As a young girl, I was an athlete, a gymnast, a bodybuilder, and…..A sugar addict. In 1996, a snowy day in December, I fell in the parking lot at work. Because the accident was covered under workman’s compensation, I was sent to the company’s physical therapist to be evaluated. I remember my shoulder and shoulder blade hurt, yet no one offered to do an MRI or x-ray. The Physical Therapist just looked at me suspiciously after twisting my body parts in different ways and said, the pain is all in your head and you need to see a psychiatrist. I should mention, that my boyfriend had recently died, and I had low self-esteem. This was not a recipe for success. Weeks later, I was misdiagnosed as having Bi-Polar disorder and Schizophrenia and back then, no one asked about my diet.
While under the same doctor’s care for over 18 years, I was put on 17 different medications at the same time as a function of being part of multiple clinical trials. My doctor just let all the drugs accumulate in my system, never taking me off medications from the previous clinical trials and it compounded my problems. This mediocre care took a toll on my body, my pocketbook and the bottom line of the companies that I worked for. By 2013, after both parents died, my mother in December 2010, and my father in August 2012, my body shut down, I almost died, and I went on long-term disability.
This is not a story about being a victim. This is a story of resilience!
I have never met anyone who was successful that did not have defining moments in their lives. These were mine.
First, I am sitting at the kitchen table, and I cannot get a six-ounce glass of water to my mouth without using both hands. This is when it occurred to me that people with Bipolar disorder, while they had pain, did not have this issue. I started searching for a new doctor.
The second defining moment was about a week later when I was sitting in class at graduate school. I had just had steroid injections in every digit and both wrists. I am wearing braces on both hands. My business analytics professor says, “If someone gives you the mean, but not the median or the mode, you need to ask why?” That day, I knew I needed to start asking my doctors the hard questions and become a critical thinker.
Before then, it never occurred to me that I could have been misdiagnosed. I really assumed most everything was my fault and that my moodiness, at the time, was a genetic disorder – not related to the high doses of sugar I was consuming daily. Today, I have a new set of data points. Many diseases are rooted in our lifestyles and we learn these lifestyle behaviors from our parents and our grandparents.
Many of us have mistakenly assumed our diseases are related to our genes, which it can be. However, most often, disease is related to what we eat (remember, I was a sugar addict), how we communicate, how we manage stress, sleep patterns, exercise habits and modicum of care. In the past, I would fly off the handle and I would take most things personally. Trust me, I was not easy, but I was not that bad either. I did not need to be medicated. It would have been transformational to be surrounded by leaders that cared.
By November 2014, I was properly diagnosed by a team of neurologists, and psychologists and I started a new journey of health. I finally had that MRI that I should have had years ago. The scans detailed two torn rotator cuffs (estimated to have torn in 1996). In addition, the team uncovered that due to past traumas, and being overmedicated, I now had anxiety, PTSD, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, allergies,135 food sensitivities, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Trigger Fingers, Small Fiber Neuropathy, incontinence, Periodic Paralysis, Arthritis, Leaky-gut, Chronic Fatigue, Panic Attacks, Hives, and a variety of other conditions, all of which were reversed using food as medicine, plant and energy-based healing.
This is also when I went through the doctor managed process of getting off all the medications and was introduced to essential oils and a variety of holistic modalities. In addition, I continued my journey as a life-long learner in leadership and personal development which I first began in 1989.
Fast forward to January 2019, I am 92 pounds lighter, no chronic conditions, no medications to take. So, when Jenny Jenkins asked that I share my story with this community of Corporate Wellness Leaders, I wanted to bring you something of value that you can use today.
Even though I was constantly taking courses to become self-aware and to improve my relationships with others, I was a sub-par leader. When people learned that I was disabled, the immediate response was that “I looked good”. My response to that is that “Looks can be deceiving.” The day we start to realize that we have no idea what our colleagues are facing from moment to moment, is when we have a shift in our thinking. That presents the opportunity to be more compassionate, more self-aware, and to start from the heart. (Concept from Kerry Patterson’s Crucial Conversations).
When I finally learned about the healing powers of whole organic foods and holistic care, I regained my health, and all those personal development courses paid off. To soar above the clouds, to climb that mountain, people need both real health management (not disease management) and leadership. That is how I found my voice and my company Suson Essentials.
I am humbled that I am surrounded by a team of power partners and together, people trust us to guide and transform their lives by teaching them about self-care and offer leadership inspired wellness. We lead with intention. Together we can help others achieve greater mental acuity and more energy. We let them experience the difference for themselves. I am grateful to say, that today after utilizing all the modalities that I have described, I am no longer obese, I have no chronic conditions, and I am happy.
Easy Changes You Can Make
Food & Water
There are few easy changes you can make. First, I would make sure that employees have access to whole organic or responsibly produced foods. You can offer this via vending machines, the campus cafeteria, and organic meal delivery services. Next, test your water supply. Our water supply is laden with toxins like Glysophate, pharmaceuticals, chlorine, fluoride, lead and more.
Consider offering your employees a free water bottle (stainless steel or glass preferred) and filtered tap water. When you drink filtered tap water, you will be saving your body and the planet at the same time. This is also cheaper than buying water bottles which also clog your body’s system with tiny particles of plastic that come from twisting off the bottle cap. If you have an onsite health club with showers, consider a filtered showerhead. If you are not filtering the water, YOU ARE THE FILTER. Give your kidneys and liver a break.
Increase Activity and De-Stress
Recreate what meetings look like and bring your team together for something other than work. Consider indoor/outdoor walking teams, walking meetings, and offer a wellness room as a get-away for your team when they need to decompress.
Bring in your local experts to speak to your team about the small changes that they can make in their lives that will yield great results. Most Doctors of Chiropractic, Health Coaches, and other wellness practitioners will be happy to offer complimentary workshops on stress, healthy eating, heart health, immune support to name a few. Consider offering a wellness fair a couple of times a year and let your senior leadership team pave the way.
Save Money Long-Term
Finally, you can save money by going back to basics. It is less expensive in the long-term to offer sustainable food to your employees than it is to pay for them to be on medications for the rest of their life. Employee health programs are one of the top three benefits you can offer people aside from days off and work-from-home arrangements. Customize a program that meets the needs of your team. I have seen an ROI that ranges from a 5:1 up to an 8:1 and increased employee engagement and loyalty, which is another huge savings.
It took a village……
…to raise THIS child!
This journey was long, and I did not get where I am today on my own. But to be able to transform the lives of others – I had to transform my life first. So, I continually invested in my health, my education and my personal development. Mindy – Body – Spirit!
My life would not be possible without the support of all the practitioners that supported me. They guided me on my journey, so my body was able to heal itself. They also trained and mentored me so that I could serve the world and make it a healthier place to live.
Finally, I want to publicly thank Jenny Jenkins and the Corporate Health & Wellness Association for creating the opportunity for me to become a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist back in 2015 when I was disabled. Her generosity to me at a time when I was just getting back on my feet, literally, has me overwhelmed with gratitude. If learning about real health and wellness inspires you, like it inspires me, please feel free to reach out.
About the Author – Jodi L. Suson, CEO Suson Essentials, MBA, OB, CCWS
published her story “Informed Choices” in the book Overcoming Mediocrity and is an Amazon.com Best Selling Author, Chairperson 2018 ADA EXPO, Contributor to Woman’s World Magazine, and INC Magazine and is available for public speaking engagements.
In January 2019, Jodi Suson launched the 4-week Doctor Recommended Functional Food Program to jump-start your health that supports people in 4 ways:
1) Learning how to navigate the grocery store (in person or online)
2) Understanding how food will either fuel your health or feed disease
3) Creating greater mental acuity and energy
4) Developing self-care techniques so you can function at your full potential. http://susonessentials.com/functional-food-program/
In addition, she and her team customizes wellness and leadership programs and connects people to the best health practitioners and leadership professionals for your needs. Jodi can be reached at email@example.com or visit the website at http://susonessentials.com