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Shannon’s Story

I have a connective tissue disease called Ehlers-Danlos, and the frequent dislocations and subluxations (partial dislocations) associated with faulty connective tissue have been a part of my life since I can remember. However, the pain associated with my disease has increased since puberty. By the time I reached junior high school, I stopped exercising or doing any strenuous activity, including running track, which was a sport I had natural talent for. As an adult, my weight increased because of inactivity, and my pain increased as well. Because of this feedback mechanism, the more pain I had, the less active I became, and the more weight I gained and muscle I lost.

By the time I married in 2009, I was wearing knee braces every day, 12 hours a day, and I was using a handicap parking permit because walking to my car was painful at the end of the day. I was having the baseline chronic pain, but also would have days where I would be in so much pain I would have to use pain medications, elevate my knees for hours, and ice them. Even then, it was only a partial fix. Doctors would tell me I needed to strengthen the muscles that held my joints in place since the connective tissue couldn’t, but when I would get referred to PTs, they treated my joints as if I had a knee injury, and ignored my dislocations. I would wind up not getting better and often times getting worse because they were unable and/or unwilling to think out of the box.

I met Gail in 2013, and she has completely changed my daily chronic pain, and helped me be more muscular than I have been since high school. She was able to think creatively and understand how my unique body worked (or didn’t). Instead of being put through the “knee exercises” that the physical therapists always pushed on me, she observed my body and how it moved, and she also did a ton of homework to understand some of the complications of my particular situation. We’ve worked together to strengthen the muscles holding my joints together, and I think for the first time in years, that I am not doomed to live in a wheelchair one day. The many orthopedic doctors I’ve seen over the years sent me home after determining there was nothing they could surgically fix, and told me I would just have to learn to live with chronic pain. Gail’s training with AATTM and chronic pain rejects this idea, and my baseline pain has been reduced. Even though I still have have the dislocations and subluxations, the amount of time that it takes for my body to recover has been reduced drastically. In addition, the magnitude of the pain after these events is much less. I’m in a great place to be able to exercise with modifications now, something I had written off as a possibility.