My name is Kathryn Easthope. I live in Southern Alberta, Canada, with my husband and family. Let me tell you about my journey of learning and discovery with doTERRA essential oils. I want to share how they have changed and improved my life and the lives of my family.
Since 2004, I have suffered with debilitating back pain. At first, it was intermittent. My back would seize once or twice a year for a month or so at a time, during which I was unable to do anything but lay in bed or on the couch all day and all night. As a single mom this made me dependent on my children and extended family members to take care of me.
In 2007, I married my sweetheart, Mark Easthope. This is a second marriage for each of us. We each brought 5 children to the marriage, giving us a marvelously crazy family of 10 children! My back pain was still intermittent and I was still able to do things for, and participate in, my newly blended family.
Over time, my back pain became more of a problem. I worked around it as best I could. I ignored it, worked through it, and pretended I could overcome it. I knew that just as long as I kept moving and ignored it, I would be okay. Once I stopped whatever I was doing or sat down, however, the pain would take over and put me to bed for a few days to a couple of weeks or even a month (sometimes longer). This has made being a wife, mom, and step-mom difficult, as I have not been able to fulfill all of my wife and mother duties and responsibilities. Mark, has been so supportive through every seizing episode by running the house, taking care of the family’s needs, meeting my needs, going to work, and so much more. Eventually, I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease.
Through trial and error, I learned pretty quickly what activities or movements would exacerbate my back pain and what would not. I have had to give up doing some of the things that bring me joy and help me feel involved in my family and my life. I could no longer rake the yard, shovel the snow, vacuum the carpet, mop/wax the floor, clean the bathroom, plant the garden, pull weeds, water the garden, run, jump on the trampoline, jumping jacks (okay, no jumping at all), ride a bike, roller blade, play volley ball, play soccer, play soft ball, play pool, lift more than 15 pounds on a good day, go hiking, dance with my husband, ride in the motorboat, water ski, go tobogganing, build a snowman, ice skate, stand for long periods, sit for long periods, and everything in between. Yes, even intimacy has been affected.
As the back pain has taken over my ability to participate in life, leaving me stuck in bed while my family has been able to enjoy the sunshine on a beautiful, hot summer’s day, depression has become another issue for me to deal with. How frustrating and depressing it is to watch your life pass you by while you are powerless to join it. Being stuck in bed meant that I could not participate in or enjoy my life.
I was so heavily medicated that I could not be present for my family, especially at important family gatherings, like celebrating children’s birthdays. I would have to be carried downstairs from where I was laying in my bed down to the dining room where the family was waiting to start dinner. I was physically there, but I was definitely not present to enjoy, enrich, or play with my family. After dinner, I would sit, completely spaced out, waiting for Mark or Thomas (one of our children) to take me back upstairs and put me to bed where I would sleep the rest of the event away while my family grew closer together and built fond memories without me.
My husband has taken me to doctor after doctor to see what could be done to help with my pain. Unfortunately, surgery has not been an option for me. The only option I have had from the medical community is to get corticosteroid shots in the lower lumbar (lower back) area, chiropractic, and heavy medications for pain management. I am incredibly grateful for the relief that these options have provided, but I knew there had to be a more natural, effective way to manage my pain and retain my cognition at the same time.
In 2012, my wonderful Mother-in-Law gave us a doTERRA Family Physician’s Kit for Christmas. I had heard of essential oils before, but didn’t really know what they were. They were something I wanted to learn about at some point in my life but it never seemed to be convenient or a priority. Suddenly, here they were in my hands just waiting for me to give them see and learn about their powerful health benefits, no excuses. There was a little booklet that came with the oils; It was a mini ‘Modern Essentials’ book. As I flipped through the little booklet, I was surprised at all of the health issues listed that could possibly benefit from the particular essential oils suggested.
I was a little skeptical about how one little drop of a liquid could make a difference. It was when I saw that melaleuca (also known as Tea Tree Oil) could help with my warts that I just had to open the bottle and see what happened. I had had a very large wart on my index finger for years. It was painful and impossible to get rid of. I had been to my doctor 8 times to have it frozen off. Before that, I had tried Compound W products – including their freezing product – it was no help. In fact, once this wart had been frozen at the doctor’s office 8 times, the wart grew and was more painful than before. When I started using doTERRA’s Melaleuca, my wart was the size of my knuckle, was raised off my finger about 1/4,” and it was bleeding and very tender. I put one drop of Melaleuca oil on my finger twice a day for 2 weeks. I was amazed as I watched that ugly wart heal, shrink, and disappear off my finger with no scabbing, no pain, and no chemicals. That wart has not been back since! WOW! I couldn’t wait to try another oil to see what it could do for me and my family!
In the fall of 2013 I had the opportunity to attend a doTERRA Convention with some friends. It was there that essential oils changed my quality, and way, of life. I traveled to the convention in my wheelchair. On the second day of the convention, one of the classes I attended spoke about the muscular calming and soothing characteristics of the oil called ‘helichrysum’. I was skeptical. I get a corticosteroid shot in my back every 3 months. They help manage the pain for a few weeks but not much longer than that. I already knew that essential oils helped with so many other health concerns, but this instructor didn’t know my pain. How could an essential oil help me?
Well, it just so happened that I had some helichrysum with me. That night I decided to put it to the test. Instead of taking my regular medications to help me sleep through the pain, I used helichrysum and frankincense essential oils topically on my back where it hurt the most. Amazingly, the pain settled down and I actually slept! In the morning, I was able to get up with minimal pain. I reapplied the oils during my morning routine. We then drove the hour to the convention Center in Salt Lake. Usually, that hour drive puts me in my wheelchair. When we arrived, I got out of the vehicle and walked! I was so excited about the possibility of freedom of mobility but was also a little nervous about getting stuck without my chair, so we brought it in with us. I sat in it during the morning session. At lunch, I was super excited to be able to get up and walk! A lot of people saw me get out of my chair and thought I was really weird that I sat in a wheelchair and then got up and walked. Little did they realize that they were witnessing a miracle… I left the chair right where it was and took advantage of the freedom of mobility!
The next day was a real test. I had a 14-hour drive home to endure. Amazingly, I was able to get out and walk at each stop. When we arrived home late in the evening, I got out and walked! I was even able to help bring in the suitcases!
At first I thought that I was having a pretty good day. I have those. However, after using the oils day after day and having good results, I knew that the oils were making a difference.
It is so important to note that I do still receive corticosteroid shots in my lower back quarterly. However, those shots are supported and even extended by my use of the essential oils. I am finding that, for me, the combination of the two work together to provide the relief I need. There are other strategies that I have in place that I will list here and expand on in my regular posts. Here they are:
- What you eat is incredibly important. Some foods cause or contribute to inflammation, and other foods reduce or control inflammation. Some foods that cause inflammation are sugar, gluten (particularly wheat gluten), processed cow’s milk, corn, eggs, and soy. Through a lot of food experimentation, I found that for me, potatoes are a problem, so it was necessary to eliminate potatoes from my diet. That was a huge change in my lifestyle because we ate potatoes at least 3-4 times per week. Making the change was not easy for me, but I can tell you that eliminating them has been completely worth it. When I eat the foods that cause inflammation, I feel it throughout my body, especially in my back.
- Exercise! I know that you hear that a lot from a lot of other sources. I am here to tell you that even if you are not able to get out of bed today and it has been a while and you are in extreme pain, that the answer is to start with very, very, very small movements like stretching at first and go from there. Do what you can tolerate. Do not push any further than that! If you have to, start by wiggling your toes. Small, consistent stretches and movements will make a world of difference. Start small and work your way toward small goals. eventually, you may find that you can do a little more that you could do just last week. You may even be surprise by how much you can do right now! Movement of any kind will serve you far more than if you are sedentary. Movement gets the blood moving and assists the body in several different functions, such as digestion, elimination, moving nutrients around, getting oxygen to the brain and vital organs. Movement also does wonders for depression! So, get moving!
- Hot/cold packs. I have found that even with using the powerful essential oils and shots together that I still have my rough days. Nothing is perfect, it is? When the muscles in my back are feeling tight – and I can tell when they are headed toward seizing – I take out my hot/cold packs and alternate every 20 minutes (in addition to everything else). Start with either hot or cold, whatever you want first. Keep trading off at least 2-3 cycles. Gauge how many cycles you need according to how you feel and how tight the muscles are. You may need to repeat this process a few times before you find the relief you need.
- Have a great mindset. What you think is how you feel! Our emotions, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs have an incredible connection with the human body. What we feel emotionally becomes how we feel physically. The realization that I have the power to decide how I am going to feel changed my life! There are days that I have realized that I was also talking myself INTO bed and wheelchair. The awareness of what I am thinking or believing has empowered me to take more control over how much physical pain I am in. There are many days that I talk myself out of bed. Once I’m out of bed, exercise, move around, use the oils, and eat good foods, I am on my way to having a productive and awesome day!
- Avoid the the things on my “do not do”list. This is probably one of the most difficult things to accept. I already know how I will feel if I were to do the activities that I know will cause pain in my lower back, like vacuuming, shoveling, raking, mopping the floor, dancing with my husband, jumping on the trampoline, running, scrubbing the toilet, etc. However, recently I have attempted a few of them just to see where I am with those things. I have been able to gingerly add a couple of limited things onto my activity list, but the rest are still an absolute no-no. I like to be active. If I want to stay that way, I have to behave myself and stick to the things that I know I can do and find purpose and fulfillment in the things that make me feel great instead of pushing myself to do the things that cause pain and put be back in bed or my wheelchair. I prefer to be independent, active, and productive. I do miss doing some of the things I cannot do anymore, but the payoff is worth the sacrifice.
- Don’t give up on you dreams! Always have a dream. I vividly remember one day laying in bed on a hot, sunny summer’s day. My family was outside playing in the sun, and I was laying in my bed, alone, staring at the weeping birch tree outside my window and wondering what the purpose of my life was supposed to be. Was this really what I had to look forward to for the rest of my life? I was told that my health would only continue to decline. How much worse was it going to get? At that moment, any dreams I had of doing something amazing, like climbing Machu Picchu, were impossible. My hopes and dreams were fading into nothing, like the nothing I was becoming while laying in bed, heavily medicated and unable to think clearly because of the medications. Depression takes over in those dark places. There is hope! Your dreams take you out of those dark places and into brighter, more vibrant living. Optimism is able to reduce perception of pain to a greater degree than pessimism. In turn, negative thoughts can increase subjective pain.
- Manage stress. There are many different kinds of stress in our lives. There is emotional/mental stress, physical stress, social stress, spiritual stress, and financial stress.We respond to psychological stress with the same hormones as with physical stressors. How we perceive and respond to stress is the most important thing to keep in mind. Think of how a zebra responds to stress. There he is, munching on the grass, enjoying the sunshine. Then, suddenly, a lion appears (stress occurs). The zebra’s stress response begins with hormones in the brain. The zebra runs (fight or flight response). The zebra gets away, its stress response ends and stress hormones dissipate. The zebra goes back to enjoying his lunch. The problem is that in this day and age, we do not have the same physical release (fight or flight) for our stressors that we had decades ago. In addition, most of us are “stressed out” vs. just being “stressed.” Being stressed out is more damaging than just having acute, short, stressors that we are able to deal with quickly. Instead, we are unable to deal with the stress in the normal manner where stress hormones rise and fall quickly, turning the acute stressor into a chronic stressor. We all have stress in our lives, and if we can’t eliminate or escape from our stressors, our stress hormones have nowhere to go and they wreak havoc on the body by affecting our memory, tissue breakdown (there is a strong link between stress and tissue breakdown in the brain and in the skeleton, causing us to gain weight, contributing to heart disease, anxiety, headaches, heartburn, irritability, makes us age faster, and so many more effects. Meditation, yoga, getting in touch with your “inner self,” music, taking a bath, reading a good book, spending time with people who lift you, singing, dancing, traveling, sleeping, cooking, exercising, or even cleaning are some great suggestions to help you manage stress as effectively as you can if you are not able to avoid stress in your life.
- Get enough sleep. Getting more, or enough, sleep is easier said than done, isn’t it? Who has time to lay around for 8 hours doing nothing? I can think of a hundred and one things to do during that time. What is amazing is that in that time, you are doing far more than you realize while lazing about sleeping. Your body is repairing itself from damage done during the day. While in REM sleep, you are dreaming and allowing your mind to file information away. You are helping your body with blood-sugar control and lowering your risk of diabetes and obesity. You are helping yourself to be in a better mood, controlling your appetite, and increasing your ability to concentrate. In this hustle and bustle lifestyle that we all live in, it is well worth your time, health, productivity, relationships, and effort to stop and get the proper rest your body needs. In studies done, the amount of sleep needed at different stages of life transitions over time. Babies, of course need the most amount of sleep..
- Use the essential oils
- A really good whole food supplement. This is, quite frankly, the foundation of it all. It should really be #1 on this list. I guess I saved the foundation for the bottom of the list. How fitting. I use the LifeLong Vitality Pack from doTERRA. It contains 6 of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory substances on earth. When I take it consistently every day, my entire body feels better. If I miss it for even a day or two, my back is the first to notice the difference. LifeLong Vitality is a pack of 3 products designed to work in concert with one another. I will go into greater detail about all of the incredible health benefits and supports for the body that it offers in another post.
My goal is to share with people how they can created the life they want, to find their purpose, to show them how they can be fully present in their relationships and be able to have fulfillment and enjoy their passions, and be able to enjoy the freedom of mobility through:
- Good, nutritious, wholesome foods
- Essential oils and oil-infused products
- Have a great mindset! What you think is how you feel!
- A really good whole food supplements
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