Multidisciplinary Treatment – Three Weeks in Utah

Written by Aubrey Haley for the RSDSA blog.

In 2013, after living with full body CRPS for almost four years, I was afforded the opportunity to go to a treatment facility. My husband and I dug deep into the multidisciplinary treatment world, searching online and making phone calls for days. I knew I didn’t want to be checked into a rehabilitation hospital. Likewise, I didn’t want to be treated like a drug addict or a psych patient; I needed a facility that understood the intricacies of chronic pain. The Bridge Health Recovery Center kept popping up on my Google searches, like a sign from the universe. I was terrified to leave my family for almost a month, but I was desperate to treat the disease that was ruining our lives.

After a lot of research, we were certain The Bridge was the right place for me. The concept of multidisciplinary treatment is to incorporate physical, mental and emotional therapies to tackle chronic illness from every possible direction. The way The Bridge program accomplishes this is what sets it apart from other multidisciplinary treatment centers. The day after my arrival in Utah, I had a doctor’s appointment for an exam, blood work and medication review. Each morning, we went on a walk at 7 a.m. Our short walks gradually turned into several mile hikes by the time the session ended a few weeks later. This was important to me because reconnecting with nature was an essential aspect for my recovery and the part I was afraid of due to my mobility issues. Our daily routine included individual Talk Therapy, Physical Therapy, Personal Training, Chiropractic Care, Reiki and Cranial Sacral Therapies.  We had several group sessions with professionals discussing topics like goal setting, relationship management and self perseverance. The program included presentations by a survivalist, a life coach and a personal chef, along with volunteering, drum circles, wild mustangs and art and music therapies.

On Sundays, we were encouraged to journal, do laundry or attend a church service of our choosing. Gradually, I realized I had been harboring a lot of underlying anger and bitterness towards my CRPS because my disease was caused by an accident that was someone else’s fault. Furthermore, as a wife and mother, I had been careful not to express my emotions out loud for fear they would show my weakness or impact my family, although they were manifesting in other areas. The Bridge program allowed me to dive into emotional areas I’d been hiding for years. Being able to explore my feelings and address my weaknesses freed me from the negativity that was feeding my disease. At the end of the three weeks, we each made a list of things to eliminate from our lives and threw them into a bonfire, representing the negativity we were letting go.

The Bridge program only works if a guest is open to the process. I arrived with a lot of faith and hope, though, I had no idea how the program would work for me. By the end of the session, I learned I had the ability to tap into the mental aspect of a disease many insist is not “in the head”. I had to let go of the emotions that were holding me back from a healthy future. Finally, I understood fear, anger and bitterness were fueling the feedback loop that was triggering my disease. Once I was able to put the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual pieces together, I managed to gain control of my “incurable CRPS”, changing my life for the better.

Follow Aubrey’s blog, “Fighting With to read more about her adventures with CRPS, healthy lifestyle and life as a wife and mother of four daughters.

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