At 18, every day progressively filled with chronic back pain — morning, afternoon, and night… A physical struggle beginning years of unanswered questions on a lost and painful journey to find diagnosis and treatment.
Hi and welcome to Syndio Health.
My name is Rob and this is my story.
Lost and Fighting — What is Wrong With Me?
After several doctor visits, my physical struggle compounded with a mental struggle. An MRI revealed severe spinal inflammation that left my doctors fearing anything from a spinal tumor to an infection of the spine. I saw specialist after specialist, completed test after test, and spent tens of thousands of dollars ― all to no avail and results were inconclusive. I began a five-year battle not knowing what caused my debilitating pain. As if that wasn’t enough, the fear and ambiguity developed into severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Anxiety.
Every day I worried. “What is wrong with me? Is this cancer?” Every day I felt pain. I suddenly became consumed by a constant state of cyclical fear and paralyzing anxiety.
Despite trying to live as if life was normal, it wasn’t. I felt weak and lacked the strength to deal with the absurdity of life. The physical and mental anguish made me feel as though I was watching myself go-through-the-motions from a third person perspective.
This vulnerability humbled me and gave me a newfound perspective on life. The value of simple subtleties became obvious: a good night’s sleep, a sense of normalcy, or waking up and actually feeling okay.
I learned that life is a constant battle with many hardships, but my response made a world of difference. How could I vantage my high points and learn from my low points? I made a mental shift to leverage every opportunity of positivity if and when it was given to me. I rode through painful waves of struggle (often) and remained kind to myself when I had a bad day.
I finally discovered I have Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) ― a chronic condition with no cure that can lead to full paralysis. Believe it or not, I was relieved. I finally knew what was wrong with me.
Relieved but Hopeless — What Do I Do?
While diagnosis brought closure, I still didn’t know what to do. How do I treat all three of my ailments?
I continued — countless doctors, endless internet rabbit holes, and the familiarity of feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and defeated. Nine months later, I discovered via internet forums, people treating themselves with a starch-free diet. By no means does the diet work for everyone, however, research theorized it could starve the bacteria correlated with AS (refer to research article).
I tried the diet for a month and to my surprise I slept without pain medication for the first time in five years. It was not perfect but my pain reduced 90% and I re-discovered a life free from constant, debilitating pain. Other patients sharing their experience with a treatment changed my life.
However, I still struggled. I remained crippled by my OCD and anxiety, hitting the lowest point of my life even after learning how to manage my AS. I felt incredibly guilty and selfish for pulling my family and friends down as I struggled to pull myself up. I saw no way out and felt hopeless.
My conditions created a five-year storm where I forgot that right above the clouds, a blue sky and warm sun remained shining. I felt constant wind and chaos, incapable of imagining a life without clouded skies. Although I was not suicidal, the thought of death was relieving. I felt trapped as if on the 13th story of a burning building―my body on fire, inhaling smoke―in a context through which the window seemed like the only option for relief.
It took loved ones, dropping everything, antidepressants, daily meditation, journaling, and countless other treatments to finally discover that blue skies and a sun do exist. I woke up one morning finally able to see and feel the slight warmth from a ray of sun. I cried at the realization that I could actually feel okay and at peace. This moment was a brief, yet sweet relief from long, hard-fought battles with my conditions. I now knew what I could do.
New Found Hope — How Can I Help Others?
I realized the only power we have is to accept the things we cannot change, fight for the things we can, and receive—through experience—the wisdom to know the difference. This is a powerful lesson that can change anyone’s life.
We all can choose to welcome a mental shift to accept, fight, and learn from life’s struggles.
On May 12th, we are releasing Syndio Health to help fight for those who are struggling. Our commitment: to enable you to make better informed health decisions and become self-empowered. Our promise: to do our best in helping you discover treatments that could change your life, just like other patients helped me.
You are not alone, and we understand your struggle.
Our platform is not an empty promise to find a miracle cure, nor is it a replacement for a doctor or professional medical advice.
Syndio Health is a platform to discover and review treatments — a community that enables you to help yourself while helping others.
We are proud to partner with the National Fibromyalgia Association and Community Pain Center.
On May 12th, we launch our Fibromyalgia community in celebration of National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Fibromyalgia is simply where we are starting in trying to serve you as best we can. We are excited to work closely with you to release more conditions, expand our communities and partnerships, and improve the value of our platform beyond treatments and reviews.
We have big plans for the future and envision a simple healthcare experience: people and information connected seamlessly. We hold strong values and are driven to keep true to our mission — to empower you and your health through connection.
Rob and the Syndio Health Team