• December

    Sandy Bolyki is a Nurse who has lived with Fibromyalgia for most of her life. This past summer, she had entered a contest with the Toronto Star and was selected to follow a 10-week individualized program at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic (RSNC).

    I was fortunate enough to be her Naturopathic intern. Sandy has been a patient of mine since the very start of my Naturopathic Clinical year at CCNM. She was my first patient on the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Focus Shift supervised by Dr. Louise McCrindle, ND.

    Dr. Alison Chen, ND; Sandy Bolyki; and Dr. Louise McCrindle, ND (left to right)

    Dr. Alison Chen, ND; Sandy Bolyki; and Dr. Louise McCrindle, ND (left to right)

    This is her initial experience at the RSNC, which was posted in the Toronto Star on June 7th, 2012:


    by Judy Steed

    “This may be the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Sandy Bolyki, 54, as she emerged from an examining room at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

    It was her third consultation with Dr. Louise Shaw, who heads up the college’s new clinic. It is dedicated to treat those who suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome — individuals who are frequently misdiagnosed or told it’s all in their head.

    Bolyki is a nurse. She has worked at Princess Margaret Hospital for 24 years, on 12-hour shifts, caring for leukemia patients — but she’s never really taken care of herself. Like many fibromyalgia patients, most of whom are women, she has been the go-to person for others, devoting herself to the Ontario Nurses Association and hospital committees related to professional practice.

    “Sandy’s presentation (of fibromyalgia) is very typical, “ Shaw says. “Widespread muscle pain, extreme fatigue, insomnia and brain fog. She is a very driven, high-functioning, high achiever — the type who pushes through, no matter what, ‘mind over matter.’ ”

    In Shaw’s experience, trauma is often at the root of the syndrome, and that certainly seems to be the case for Bolyki. She says she “started life on a farm with no running water (and was educated in) a one-room schoolhouse. Life was chaotic, and my father had a violent temper.” Her nose has been broken so many times “there’s no bone left.” Her mother left the marriage and took the five children with her when Bolyki was 10.

    Determined “not to be a victim,” Bolyki never pursued therapy. Rather, she was drawn to helping the vulnerable, volunteering at a battered women’s shelter, crisis line and group home. Never married, she enjoys a network of supportive friends with whom she camps in the summer. “I garden, sing, write and used to ballroom dance.”

    But hanging over her life for decades has been the physical pain and profound insomnia associated with fibromyalgia.

    “Turning Point has pulled me back from the precipice, “ she says.

    Bolyki is starting yoga at Beaches System Fitness, where trainer Joe Alejandria set her up with a program to help manage her pain and improve her strength. And the naturopathic approach to healing encompasses everything she does.

    Shaw says she’s impressed by the way Bolyki “jumped right in” to the elimination diet, removing gluten, dairy, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers), soy and citrus. After three weeks, Shaw will start to reintroduce foods, one at a time, and monitor Bolyki’s response.

    “I’m surprised at myself, “ says Bolyki. “I actually feel a bit better. I’m doing what Dr. Shaw says. We’re going in the right direction. And I’ve lost eight pounds!”

    Sandy Bolyki's smile can light up a room.

    Sandy Bolyki’s smile can light up a room.

    After seeing Sandy for the last 6 months I could not be more proud of her dedication and passion for life. She is truly an inspiration for all, especially those living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

    One month later, she was featured in the Toronto Star to recap her experiences as my patient at the RSNC. Read PART II of her incredible story here.

    Keep up-to-date on the latest research for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by read other related topics:

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