My Story – From Taekwon-Do World Champion to Bed Ridden and Back Again!

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My Story – From Taekwon-Do World Champion to Bed Ridden and Back Again!

Let’s start off in March of 1995.  I was 14 yrs. old and had just earned a spot on the U.S. Junior Taekwon-Do Team that was headed to the World Championships in Europe that summer.  Fortunately that was the beginning of a long successful Taekwon-Do carreer.  My father was (and still is) my instructor and at the age of 18 Split Kickwe opened a second location that I operated.  In addition to teaching Taekwon-Do, I have been a member of 7 U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams competing at the World Championships all around the world.  I have earned numerous medals at the World Championships and in many other international competitions.  By far the most memorable was winning the World Championships in 2004 in South Korea.  I earned 2 Gold medals and 1 Bronze along with the Men’s Overall Team trophy.

Along the way I met my gorgeous and amazing wife MaryAnne and soon to be step-daughter Tyla in 2007.  We were married in September of 2008 and along came our first son John David in 2009.  In a very short period of time I went from the single life to a married father with a 9 year old and a newborn.  It was a massive change, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Additionally I became a Beachbody Coach, participated in programs like P90X and Insanity and helped others do the same.  I also became a Seminar Leader at Landmark Education and led seminars that empowered and enabled people to fulfill on what it is that matters most to them.  My life was exciting, fulfilling and packed!

Then in September 2012 our daughter Ava was born.  We didn’t know if she was going to be a boy or a girl until she was born and I thought that I was neutral, that I had no preference either way.  When she was born the doctor held her up and the first thought that went through my head was, “Where’s the penis!?!”  I wasn’t upset or disappointed about having a girl, but I got really clear about how much I was expecting a boy.

We spent the next two days in the hospital before we were released and finally got to go home on a Sunday.  MaryAnne and I spent most of the day in bed resting and lounging around the house.  I was just happy to finally be back in my own bed.  Then around nine o’clock that evening everything changed.

I began having chest pains, shortness of breath and sharp pains in my left arm and leg.  I thought I was having a heart attack but figured that since I was only 32 and in great shape that it was something else.  It persisted for nearly an hour and I finally called my dad to take me to the emergency room.  So I woke up my wife who was fast asleep at the time and had no idea what was happening, to tell her that I was going back to the hospital.  Not the best news to get woken up to.

That night I was told that everything was fine, my tests were normal and that it was probably just stress.  They gave me a prescription for some pills and told me to schedule a follow up with my doc.  Then the random pains began.  Only 4 days later, before I even got to my appointment I had such excruciating pain in my left hip that I was unable to walk for nearly a week.  When that subsided, I began experiencing pain in my arms, shoulders and across my chest that was as if I had pulled nearly every muscle in my upper body.  I was unable to open a jar or even pick up Ava who was only weeks old.  Soon the headaches became migraines and the nerve pain began.  Restless, sleepless nights, debilitating fatigue,  constant muscle and joint pain, and other random migrating pains followed and continue to this day.

I could no longer teach classes at the Taekwon-Do school or even focus enough to do paperwork.  I stopped my Beachbody coaching and leading seminars.  MaryAnne had to go back to work (which I promised her she wouldn’t have to after Ava was born) and I could hardly care for the kids while she was gone.  It look everything I had just to get out of bed.  I had never experienced this kind of pain and this kind of fatigue.  And even with the enormous support from friends and family I still had this sense of overwhelming helplessness.

We spent months with doctor after doctor, ruling out all kinds of viruses, diseases and conditions.  Then when the right side of my body went numb I got in with the best neurologist in Arizona.  He did a workup on me and told me I was perfectly fine, but because I was still numb he ordered an MRI.  At the follow up appointment, MaryAnne and I sat across the doctor’s desk as he tried to explain that even though the right side of my body was numb, that there was nothing wrong with me.  Then my wife brought up fibromyalgia, the doc did the tender point test and based on those results and the duration of my symptoms he diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.

I spent months trying different medications, acupuncture, chiropractic, energy work, meditation, herbs, supplements, you name it, in order to manage my symptoms.  I believe I was approached with pretty much every multi-level marketing miracle cure that is on the market.

Even though to this day it is still a process of trial and error, there are a few things I have found that have made a difference.  Since May I have been training at Evo Ultrafit where they use ARP Wave Neurological Therapy as their rehabilitation tool. This targets the neurological origin of all soft tissue conditions and symptoms, not just the physiological symptoms.  I have also done a series of intensive sessions with Brain State Technologies.  Their focus is on improving brain function to help with injuries, disorders, stress, pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, addictive dependencies, and challenges to learning and performance.  Finally, in addition to the nutritional changes I made working with Evo Ultrafit I’ve also been using Shakeology which is a meal replacement that you could say is your daily dose of dense nutrition.  It has over 70 natural ingredients from around the world and all the pre-biotics, pro-biotics and vitamins and minerals your body needs.  I will go into greater detail reviewing each of these and the difference they’ve made in additional posts.

Things have gotten better over the past few months, however I still have difficulty sleeping, terrible headaches, shooting pain in random points in my body and joint and muscle pain all over.  What’s gotten better is that I now know that my body can take working out with some intensity (even though it may wipe me out for the rest of the day), I’ve been able to do some Taekwon-do, my “fibro fog” has gotten considerably better, I can focus more, my body can recover faster from workouts or a terrible night’s sleep and I’ve been able to slowly get back into helping others through Taekwon-Do and Beachbody Coaching supporting people as they take on their fitness goals, making the most difference with people who are dealing with similar situations to mine.

I’m far from well, but definitely on the right path.

If you are someone dealing with fibromyalgia, chronic pain or chronic fatigue, or you know someone who is please know that I get it and I am here for support.  I get what it’s like to have to deal with doctor after doctor, to deal with the impact on your family, to deal with not being able to work, to deal with constant pain that you can’t explain to anyone, to deal with the loneliness and isolation you experience even when you may be surrounded by people who care for and love you.

I know that it is difficult, but you deserve to live a life where your pain doesn’t have the power.  You DO!

johnnykarstadt@gmail.com

 

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9 thoughts on “My Story – From Taekwon-Do World Champion to Bed Ridden and Back Again!

  1. Hi Johnny —

    Thank you so much for posting your update. You are so on point — you would have had to tell your story a thousand times over….
    Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatique — I’m meeting more and more people suffering from this and your in-depth share about the intensity of the pain and how it occurs is invaluable. So, Again — Thank you!!

    Love you and miss you!! BTW — at Landmark — I’m an Introduction Leader and accountable for the Forum for Teens these days. Who Knew?!!

    1. Kara, you’re welcome and congrats on becoming an IL and you new accountability with the Forum for Teens. My step-daughter Tyla did it and it made a huge difference in our relationship.

  2. Johnny,

    First I want to thank you for who you have been in my life. You have been my friend, my mentor and a catalyst in who I am and who I am not. You were my registration manager and under you I have become an Introduction Leader. There was a point where who I used to be stopped and started being someone new. I remember the moment and location vividly and will never forget. I still to this day coach people based on your coaching and have made real difference with people. So thank you on their behalf and thank you from me.

    Second, thank you for sharing what you have been through and what you are still dealing with. You are an amazing person and for sure have handled your situation way better than I could ever imagine my self doing. If there is any way I can support let me know so I can have the opportunity to do my best. Thank you, love you, love your family.

    Mo 🙂

    1. Thanks Mo. There really is nothing better than making a difference for someone and knowing that difference you made has made a difference for others down the line so thank you for sharing that.

  3. Hello Sir, wow, I had no idea about your suffering. I wish you all the best and look forward to talking about BeachBody as I have officially become a coach and started T25 a few days back. Insanity was rough but successful, maybe too much for people getting over the hill.lol. Hoping T25 gets me the same results. Stay strong and I look forward to talking with you more. Regards, J.Harding V

    1. Congrats on becoming a Coach! Best of luck with T25, I’m going to do it starting in Aug and anytime you have any questions about Beachbody feel free to contact me.

    1. Kevin, you’re welcome and thanks for the great comment. I’ll be putting new posts up on facebook, so keep an eye out there.

  4. Thank you for telling your story. Just imagine if your wife did not MENTION TO THE DOCTOR all of your symptoms were akin to FIBROMYALGIA??? This circus would have continued and you’d been convinced that your ‘elevator’ does not go all the way to the top! Bravo for your progress and success. I’ve been down that road and had to TELL the Doctor as well what my issue was and after sarcasm and testing he was “humbled” to call me and affirm my condition. I’m grateful for the urge and action your wife took on your behalf and for your drive to never give up. Again, thank you for sharing your experience here, I’m sure it will help such a large audience of suffering individuals with similar symptoms.

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