My name is Gillian Sukachevin. I am a physical therapist at The Tummy Team. I received intensive training from Kelly Dean, the founder of The Tummy Team, to be a core rehabilitation specialist. I also have a special interest in the pelvic floor and was trained by Tami Kent, the founder of Holistic Pelvic Care. Both women are pioneers in their fields of women’s health physical therapy. I’ve been a physical therapist for about 17 years, gaining experience in various kinds of facilities. I was interested in physical therapy because I wanted a job in which I was not sitting all day, and also because I wanted to gain experience in caring for my loved ones if they ever got sick or injured. I didn’t realize that this experience would become part of my own healing process.
I remember the first time my mother brought me to a gynecologist. I was a teenager and I had been bleeding for six months straight. The doctor suggested that I should get started on contraceptive pills to regulate the bleeding. My mother refused and instead sought out holistic treatments to help me. Later in my married life, after struggling with infertility for several years, my doctor finally told me that I would never have any children without medical intervention. I remember taking the news calmly. I think it’s because I simply started believing that little voice inside of me that said that I was broken and cannot be fixed. Being young, I found fulfillment in my career, friendships, and activities without really thinking what my period or my fertility would mean to me. Even when my husband and I could not get pregnant, I thought about the many women who had the same issue and I accepted that this was how it was going to be.
I didn’t realize that I was stuffing a lot of grief & anger towards my body.
Then a miracle happened. I was blessed with a baby girl! My pregnancy was wonderful and it was the happiest time of my life. I thought I was prepared but the labor and delivery process was a whirlwind of anxiety for me. I was trying to keep calm but felt really confused. I lost the ability to walk for about three weeks and was unable to care for my newborn. I felt so inadequate and ashamed. I had just become a mother; I should be taking care of my baby. Instead, my mom took time off work to care for me and my child. I was miserable. I used a stroller in the house as my walker and I kept my cell phone next to me at all times because my body would be so paralyzed with pain that I wouldn’t be able to move or drive.
For the next few years, I became very discouraged. Instead of being a caregiver, I was a patient. I sought help from physical therapists, chiropractors, and doctors specializing in neurology, gynecology, pain, and rehabilitation. Doctors seemed puzzled that I wasn’t getting better. I was given shots in my back and was prescribed all sorts of medications. Apparently, during this time, I met one of my friends for a picnic and I didn’t even remember! She said I was acting like a zombie. My physical, emotional and spiritual health was in crisis and I thought it was just part of the sacrifice we had to do when we became moms. Aside from pictures, I have very little recollection of those first few years of motherhood.
I went back to my doctor two years postpartum to tell her that something was still not right. I couldn’t even get to my story; I just sat there and cried. After that visit, I recalled that someone I used to work with had opened a women’s physical therapy clinic. I went there to treat my back pain but found out that I needed to address my core and pelvic floor issues as well. They had to treat me in layers. It was a slow process but I finally saw some hope. And I started getting myself educated in what they were doing. When my family moved across the country, someone told me about The Tummy Team. I was about 5 years postpartum when I started their Core Foundations program.
Within 2 days of the program, I had complete pain relief for the first time. In 5 sessions, my pain was completely gone. For the next couple of years, I would continue to become more connected to my body and my mind. The healing that took place affected who I was as a mother and a wife. I realized that I had slowly disconnected from my body since I was a little girl, surviving trauma, abuse, and crisis. I relived my fear and shame and had to re-evaluate the expectations that I had for my marriage, my family and my future.
I was reflecting on some of the stories that my clients shared with me recently and I have to confess that I also struggled with putting the time in to go through this healing process. I waited so long to get help that my body was shutting down. It was no longer a patch job; I needed a total surrender to restoration. Today, my diastasis recti is completely closed. Normal daily activities as a wife and a mother are now free from pain and anxiety.
Fear, shame & discouragement were transformed into confidence, acceptance & hope.
Everything we do at The Tummy Team is not just something we learned in a course or in PT school. This program was developed by real mothers who have experienced the same physical and emotional pain many of you deal with. The ability to heal is a gift that our body was given. We don’t need to conform to what everyone else’s perception and expectations. We just need to open that gift and accept what we were already designed to do.
I love reading the testimonies from our clients. One consistent remark we hear is, “Why didn’t my doctor know about this?” Reflecting on this, I realized that there are many stories of healing out there but you will never find them in medical books. These testimonies are stories of hope, not just a case study of medical intervention. Your doctor may not have known, but now you do. And you can help tell others about the possibility to find physical and emotional healing.
Thank you for listening to my experience of complete physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Your story matters because every experience of hope and healing brings hope to the next person. I would love to hear your story and walk through this journey with you.