14 Miles from Wisdom
In the summer of 2005, I was in a violent rollover car accident in the remote Big Hole Valley of Montana—just past the sign that read "Wisdom 14 miles."
A C-4 spinal cord injury almost took my life—twice. I fought to stay alive and rehabilitate from the severe injuries. Months of therapy helped me relearn many of the motor skills I'd lost, until I became somewhat used to my physical limitations.
Then I encountered an even harder challenge: excruciating, burning, aching central nerve pain caused by a cyst on the spinal cord. It was inoperable. It seemed I faced a life of never-ending pain—so unbearable I didn't know how I could go on.
My doctors worked hard to help me find a solution, but the best medications for nerve pain didn't help. Narcotics didn't even touch the pain; they just made it harder for me to cope with my pain. I was trapped in my body and desperately wanted to get out.
I prayed for answers and for hope. Referral to a pain clinic gave me training in the science of pain, knowledge of the mind-body aspects of pain, and tools to make desired behavioral changes and reach measurable goals. I now had a way to decrease my pain.
I continued to research pain and to collaborate with my medical specialists, but I recognized that a piece was missing for most people in pain: ongoing support, learning how to personally manage pain, and motivation to make lasting change. This sparked an idea that soon became my passion: helping others with chronic pain learn effective ways to decrease their pain experience and permanently manage their pain.
I recognized a piece that was missing for most people in pain:
ongoing support and learning how to personally manage pain.
I founded Take Courage Coaching® with a vision to share what I was learning—how to manage my pain so it wasn't the center of my universe. In time I gathered and trained a group of people who are equally passionate about making life less about pain and more about living. Through the contagious courage of our great team of ICHWC coaches, others are finding their way back from the brink of despair. My dream is to make pain management coaching the standard of care for everyone with chronic pain.
Pain no longer has control of my life. Every day I actively manage my pain under the backdrop of the towering mountains of Utah. And every day is filled with the joy of helping others learn and practice strategies that help free them from the tyranny of pain.
Wisdom is no longer just the name of a small town in the middle of Montana. Today it means the power to understand pain and send it back where it belongs.