Your Inspiring Stories: Lovaine Cohen
Lovaine was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) about 20 years ago. As a result, she has lived with chronic pain for a very long time. She’s also had both of her hips replaced and has some fusion in her upper neck.
In this post, read about Lovaine’s journey with AS and how she changed her victim mentality mindset.
I have lived for over 20 years with Ankylosing Spondylitis with difficulties, twists, and turns.
I was a healthy kid and ran on my junior high track team, played volleyball, floor hockey, and competitive soccer. I loved sports.
My aunt, who was a nurse, noticed one day that my neck looked larger than normal, so she suggested my mom have my neck looked at. The doctor diagnosed me at age 12 with my first autoimmune disorder called Graves’ Disease.
This is a disorder resulting in an overactive thyroid and causes symptoms such as hair loss, brittle nails, and sleep problems. But to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t suffering from any of these symptoms, so the diagnosis came as a complete surprise to everyone.
My disease was treated with medication for a year and went into remission. After that point, I had a pretty normal childhood.
So now, fast forward to 25 years ago. One morning while lying in bed, I had a slight pain at the base of my spine. I tried to get up so I could get ready for work. But I couldn’t.
I sat up a third of the way and I was pretty scared because this came out of nowhere and my body was as stiff as a board. I freaked out because my husband and I were about to go on a big 6 week European backpacking adventure. How the heck was I supposed to schlep a backpack if I couldn’t even get out of bed?
Eventually, my body relaxed and I could get up as if it had never happened. I brushed it off to the possibility that I slept in a funny position the night before.
Over time, a slight pain developed in my left hip that gradually got worse. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so I saw a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with AS.
“It upset me that I had an incurable chronic disease. But it relieved me to know what was wrong with my body.”
It upset me that I had an incurable chronic disease. But it relieved me to know what was wrong with my body.
Prior to my first hip surgery in 2008, I was living in 9 years of pain hell. I went from being an independent woman to physically relying on my husband for my daily needs. I appreciated that my husband was there in my darkest period of my life to take care of me and our 2 young children. But I mourned all that I had lost, such as my friendships, my ability to earn an income, and being an active mom.
Just before my surgery, I was housebound and lived on the first floor of my house, lost 20 pounds, and was very sad. I didn’t want anyone near me, including my children, because the slightest touch caused unbearable pain.
Thank God for my first total hip replacement surgery. It was life changing and was the turning point to my new mentality.
For the first time in many years, I had no pain in my left hip. I could think more clearly than I had in a very long time. My thoughts were now “why is this happening FOR me” vs “why is this happening TO me?”
I was so happy that my mind no longer focused all day on pain anymore, and I embarked on an inner soul journey. I read Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life” and the exercises within her book were a jumping off point to look back to my past so I could move forward with my life.
During my soul searching, my surgeon replaced my right hip the following year because the cartilage was slowly deteriorating. I had no plans to go through all that misery all over again.
Although I underwent intense rehabilitation after both surgeries, my inner work mentally prepared me for the challenges of my second rehab.
“I always believed I was a victim of my chronic pain. But the opposite is true. I am a victor.”
I always believed I was a victim of my chronic pain. But the opposite is true. I am a victor. I understand that continually working on my mentality and keeping a positive attitude towards my disease is imperative for my survival. Chronic pain doesn’t define who I am because I’m not my pain. I’m a wife and mother with hopes, goals, and dreams.
Today, I’m a health coach specialising in chronic pain management after leaving my corporate career of 10 years. I teach chronically ill women how to reduce their pain so they can get a good night’s sleep and live a new normal with their illness.
Chronic pain can take everything you love away from you, leaving you broken and afraid, but you have 2 choices. Fight back swinging with all that you’ve got or succumb to a life of darkness filled with despair and hopelessness.
Take your life back one day at a time. Keep your focus on what you are most grateful for. Do your best to live in the present moment, because the present moment is the only point in time that truly exists. Not yesterday or tomorrow. TODAY.
Lovaine Cohen is the founder of the Holistic Healing Method, her signature personal coaching program. She also writes on her chronic illness blog and is a website and social media audit consultant.
She also recently wrote a guest post for my blog – 9 Best Tips for Treating Chronic Pain, so be sure to check it out.
Do you have an inspiring scoliosis and/or chronic pain story? I would love to feature it on my blog. If you are interested, in this or writing a guest post, please do contact me 🙂
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I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.