my better judgment, I did. Within one week, the pain was more present than ever and I was incredibly agitated. It went back in the trash, for good.

I started talking about my pain to anyone who would listen. At a meeting with a client, we were discussing health and he told me to get to a pain-management doctor.

The first appointment with pain management determined that the facets under the shoulder blades were the reason for the pain. I was given a large amount of cortisone injections and all the pain disappeared... for about 10 days. At my next visit, the doc noted that my back muscles weren't engaging. It was like a lightbulb went off; I knew that underdeveloped muscles were something that could be fixed. I was also relieved to know why I had shoulder, elbow and wrist pain - those muscles were working on overdrive to make up for the weak back muscles.

As fate would have it, I had been reconnected with Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness, in April. My fellow Hart grad had me come in for an analysis with their
membership director, Elias Scarr, and within 20 minutes he knew what was wrong. With photographic proof I was shown where my left shoulder was curved in. The muscle wasn't developed because it was stretched so badly that the pain radiated though the entire upper back and neck. I knew immediately why this pain started; it was from nursing and the position I held for endless amounts of time during the four years I breastfed my back-to-back kids.
Knowing what the problem was gave them the answer to solve it. All I had to do was show up, follow their lead and pain-free healing would be the side effect.

With a four-time-per-week plan, I was hopeful. One of my faves, Lead Coach at Results Fitness Sawyer Shea, found that I have scapular winging. I did what anyone would do and raced home to Google it. It turns out this is something more prevalent with athletes who throw or swim. So, basically I'm the mom equivalent of the GOAT QB Tom Brady and most-decorated-Olympian-of-all-time Michael Phelps. I'm not surprised. The most amazing athletes I know are marathon moms who are superhuman in the way they throw their weight around to keeps things in order on their playing field.

I've met some of the most powerful people at Results Fitness. In the small-group classes I have been partnered with a firefighter recovering from a wrist injury, a breast-cancer survivor who is clearly adding "thrive" to "survive" and a football coach who swears this is the best place to get his accountable weekly workouts in. I've trained next to an American Ninja Warrior recovering from a knee injury, a doctor who knows exactly what self-care really means to a woman over 40 and is leading by example, prep sports stars maintaining their edge... and Baby Boomers who have more mobility, strength and agility than most teenagers I know.
"Results Fitness is not a 'gym' where LuLu reigns; it's not a 'meat market'... it's a training facility filled with people who are committed to introducing you to your best life. Everyone has your back and it's a culture based on TEAM WORK, not competition. I'm amazed at all I can achieve when pain is not slowing me down."

I have closely observed and admired my coaches over the last six weeks while they have propelled me to wellness. Each coach has made it their business to know "me" and they correct things immediately - and all in the same vein. Not one coach let's well enough be enough. They are each striving for me to function at an epic level. It's clear the staff training here by owners Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove is paramount; each and every one of them has consistently contributed to me achieving and exceeding my goals.

I have shown up faithfully to my scheduled appointments and done what was asked of me and I didn't have to wait very long for the results. Within a few weeks, most of my pain was gone. Six weeks later, I am pain free. Let me repeat that: totally free from pain. As Coach Sawyer would say: I'm bringing all my muscles to the party. Every day I shed a few tears about the last four years and what I endured; they're tears of gratitude for where I am now.

I've had a lot of time to think about my athletic prowess in the last six weeks. Turns out I'm a tri-athlete: marathon mama, award-winning business owner and gold-medal community service leader. Even in pain, I was a very high-functioning performer. I can't wait to see what the pain-free future holds for me.

Now I ask my friends: What would you do if you could bring all your muscles to the party? What could you accomplish if you lived pain free? As for me: I'm just getting warmed up.
Jeanna Crawford is the president of SC Publishing, Inc. and the proud publisher of Inside SCV Magazine. In 2007, she was named Santa Clarita's Woman of the Year, the youngest in the organization's history. She's the happy wife to Kyle Crawford and mama bear to Cassel and Caynen.
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