Jodi chose A Season of Grit as her theme for our Season of Goodness blog series and her heart led her to two amazing women and two incredible stories. So, rather than write her feelings about their journey, she reached out to them personally. What was born from those conversations are these two chapters in the Season of Goodness. If you missed Chapter 1 it’s over here.
For Chapter 2 Jodi interviewed Debbie St. John, 9/11 survivor and mother of twins. They talk about her incredible journey and what she discovered about herself along the way.
A Season of Grit, Chapter 2
Our company mission is, Spread Goodness. During this Season of Goodness, I would like to bring you a few chapters themed “Season of Grit” in hopes to inspire you, bring people together and most of all spread goodness.
I had the pleasure of meeting Debbie through email almost 2 years ago it seems. She emailed Green Goo to share with us that our Pain Relief product was the only product that was helping her as she was going through opioid withdrawals. Debbie is a 9-11 survivor who was rescued from one of the twin towers at the World Trade Center during. Debbie has remained close to our hearts at Green Goo as we continued to help ensure she had the Pain Relief she needed to help her along this incredible journey.
Jodi: Debbie, you were presented with an unprecedented challenge, tell me about the challenge then the after journey.
Debbie: I am a survivor of 9/11. I was named Jane Doe #1 when I arrived at the hospital. I was catastrophically injured and was hospitalized for 18 months before I could go home. I have had over 50 surgeries and procedures. I live most of my life in a wheelchair. I still strive to have the best life possible and I hold on to life’s joyful moments.
At the time of 9/11 I was put on opioids. Over the years they made me sick so I was changed to different types of opioids. They all affected me negatively but the last 5 - 7 years have been the most severe. I would be throwing up 4 to 6 hours a day about 5 days a week from the side effects of the opioids I was on. I was opioid dependent.
My pain was completely out of control. On a pain scale from 1-10 I lived most days at a 10 or higher. What I didn’t understand was that the opioids (I was on methadone) were causing my extreme pain, another side effect of opioids which is called Opioid-Induced Hyperalgesia. Many people on opioids for an extended time develop this. It is widely known in the medical field but no one talks about it unless you directly ask. Less opioids means less pain. People need to know this. It is a game changer.
It took me 18 months of slow reductions but I got off the methadone. I started at 120mg a day which is a very large dose to be taking. On 10/21/2020 I have been completely off of methadone for a year. Today my pain on a scale from 1-10 is a 4. Without any methadone in my body I do not have chronic pain. And there have been 27 other improvements so far.
Jodi: What do you know now that makes you feel more whole after going through such a tough experience?
Debbie: I know that no matter what life throws at me I can get through it. I may have to go through something awful but I know I will make it through to the other side. There were many times I wanted to believe it but couldn’t. I tell people to fake it until you make it.
When I started hypnotherapy I was given a phrase to say over and over. “Every day I am better and better.” When I started saying it, I did not believe it but I wanted to. The more days that went by saying, “Every day is better and better”, the more it became true. It helps point you to positivity.
Jodi: What advice do you have for people, with or without medical challenges? Going through tough times during this pandemic?
Debbie: I've been contacted by friends and extended family a number of times over the years when they have gone through their toughest moments. A friend called me after she lost her baby at 8 ½ months and asked me how do I continue? How do you survive all this suffering? How do I get out of bed when I feel like my world is over?
My advice is how I got through it. Every day give yourself one goal to achieve. If that is too much then give yourself one goal a week to achieve. It can be as small as just being able to get out of bed or getting outside. As you achieve each small goal congratulate yourself, try and feel it and make a new small goal. Maybe texting a friend or making a meal. Start small and keep growing.
Jodi: When you dig really deep, really really deep, what is it that you know that got you through these tough times that you know everyone has the ability to find within themselves?
Debbie: I believe in the power of positive thinking and being hopeful. I don’t know one person who isn’t hopeful for their children’s future. If I can be hopeful for my children’s future then I must be hopeful for this country, the environment, black lives and everything else. Even on the days that I struggle.
I have had moments that were so bad that I gave up hope. I think everyone does at one time. The one thing I never stopped doing was trying. I was so sick and incapacitated that my world was predominantly suffering. It was devastating for my family to watch. I had tried everything the doctors had suggested and nothing was working. This is when I started using alternative therapies like hypnotherapy and acupuncture. If you have medical challenges ask many questions. And if you aren’t improving try different treatments and keep trying until you find something that works for you.
Jodi: What does “grit” mean to you?
Debbie: Everyone has grit. Some people just don’t know it yet. Grit is what gets you up at the crack of dawn so you can put food on your family's table or working as a healthcare provider in the age of COVID. And grit can be what gets you through horrific injuries and years of opioid dependency. Life is full of suffering no matter who you are. Learn the lessons you need to and then keep going to the next challenge or celebration. Find positivity and joy when you can.
Jodi: What does spreading goodness mean to you?
Debbie: I believe kindness can change the world. Saying hello to someone on the street or complimenting someone on their shoes as they walk by. Little things make all the difference. Most of us just want to be seen for who we really are and not what we pretend to be. In my opinion it all starts with kindness. Kindness to yourself and kindness to others. This is how I try to spread goodness.
Debbie St. John is a wife and mother of 9 year old twin girls. She lives with her family which includes their two cats Taz and Monty and Comet their 3 month old King Charles Cavalier puppy. Debbie is currently writing a book about surviving 9/11 and opioids which will share her journey of recovery and battling with opioid dependency. Her hope is that the book will get out her message that less opioids means less pain.