My Journey And Work With Chronic Pain By Margarita Navarrete-Hutchinson

I'm Mar, an almost 42-yr-old massage therapist; turned Elementally Functional Family Fitness Guide.

My chronic pain journey began at 3-years-old; thanks to a random accident--that while it left me mobile and "able," exposed me to a new world: a dark world, where I felt danger and anxiety; and a deep stopped being "a safe place," especially when I recognized that, when it came to "nurturing," I was on my own.

As I developed, and expressed my physical discomforts to my parents, they claimed I was too young to feel what I was feeling; and that I was a hypochondriac. Anyone providing chronic pain support knows: denying someone's pain will only exacerbate it.

Between invalidation and rejection, my adolescence was a world of depression and discomfort. Years later, science has recognized the link between "rejection" and "pain"--lighting up the same areas of the brain. I was rejected and ostracized both at home and at school; I was raised isolated, yet emotionally neglected; with unreasonable expectations (even for an able-bodied person); and asthmatic + overweight, with enough allergies that exercise wasn't appealing.

My familiarity with pain, paired with the desire to relieve the discomfort of others (through experiencing my own physical pain) led me to massage therapy. I figured that if I could at least help others, from the experience and self-knowledge that pain provided me, then at least *something* beneficial could come from it--and indeed it did!

Practicing massage therapy changed my life--and after 17 years of practice, I had come to recognize that much of what people suffered from (unless it was from an injury or congenital) was due to ineffective body mechanics--primarily from lack of education. So I started shifting my practice toward offering self-care support.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome was the result of that accident I had, at 3 yrs old; which took me years to determine--and by that point, I was accustomed to living in chronic pain--because I had developed in pain. By the time I reached 30, I was in so much discomfort, I didn't want to imagine 40..or worse, 60 yrs old. There was so much noise in my body. Then stumbled upon Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic--and after a year+ of treatment, my pain was down to 20% of what it was.

It was a new life! I had so much more energy to accomplish more--and I realized that perhaps why so many people in the world were harsh towards others, could be because they are in pain--whether mental or physical--and therefore share their misery by spreading it around. I threw myself into volunteering...and over-extended myself. Turns out I was trying to run away from personal development, disguised as "service to others."

At 34, plantar fasciitis flared up so terribly and for so long (over a year of limping around), that I bought a cane, when it was on sale (just in case I needed it) which was a wake-up call. I reduced sugar intake to less than 30g of *added* sugar/day; and re-trained myself, regarding how I walked--shifting from 34 years of "heel strike" foot placement, to a more even, gentler step. It would take more discomfort before I finally learned to "tread gently upon the Earth."

Halfway through 36, I injured my shoulder, while in advanced training at the Lauterstein-Conway School of Massage--and it was through gently working with a tiny hoop (self-made) that I recovered from the injury--after months of pain; and it getting worse. I recognized that little hoops could help more people than myself; so I started making them and giving them away--initially to my private clients, and then to random strangers, wherever.. whenever!

I created, after people asked for guidance on how to work with the hoops; and started making videos, haltingly. A friend encouraged me to break down Hoopment; reminding me that I had been fire dancing for 12 years--and flow movement was easy for me. I was initially reluctant, emphasizing that the HOOP is the guide, not me...but I listened; and I broke Hoopment down into Six Levels...establishing it formally as "Hoopment" in 2017.

That summer, I recognized myself on the Autism Spectrum; and AGAIN my life changed: I understood myself. Understanding my brain type helped me better work with my strengths; and I stopped self-recriminating myself for my weaknesses--acknowledging that I had developed coping and adaptation skills, along the way. I was practicing Hoopment sporadically--enough to recognize that if I took too long of a break, I would get a trigger point flare up--which was easily treated by gently practicing Hoopment.

Whenever I did exercises that flared up trigger points, I used Hoopment to get myself out of pain and back to functional--which made me decide to ONLY do Hoopment as my physical support. 2018 was the first year of my life with minimal flare-ups...trigger points, anyhow. Thanks to the oral birth control I started at the end of 2017, I developed Delayed Pressure Urticaria--pressure hives. Irony--I had self-published a book called, "The Pressure Rainbow: Sensation Communication from One Body to Another," in 2014.

The year I finally learned to "tread gently upon the Earth," was 2018. If I walked too hard, like Dewey Cox, my feet would swell like sausages and itch and burn... and walking was near impossible...I would have to shuffle. Luckily, the longest DPU lasts (usually) is 72 hrs, max. The hives show up 6-12 hrs after "too much" pressure...making it harder to pin down the cause. It was months of me going to a podiatrist (uselessly) before *I* self-determined that it was Delayed Pressure Urticaria (which the doctor had NEVER heard of). Turns out DPU is pretty uncommon--but for those of us who have it, life can be miserable.

Thanks to DPU, I finally learned to be gentle enough on myself, to not set off the Myofascial Pain Syndrome. HA! Cosmic joke. And thankfully, Hoopment was an exercise I could do, that kept me mobile--without flaring up either condition. Hoopment practice was SO effective, that in 2019 I did the most massages/day of my entire career...sometimes up to 8 sessions in a day, at a very busy high-end spa; and while I was tired, I was not broken--I also recovered quickly, thanks to the mobilization provided by the hoops. Plus, I would educate the receptive clients, role-modeling self-care techniques--that took care of *me* briefly, in between sessions.

Mid-summer I had the worst DPU flare-up that I'd ever experienced; the week of Independence Day, visiting family, just outside of Washington, D.C. The combination of family stress; social stress; and *dust mites* (HA!) resulted in me feeling like a living, breathing firework. I had to get on oral steroids--which were a lifesaver (and I got to visit so many museums, yay!)--and not something I could stay on permanently. That's when I learned about Xolair; and I was fortunate to find a great Allergist who managed to secure me monthly injections through a foundation--because my insurance won't cover it.

COVID-19 changed the game again--this time, enforcing a break from providing body-work; and facilitating the shift towards self-care education. I got online certifications, NESTA Biomechanics Specialist; and Functional Training Specialist, to help me better teach Hoopment.

When I replaced my phone, I randomly made a video to check the sound; I couldn't find a hoop, so I USED MY HANDS, instead. It struck me--people don't need the hoops-- *I* needed them, to teach *me* how to guide others. Thus, Elementally Intuitive Movement was born; and Hoopment became 1 of 12 implements: of the Elemental Implement Manipulation (advanced training) series.

I crafted a 36-week program; based on Six levels and paired with Six foundations. I self-produced the series, and have shared it via; and am currently working on a seated version, with my grandma and her memory care community in mind. I'm also producing the original standing version of EIM, in Spanish--because I can, so I do.

From Summer 2020-Midwinter 2021, I *completed* my program, as a created it--and by the time it was done, I recognized I had created a valuable tool not only for gentle body maintenance, but also for conscious awareness training. I especially loved that my hands-on touch is not required to help others help themselves--and my body feels like a different model, altogether.

My mind operates more clearly; my emotions are more stable; and I feel capable, strong, and imperfectly functional. And my body is the quietest it has ever been. So peaceful.

I wouldn't have arrived *here* without Pain as my guide and motivator to CHANGE SOMETHING, even if it was only my perspective...shifting from processing "pain" to processing "internal noise" that I could turn the volume down on. A great skill, until it becomes a crutch--and I don't address the true source of discomfort: resonance.

Today: I no longer resonate with discomfort. When faced with actions that result in discomfort within me, I feel such a strong dissonance that I have to address it, immediately. I used to contain myself, because me being my kindly authentic self made them uncomfortable; so I crumpled myself up for their "benefit." I now recognize that I simply enabled their lack of growth, as well as stunted my own--and contributed to my physical pain by putting undue pressure on my nervous system. I operated in Fight/Flight or Freeze the majority of my life. Not anymore!

What a journey! From perfectly dysfunctional to Elementally Functional Family Fitness, and Imperfectly Functional chosen programming. I'll be returning to the spa, soon; now fully vaccinated--and with more tools to share and pass on. What a pleasure to be here, now.


-Margarita Navarrete-Hutchinson