My name is Chris and I used to be on top of the world. I was a go-getter in school and life. A leader, a scholar and an athlete. I loved to do as much as I could and felt as if I could take on the world and all of its challenges. I was 18 and ready for my adult life to start. Everything was great throughout my young years and I looked forward to attaining all of my dreams. My life, unknown to me, was about to take a serious turn. I was about to face the most serious challenge of my life.
My pain began after a car accident on May 5, 1993. I was 21 years old. The doctors called my injury to my neck ‘minor whiplash’. They treated and released me within hours. X-rays showed nothing negative and the only treatment was a prescription for pain relief medication. The initial pain was soreness in my neck area that went away after a few weeks during which I was put through about two weeks of physical therapy. This was only the beginning of a long 12 years of pain that began as ‘minor whiplash’ but almost ended in death.
In December of 1993, I moved to Pennsylvania for work. This is when the pain began. The pain began slowly as unexplained aches and pains that began in my neck and then included my shoulders. I sought medical attention from a Chiropractor for these pains. Chiropractic therapy was a temporary answer to my pain. The adjustments and physical therapy lasted for over a year. The pain, after a few days, always returned. I needed to find a therapy that would last longer and be more permanent.
In 1995, I moved to Philadelphia for my work. The pain at this time was becoming increasingly worse. Not only was the pain worse in my neck and shoulders it had now spread to include my entire body. Strong pain would radiate from my neck, the source of the initial injury, to all parts of my body at any time. There was no consistency in the pain and I never knew when it would be intense or bearable. This interfered with daily life greatly and began to make my attitude and mood spiral downwards into a negative tone.
During my year in Philadelphia, I began to search again for different treatments for my chronic pain and increased fatigue. My girlfriend at the time was a nurse and did not have any idea what was causing my pain, but stayed strong for me as we looked for a better way to treat my symptoms. We discovered acupuncture in the China Town area of Philadelphia. My first experience with acupuncture lasted 3 hours. Although the needles were awkward at first and the treatment very different from other doctors I had seen in the past, I felt some relief. For the first time in over 2 years, I was able to feel some relief from my pain that had now spread to my entire body and lasted all day, every day for 2 years.
The year is now 1997. I am 25 years old. I still have pain. Lots of pain. I am tired. Very tired. It takes much time in the mornings to get myself going. The pain has infected every part of my life. Physically I hurt, all over, every day. Pills do not work. I believe that Chiropractic therapy was a crutch and could have possibly made the pain and symptoms
worse. Acupuncture works, but I must go every few days. This takes much time out of my schedule and much money out of my wallet, because in 1997, my insurance did not pay for acupuncture. I still needed help, serious help. Mentally, I was becoming drained. I began to believe that there was no hope. I doubted myself in everything I did. I had tried doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists and normal exercise. All of the treatments were either useless, more painful or temporary fixes for a disease that still had no name, cause or fix. Despair began to set in. Finally, my emotional health was tested. My relationships with family, friends and my girlfriend were all becoming increasingly worse. I had a bad attitude caused by my gloomy mood caused my constant pain. I needed help. Real help and soon.
In April of 1997, my pain had made living with me almost unbearable. My friends did not want to be around me, my family barely spoke to me and my girlfriend of 3½ years was ready to leave me. Life was unbearable for me. I began to have thoughts. Bad thoughts. The thoughts that you only see in the news or hear about on TV. My pain had engulfed my entire physical, mental and emotional body. I was at the end of my rope with no hope in sight. I could have never in a million years thought that my life would go down a path like this and my thoughts lead me to what happened next.
It was the last week in April of 1997. I was living in Pennsylvania. As I mentioned, my life was a wreck and everyone left me. I was all alone and faced with a decision. My decision was to live or die. To live meant living with the pain, all day, every day. I had exhausted everything. I did not want to live in this pain. My thoughts led me down the road of doom. I had nothing to live for and the thought of living another day like the last 3½ was not much of an option. I felt as if I was slowly dying, so why not just speed up the process and take the pain away for good. I wanted to die. Suicide was now the only thought on my mind. I wondered if it would hurt. Then I thought, what could be worse that the pain I was already experiencing. After experiencing the thoughts of suicide for a few intense minutes, I figured that hurting my family, friends and loved ones would be far worse pain for them to experience. An experience that would last their lifetime. I still needed help. I took myself to the local hospital and asked for help.
Again, my time in the hospital with doctors applying western medicine, was short. I was examined, diagnosed with severe depression, given medication after an overnight stay and then sent on my way. The cycle continued similar to this for the next five years. I was seeing doctors, getting different diagnoses, taking prescribed medication for each different diagnosis and then sent on my way to fend for myself. I still had no answers to what is going on inside my body. I had quit my job in Pennsylvania and decided to return to Florida to search for a different life.
While in Florida, I found that the pain was still present, but I began to just deal with it as one doctor in Pennsylvania had told me. He said, after my examination, “There is nothing showing up on any x-rays or cat-scans. You are just going to have to learn to live with it.” He said that, which made me feel hopeless again, and sent me on my way. Living in Florida, in the beginning was a bit easier, due to the warmer climate, however, my pain was still present and running my life, including my attitude and daily mood. I became irritated easily and always felt on the edge of getting angry and/or depressed. My one car accident had now turned into five by 1999. Most were minor fender benders, caused by other drivers, but I always blamed myself, thinking that my negative attitude stemming from my consistent pain caused me to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I thought that I was being punished.
My last car accident happened in May of 1999. In short, I was crossing a clear road to get to the open median and then across the highway. As I was crossing, I was blocked by another car, which stopped in the median. As I honked my horn to alert the driver to clear the road, I heard another horn. Without even having time to look out my driver side window, I was hit with a force that I had never felt in my entire life. I was conscious and saw my truck flip over and sideways, landing in the exact opposite direction in which I had started. Now I was on my side, driver side window on the asphalt, in on coming traffic and hearing people yelling fire. I was able to retreat out of truck through the back window and saw the entire underside of my truck engulfed in flames. I was shaken, but alive. A car doing 65mph hit me. I should have been dead. The impact of the car of the side of my truck, the numerous flips in the air, the crash to the pavement and the imminent explosion of the gas tank should all have rendered me unconscious and dead. However, I survived. To this day, I wonder about that crash. I feel as if there is a specific purpose for myself to be alive. A purpose that I must face, a challenge that I must accept and a goal I must attain. I truly believe that this purpose is for me primarily, but it is also a purpose to help others. For the first time since I was 21 and the pain began, my life now has meaning again.
I continued to see doctors for my car accidents, went to physical therapy, but now I needed a guide to help me figure out my purpose. I began seeing counselors at the local university. I needed someone to speak to about the pain being caused not only in my body, but in my head as well. I needed to heal my mind.
Many more doctors, therapists and medications later, I began to realize that I was simply wasting my time by putting a band-aid on a cut that was too deep for it to heal. I needed life-long help. I needed the type of help that I could do for myself. I was tired of someone examining me and telling me to pop pills and live with the pain. My purpose became clear. I needed to take charge of my own life and destiny. No one person was going to be able to help me with a pain that was unrecognizable to doctors, their tests and their drugs. All of which made me worse than I already was. I was the only person who could help me. This realization was my first step in my healing process.
In 2000, my pain was finally given a name by a former family doctor who treated me as a child. He called it Fibromyalgia. I had never heard of this term before. The interesting thing to me was that my former family doctor did not know what to tell me. He had limited experience with this chronic illness. He gave me prescription for pain relief drugs and sent me on my way. Now I had a name for what I had been dealing with for seven years. I began my research into what Fibromyalgia was and how I could rid my body of it. A task that was not easy at all.
I read books, web pages, went to seminars, tried different medications, physical therapies, support groups sponsored by doctors and much more. All of it led me nowhere. There were times when I had temporary relief from my minute-by-minute pain. Nevertheless, the pain always returned and the pain still lasted every day, all day. I never joke about my pain. It was my life at this point. I longed for the days before I had Fibromyalgia. I still needed something, but I was running out of options and patience.
My 30th birthday was January 1, 2002. A milestone of sorts for most people. I had fun on my birthday, all the time trying to conceal the pain still eating away at me from the inside. I wondered how much longer I would live with this pain. Even though I was only 30 and on the outside, looked even younger, I felt old. My insides, including my joints, ligaments and muscles all felt like I was a senior citizen living with a disability. “I used to be a runner, a fine athlete,” I used to say to myself. “What happened, why did it happen and how much longer will I live like this.” All statements that constantly recycled in my now broken down mind. In the first minutes of my 30th birthday, I made a decision to try again. I could not give up. I had a purpose in life and I had to find another way.
A few days after my 30th birthday, I began researching martial arts schools. There was one in particular that I had seen a few months ago while shopping, but I wanted to see what the other schools were offering first. I visited many schools that taught martial arts. They all had their positives and negatives, but none of them made me feel comfortable. They were all about kicking and punching, fighting and self-defense and many of them had numerous trophies to exhibit their strength. I am sure they are all fine schools, but not what my weakened, painful and ill body needed. My mind needed something too. I would not have fit by those schools, because I was strong-willed and did not want to be looked at or treated differently because I could not move like the other students who did not experience the pain that I was dealing with on a daily basis. However, I did need to be treated differently. My body needed detailed care and my mind needed to be handled in such a way that did not make me feel vulnerable.
In January of 2002, I walked into the Chung Moo Doe School in Winter Springs, Florida. An instructor named Todd Facello met me. I was shown some movement from Instructor Todd, but my mind was already made up. All I wanted was for him to take my money, sign me up and help me begin my healing process. Therefore, I did. I received my uniform and scheduled my first day of training for the next morning. For the first time since the pain began, I finally felt that this was my way to a pain-free life. I was excited for my new life to begin and the pain to go away.
My training was tough in the beginning. I actually experienced more pain that I had grown accustomed to. I was told that I had to rid my body of the negative before the positive could refill it. I was stubborn and took much time off between training sessions. This was not a good idea, but I had been in pain for so long, I could not take any more. However, Instructor Todd kept calling me at home, asking how I was doing and when I would be back in school. I kept going back to school and continued my training and the days off to deal with the pain were lessening. I kept a promise to myself to rid my body of pain. In so many words, Instructor Todd told me that if I continued, only I would feel the positive changes in my body. I knew that if I continued, something had to happen. I had nothing else to lose.
I was a white belt for one year. Typically, I would have been more advanced with a higher belt ranking, but I needed more time. I needed more time not only to change my body, but more time to change my mind. The years of pain had hurt my mind as much as my body and now I needed to rid the negative from both. I was never forced to excel past my abilities. I was passed movement that fit my body and current ability level. This type of training fit by me well because I did not have to do things that I knew I was unable to do. My instructors were very aware of my skill level and kept very close attention to my abilities, which were now improving after my first year with Oom Yung Doe.
After my abilities began to improve, I immediately felt better on the inside. My body hurt less. My daily pain lessened. With the lessening of my physical pain, my emotional and mental pain also decreased. Oom Yung Doe was changing my entire self. I continued to train and completed numerous advanced lesson and Sae Gaes. The Sae Gaes greatly improved my daily training. I was able to focus more and felt better about myself.
In June of 2004, I had signed up to attend the weeklong Oom Yung Doe seminar in California. I was nervous about the upcoming experience and thought that the intense training would cause fatigue and bring my pain back. However, just the opposite happened. From the moment I landed in San Diego, I could tell that this place was specifically chosen for our advanced lessons. Everything from the twice-daily lessons on the beach to the evening chats with higher belts and National Instructors made me feel great. I had more energy than ever before and the enthusiasm that filled me keep me going each day. I even began to run again. Each morning I would run 2 miles down the beach to get my body moving in the morning. I had run in high school and college, but was unable to run after Fibromyalgia set in. Again, the training that Oom Yung Doe was passing on to me was working and healing my ten years of pain.
My first weeklong seminar in 2004 really changed my life. I had extreme enthusiasm now and vowed to continue in Oom Yung Doe. After years of trying to find a “cure” for my Fibromyalgia, all my hard work led me to Oom Yung Doe. Their knowledge, movement, caring attention and consistency to my well-being has made me a better, more healthier person than all the doctors, therapists and medications in the past could ever do. I am stronger than ever…even stronger than I was before Fibromyalgia. I have more knowledge about my health and continue to become healthier with each passing day. My life has changed in ways that I thought were impossible. I look forward to each day because I know that Oom Yung Doe is something that will always benefit me and can never be taken away.
To conclude my first-ever testimonial, I would like to thank every person that has helped me to regain my life. I thank Grandmaster for his dedication in life and for bringing that dedication to America, all students and myself. I thank the National Instructors and training team for following my progression, skill level and passing on knowledge based on my abilities. I thank every instructor from whom I have learned and with whom I have had the chance to train. I thank every student that I have been privileged to meet, practice and spend time with. Finally, I would like to thank Assistant National Instructor Rich McDonald and Assistant Head Instructor Todd Facello. Without these gentlemen, I may not have continued through the tough times in my training. These instructors consistently challenged me, communicated with me and most of all, made me feel that this was something that I could do and achieve.
I never gave up and completed my goal of ridding my body of pain and my mind of anger and frustration. I achieved my black belt in March of 2005. The weeklong seminar in June of 2005 was another life-changing event. It was the first time ever since my Fibromyalgia began that I went to sleep without any pain in any part of my body. My body and mind were clear, relaxed and content. I want more of this and I want others to benefit from Oom Yung Doe. I have made Oom Yung Doe a part of my daily life and will always continue to train knowing that it is the best thing that I have ever done for my life. I hope that through my experiences, others are able to see the positive effects that Oom Yung Doe can bring to their lives.