Evan Smith: Beyond My Personal Battle with Chronic Pain and Lyme Disease
This blog post is part of a series of storytelling pieces, “Beyond My Personal Battle”. The interview-based series is dedicated to sharing an inside view of individual lives working to grow and thrive beyond the diverse challenges of illness or disability. Interviews are conducted by Mary Brimmer.
What is your name and where are you from? What’s your diagnosis and how did you come to it?
My name is Evan Smith and I was born and raised in Saratoga, New York. I’m thirty years-old and for the past three years I have had horrible chronic pain in my lower back which has moved to other parts of my body. The source of it is one herniated disc and two bulging discs pushing on my spinal cord, coupled with severe lordosis. All from thirteen years of hockey, six years lacrosse, six years landscaping, four years framing, weight lifting with horrible posture, and the joy of hard labor in general.
I felt that there was something else wrong internally but couldn’t figure it out. The symptoms were just like Lyme Disease, so I decided to get tested for it and the doctors said no. About two years later, I went to get tested for Lyme again at the Stram Center in Vermont and found out not only that I’ve had it since I was nineteen, but that I was reinfected a couple years prior. It made sense because during most of my twenties I was so sick and I’d had a bullseye the size of a dinner plate.
The pain seems to have a mind of its own and it can really affect my life at all times. I have two disks in my lower back that are pushing on my spinal cord and one of them has exploded so it’s in horrible inflammation all the time. It’s just considered chronic pain, but the Lyme Disease was diagnosed very quickly back in the spring and I was able to get rid of it in a few months by doing energy healing.
Can you tell us about the low of your chronic pain and Lymes, to put your story into context?
In the real heart of the pain, I was brought into a state of severe anxiety and I was stuck in a [fight-or-flight] state. The anxiety was about as bad as you can think. I lost thirty pounds in a month and I couldn’t eat or sleep. Anything you can imagine being enjoyable wasn’t there for me. The only thing that felt good was taking a shower, but afterwards, my pain and anxiety would be worse. At that point, I felt I had nothing to look forward to. I didn’t have a purpose and I didn’t see the beauty in anything. All I saw was pain and that pain became suicidal thoughts.
How has energy healing helped you move beyond your pain?
I started the energy healing a little over a year ago. It deals with your emotions and past life regression, digging in to find the root of all the issues that we have. The energy healing helps release pain of the past that’s in the soul and pain that’s been acquired through this life. It has entirely changed my life. I’m a completely different person. I had a lot of anger growing up, throughout most of my life, and the anger is almost gone. The purpose is to revive the soul and to bring love into our lives... when we do that, whatever condition that we have can become tremendously better or can even be cured altogether.
How did you come to find energy healing? Was that something suggested to you by a doctor, a friend or a family member?
A couple years ago I started to really try and tackle the chronic pain with practitioners. I’ve done acupuncture, physical therapy, massages, sensory deprivation tanks and more. I’ve never done any type of medication though – I have not done pharmaceuticals. I also haven’t seen a therapist. My path was to use the advice of all the practitioners to guide me. I mentioned to one of the practitioners that I was feeling like something was inside of me that was probably causing my anxiety and back pain. He recommended an energy healer who uses past life regression and it took me a little while to see them, but when I did go, it was an immediate change in my life. My partner, Sarah, started to go too and it completely changed her life as well. I would actually recommend it to every human being on earth. It helps you to dig into your soul, to find purpose and love and replace the fear, hatred, and negative emotions that we carry day to day.
How would you explain your relationship with your condition and how it has changed over time?
At first, three years ago, there was a lot of anger. Anger towards myself, at the chronic pain, and just the feeling of being a victim. Over time, it’s become a blessing because, without the pain, I would not have done the healing that I’ve done to discover myself. Now, as a health coach, it’s led me to help people. The pain allowed me to slow down and really start listening. Regardless of what anyone may think of it being bad or good, it’s all happened for a reason. Something that was horrible has now become something that I know I can not only help subside, but that I can also help cure with love and optimism.
How do you feel your condition has influenced others?
It’s definitely changed the people around me. It was hard at first because a lot of people, especially those closest to me, didn’t really understand and would try to relate it to some of their own experiences. That was hard for the soul at first, but over time they’ve seen my growth and the growth of my partner. They’ve seen how my chronic pain has changed and what I’ve done with it. It has slowly changed the people around me to be more appreciative for what they have.
At first, I would put myself in situations for others where I would be in excruciating pain. I really couldn’t be there and that definitely affects others – when you’re down and out. Now, I realize that I need to take care of myself first if I’m going to take care of others. In taking care of myself and putting myself in situations that I love instead of situations that would have brought me tremendous pain the past, [life] is so much better.
Is there anything you wish others knew about you and your battle?
The most important thing would be that anyone can change. The anger and the pain that I had in the past...and the fear... is curable, and mine’s gone for the most part. I’m still working on it, it’ll be a long process.
Do you think it’s something that you’ll always be working on or do you think you’ll reach a point where you don’t really feel the pain anymore?
In terms of the soulful journey, it’s definitely perpetual. It will be, until the day I die, but I believe that there’s a point where the pain might not be there or it might not register enough to affect my life at all. That’s really the main goal for me – to get it to a point where it no longer affects my life. There’s nothing I can do about it so I’ll just continue to use my mind, and that includes meditation and breath-work, to tell my brain that it’s okay.
Can you describe one of the most pivotal moments of your journey?
The thing that really turned things around was when Sarah made me cry. Just by crying, I released a lot of anxiety. It was the vulnerability and the humility that I needed to turn around. If she hadn’t made me cry, I don’t know what would have happened. It did get to the point of very intense suicidal thoughts, and now I’ve come to a place where I can’t even imagine that because my purpose and my journey here is so important. There’s just no way. I really hit rock bottom. I saw the Grim Reaper, but now when I wake up, the world is just beautiful. It’s a blank canvas and I can wake up and see that anything is possible. Sometimes I’ll wake up with pain and it’s okay. I know that I can remember how good I can feel and how quickly I can feel that good and that’s what keeps me going.
What advice would you give to someone who is in a similar position as you, who is battling the same thing or something like it?
First, that we are our own worst critics… so be kind to yourself. Second is that one the most helpful things for me was to find a purpose. I can’t really tell anyone how to find their purpose, but it’s really important and with it will come a decrease in fear and hatred. Things like spite and resentment will go away. The soulful journey might come before the purpose or the purpose might bring on the soulful journey, but whatever you’re going through, it is necessary and it is beautiful.