One month shy of my 30th birthday, my life was pure chaos.
I was working the night shift in a busy Intensive Care Unit in San Diego as a nurse. I had been studying vigorously for months and not sleeping, and many of my friendships were riddled with tension. Not to mention, my relationship with my boyfriend was coming to a bitter end. I was running on empty — drinking too much and dependent on sleeping pills — with my schedule always changing between days and nights.
On the night that followed the breakup with my boyfriend, I just wanted to get a good night's sleep. I took a powerful sleep aid, but I made the dreaded mistake of staying awake.
I decided to make a sandwich and get a glass of water, which I accidentally spilt on the floor. The next thing I knew, I was in a hospital room with a pounding headache and could only see out of one eye. The lights were glaringly bright, my vision was pixelated and I was pretty sure my head was going to explode.
The doctor told me that I had suffered a traumatic brain injury and had been unconscious for the past 12 hours. My roommate found me at 7AM, unconscious and badly bruised all over my body, bleeding from my mouth and my nose. It became evident I had slipped in the water I had spilt and hit my head on the tile floor in the kitchen.
Then in a stupor and an attempt to get help, I fell multiple times, hitting my head against various hard surfaces throughout my apartment. I had two black eyes and 59 bruises on my body.
For the next six months, I suffered with unbearable migraines and icepick headaches, photophobia (light sensitivity), dizziness, a stutter, aphasia (difficulty getting my words out), extreme fatigue, depression, anxiety and more. I was on many different medications to try and manage my symptoms.
I was diagnosed with Post Concussive Syndrome, a condition made famous by NFL players who've been drawing attention to concussion awareness. Even as an ICU nurse, I had no idea how debilitating this disorder could be. My neurologist anticipated it would take over a year for me to feel like myself again, but it was also possible I might not ever fully recover. I felt like I had no hope, with no end in sight to my condition, and no relief from my constant headaches.
I made a brief attempt at returning to work a few months after my accident. During this time, my coworker Sierra offered to help me with my pain. She had just taken an energy based therapy class called "Healing Touch" and thought that the technique might help diminish my headaches.
Healing Touch is a relaxing and nurturing energy therapy, that's based on the concept of the body having a "bio-field." Energy (aka Chi, Qi or prana) flows through and around our bodies and into the energy centers we know as the chakras. When energy along these pathways becomes congested or depleted, an individual can experience symptoms such as pain, inflammation, anxiety, stress, etc.
The Healing Touch practitioner uses their hands in a heart-centered, intentional way to direct the flow of energy, releasing congestion and redirecting the energy field back to its original smooth flowing alignment. With the body in perfect harmony, relaxation occurs and the body has the ability to heal itself.
So every night at work, Sierra and I found an empty room during our breaks and she would practice her energy healing techniques on me. I immediately connected with the treatment, felt my headaches diminish and had more energy. I was able to continue my shift in the ICU with just enough energy left to drive home in the morning.
But the effects of the treatment would last only a day or so due to my unhealthy lifestyle, which included trying to fight my bodies natural sleep-wake cycle by working the overnight shift.
On my days off from work, there were times I could barely get out of bed. I had unbearable migraines and my energy levels were severely depleted. But despite all of this, I would still try and be normal. I would meet a friend for a drink, watch my football team on Sundays, or go out to eat. Each event would cause severe headaches, nausea and dizziness, and the stimulation of all the activity would cause me to zone out.
Nearly two months after returning to work, a visit to the neurologist changed everything. She placed me back on disability for three more months against my wishes. She saw how depleted I had become and instead of making progress in my recovery, I was regressing. My headache medications were at the maximum dosages and I was still in constant, excruciating pain.
I soon became utterly depressed and lost without my job. My friends were disappearing because I couldn't keep up with their social lifestyle, and I really didn't know how much longer I could continue to suffer this way.
It was at this time that Sierra had urged me to take Healing Touch Level 1, to learn how to heal myself. I laughed. Heal myself? I can barely get out of bed, how on earth am I going to heal myself? But I decided she was probably right. I needed to take this class.
I spent the weekend-long class learning all about the chakras and energy, setting positive intentions and loving yourself. I was able to give and receive multiple treatments all weekend long. I learned how to connect with my chakras which helped balance my energy field.
It was eye-opening to see how a positive intention, a loving heart and the flow of energy through your hands could provide such deep relaxation and pain relief. By Sunday evening, I was glowing! My depression had lifted, I barely had a headache and I was happy, hopeful and suddenly full of life!
My true healing journey had begun. I realized I was sabotaging my recovery by living my life out of balance and refusing to listen to what my body was telling me. I started leading a harmonious life, treating my chakras twice a day, repeating positive affirmations, journaling, eating a healthy diet, meditating and reading anything I could find on energy medicine, holistic medicine and spiritual development.
I began a yoga practice that helped me to gain mental and physical strength. I aligned my entire well-being and realized that all along I possessed the innate ability to heal myself. I exchanged treatments regularly with Sierra, at support groups and with new friends from each Healing Touch class I took. My symptoms from my injury continued to disappear. I realized that from chaos comes clarity.
Six months after that first Healing Touch class, I had worked my way up to Level 4 and started my 1-year apprenticeship with a mentor. I had healed completely and felt so blessed to embark on this incredible journey. During my apprenticeship, I completed over 100 healing sessions and even began a community-based project providing Healing Touch to homeless veterans. I also use this technique every day in the hospital with my patients and coworkers.
When my apprenticeship was complete, I finally received my certification as a practitioner. This very monumental achievement symbolized the strength, perseverance and dedication I took on this path toward healing. The saying, "Everything happens for a reason," suddenly made perfect sense to me. My brain injury had become a true blessing in disguise.
Today I continue to help patients discover their innate ability to heal themselves through energy therapy. I continue to work in a Surgical ICU and teach other nurses there about Healing Touch. My patients experience less pain, less anxiety and a faster recovery while in the hospital. Healing Touch has truly become my passion and life's work.