Donald Miller said, “I think understanding your life as a story is a really terrific way of kind of knowing where you are and knowing who you are.” As much as I cringed at turning 40 years old, it has given me the pleasure of finally feeling settled in my story, yet in some ways I still feel like my life is just beginning.
This is who I am. Melanie Connell, Physical Therapist, Manual Therapist, Certified Health Coach, and Food Coach. I am a believer in Jesus, a wife, mother of two boys, an introvert, helper, encourager, educator, messy cook, and I am not afraid to try new things. I love to read, exercise, learn, teach, and explore. I am passionate about helping others see everything is connected.
What makes me angry is when I see people overlooked, neglected and mistreated, especially by their health care providers. At 31, after I had my second son, I started having health issues. It started with bright flashes of light in my eyes, along with very frequent migraines, so I went to the eye doctor. This seems like a simple equation, my eyes seem to be the problem, so go see the eye doctor. The eye doctor did the exam, told me I needed glasses and wrote a prescription. Except, after he walked out of the room, his assistant, a kind, older, Indian man, took me aside and explained that all I had was dry eye and there was no need to fill the prescription for eyeglasses. He told me he was an assistant only in America because his professional medical license as an eye doctor in India wasn’t recognized in the US. So I believed him, partly because I already knew I had dry eye and had been using eye drops for a couple years. I took it as his way of saying, my eyes weren’t the root cause of my symptoms. He was correct, 10 years later I still don’t wear glasses. In fact, my dry eye is now cured too, but I will get to that later. This has always been how I want to treat people, the same way I want to be treated: fairly, ethically, respectfully, and honestly, and taking the time to dive into the root cause of the health concerns of others. After that appointment, I continued to have more health problems, besides the migraines and dry eyes. Hypoglycemia, profuse sweating and body odor, extreme exhaustion, anxiety, restless sleep, moodiness, stomach pains, brain fog, dry skin, and irregular menstrual cycle. I had 2 babies in a span of 19 months, maybe this was my new normal, but a blood test soon revealed I had a diagnosis of Hypothyroid, and Chronic Fatigue. The doctor who prescribed Synthroid, told me Hypothyroid was not a disease, but a syndrome and by taking medication all my problems would be solved. Except, after beginning this medication I experienced heart palpitations, the notion of feeling stuck in my body, anxiety, and a miscarriage.
Thankfully, my story does not end there. Healing is not done in isolation; it takes a community. Dr. Mark Hyman wrote, “The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic, or hospital.” There have been several key players along the way who have helped me along my journey of health; Functional Medicine Doctors, Naturopaths, authors, and friends. My healing journey began with learning proper nutrition. It continued to evolve with understanding proper movement, sleep, breathing, mindset, and stress relief. This path has changed mine and my family’s life. When I look back now, it is amazing to compare how good I feel now with how dire my circumstances felt then. Now I see how my own difficulties have allowed me to learn and grow to be able to offer help and hope for others.
For the last 18 years, I have worked with people to get rid of their pain from head to toe. Pain is the most common reason people visit a doctors office. Unfortunately, “Vicodin is the most commonly prescribed prescription drug, with 136 million prescriptions written annually.” (Peter Osborne). People come to my clinic to get rid of their pain. As a physical therapist, my focus is more on function than pain. For example, the complaint may be, “I can’t raise my arm over my head because my shoulder hurts.” The patient’s primary focus is their pain, but a good PT focuses on the shoulder function (or dysfunction) and mechanical limitation that makes this person not able to raise their arm over their head. A great PT problem-solves to find the root cause of this movement dysfunction which can arise from nearly any part of the kinetic chain. Oftentimes, the root cause is not the same area as the location of the pain. I have learned over the years that listening to my patient’s full story allows me to connect the dots back to the root cause and offer them a remedy.
If we, in the health profession, treat chronic pain, chronic fatigue, chronic joint inflammation, chronic injuries, and even post surgical weight gain as independent, stand alone conditions then we are missing the bigger picture.
I started my cash based physical therapy practice because I saw a problem with the traditional model. People with chronic pain are both rushed and shushed. This is what I set out to change. I understand that you feel unheard and disconnected and that you need someone to listen and to help connect all the dots for you. When you are dealing with chronic illness there are so many balls to be juggled and you don’t know how one affects the other. This is where it becomes even more important that we don’t just do physical therapy but educate and empower you in how your sleep, breath, movement, nutrition, mindset, and stress all correlate into what you are feeling and how your body is functioning.
This is my mission!
It’s been 12 years since my own health problems began. I don’t struggle anymore with continual migraines, dry eye, irregular menstrual cycles, hypoglycemia, dry skin, exhaustion, anxiety, restless sleep, brain fog, moodiness, stomach pains, body odor, or profuse sweating. I also take less thyroid medication now than I ever have (and it’s not Synthroid). This took work, not 7 minutes or 7 days worth of work, but blood, sweat, and tears work. When we hear someone’s story, we assume healing happened overnight. I prayed for healing. God decided first to give me help, patience, wisdom, and knowledge through the struggle. I prayed for a cure for my condition, but God answered by bringing me change. If he hadn’t changed me, I wouldn’t be here today, passionate about health and wellness, aware of my story and who I am, confident in a God who hears. Stories that take you from tragedy to triumph are best sellers, but when it’s our story, we forget we often have to go through the tragedy first before the triumph.
Your story matters!
At Remedy, I take time to listen and partner with you, the individual client, to problem solve the root cause of your functional limitations and provide the utmost quality care. At Remedy PT, I combine manual therapy with the main pillars of health: breath, nutrition, movement, sleep, and mindset to guide each client on the whole path to restoration.
Never give up hope!
There’s always a remedy,
Melanie Connell, MPT, MTC, CHC