By DR. JEN GOLDIN
It is in our very nature as physicians, to try to have answers for all our patients' ailments. What happens when you have a patient in chronic pain and you really have nothing more to offer him? Sometimes that is just not possible. Sometimes what a patient really needs is validation that his symptoms are really awful and then be made to understand what comes next is up to them. Often, it seems there are unrealistic expectations on the part of the physician and the patient for us to provide the diagnosis and to be the solution.
In 2011, I become this patient. After being rear-ended in a motor vehicle accident, I underwent a cervical fusion and was eventually diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Suddenly instead of being on equal footing with my colleagues, I was trying to explain how the smell of pineapple and strong perfume made my pain worse. My children couldn't walk across the floor too loudly for fear of causing me pain, and the feeling of raindrops hitting my arm would make me scream. Despite receiving what I knew to be the best possible medical care, I was declining so rapidly I could no longer provide for my family's basic needs or mine. Gone was the woman whose passion it was to care for families and solve the puzzles their symptoms, labs and diagnostic tests presented. I was lying on the floor between each patient I saw. Lost was the ability to exercise, dance, garden, cook and watch my kids sporting events.
It was then that I discovered The Martial Arts Center for Health in Altamonte Springs. I was simply searching for a place where I could become more mobile and active and lessen my pain. What I found far exceeded my expectations. I was introduced to restorative exercise. Most importantly, it was not my skill level, my fitness level, nor my physical limitations that mattered. I mattered.
At MACH I was being empowered to harness my body's natural ability to heal itself. Each time I would go to class I would leave with a little more energy than when I came in. Slowly, I regained use of my arm. I stopped resisting and fearing the pain and learned how to incorporate it into my life. My pain improved and I no longer spent the majority of my day lying down. I was slowly getting my life back. What I did not expect to gain from my training was improved confidence, making important changes in my life became much easier, and I was stronger as a person overall.
The Center has been in business for over 25 years and utilizes a combination of Kung Fu, Bagua, Tai Chi and Qigong. The instructors have a minimum of 14
years experience and have all been personally trained by the owner Thomas Curtin. Students are taught to do the movements in a way that is safe for their body at the time. Self-Defense, which is also a portion of the curriculum, is practiced in a safe environment and is always optional. If self-defense is of no interest to the student alternative movements are offered at that time. This is a fantastic opportunity for empowerment, growth, and recovery for patients who may have suffered from a traumatic past. The training can be tailored to students in a wheelchair or who use a walker. Because their style and teaching methods are so unique prospective students are offered a free private lesson to avoid any intimidation affiliated with trying martial arts. Continued private lessons are available to those not interested in a group setting. A free Qigong class, open to the public, is also offered on Friday evenings.
Not everyone training at MACH has a specific diagnosis or ailment. Everyone can benefit from their curriculum. The instructors treat each member with respect, care and dignity to help them develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. Not only have I heard stories of tremendous personal growth, I have witnessed students, who are already training at the center, recover from surgery much quicker than expected, recover deficits after a stroke far beyond what is typically expected. Improved focus, stress reduction and increased flexibility are just a few of the additional benefits I haven't mentioned. While it may seem counterintuitive to suggest martial arts to someone in severe pain the Martial Arts Center for Health is a much-needed resource in the medical community and one I wish I had when I was practicing. For more information please visit martialartscenterforhealth.com.
Dr. Goldin graduated medical school at the Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio. She completed her Family Medicine Residency at Dayton Community Family Medicine Residency. She is board certified in Family Medicine. For more information please contact Dr. Goldin at firstname.lastname@example.org.