Willow Rossi went into occupational therapy because she wanted to help children. Ironically, pursuing her passion thrust her into a nightmarish decade where no matter what she did, she wasn’t able to help herself.
Her life ravaged by fatigue and chronic pain, Willow finally experienced relief – and the chance for a more normal life – after finding her way to the Center for Brain Training.
Willow’s baffling journey began 12 years ago when she visited Mississippi. She was participating in an equine therapy program for children with disabilities to help them bolster confidence, postural strength and fine motor skills. Part of the work involved taking the horses and clients into some nearby woods.
As she showered one morning, Willow discovered a deer tick on her rib cage under her bra. She carefully removed it and contacted a local doctor to see if she should have any concerns about contracting Lyme disease.
“The doctor said I only needed to be concerned if I developed a bullseye rash or got flu-like symptoms,” said Willow.
Physical and mental deterioration
Willow finished up her volunteer stint and returned to her regular life. Since no symptoms had appeared, she left her concerns about the tick bite in her rearview mirror – forgot about it altogether. Then, as time marched on, Willow began experiencing deterioration in her mental and physical health.
“Gradually I got sick with pain, fatigue and brain fog,” she recalled. “I would be speaking and use the wrong word. I had always been very organized but was unable to organize my work or maintain a personal life anymore. I worried that I was getting dementia or had developed ADHD. I had trouble focusing and doing routine work on my computer, such as writing reports.”
Barely making it through the day
Constant pain throughout her body caused Willow to eventually cut back from full-time work to a mere 10 hours a week. The only way she managed to get through the day was by alternating small amounts of physical exertion with naps. She struggled to do the bare minimum to keep her household running.
“I was getting nerve and joint pain everywhere,” Willow explained. “It jumped around like little electric shocks. At times felt it like I had glass in my joints.”
A dozen or more doctors
Frightened and frustrated, Willow saw more than a dozen doctors, all the while experiencing a deteriorating condition. None of the doctors thought to rule out Lyme disease, Willow recalled, and Willow never mentioned the possibility to any of them. After all, she’d had none of the symptoms of Lyme disease infection after discovering the tick bite, and it never occurred to her that she might have contracted the disease.
She was eventually diagnosed with fibromyalgia – cause unknown.
A diagnosis at long last
After more than 10 years and thousands of dollars in medical bills with no concrete answers, something jogged Willow’s memory. She wondered…could I actually have Lyme disease? She went to a Lyme disease specialist and tested positive. The mystery was finally solved. She knew the cause of her ailments.
After many months of antibiotic treatment, some of the symptoms improved. However, fatigue, pain and brain fog remained. She soldiered on with little hope.
A serendipitous discovery
During a discussion with an out-of-state occupational therapy colleague about approaches to helping children, Willow learned about neurofeedback. Her colleague mentioned that several children she worked with who were also doing neurofeedback made much faster progress.
Intrigued about the possibility of a new tool to recommend to clients, Willow did some internet research and ran across the Center for Brain Training in Jupiter. She set up an appointment to meet with the center’s director, Mike Cohen, to find out more.
During the course of that meeting Willow mentioned to Mike about her physical issues, and Mike suggested she try body biofeedback (BioRegulation Therapy/BRT) to see if it would help her feel better. She agreed.
“I had immediate relief after the first session,” Willow explained. “It was amazing. It really calmed down my nervous system and my inflammation.”
She came back for more.
After several sessions Willow realized she was going at least a month without her symptoms, and sometimes as long as four months. Now she goes to the Center for Brain Training periodically for body biofeedback “tuneups.”
“Doing the body biofeedback gives me pain relief, more energy and helps me think more clearly,” Willow said, who is slowly adding to her work hours. “I’m also able to give more of myself to clients, stay organized, enjoy more social events and get my housework done. I can even get through the day without needing a nap.”