My name is Jennifer Tollefsrud and I am a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in North Carolina, and I have owned and operated my own massage therapy clinic in Clayton, NC for the past 3 years. I have been married to my best friend for the last 25 years and we have two of the smartest, kindest, most beautiful children to walk this planet. I decided to write this blog to document my journey with chronic pain, RA, severe food allergies and fibromyalgia in the hopes it could get more information out there to to let others know that you are not alone in this journey.
Those of you who know me or have been to see me in my office are aware that my chronic pain journey began when I was hit by a car crossing the street at 12 years of age. I was fortunate enough to escape that incident with out any broken bones, but the damage to my muscles and nervous system is a disfunction that I live with daily 34 years later. It has been agreed upon by my various doctors, that the accident from my childhood is the catalyst that began my autoimmune spiral.
I was not diagnosed with autoimmune illnesses till I was in my 30’s but the signs began appearing after being hit by the car. I developed eczema rashes at the age of 13. At times, they were so bad on my arms and hands that strangers would recoil with looks of disgust on their faces. My environmental allergies became worse the older I got. I had repeated bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia, along with asthma and intense migraines. I remember at the age of 16, there was a doctor that I went who mentioned that I had, what he called, an “over active” immune system. He suggested I get allergy testing and look into immune therapy injections.
Life moved on as I coped with my intense allergies and everything that goes with it. I finally got allergy testing when I was in my late 20’s. I tested positive for every environmental allergen they tested for, including every type of tree in the state of North Carolina! I was positive for multiple food allergies as well. This is when I began to realize that what I was eating had a lot to do with my illnesses.
Over the years I have had major improvements and devastating set backs. I have come to accept the fact that I cannot eat like other people. I know that I can’t be outside for any length of time during high pollen times, and I can NOT be around any wood fires without severe asthma reactions.
This is an embarrassing struggle for me that causes me to avoid social situations a lot. It’s frustrating for my friends and family as well, I’m sure. I’ve been, in the past, accused of making it all up to get attention or to get out of doing things, and I’ve been gossiped about and judged harshly.
I am frequently frustrated by my body and my immune system and often feel like my life is a long series of “can’t” and “have to”. I have struggled with “high functioning severe depression” as a result of this for many years.
When your disease is invisible, people question it all the time. I don’t look sick, and you will most likely never see me look depressed, upset, or show any visible signs that I am in pain.
All of us out there with these issues have learned to smile through the pain and say, “I’m fine” with Oscar winning acting.
I have had people ask me how I can be a massage therapist with all of the pain and issues I have. Massage therapy is what taught me that I could help myself without the same side effects of medications, I have an intolerance to most pain medications. Massage changed my life so I wanted to learn about it so I could help others change their lives.
I’m not cured, so far, there is no cure for my autoimmune illness, but I have more good days than bad days now. I also have so many special people in my life that motivate me to get out of bed and try again every day. I am so blessed by the people in my life that love and support me. I will be sharing my experiences with diets, exercise regimens, drug protocols, vitamin supplementation, holistic treatments and everything in-between.
Welcome to my journey.