In 1997, I was in a hit-and-run, head-on car collision that threw me into the cauldron of the healthcare system, where I went from bad to worse and ended up alternately bedridden, housebound, and wheelchair bound, over the course of the next decade. Prior to that, I was super athletic – jogging up to 12 miles at a shot and swimming up to 6 miles at a shot. By the early 2000s, I had fallen into depression so severe that contemplating suicide was part of part of my morning ritual, alongside drinking coffee.

Medical Negligence
Immediately following the car crash, I only had acute back pain. However, due to active and passive forms of medical negligence, dismissal and pathologizing of women in pain, and inadequate medical school education on chronic pain conditions and treatment – all of which were especially problematic back in the 1990s when this happened – I ended up not only poorly treated by healthcare practitioners but also repeatedly injured by them. As a result, within a few years, I suffered from calcified and degenerated discs in every section of my spine – from the top of my neck down to my tailbone – along with arthritis in both hips, a dislocated right shoulder, a torn meniscus in my right knee, and various injuries in my ankles and wrists that were so bad, I could barely walk for a few years. There was a time I had to crawl on the floor to get to the bathroom, and I had excruciating pain from lifting a coffee mug or turning a door knob.

Dancing with Pain
About eight years into this ordeal, a series of serendipitous experiences led me to an epiphany – that by reconceptualizing dance as more than leaps, twirls, and fancy footwork, I could use it to heal myself. I started “dancing” with whatever part of my body was not in pain – initially, only my arms – and within as little as an hour, I would go from limping to leaping. In the beginning, I would wake up on a pain level around 7-8, then dance, and the pain would go down to a 2-3, but then I’d wake up with the pain jacked up again. While I wanted to progress the way I did before the car crash – for example, doing a new workout routine that got easier each week – I was grateful that at least I had something to get the pain down each day.

Slow, Deep Healing
Over the years, however, as I continued my daily dance practice, the healing snuck up on me, gradually and subtly. Suddenly I could take several grocery bags in each hand, instead of one, and suddenly I could scrub the bathtub, without my back going out. Until one morrning, sometime in 2009, I woke up without pain and had a pain-free day, for the first time in years. Not long after, I had a pain-free week. Then month. Then I was mostly pain-free, with only occasional pain setbacks. Within 3-4 years, I was able to bike up to 30 miles at a shot, pain-free. I had reclaimed my body and my life.

Teaching Others
In 2006, I taught this dance method at a conference, with no idea what to expect. When participants gave feedback that the method helped relieved their pain and increase their movement, I knew I was onto something; so I launched Dancing with Pain® and began teaching weekly classes. Over the years, through questionnaires and conversations, I discovered that the method had a 96% rate of efficacy, on diverse pain conditions. One woman even canceled her hip surgery, because after one hour dancing in my class, she was pain free. Instead, she started coming to my classes each week.

Media and Medical Accolades
My method went on to be featured in top media including the NY Times, ABC News, and American Health Journal. Even Johnson & Johnson got interested in it, despite being a pharmaceutical company! In addition, my method was endorsed by leading integrative medicine doctors and pain specialists, who explained the biomechanics of why it works – including Martin Rossman MD, who wrote the foreword for my forthcoming book, Natural Pain Relief.

Online Event Launch (Sun Feb 19th 4:00PM PST)
I’m kicking off a series of Dancing with Pain® online programs, starting with, “Don’t Fight Your Pain. Dance with It!” – a multimedia event featuring live music and spoken word performance, personal storytelling, and self-care tips – including a live demonstration of Dancing with Pain® basic moves – to inspire and guide you on living with and healing from chronic pain. This event has been designed for lay people and wellness practitioners alike, and is useful whether you’re taking a holistic, conventional, or integrative medicine approach to pain management. TThe event is on Sunday Feb 19, at 4:00 pm PT. Register now, for an Early Bird discount!