Troy Giesbrecht has been a long-time friend and member of my family since I met my husband 11 years ago. I never understood truly what he went through to get from where he was in life, to where he is today, but I’m truly inspired. This man has taken basically a sentence to be another statistic to showing the world that you can turn your life around. I have seen Troy go from being someone who just existed, to a man that is taking charge of his life.
Tell us about your past. What happened to you?
In 2001 I was in a pretty bad car accident which should have killed me but it did not. I suffered not only mental pain but neurological pain from the accident. I didn’t know what day it was, when food was in front of me to eat and had no concept of what was going on. I had no idea that a car accident would impact me the way it did. In 2004 I was officially diagnose with fibromyalgia – nerve pain that was chronic and never ending. Knowing that every day I would be in pain for the rest of my life was hard.
My quality of life was severely impacted. I used to hike up mountains and be active as much as I could. Once I was diagnosed with the chronic pain it felt like I was being handed a death sentence. I looked into the support groups for Chronic Pain and from what I saw and felt, it was like I would never do anything again but deal with pain and feel alone.
I was on a number of medications to live what some would call a normal quality of life. For the record, I had to take 16 pills 3 times a day just to function at a normal level. I had a camera case full of medications that I had to take with me everywhere, to be a normal person. Imagine that.
That sounds brutal. What was your moment of clarity? When you decided enough was enough?
I went from being in the best shape of my life to gaining over 100 pounds. When you go from being someone that is fit and healthy and active to just basically piling on the weigh it gets to you. It hurts to see people fall in love, improve careers, and just plain have fun, but to look in the mirror and not know who you are has to be one of the lowest points.
One of my role models growing up had a massive stroke; he was only 2 years older than me and in much better health. He had to learn even the most basic of movement again – how to walk, how to talk and how to just live from day to day. My doctors had already rushed me into the hospital for my blood vessels were turning black and they were concerned that I would have a stroke. I knew I had a choice and if I wanted to live I had to start to fight for it!
Thinking back what did the word “disability” mean to you?
I felt alone in my own body. No on around me understood what was going on, as all I could do was exist. It felt like I was on the outside looking in wondering what had happened. The support groups were there but it felt like to me they were there to help people cope with the fact that life was over, with no hope that life would get better. I am a fighter! I was tired waiting for answers from doctors when there wasn’t any, I was tired of being told that the next stronger opioid would be the best thing ever. I was tired of the lies I was being told and I wasn’t ready for my life to be over.
I know you were on several medications. What made you want to get off them?
I spent a lot of time researching things, watching, and learning. I looked into everything from spiritual, to the power of the mind, to what is really happening in the world around me. My medication started off pretty basic, but like anything the body will get used to it and you will need more and I was now running out of options for stronger opioids. I had to come to the realization of whom I really am, love that person, and then treat myself as such.
I had gotten to a point where I decided enough was enough, and weaned myself slowly off my medications. It was hard, but I went through it step by step and was happy the day I realized I was free of the drugs that were holding me back, and keeping me from being what I needed to be – someone who was strong and determined. Someone who wanted to live and not just exsist.
(as a side note, please if you are weaning yourself off any medications, seek the assistance and care of a doctor or medical professional).
When you first thought about and got involved in the OCR community, what did that mean to you?
OCR came into my life at the perfect time! I went to watch a few and at one particular race the motivator before the race nailed it for me and got me thinking; everything in life is an obstacle. Whether you lose your health, job, spouse, or even a child it really creates a difficult “obstacle” that most people never get over. In OCR you physically see the support, even from total strangers, at EVERY obstacle you come to and you’re not the only one facing it, you’re not alone!
OCR meant to me a chance to live again. Honestly, when you go to a race and even just watch, you feel the love of the community. It doesn’t matter how fast or strong you are, on course there will always be a helping hand or someone offering you help. OCR means to me, getting over personal obstacles and well yes you get dirty but the feeling you get crossing that finish line, knowing you can do it, is nothing like it in the world. I have some really close friends – Charity and Ryan Fick, and just seeing them beat down and exhausted but smiling and pushing through is motivating. To me, when you accomplish something that people tell you is impossible, it is the best feeling in the world. When I thought to myself well I have this disability I wanted people to look at me for my abilities and not for what I could not do. Again; mind set, one can say impossible or I’m possible. You add we to illness we have wellness. It’s all how you look at it.
I understand that you have done a few mud runs now. I also hear that you are planning to get your Spartan Trifecta – tell us about that.
I want to challenge myself as I am now 100% clean and sober so to speak. You are what you believe to be and the power of the mind over the body is something that is amazing. For me it’s not so much about me rather than being an inspiration for others. Setting such a huge goal for my first official OCR season is easy when you envision the example you are making at helping so many others in believing it is time to start living again. This “pain” became my life and now I not only beat it, I’m starting a foundation and making it my career to help people win at life! So if I can plant a seed of hope and inspiration into any one person then I have not only won, but I never suffered in vain.
The training is hard and I still have days where I am in pain but I won’t let that stop me. I have a personal trainer and am working hard to rebuild my life and myself since the accident and being on medication. To me when I first got my diagnosis of “chronic pain”, it felt almost like a death sentence, that there was no hope. But now that I have taken control of my life again, I know that you can do anything you set your mind to. I am hoping to by example show others with chronic pain or other roadblocks that you can come out the other side. My biggest physical challenge right now I think is endurance; it’s been almost 20 years since I ran. LoL…. Mentally the biggest challenge is nearing 50 years old and starting OCR but it is always one foot in front of the other. I am surrounding myself with great friends that believe I can, and together we can do anything.
The Trifecta to me means that I have pushed myself beyond what I have been told I can and cannot do. I am excited and respectfully challenged to take on this goal, but I know I can do it.
What is one quote that inspires you?
The only obstacle in life is you.
What is your definition of life? And How Bad do you want it?
Believe Better is Possible
If people want to follow your OCR journey, where can they find you on social media?
On Facebook: Believe Better is Possible