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Taking Control & Advocating for Yourself

with Triena McGuirk

In this episode of Breaking, we sit down with our co-host Triena McGuirk to talk about:

👉 Why you need to help yourself first to help others.

👉 Her personal journey navigating through the healthcare system with chronic pain.

👉 Chronic pain / migraine management whilst balancing work and family.

👉 The power of saying no.

👉 And much more.

Ms. Triena McGuirk, originally from PEI, resides in Ontario with her two teenage sons. She loves being outdoors in nature and learning from life’s adventures and challenges. Ms. McGuirk has practiced Social Work since 1999, upon graduating from Ryerson University with a Degree in Social Work and Minor in Public Administration, and she completed her Master’s in Social Work with honours  in 2004, as the recipient of the Gerry Erickson Book Prize for Best Research Practice Paper. Ms. McGuirk has a foundational understanding on how to navigate systems and work parallel to them in support of optimal outcomes for children/youth and their families aligned with a core Social Work principle of promoting self determination. 


Find Triena McGuirk at



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Muhammad Kermalli –

Triena McGuirk –

Min Woo Park & Diana Hong @ 6 Story –

Episode Transcript

*This transcription was made for your convenience. Please excuse any mistakes the automated service made.

Muhammad Kermalli: I remember like from the last time that we sat down, one of the things that, um, you know, I got from the last time is it’s always this whole thing about, you know, we’re all, we all face like challenges and we can call them crises or whatever.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, it’s and in the middle of that, um, I just find that there’s a slight differences between how those who kind of get through it and those who get stuck there, deal with it. And you’re obviously you’re, you will do this professionally with people to help them kind of move along. Right. But when you’re actually going through it yourself, Right.

Muhammad Kermalli: That’s

Triena McGuirk: well, sometimes you

Muhammad Kermalli: make her has the worst shoes. Yeah. You hear about that, but can I ask you then, like, since you’re a pro at helping people in doing this, do you ever, um, like we were just talking earlier to somebody who says, you know, do, as I say, not as I, do you ever feel yourself, um, like what’s the word, like having to manage yourself that way or not managing yourself that way?

Muhammad Kermalli: Does that happen to pros?

Triena McGuirk: Oh, well the term pro is so like ridiculous. You study this, got the discipline. I’m always, I’m always a student to be honest. Like I really truly feel. There’s so much. I still don’t know. So, um, it’s just really funny to hear me. You say that well,

Muhammad Kermalli: if people come to you right. On a regular, right.

Muhammad Kermalli: And so yeah, of course you’re a student and they’re your students, let’s say whatever way you want to. Yeah. But

Triena McGuirk: yes, the, the skills that I help people develop are I’m not always intrinsically practicing myself because the same as them, I go through experiences where, you know, I drop things or I get overwhelmed or in sometimes for me, the self care it’s getting better.

Triena McGuirk: But the self care used to be the first that comes off the plate, the wellness plan is the first that comes off the plate. So you can give to other areas in your life. Right. So hundred percent I’ve struggled with that. So, and I think, um, when you’re in a helping position to like, If you could say, yeah, man, like I F like you’ve said this about business.

Triena McGuirk: Oh yeah. I failed. Or I failed miserably. Right. And you know, not going to go into a whole series of self-disclosure, we’d be like, yeah, I, I get how that feeling is. Or you could IDET help them identify a feeling. Right. So,

Muhammad Kermalli: well, I actually disclose it now, when I’m talking to guys, I’m like, oh, you did that in their, uh, their word.

Muhammad Kermalli: Like I lost this amount of money. And, uh, I got taken a nine a mistake. I said, oh, don’t worry. I’ve done so much worse. And they’re like, really, you did this, but that must’ve been a long time ago. I’m like, no last week, you know, like, whoa. So, so we do it all the time. Uh, but in business or whatever, when we kind of do do things like that, we sort of look at it like, um, okay, it’s money.

Muhammad Kermalli: Like, you know, you make some, you win some, you lose some, whatever, it’s just money. But when we’re talking about yours, the, the self, the person. The currency on that is way different. The valuation is very different. And when it comes down to ourselves, as people, you can’t like, you know, go borrow something.

Muhammad Kermalli: It’s what you have is what you have. You just, you don’t have, you can’t necessarily, right. There’s no bank. You can go to, there’s no friend you can go to borrow from you. Can’t borrow morale, you know, is all from you from yourself. So it’s a very, the nature of it is very different. And so the S we’re aware of that.

Muhammad Kermalli: And because you’re aware of that, and let’s just say, as a pro, and I know you don’t like using that term fine, so I’ll have, I’ll have to find another way to, what do we call pros? Um, great students. Okay. How’s that? But no, not all pros are great students in your profession, in your profession. So in your profession, while you’re doing this, you’re doing it with, that’s why your profession is so important because that’s what you do for people.

Muhammad Kermalli: Now it’s time to talk about like, you know, when you do it for yourself and, and not doing it for yourself, even though you know, how important it is to do, um, it’s almost like it, uh, like some people might not talk about it who are in your profession because they’re like, wow. If I admitted to this, then it’s kind of like, well, you know, who’s going to then listen to me because what am I doing?

Muhammad Kermalli: What I admire about you is that you keep it. So like the human side of you and the professional side of you are one in the same. And, uh, and so when you’ve gone through this stuff for yourself, um, I’m curious because do you, since you didn’t follow your advice necessarily that you would have given to somebody, that’s one thing that I’ll say is that not just you, but all of us, we do this.

Muhammad Kermalli: And, um, what advice is it that you found, um, tend to be the F uh, is it a category or is it some kind of advices that we give to. Um, that we ourselves found ourselves the first ones to let go. For example, you talked about wellness and in business, I might say to somebody, Hey, you know, uh, don’t be cavalier with spending, but I might be cavalier.

Muhammad Kermalli: So like, it might be the, one of the easier ones for me. So in your experience, what have been those kinds of, um, habits or strategies that you might have said to others as a professional that then when it came down to using for yourself either it was justifiable or maybe circumstantial, but we let it go.

Muhammad Kermalli: What were those, were there any

Triena McGuirk: that comes to mind? Yeah, first time, no shortage, but the one that’s the like we’ve spoke of before the one that’s most pivotal, I feel that kind of encompasses everything is just my chronic pain journey and product migraine journey and what that has meant and what that has entailed and.

Triena McGuirk: And through my journey with that, the nature of how I practice has shifted as well. So I have much more of a wellness awareness in my practice, and it was always like a checkbox and something that I did and I, I would develop. Um, but now I have a different lens that I’m looking at it for. It was more of a foundational piece.

Triena McGuirk: Right. And so, you know, probably when did I divorce? I divorced in 2006. Okay. So when I shifted from that to, you know, living in this area and the GTA by myself with two little boys, like I get support from, for the children and, and so forth, but it’s still a lot of pressure to maintain a home by yourself.

Triena McGuirk: At least for me, it was a lot of pressure to maintain home by myself. And so that was kind of the beginning of do, as I say, not as I do, um, for lack of a better word, because I, that started probably a decade long. Process where, um, I, my time I had one rule when my kids were with me, whatever the schedule look like at the beginning of separation, they were with me a lot more.

Triena McGuirk: Um, but I had live in help with me at that time and nanny. So then if I worked all night long and had to go out and investigate, I was working in child welfare at nighttime. I had someone that would physically be home to sleep there with the kids woke up and then it would work all day at the school board.

Triena McGuirk: And then I did children’s lawyer on top of that. And so I did all of these things for just over a decade. And when I was with the kids, I would, I would shut everything off. So that was protected time. It nurtured my soul in the sense that I’m present. I’m here with my kids. I’m engaged work is not entering this realm.

Triena McGuirk: So that was helpful. But when you’re still taking care of your kids, it’s, it’s still, it’s kind of like a job. Like parenting is a job you’re not, and as much as it nurtures your soul at all, so exhaust you. Um, and so I, I only had time with my children to do that self nurturance. I didn’t have, you know, I didn’t go for regular massages.

Triena McGuirk: I didn’t work out. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t, I didn’t participate in anything that was self-care related. And, um, or if I did, it would be like a vacation. And the first three days of my vacation would be literally sleeping. That’s just the way my vacation went, unless it was with the kids and then it was activity oriented.

Triena McGuirk: So again, it’s a vacation, but not a vacation because I’m trying to make meaningful experiences and so forth. So I think that was kind of. The antecedent, if you will, to my chronic illness, just really, I felt like it was a wake-up call. Like I remember it. So viscerally, the first time it was off sick with chronic migraines was 2016.

Triena McGuirk: And so what would that be now? Five years. Six years. Yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: Five years. Yeah. Coming up

Triena McGuirk: on yeah. Five years. Six years. So, um, and so when that started, I remember I was laying on my bathroom floor and I was in so much pain and I just, I kept reflecting because of how hard I worked in my jobs. Cause they’re all helping professions and all of my professions.

Triena McGuirk: Right. You know, they’re my passion and what I strive for. And I was just seeing children in so much pain in so many different areas. And what kept going through my brain in that moment was. Something’s wrong with the system. It’s not working like you’re, you’re following all the rules. Cause I’m a, I’m a very strong system in your system, my system and the system I was working at.

Triena McGuirk: And so both like, like he look at me so depleted, I’m doing all the right things to help people. And, and that’s why I kept working so hard and not give back to myself. Cause I’m like in a perpetual state of, of helping others, but not helping myself. Right. So I’m just like, okay, if I work really hard, maybe I can make some more changes.

Triena McGuirk: And I just was getting really bogged down by, um, Just the barriers you see on the daily practice when you’re working within systems. So there is that component. I understand that. So, okay. So say if you say, if you, when you work within a system, if you say, okay, I’m going to plug in these supports and I’m going to wrap this team around this child and put in X number of interventions, you should be like, all right, we’re going to have, you know, we have a good plan.

Triena McGuirk: We, you know, got a team we’re going to have optimal outcomes. I was always hoping for like, maybe not the most optimal of optimal comes, but just an, you know, I want to see progress. And I kept putting all this effort in and I kept and kept circling back for these kids’ experiences. And their families kept circling back to the starting point with crisis and where I’d never get a family or a child always that we’re in an optimal outcome.

Triena McGuirk: So I would just kept seeing how we would deal with one symptom Roche. And then it would, it’s like a hydro head, right? It cut it off and then five more grow in its place. That’s what it kind of felt like for me in that profession and

Muhammad Kermalli: unique to that one profession, that’s not unique

Triena McGuirk: happens in a lot of that happens with every profession.

Triena McGuirk: I think if, especially if you’re in a helping capacity too, but, or if you’re just running a business on your own, and you’re always going to have something come up, right. And that’s going to divert your attention, or you need to bring focus to,

Muhammad Kermalli: you’re aware about these things kind of inside of your. Your professional ecosystem that you’re working in.

Triena McGuirk: So that’s what I would take away from myself to continually give to persons I was in service to, and then take away from yourself. I would take away from like my takeaway from my time, like I wouldn’t build in time to, so the first time I got sick, that’s when I started swimming again, for example, right.

Triena McGuirk: I never swimming. No, I was swimming when I was a competitive swimmer when I was younger. Right. Then, you know, adulting comes into the world education and then I dropped it, I dropped my swimming. I dropped things that were, you know, my personal activities that way. Right. So, um, so

Muhammad Kermalli: things are working just fine.

Muhammad Kermalli: And then we stop doing those things. I mean, you know where I also see this, it’s funny training. I see this, even in like you ever watch a professional say hockey game or basketball game, even professionals. So they’ve got this league. And then there’s a change in the way that they play. And then the other team comes back and then they started getting that sense of urgency again.

Muhammad Kermalli: But by that time, the momentum has swung that

Triena McGuirk: turning points and then they lose,

Muhammad Kermalli: but they were ahead and they changed what they were doing while they were ahead. So it happens constantly. And when we do it with ourselves, it’s interesting that at some point in time, when we go far enough back, we were doing some good things.

Muhammad Kermalli: Like you’re, you’re swimming, you’re feeling good. You’re doing good. And it was working. And then w w because

Triena McGuirk: of some pursuit, I don’t remember ever wellness thing. That’s interesting. And this was, you know, I was going through my ma my undergrad, and even in my master’s degree, like we never really talked about, you know, what is, how are you preserving yourself?

Triena McGuirk: Which is so

Muhammad Kermalli: irony. Right,

Triena McGuirk: right. Yeah. And we’re not reflecting on that in our practice of this study. And so it did

Muhammad Kermalli: tell me they still like that if it’s

Triena McGuirk: still happening now,

Muhammad Kermalli: do you know

Triena McGuirk: what? I have no idea. I haven’t, I’ve taught like, like been a speaker in schools of social work, but I, I don’t know. I have, it’s been a year since I’ve done that.

Triena McGuirk: So I don’t know, but I would hope so. I know that’s a whole other conversation. There’s I have some initiatives happening in that capacity, but. But, yeah. So I guess the thing is, is when I let it go, I never had an awareness of how important it was. Right. Because you get caught up in and Christina was speaking to this early, you get caught up in, something’s got to go.

Triena McGuirk: And then the first thing you do is you cut off the source that nurtures you the most, but, and any, and I know for me, it was, you know, I cut it off the self care, which I now see as self care or self wellness at the time, it was like, oh, that’s fun. And it’s a hobby, right. It wasn’t, what do I get from this?

Triena McGuirk: Is it nurturing me? Do I feel how energized I feel after I get out of the Pooler, you know, all of these residual, um, compounding, um, implications as a result of that activity that have so many good effects across the board. Right. But I didn’t think of it that way. I just thought of it as. You know, you’re going through university, you’re putting yourself through university.

Triena McGuirk: You’re basically working full-time while you’re going to university, you’re living in a city, you got no one. So you got to stand on your own two feet and figure this out and, and get stuff done. Like I, I moved in with family.

Muhammad Kermalli: This out has got nothing to do with the wellness, the figuring this out where the focus

Triena McGuirk: is, is, and that becomes the priority and the self does not right.

Triena McGuirk: The self care does not. So that happened to me early on, like as soon as you was 18, when I started university. So, um, you know, I stopped out right away and then I didn’t pick it up until 2017. Right. So we’re looking at 21 years, 22 years from the time I started. I, I stopped it to the time I picked it up.

Triena McGuirk: You wanna hear something

Muhammad Kermalli: crazy? Tiny years? 20 years is about the same time I stopped training a TaeKwonDo too. And then I went back. Oh really? Anyways. Yeah. That’s interesting. You just brought that up. Cause I remember that when I had to write about it at one of my tests, but it’s interesting. Uh, and 21 years is like three, seven year cycles.

Muhammad Kermalli: Anyway, that’s

Triena McGuirk: a whole other thing, but break down what happened and he just said it. That’s why

Muhammad Kermalli: I’m just saying. So time goes by and it’s not like, it becomes like, it’s like a, it’s not a shift where it’s like a light on light off it like slow. It was

Triena McGuirk: a slow boil, you know, like when you put a, a frog in water, you just gradually turn up the temperature.

Triena McGuirk: They’re not going to jump out. Cause they’re, they’re chilling. We all do this. Yeah. It’s so slow. I was a slow boy. I need lessons to be beaten to me sometimes over the head. Oh, you didn’t learn this time. Trina here, take this. You didn’t learn this. I’ll take this one now. Okay. Yep. Can you get off the floor still?

Triena McGuirk: And that’s the way it was. It was for me, it was like, All right. Just, I remember it was my child. Just suck it up, walk it off, suck it up, get up. Let’s go, keep going. And so, right. Just keep going. And that served me well, but it’s also been a disservice to me as well. That’s

Muhammad Kermalli: positive or a net.

Triena McGuirk: It’s both. It depends how you play it.

Triena McGuirk: You play on it. Right. So, um, but usually it’s to my deficit. Right. So, um, that’s how it is for

Muhammad Kermalli: all of us. I think. So you, you, you, it’s great. It’s amazing that you acknowledge this and that’s usually like a key to dealing with it in the first place. Cause you’re starting to gain this awareness and I was like, hold on, what, what was I doing?

Muhammad Kermalli: Or what have I, am I not doing? So it goes away. Fine. You get to a point and then there’s C call it. That gets beat into you. Like

Triena McGuirk: most recently, most

Muhammad Kermalli: recently, this, this experience and we’re talking this. Uh, in the

Triena McGuirk: last, so my first bow with it, with the chronic pain and chronic migraines, I was off work for a year and that was from 2016 to 2017.

Triena McGuirk: Okay. And so that’s when I re-introduced swimming back into my life. Okay. I really wasn’t ready to go back to work, but. Um, I was just getting so stressed from the financial implications of it. All right. Um, and you know, there’s a whole paperwork side to illness. That’s just, you know, it’s an absolute gong show to operate when, like, and I have skills, I do paperwork for part of my living.

Triena McGuirk: Like, I feel like these massive applications to ministry to get stuff for kids and stuff. And so it’s not like I’m not acclimated to complicated paperwork, but when you’re doing this complicated paperwork and you’re managing an illness, it just feels like you’re not meant to succeed sometimes. So, um, at that point when I was just starting to get better, I’m like, forget it.

Triena McGuirk: I can’t, I can’t, I can’t fight anymore to just get like EDI or LTD or whatever LTD I was denied LTD at that time because they don’t migraines is really difficult to acknowledge. Right. It’s an invisible disability. Okay. So, um, Which is kind of ironic when you see me when I’m in it, right. It’s like, gosh, there’s something going on over there.

Triena McGuirk: But, um, so that’s why I went back to work. I wasn’t fully, I really wanted to heal longer to be honest. Cause I was getting, um, improvements that are the swimming. I was starting to change how I was eating. Um, and I went back to work and then I went back to work from 2017 until January, January. I want to say ninth was my last day, 10th of 2020.

Triena McGuirk: So did you

Muhammad Kermalli: know that the change would come from the. And the swimming,

Triena McGuirk: I didn’t, I just knew I needed to take better care of myself. So that was my goal. I didn’t know. You’re not a nutritionist. No, but I knew how I felt. And I knew I was eating a lot of sugar. Like I have basic knowledge of food. Right. So I’m like, okay, I’m reaching for the quick fix, like the bagel in the morning and said like, why don’t you go for something that’s going to give you some sustenance.

Triena McGuirk: Cause sometimes when I’m sick, I can’t eat all the time. Right. So, you know, I have these extenuating levels of nausea and chronic nausea. And so when I would eat, I really needed to make a more concerted effort to eat things of sustenance for myself, the difference between food and

Muhammad Kermalli: sustenance or fuel and

Triena McGuirk: fuel and sustenance.

Triena McGuirk: Right. So like both are going to fill me, but one is going to sustain me. Right. So that’s where that shift started. Um, You know, I got some food sensitivity test, um, through my natural path, I got allergy tests done to make sure I wasn’t allergic to certain foods because with migraines, um, you know, inflammation’s a huge part of it, right?

Triena McGuirk: It’s an inflammation, it’s an inflammatory disease. Right. So, um, I was looking at different ways to bring down inflammation through my lifestyle, not just medication. Right. So,

Muhammad Kermalli: so that’s interesting. So you take a lifestyle approach to it. I think that’s, that’s a, that’s an interesting part of the strategy because a lot of times, um, an alternative might be to seek more like the instant, um, comfort, right?

Muhammad Kermalli: The leaves, the pain right away. What’s the shortest path to getting me back to work, for example. Um, and, and, and these other paths are low. The they’re longer. They require a little bit. Yeah. You know, focus, discipline, time, time, you don’t see the results right away. Um, But there you are, you started doing it.

Muhammad Kermalli: So you start, you make the improvement, you, you start eating better,

Triena McGuirk: but it also to speak to what you’re just speaking to. I was doing both simultaneously. So it was making these improvements in my nutrition and movement. Right. And putting more boundaries in place with saying no to people. But then the part of the reason I was also able to get back to work too, is I started injecting myself with Botox.

Triena McGuirk: Okay. And I was getting them all in my head here and in my neck and, and through my different places on my skull. Um, so I received,

Muhammad Kermalli: this is prescribed it’s totally.

Triena McGuirk: Oh yeah. It’s yeah. It’s a, it’s a prescribed Botox. It’s not like it. Wasn’t like, oh, I got really, really over it.

Muhammad Kermalli: Take professional advice.

Triena McGuirk: Chronic pain management doctor. Um, assessed me and said I would be a great candidate for Botox injections for chronic pain. So that was, you know, that’s, that’s who my, um, and there, you know, there’s different points. There’s specific, um, charted points on the head for injectables for migraine. So your doctor has to be skilled in where to put those needles.

Triena McGuirk: So you’re frozen in the appropriate places. Right.

Muhammad Kermalli: So if you mind me asking, you said, you said, I started saying no to people. Uh, what were, what were the things you’re saying no to, is it like, uh, professionally they’re calling you, is it the schedule management? Is it, what are you saying? No to,

Triena McGuirk: I think it started a little bit in all facets of my life.

Triena McGuirk: So I started seeing. No. Like I went, I reduced my work schedule by one day, so it went back four days a week instead of five days a week. And I just made that a permanent thing. Um, so I said, and so I just made sure I had that built-in day to do what I needed to do if I wanted to, if I wanted to work, I like for private practice stuff or I could do that if I didn’t want to work, then it’s my day.

Triena McGuirk: Right. So I said no, that way, um, started to work a little bit less on the weekend. Okay. Not as many like early mornings and late nights. Cause I would get into this routine where I would get up at, you know, for about 10 years. I probably slept anywhere from three to five hours a night. Some, some nights I wouldn’t sleep at all.

Triena McGuirk: I would be on call night and then get up and go work all day and then be on like, I would just, I, I would get like a little bit of sleep here and there, it wasn’t like I would, it wouldn’t hit an REM or REM cycle right away. So, um, So at work I reduced and then I just stopped doing certain things for certain people in my personal life.

Triena McGuirk: So, um, you know, people don’t always like it when you say no to things, but you have to sometimes, and also to be honest, a lot of people disappeared the first year when you’re that sick and you are not like, I couldn’t, even before I got sick, um, it started to happen like, and then after I went back to work the first time, like I couldn’t handle restaurants.

Triena McGuirk: So like COVID was not an adjustment for me. So just to put it into context, everyone’s missing like restaurants and theaters and basketball games and concerts and all of these things that we love to participate in society. I’ve already grieved those things when COVID hit, because my experience from 2016 to 2020 was.

Triena McGuirk: A systematic removal of those things because of sensory overload. I remember being at a bank,

Muhammad Kermalli: no. To situations that, that, that

Triena McGuirk: no longer served me then flamed my condition. Yeah. Okay.

Muhammad Kermalli: And how did you know that? That was the connection? Like what point in time did you start recognizing that going to a basketball game or whatever it is and flame

Triena McGuirk: pain.

Muhammad Kermalli: Okay. So you just listened to your, your body tells you, your mind tells you

Triena McGuirk: your body tells you first, at least sometimes like if I’d have an intuitive sense of things, like I’m like, Hmm, you shouldn’t eat that Trina. Like if it’s like something like if it has like wine and red wine, for example, I can sometimes feel the pain in my left eye if I smell a glass of red wine.

Triena McGuirk: So like I found when I was going to, like, I used to love going to basketball games and things like w you know, I have family that I’m very privileged to be able to access boxes and get free tickets and stuff. Right. So when you can go to these fun things for free, it’s, it’s a lot more enjoyable, I think, but it not like, oh my gosh, I just dropped a grand to a game.

Triena McGuirk: Right. So, um, right, exactly, exactly. In a different way. And so what I was finding is I would, I have stuff with me, like I, I developed what’s called photophobia. So the way my, my eyes receive light is painful. So like, these glasses help sometimes like blue blocker or ultra, uh, ultraviolet lenses. And, um, so it would always be wearing sunglasses, like carry earplugs.

Triena McGuirk: I still have like, Lupe earplugs, um, R he got me a better pair and, um, fragrances, so like smells and stuff. So I remember being at a basketball game and I had my earplugs in my sunglasses on I’m like, okay, I’m going to be fine. And then all of a sudden I could smell something from like, just like 20 rows down.

Triena McGuirk: I could just, I knew exactly where I’m like a dog. Like there, it is like, that’s the source. And so my sensitivity just grew. And so rather than just trying to push myself the way through it, like that, suck it up mentality. Right. Keep going, um, you know, go out, be social. I’m like, no, I’m just, I’m gonna be home and create different spaces.

Muhammad Kermalli: So saying no to these kinds of like invitations that are coming to us from outside of ourselves. Was there anything inside our or yourself that you noticed, um, where you would be, you, you would, um, you would be tempted or you would want to do something without invitation and you would now have to say no to yourself with things that you believed were making your situation not better, or maybe even worse.

Muhammad Kermalli: Did you, is there anything there that sometimes say no to others is easy? So in order to ourselves is really hard and it could have been a habit. It could be a thought even or a process. Is there anything like that? I mean, you might notice this with people who you talk to when you’re working with them professionally, but for ourselves, it’s hard to tell.

Triena McGuirk: Did you notice that time seeing, or not so much now, but before harder time saying no to others than myself. That was always more of an issue for me is that kind of negotiating negotiation between agreeableness and assertiveness. Right. That, that, um, but I don’t remember, like not being like saying no to myself, I guess the main thing would be actually the one thing that does come up would be alcohol.

Triena McGuirk: I stopped drinking alcohol. And so, um, when you, at least my experience with stopping drinking alcohol, because it turned out to be like certain types of alcohol. Would impact me. So then I would just change to a different type of alcohol. And I come from, I don’t know if people know, like east coast, PEI, Irish, Catholic culture, like there’s drinking is it’s right.

Triena McGuirk: It’s a meshed into everything. Happy alcohol funeral, alcohol, Tuesday. I’ll go home. It’s very much Suzy. Yeah. It’s just in the culture. It’s a very, even if you’re not drinking to debauchery levels, like if you’re just, it’s a social thing, it’s a very social thing. And so. What I noticed initially I’d stopped for a bit.

Triena McGuirk: And then social invitations stopped coming. People going to come, at least in my experience, people got uncomfortable when I stopped drinking. They they’re like I would get, dis-invited not invited into things because I wasn’t drinking. Well, we didn’t think you want to come because we’re drinking. I’m like, you’re going out for dinner and you’re dancing.

Triena McGuirk: I like dancing and I like dinner, but like I’m not drinking. So, um, so saying no to alcohol was really the, the, probably the first thing, because it was kind of a, a social currency, if you will. Right. So, um, that one was a little bit of a struggle, but then it just, it just got to a point. I know you remember when it was, it was just after my grandfather died, actually, where I, cause uh, I had, um, some wine with my cousin and I’m just.

Triena McGuirk: Uh, I’m not, I’m not doing this anymore. Like I can’t do this anymore. So, um, yeah, so that’s, that was definitely one thing I struggled saying no to, and it wasn’t from an addictive perspective. Um, it was like, of course, like I’ve overindulged in alcohol, my life. That’s not like I’m not familiar with that, but there’s a whole social piece to it for, for me.

Triena McGuirk: That’s right.

Muhammad Kermalli: But it’s like that, what’s that Einstein saying, you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Right. So you’re consciously, it’s like something’s going to change. So that means not, yes, it’s a no, whatever it is. And I’m just, I was just curious about what are the things that anyone could choose to say no to, it can be different for everybody, but that’s what you notice.

Muhammad Kermalli: So you started making these changes and then you start seeing.

Triena McGuirk: Yeah. I felt a lot better when I got alcohol out of the picture completely. Oh my gosh. I have no interest in it whatsoever. Um, um, say for me it’s

Muhammad Kermalli: forbidden. So we’re always wondering, like, we were just, I believe everyone seems to be having so much fun.

Muhammad Kermalli: Uh, and you’re saying, I, I can have it right now if I want to, but I’m choosing not to. Um, so

Triena McGuirk: that’s something else altogether when you

Muhammad Kermalli: start seeing results, you’re feeling good. You’re doing something right. And, uh, you earlier, you said earlier on like, you know, uh, it, I have to be like, it has to be hidden to me and then it over and over again.

Triena McGuirk: So you started feeling alcohol, then you dropped it? Yeah, the timeline with the alcohol. So I got sick again and was off working. I stopped drinking alcohol after 2020. Okay. So yeah, it’s recent. And then from 2000. 17. When I returned to work to 2020, I would consume alcohol, but very moderate levels. Right?

Triena McGuirk: Like it was nowhere near. Sure. Anything. Yeah, exactly. So, um, but yeah, in January, 2020 is when the migraine, um, migraines came back and I can feel it building up in my system. And I would say about November, October, and I remember telling my doctor this and October of 2019, and I’m like, okay, in my head, I’m like, okay, you gotta two weeks off for Christmas break, like the academic break.

Triena McGuirk: And my just that, you’re just feeling the fatigue of the season because it’s a busy season and it’s a chaotic season. So is after the holidays as well for different reasons. Um, so. I’m just like, oh, you’re just feeling the chaos of the season. You just really need the two week break.

Muhammad Kermalli: So you’re feeling something

Triena McGuirk: under the

Muhammad Kermalli: carpet.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah, yeah,

Triena McGuirk: yeah. But, huh. And then, um, I was a strike captain. We were in a strike position at that point, ironically, to not make online learning mandatory for high school kids. Ironic. Considering we fought so hard for that now. But, um, and um, so what was the strike captain? And we were, I know, right. So funny, like honestly, so, um, yeah.

Triena McGuirk: Yeah. I know vocabulary. So, yeah, so I was the strict cap too. I appreciate it. Yeah. And I feel like, and literally the Wednesday, I think the Wednesday before my last day of work, we were, we were striking and in strike position. And I knew it when I got home. Cause each time we come out from being outside, I would just, I would come home and drop to the ground.

Triena McGuirk: I couldn’t do anything else. I couldn’t make dinner. I couldn’t, I couldn’t even at one time I couldn’t get my snow pants off. I just got in the house and fell and just crashed. And so my last day of work was like the day after that I went in again, wasn’t feeling great. And, and this and that at this point I would get three to four migraines a day or, sorry, I apologize a week.

Triena McGuirk: And I would take medication just to be able to go to work on top of Botox, I was getting Botox injections and I would take medications, you know, every other day, just, just to average it out to be able to function. And so I don’t know. The best way we can, we have a migraine. I always say you have the migraine.

Triena McGuirk: Then you have the migraine hangover the next day, which is just this energetic depletion of just absolute exhaustion and fatigue that goes over you. So it was in this perpetual cycle for the time I did return

Muhammad Kermalli: to some of the

Triena McGuirk: medication that you take or is it yes, yes. A hundred percent. So sometimes I get, you get rebound migraines where you take them at a great cost side effects, right?

Triena McGuirk: Yeah. It’s a, yeah, it’s called rebound migraines from the it’s a side effect from the medication. And so I didn’t, I wasn’t even thinking about that. I was just thinking of it, taking the medication, just to be able to continue to keep the capacity to work. So it was in this perpetual state of depletion.

Triena McGuirk: And so just prior to my break there. You know, so between 2017 to 2021, you know, I hit the ground again. Um, you know, I was taking medications this often through the week, really never recuperating in between working. And then it kept escalating. So I was doing the bye bye every other day, swimming at this time, I was still swimming.

Triena McGuirk: I did swim. I did swim anywhere from one to three times a week. And so, and when I would swim, I’d maybe swim a kilometer kilometer and a half, nothing too crazy. But like, but my whole role taking care of yourself, taking care of myself in many ways. And then I would, I would, um, I found a beautiful gym and I would do meditation in the hot tub.

Triena McGuirk: I would do my swim then I’m would do. Cold shower. Then I go to the steam room and the sauna like I did, I did all of it. And I so well, it’s amazing the space you create when you don’t drink and people don’t invite you places. Right. And I couldn’t go to the restaurants. I couldn’t go cause the lights and the smells of restaurants and the clinking, I get like auditory confusion sometimes.

Triena McGuirk: So like, it just sounds like, um, just, you know, watch a movie and you just, you hear just noise, just loud noise. That’s what the world sounded like to me. So I really engaged in this quite habitually, like re like I look forward to it and, um, and it was also great too because my kids noticed it. So I’m like, man, I really like sucked at demonstrating self care to them growing up.

Triena McGuirk: So, you know, those are those teachable moments be like, Hey guys, like I know I’m your mom. I got it wrong all these years when I did this. Right. Like you didn’t see it because they protected. I protected the time with them, but they also didn’t, they didn’t see the grind always, but they didn’t see me taking care of myself either.

Triena McGuirk: Right. So, um, so that has been really helpful in, you know, my relationship with them. Um, but yeah, so I was still swimming. Yeah. I’m so I’m swimming anywhere one to three times a week, depending

Muhammad Kermalli: November, December. You’ve kind of told yourself. Yeah. You know,

Triena McGuirk: at this point I was getting lydocaine and ketamine, infusions, biweekly.

Triena McGuirk: So I would guess that’s a

Muhammad Kermalli: sign, isn’t

Triena McGuirk: it though. I was escalating. Yeah. Yeah. That’s huge. Like, that’s a huge thing. And by the time I got to 2020, I had stopped. It was either right before I crashed the second time or it was right after, I can’t remember the timeline, but it was close to there where I just stopped doing.

Triena McGuirk: I think it was right before I stopped doing the ketamine and, um, led to Kane infusions. Cause it got to the point from the first time I did it. I, uh, I was out called, like, I, I needed someone to drive me home. Like I was high as a kite. It was just wild how high it was from this medication. So we get driven home.

Triena McGuirk: I sleep for a day full day. How cool. And so then, and then as I go through this biweekly and they’re increasing the dosage because they want to get me to where they, they anticipated to get me to on the medication. I got to the point where I’m talking to the doctors, like I’m talking to you now. And I’m like, I’m like, Hey, I was reading research on the use of ketamine and, um, you know, the treatment of post-traumatic stress and chronic, um, chronic suicidal ideations.

Triena McGuirk: And like, have you guys heard about any clinics using this here? They’re like, what are you talking about? Like, are you not feeling this? Like, yeah, like I, I feel it, but like, and I, I would go home and I would like clean and cook and carry on with my day. So it just, every time. The pain would get worse. I would increase my medications in, in tandem.

Triena McGuirk: And then it just kept adding more, be

Muhammad Kermalli: the one deciding on

Triena McGuirk: this. I have a team of doctors. I have a team of doctors. So I have my family doctor had two neurologists, chronic pain management, doctor chiropractor, or physiotherapist. And I was doing all of these things as well. I was engaging in all of these things and yeah, it sounds like a starting lineup

Muhammad Kermalli: of a basketball game.

Muhammad Kermalli: And then you still have your bench, you know, all these other people who are waiting to jump in on, on your little court here and you called yourself whether it was that a cash cow for the

Triena McGuirk: yeah, it was. And so it just kept getting more and more, um, and then simultaneous to, okay. So I got off the lydocaine went off work in January.

Triena McGuirk: I literally, I, so when I go off work, usually when I hit that wall, I’m having. I think I had 29 migraines in a month. So basically I was, I was completely debilitated for, for months, for months, I’d be like this and every day would be going through this cycle. So then my neurologist got me into, um, this program called the school program and it was to see if I would be a good candidate for this new medication that just came to Canada.

Triena McGuirk: It had already gone through trial uses in the states, but it was new to Canada. And so I signed up for that because my migraine log was just through the roof I was considered. Um, so when you’re, oh, where’s my score. So, oh, this is the beauty of a two. So this get this one. So when I go to see my chronic pain management doctor, this is leading up to all this, to do the Botox.

Triena McGuirk: He has to do these, uh, these assessments to see your level of functioning. And I chart everything. I’m a little bit OCD with organization and wanting to see like antecedents and if there’s a rhythm to, um, like a predictive rhythm to when I get migraines and stuff. So I was charting everything. And so when I go into him, my statistics for, um, the mitis score.

Triena McGuirk: So it’s migraine inventory, disability assessment scale. So when

Muhammad Kermalli: you think of

Triena McGuirk: great, actually I know exactly. So you do this scale and I can’t remember what, so I would be like 40. I think when I was working and that’s double to be considered severely disability disabled. So when I was working full time, I was double the score of what this is.

Triena McGuirk: I can’t remember the number I 48 comes into my brain, but I can’t remember my number, but I remember when I was working, I have all my documentation and like I have files and files of documentation, but my scores were double the level to be considered severely disabled and I was working full-time. So when I went off work, my Midas score was double that I was at 105.

Triena McGuirk: I think it was when I went off work. Wow. So like for me to get knocked down on the ground is just like an, an obscene amount of pain to get to that level. And so

Muhammad Kermalli: I think there’s some rugby teams right now that they’re thinking about. I was good. I

Triena McGuirk: was a little scrum in there. Yeah. Or she just keeps getting up.

Triena McGuirk: She just keeps getting up. That’s a takeaway. Yeah. And, um, so, so then, okay, so then the ketamine in light of Keene stopped, I went off work again. My neurologist got me into the go program and I got the AMNOG injection and the vog injection. So these were sub continuous needles that I had to self administer once some kind of like an epi pen, but not as forceful and as much force.

Triena McGuirk: And, um, I’d have to give myself that once a month. And that was, if I were to pay for it, it would have been a thousand dollars a needle. Right. So it was incredibly thankful to be accepted into the program. And so, um, I would give myself the needle and it worked for about a month and a half, two months. I think I saw some, not complete respite, but definite improvement.

Triena McGuirk: And, um, and then again, another plateau of the same as I did with the led light. And during this time my Botox was going up. I went up in the number of vile, like the mountain, the vial that they would administer. I was T I think it was at three vials by the time I was at the end. And, um, so then the AMNOG stopped working.

Triena McGuirk: So then she got approval for double the dosage. So I give myself two needles or they give me the first month they gave me two separate needles, but then they gave me one needle with like more of a dose, a double dosage, and what administration, and then that stopped working. So

Muhammad Kermalli: all star team, uh, you got all of these, all of this medicine that’s being prescribed.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um,

Triena McGuirk: I’m doing everything everyone says on top of what I’m thinking.

Muhammad Kermalli: I feel like it’s getting worse. Obviously it’s getting worse, getting worse because, so what then started to happen after that? At what point in time did you start saying something like, um, like, you know, like when we say that back to that insanity thing, like something’s got to

Triena McGuirk: change.

Triena McGuirk: Yeah. So I hit that breaking point. I had a surgery in August, if not related to the migraines. I have, I have two medical conditions happening simultaneously. I just had a surgery in November for the same medical issue. So, um, that breaking point would have been, so it would have been last year. Is everything blurs together?

Triena McGuirk: Yeah. Um, last year was 2021. So would have been in. Okay. What have been in September of 2020 is when I had that breaking point. So I did. So you got to realize I was doing LTD and everyone else likes to look at your, your disability from the time you went off that time. But for me, my journey began in two long-term disability.

Triena McGuirk: Yeah. They like to like to look at when you’re off work this time. So January, 2020 is when my disability or illness started for and from their perspective. But from my perspective, this journey started in 2016. Right. So, um, and so when I look at. When I hit, uh, September of 2020, I’m like, I’ve been doing everything you guys say I’ve been taking every pill, every injection, you name it, that the crap I put in my body, like, just to, I’m like, yeah, let’s get through.

Triena McGuirk: And

Muhammad Kermalli: along the line, you didn’t just take it. You asked some questions and you’re given reassurances and maybe even at some point,

Triena McGuirk: and it worked for periods of time. Yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: And sometimes if you would even push back a little bit, do you ever get that feeling like, hold on, we know what we’re doing here when this is our, you know, or, or like was, cause it doesn’t just happen.

Muhammad Kermalli: I wonder if it just happens like the first time or were there other attempts to kind of, sort of. Uh, wait, something doesn’t make sense here. And then you would get pacified into continuing either by yourself or,


Triena McGuirk: I can see how that can happen. I’ve seen that happen with people I’ve walked with and on Metro, because your

Muhammad Kermalli: situation is not like it’s particular to you, but similar, if you look at somebody else going through other illnesses or other,

Triena McGuirk: I didn’t feel pressure to continue.

Triena McGuirk: Um, but I do, I have witnessed that what you’re speaking to, I have been witness to

Muhammad Kermalli: that at that time you would just kind of going, I was just,

Triena McGuirk: well, because they’re the experts, right? And so, but through the whole journey, I always had this kind of teetering negotiation with myself or conversation with myself.

Triena McGuirk: Okay. Like, they’re the experts, but this is your body and this is your life. And, and so I’ve had that happen a couple of times where, you know, one, one source of my migraines, everyone’s like, I’m Lou like, oh no, you’re fine. You’re fine. It’s just cluster headaches and this and that. I’m like, no, but there’s something wrong.

Triena McGuirk: Like I’m telling you. It’s. Here, right. It’s right here. And they’re like, no, no, no, you’re fine. We did an exam. I’m like, and I was insistent team is telling you this, they’re telling me I’m fine. And I’m like, no, I’m like, no, there’s something right here. And then, you know, the more I pushed at it, they’re like, fine.

Triena McGuirk: I got an MRI. I’m like, I don’t give a crap when it is. I think it was like three in the morning or something ridiculous. I had the privilege, you know, cause I live accessible to stuff. I’m in the GTA drove there for three o’clock in the morning MRI, I got a call like, I don’t know, a couple of days or a week or whatever later they’re like, oh, you have a discount in your name.

Triena McGuirk: I’m like right here where I’ve been pointing for the last three months. So that was one migraine that went away was adjusting my neck, where one of them came from.

Muhammad Kermalli: So that’s all building up and you get to this point now and you say to yourself, something’s got to change. Um, so right at that point, you what’d, he do next?

Muhammad Kermalli: Well, this

Triena McGuirk: is a thing with me, just you, by the way. Yeah. So I don’t make a plan. I just do it. I don’t, what do you mean by that? I don’t plan. So I just, I just at around September of after, so after I had surgery, um, related to the other medical issue, I have, um, I decided after that surgery, I’m like, I’m done, I’m done inject I’m just, and to inject yourself with so many needles is just so.

Triena McGuirk: It’s a lot. It’s a lot. And, oh, I guess I should backtrack a little bit here. So through the experience of 2020, I did do Chinese medicine for a bit. I did the teas, which were incredibly helpful for me. Once I got the dosage, right. For a person who’s not acclimated to that form of medicine. It’s, it’s a real adjustment on our system to start incorporating all these herbs.

Triena McGuirk: And, um, I found the Herb’s incredibly helpful for me because I have this chronic mucus that happens all the time. And, um, they, no one really knows why I have it. I just have it. So I’m trying to handle gut issues. Usually everything comes from the gut I’m learning. So, um, so the Chinese tea was the only thing that really helped, but for my budget, it was just way too expensive at that time for me to maintain it.

Triena McGuirk: So I, I started doing that and then I also started a procedure, um, at the recommendation of my cousin, um, Through a natural path. Who’s absolutely phenomenal in I’ll give her a shout out, man. Dr. Tara Sloan in king, west chiropractic. She is a miracle worker and she is trained in Odalisque called mile activation.

Triena McGuirk: And so I started this in 2020 and she’s such a beautiful person. She offered to come to my home to treat me for the first time, because at the beginning of that year, I, I couldn’t, I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t get off the floor. There was times where I’d vomit and be laying on my own vomit because I literally, I, I was in so much pain.

Triena McGuirk: Like I can’t even describe the scary, just even like, I feel it in my body, the level of pain you’re in. Do you feel

Muhammad Kermalli: at that point in time, help. A hundred

Triena McGuirk: percent. So, so like as well, not when you’re in it afterward. You do, but when you’re in it, you can’t really think about feeling helpless. Yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: Cause you can’t move obviously.

Muhammad Kermalli: No you’re in the state. So this is not even like, it hurts a little, this is like, there’s nothing left now. No,

Triena McGuirk: you’re, you’re on the ground and

Muhammad Kermalli: all of your, um, your knowledge and now it’s like

Triena McGuirk: irrelevant thing matters because they couldn’t have a tolerance for blade. I couldn’t re I was in my own home with sunglasses.

Triena McGuirk: The blinds were down. My kids couldn’t play music like you. Like, I was literally like, you’re, it’s like being a prisoner. I, my whole day was pain and debilitating pain. I would have a little bit of respite, you know? Um, eight, usually my morning I would always wake up sick in the morning. I would say not, I don’t wanna say always, but 90% of that, that was the solid pattern, but I have a little bit respite in the evening.

Triena McGuirk: Sometimes have a bite to eat. Sometimes I couldn’t shower for three, four days in a row. Like I would wear the same outfit, sleeping it, wake up, wear it because the thought of like, like not the thought of changing the experience of changing my clothes was so laborious that I had to conserve my energy. So I wouldn’t even get changed.

Muhammad Kermalli: Even your opportunities to think about what to do next are like different than the average. So you have to wait for that window to appear. Right. And when it appears, it doesn’t appear the same way does for everybody else, it’s like a very limited window with very limited energy to put into it. And in those windows, then you started constructing and sort of thinking about,

Triena McGuirk: I like listening to things.

Triena McGuirk: I would like, well, my meditation game came on strong. Right. I started doing that a lot more, um, meditating more, um, at that point, um, So I’m in tandem to starting my activation. I’m trying to remember the timeline, everything blades together. So my activation has really, truly helped that is I’ll just explain it.

Triena McGuirk: It’s like they target different parts on your body. So your fascial tissue goes through your body and crisscrosses in the front and back. And we all have this fascial tissue that goes through us. And so I have a series of, I have a lot of. Uh, I guess like body and trench trauma from emotional traumas or sexual abuse or physical abuse, all these different things I was abused in.

Triena McGuirk: Right. And so the, the body holds on to those kinds of emotional forms of abuse and it makes it rigid wherever you hold it in your body. And then I have like a series of, um, like a physical issues, like from like breaking my femur and shattering my growth plate. And I had all these different surgeries, reconstructive surgeries, and then everything fell apart again, then another reconstructive surgery.

Triena McGuirk: Yeah. Right. So all of these scars. Yeah. And your fascia, she’s your fascia. So it carries it. So Dr. Sloan would with it, I would be like, I think there’s a spot here. There’s a spot here. And so we would just do this exploratory process where she would see, she would look at my range of motion and, you know, a certain, you know, it’s a, it’s a really intricate modality.

Triena McGuirk: She’s trained in. She’d look at my range of motion. We treat an area, assess my range of motion, again, treat an area. And so what the treatment is, is, um, is perforating the area where there’s, um, like a sensitivity or a tightness for the trauma and, and then, um, piercing it with a hypodermic needle. Okay. So for example, I have a huge scar on my knee.

Triena McGuirk: And so one of the treatments was breaking down that scar tissue a little bit, cause it was puckering a lot and causing resistance around my knee. And one of the things she unlocked was this tension from my knee that was maintaining tension in my head. Right. So that was like, and, um, a friend of mine is a clairvoyant and I, she said this to me prior and I just, you know, I’m learning to listen to her better and that’s been a journey too.

Triena McGuirk: And she said, Trina, I think your there’s something with your knee, something with your knee and your migraines, like, what are you talking about? How’s my knee going to affect my migraines. And so just through exploring things and, and, uh, with Dr. Sloan targeting that that helped so simultaneous to, um, going through the myo activation with Dr.

Triena McGuirk: Sloan. And then I just, I realized, um, for me, I, every time I would engage in pharmaceuticals, I would do all right. It would help me out and it helped me out and then it didn’t work anymore. And then I needed more next time and then it helped me out and then I would go down and it didn’t help me. Then the next time I need more again.

Triena McGuirk: And so I’m just, I just saw that cycle. And I had like, I don’t, I didn’t journal it, but I, I kept stats my stats and I’m like, I’m just consuming. And I knew all the medication. I kept track of every medication I put in my body, whether it was like an Advil or Tylenol, like anything. And I’m like, and I just saw my consumption exponentially increasing, and my symptoms excavate, essentially getting bigger and bigger.

Triena McGuirk: And I just didn’t see the end to the cycle. Right. And so part of the conversation with myself was, okay, well, the cure is almost

Muhammad Kermalli: like worse

Triena McGuirk: than the illness or something, and it wasn’t even, it wasn’t even a cure though, because it was all symptom management. And no matter who I spoke with the answer, the consensus among like my multidisciplinary team was, which is also another thing is they, all these care providers.

Triena McGuirk: We’re all circled around me, but none of them communicate with each other. Right. So to me, that’s a gap as well, right. Because I’m one person and everyone should be looking at me in conjunction with each other’s modality. Right. So, um, so one of the things I decided that,

Muhammad Kermalli: yeah, actually I see a lot of common, a lot of parallels in the medical world and the it world it’s it’s it’s I got to

Triena McGuirk: do this.

Triena McGuirk: This is my ruling. Yeah. Yeah. You go to your lane, carry on it’s life though, right? Yeah. It’s

Muhammad Kermalli: your blood. That’s what I’m trying to say is that when we do it with money or a business or a computer system, it’s one thing when you do with a human being, oh gosh, that’s like a whole other, right. So this is all being done here and you’re experiencing and it’s you firsthand?

Triena McGuirk: It is. And the thing too, like I remember like as I’m advocate and I’m advocating for myself through this for my livelihood, because you know, I was denied LTD again. And I’m like, are you kidding me? And then. I just broke and I just started crying. Like mom, I can’t like she had to come and help me because the little bit of window of time I had every day was like, okay, I can make something for the kids to eat, or I can like talk to the kids or like, you know what I mean?

Triena McGuirk: Like I had very conservative amount of energy, so I wanted to use it for things that were purposeful when I was well. And I couldn’t deal with all of this stuff. The, um, the paperwork side of my illness, the case management side of my illness is really what it is. Um, and plus my life was. Inundated with medical appointments, like the amount of medical appointments I had were just tells you something’s wrong.

Triena McGuirk: Oh my gosh. And so I really broke down. Mom came up for about a month to help, and we did my application, my appeal for LTD. And then I got approved and did an applied for CTP after that. And I just literally went work mode and treated it like I was doing, um, like. And presenting it to a job.

Muhammad Kermalli: I call it beast mode.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. Got into

Triena McGuirk: this. I just zoned in and as I would speak to people, and these are not like, they’re not malicious people in these positions. Like I’ve, I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by kind people, even when they’re denying me, my LTD and so forth. But I’m just like, you guys need to recognize what you’re asking of people.

Triena McGuirk: I said, I’m like an experienced professional and look at what you’re requiring of someone who has this level of illness. Like you’re setting us up for failure. So it’s just having those conversations and just advocating for yourself has been, you know, I, I would say like, I often think like what if I couldn’t speak English?

Triena McGuirk: Like, cause let’s like the families I work with, a lot of people, English is their second language. I’m like, my gosh, like what if I couldn’t read this or couldn’t understand that. And I’m a professional and I’ve filled out paperwork that’s tedious. So, um, you know, I really saw how, um, how hard it is from like, it was hard, really hard to do.

Muhammad Kermalli: And so experiencing all this and then you, you make these changes and that without

Triena McGuirk: other changes. So the next change was I dropped everything cold Turkey. What do you mean dropped out? I dropped all my medication. Cold Turkey. Did you talk to him? No, I learned after hearing it. Yeah. So it was, yeah. So this is, this is what I was talking about, where I just do stuff.

Triena McGuirk: And so I had, this would have been in temper. Yeah. This would have been in September of 2020. I made this decision and then January, cause over COVID I had consultations with a brain surgeon all through January of 20 or sorry, all through 2020, excuse me. But they kept getting bumped because of COVID. Sure.

Triena McGuirk: So, um, not knowing it, not turning out to be a bad thing. So, um, so what happened was my consultation was rescheduled for January of 2021. And I found out this doctor, myself, my, my doctor didn’t know about him. None of my team knew about this doctor. And, and that’s the thing that I’ve learned is like when you’re in this chronic illness, chronic world, and especially auto-immune diseases where that’s just a blanket statement for, like, we have no freaking clue what’s going on with you, we’re going to call it.

Triena McGuirk: Not only mean disease. And so I’m in these like lydocaine infusion places with like other migraine sufferers, chronic pain, like people have had some really serious like degenerative back things or, um, a couple of women with Lyme disease. And we would just compare notes on our experiences. And so in the waiting room in the way, while we’re getting infusions, just in the waiting room, wherever and.

Triena McGuirk: I guess the biggest thing that I, the takeaway from that is the things that I’ve learned that have helped me the most on my journey to actually heal myself, not just manage my symptoms. They didn’t necessarily come from the doctors and professionals. I was saying with the exception, I feel Dr. Sloan really, her modality really helped me in a pivotal way, but, um, the other things that came from talking to people, and so that’s how I learned about this

Muhammad Kermalli: versus managing symptoms.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. Cool.

Triena McGuirk: So that’s how I learned about this brain surgeon who came up with this modality. Neither of my neurologist, my chronic pain management doctor for migraines, none of them heard of this brain surgery specific for migraine. So I got it. I got my referral, got my consultation. I didn’t know that if I were to have the brain surgery, I had to be off all of my medications, which makes sense anyway, but I had just decided to do it on my own anyway.

Triena McGuirk: So if I saw him, he would have done it in a planned way and weaned me off of things, you know? And sometimes that can take, you know, six months, a year, a year and a half. My mom knows a lady who had that surgery, took her a year and a half. I did a culture key. I canceled my Botox, stop my Amna bug. I wasn’t getting nerve blocks.

Triena McGuirk: Didn’t get led a king ketamine infusions anymore. I just, and then I tried to stop taking my medications that I was taking every other day as well. I did all of this at the same time.

Muhammad Kermalli: Also a professional understands that if you don’t wean yourself off and you cut it out, you know what can happen?

Triena McGuirk: So you, you, this, I didn’t think about it.

Triena McGuirk: Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. But this is the thing, I’m a professional, but I’m also a person, right? No, because. This is where I can be very impulsive when it comes to things sometimes. Right. And that’s just my, when it’s

Muhammad Kermalli: personal, you would never

Triena McGuirk: act, I would never suggest a client to do that. Kidding me. No, no. There’s no way.

Triena McGuirk: And then there’s a

Muhammad Kermalli: difference by the way, when we’re being professionals at somebody else’s lives that we’re dealing with. Right. So there’s, you know, we wouldn’t take those same risks. Yeah. But for yourselves, for ourselves, we’re like, ah, that’s it. I’m done. Okay. So you do this and there are a must have been some

Triena McGuirk: kind of it’s about two months of vomiting.

Triena McGuirk: And on the, again, the same thing, just like on the ground, like there was moments where does the all-star

Muhammad Kermalli: team know about this at this time they know about it. They’re like, Trina, what are you doing? Like that was a waste of all of this. No,

Triena McGuirk: no one said anything. They said, it’s your decision. Cause I’m, I’m very, I’ve had relationships with these people for several years at this point.

Triena McGuirk: Right. I don’t know what to tell you. Like we’ve like, sometimes it was like, we’ve gone as far as we can with this medication. And then I don’t know what other medication to give you. And like, I tried like all kinds of different medications that are not intended for migraines. And like the side effects I would get were just unbelievable, like unbelievable, like

Muhammad Kermalli: two months of reaction to

Triena McGuirk: what’s like a purging, really?

Triena McGuirk: Like it’s detox. You’re going, your body is used to something and it’s, it’s not getting it anymore. Um, then what do you notice? So then

Muhammad Kermalli: it gets

Triena McGuirk: worse than then it gets, it gets really, yeah, that was horrible. I wouldn’t suggest doing that, but like, it just goes to show, you can get through anything though.

Triena McGuirk: You know what I mean? Like I could still laugh every day. Like the whole point, like, there’ll be moments, don’t get me wrong. There’d be moments where I’d be like, dear God, like just, you can take me now. I’m good. I’m so tired. And I wasn’t suicidal, but. I was at peace. Like I’m in so much pain. Like it’s okay to make this stop right now.

Triena McGuirk: And that’s a whole different level to be at. Right. So, um, You know, I always, and just, I’m always interested in like neurobiology and, you know, uh, how your brain can change its own structures and do different things and mindfulness and meditation and the power of gratitude and all of these things. So this has been a combination that started like ironically or interestingly, the parallel, like I really started to study interpersonal neurobiology right.

Triena McGuirk: The year before I got sick the first time. Right. So that journey has really helped me in, in helping others, but also helping myself because you know what I developed from the time that I started to detox and then I started to like listen to different books and, and then I just meditate. And then what I was coming to was I needed to change my relationship with the pain.

Triena McGuirk: I had to accept that this might not be, um, this may not be something that ever goes away. Right. So you go through this rollercoaster of depression. Yeah. This is, this is me. This is my life. And, and you grieve, like I aggrieved being able to afford things. I grieved being able to, you know, not worry about like where the money’s coming for the food or the mortgage, or, you know, you grieved or the status of being able to go buy what you want or provide for, you see your kids the way you want.

Triena McGuirk: Like, there’s so many grief stages as attached to this, to this journey. And so, you know, I had to, I just had to let go of, you know, I might not ever be able to return to work again. I may never be that person I was before. And I had to grieve who I was and accept where I was at. Right. And so I, so when I went through that moment, the shift for me was because up to that point, I was always fighting the migraines.

Triena McGuirk: It was me against the migraine. Right. It was a fight. And so I had to change my relationship to it. So it changed it from that point was, I’m not funny. I’m going to incorporate it. What’s it going to teach me? What’s this telling me about my body what’s happening in my body? Where, where does it need some love in my body right now?

Triena McGuirk: And where is that? Where’s that guiding me to, so that’s how I changed the relationship. And then what I did was I would, um, use that quite purposefully and meditate through it. So instead of reaching, like I’d always try to delay taking the pill or the medication, like the nasal, whatever I had to take, um, to stop the migraine, but I’m like, okay, you’re off work.

Triena McGuirk: You’re you’re home now. And at this point I had one. No, I hadn’t won with LTD yet. Actually. That’s really interesting that usually the financial stress me out, but I was able to do this well, not knowing where my money was coming from. So that’s really interesting. Um, so what I started to look at was my I’m not working.

Triena McGuirk: And I said, I’m just going to stay off sick. As long as I think actually at that point, I just said, I already lined up a line of credit and all kinds of stuff like that. Like I’m like, I decided I wasn’t going back no matter what if I got LTD or not. Right. So I think that’s how I was able to make that shift because it’s, for me, I’m very like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Triena McGuirk: I need to get my baseline and then go from there. So, um, so once I was able to get there, my job then was to sit with the pain and feel the pain and incorporate the pain and experience the pain and not fight it. And so when I was doing this, I created these visualizations of. Um, you know, I have ribbon, I would call them my ribbon of pain for the different types of migraines I get.

Triena McGuirk: One is like, it goes right in my left eye and there’s a ribbon that goes right here. And it’s just this like electric, current that just shoots through here. It’s just terrible. And so I would focus on that one, cause the neck one got sorted out when we got my neck aligned. And um, so I would focus on that ribbon and I’d be like looking at trying to shift it just a little bit.

Triena McGuirk: And I would visualize it when I was in my meditation and just like moving it over because what I was piecing together, practicing

Muhammad Kermalli: meditation,

Triena McGuirk: um, seven years, maybe total. And so, um, So this is, this is the story I told myself, right? This is the story I’m telling myself, leading up to my consultation with the neurosurgeon.

Triena McGuirk: I’ve told my, um, neurologist about this and my family doctor. And everyone’s like, yeah, that sounds great. But they have no clue what I’m talking about. And so what I was visualizing was this, and, you know, I’ve read different books like on the brain that changes itself. And we know this with like, you know, behavior modifications and building new synopsis in the brains and creating new neural pathways to make old behaviors different and, and, you know, and so forth.

Triena McGuirk: So it was applying all of those concepts that I had learned to this meditation. So by the time I got to see, um, the surgeon in January of 2021, um, one of my best friends I’ve noticed since I was eight. She’s so lovely. She drove me cause it was in London. I couldn’t drive that far. There’s no way I could make that distance.

Triena McGuirk: And, um, she took me there. And so I talked to the surgeon and he’s like, well, I just looked at. Your referral. And he has all of my, like my, my charting that I did and all my mitis scores that are super high from my chronic pain management doctor and stuff. And, um, he’s like, you’re a great candidate for this surgery.

Triena McGuirk: And I said, I just want to tell you, I said, this is what I want to do. So I said, he’s like, he’s like with COVID, he’s like, all my cancellations have been, um, you know, my meetings with people have been moved around. He’s like, I even had to advocate to meet with you today because, um, you know, they said, well, you’re not scheduled for surgery.

Triena McGuirk: Why do you need to see her? He’s like, well, she’s been waiting to see me for a year, like as a, as a brain surgery consultant. And so I said, well, I have, this is what I’m doing. And I explained what I was doing with the meditations. And I said, also I have my other medical condition. I said, I want to get that under that healing process.

Triena McGuirk: Cause I needed a surgery and I just had that one. I said, I want to finish that surgery first because. Maybe that shifts because there’s no, there was no guarantee that this other medical issue wasn’t influencing the migraines as well. Right. So, um, so I explained the synopsis thing to him and that I didn’t, that the brain surgery was going to be the second surgery on my healing process.

Triena McGuirk: I didn’t want it to be my first one. And he’s I said, is this make sense? What I’m doing? And he’s like a hundred percent. He’s like, that’s what this little machine that he was going to put into my body. He’s like, that’s what it would be doing at a faster pace through the electrical impulse. So he’s like, no, what you’re saying, isn’t crazy.

Triena McGuirk: Those things do work, but it’s a lot of heavy lifting for a long time. Right. So, um, I’m like, well, I’m off. This is what I got to do.

Muhammad Kermalli: Exactly. Do like how long would it take? How many in a, in a day when you sit down and start meditating?

Triena McGuirk: Um, well sometimes it goes in and out because. Um,

Muhammad Kermalli: approximately

Triena McGuirk: hours, hours, and hours, hours every day hours.

Triena McGuirk: And sometimes it would be like in a sitting position or a laying down position already. And I have this argument all the time, or this debate is like, you can’t meditate laying down. Like, dude, you’ve been where I am. You can meditate, laying down. Like you can meditate anywhere. And so laying down cold showers.

Triena McGuirk: So, um, in, in tandem to getting rid of, uh, of removing myself from pharmaceutical medications, I did the meditation and I started cold immersions as well. So the cold immersions really gets at the inflammation in the body. And then I started doing it. It was wintertime at this point. And then I did like a dip in the lake and stuff like that.

Triena McGuirk: So I started doing all of these different modalities that weren’t necessarily aligned, um, with any kind of Western medicine that I had been practicing up to this point.


Muhammad Kermalli: it’s 2020.

Triena McGuirk: I’m doing really great. Yeah. The migraines are getting better. They’re getting better. I love about where you are and I don’t need brain surgery.

Triena McGuirk: I’m not going to like, based on my scores now I would not be a candidate for brain surgery. So the difference between January 20, 21 to now it’s night and day. Wow. Like night and day, but I’ve also done like more, self-care more self-kindness. So like all of these things come from the meditation. I know who I am more.

Triena McGuirk: I like can see like my dark side and where I can be really mean, or really inappropriate or unkind. Like I can like when you’re swimming in those waters with the, with the migraine, for me, like, I really got to see like the really awesome stuff about myself and the really shitty stuff about myself. Right.

Triena McGuirk: So you just really learn to reconcile and not fight it because I had to incorporate the most difficult thing about me was for, for my experiences that pain. You have to incorporate everything else at the same time. You know,

Muhammad Kermalli: what’s really cool about this. What’s really cool about this to me is like, when we talk to most people, they’ve already gone through it and they’re on the other side, you’re still, you’re in, you’re still in the middle of it.

Muhammad Kermalli: And I just love to capture this conversation this moment, because, um, when a lot of us are listening to somebody who’s already gone through it, we say, ah, but they don’t know what it’s like to be here right now. They say that because they’re on that side, you’re saying this and I’m not

Triena McGuirk: in

Muhammad Kermalli: it. That’s what I love about this part, this observation, and to see kind of like, and it’s not like you’re, you’re just in it.

Muhammad Kermalli: You’re your conditions getting better? Your state has improved and it’s because you’re taking control of it for yourself. You’re taking ownership. Um, and you would say your focuses are, you were just starting to say like the, you know, the. Care. And, and so, um, it’s amazing how, how many times we start on a high end, again, a pro a person who does this professionally helps people with their self-care can still for themselves.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. Even though there’s knowledge there, and there’s an all-star team available, I think a lot of people still get to that same point and they might not believe that they have what it takes to now take the same control that you have. Do you think that, what would you say to them? The ones who don’t feel that they don’t have what it takes.

Muhammad Kermalli: You’ve done this for seven years, Gina, like, you know, you like, you know how you can look at somebody else and go, but you have that strength and I don’t have that strength. Really? What would you say about the strengths or the, that special? Like what, what, what could, how could somebody go and get the same sort of, well,

Triena McGuirk: I think assertiveness is, is, is a variable.

Triena McGuirk: I always say you got

Muhammad Kermalli: SAS, so you like, I’m doing this,

Triena McGuirk: but. I think the biggest thing is, is that, um, is when you like, so for example, one of the things was that thing in the back of my neck, the, the disc being out when the back of my neck, and I knew I had a cyst in my ovary and I’d never had one before, but I’m like, there’s something there.

Triena McGuirk: And I was like adamant and they’re like, no, no, you’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine. And I kept going to the doctor over and over and over about three weeks, I would go like once or twice a week. I’m like, it’s still there. I could feel it. I could feel it. And they’re like, oh, you have a cyst. I’m like, yeah, no shit.

Triena McGuirk: I’m telling you it’s right here. I could feel it it’s right here. And so, and the same with the neck, I’m like, I could feel it it’s right there. And I, so I think the biggest takeaway for me and for anyone is, you know, your body. You’re the expert of your own. Like I always say to people, you’re the expert of your own life.

Triena McGuirk: You’re also the expert of your own, your own body. And you know, what it feels like to be in your body and no one else does. And so when you’re navigating the medical system for whatever it is, whatever issue it is, and I’m not seeing that it’s done in malice, because we can go on and on about how overtaxed our medical system is right in.

Triena McGuirk: But the point of it is, is that they’re dealing with quantities of us like this we’re one person and we know ourselves. So when people tell us like, no, your neck is fine. No, you’re not feeling that in your ovary. Like, no, you’re fine. Be persistent. Don’t think you’re being a thorn in their side because this is your house.

Triena McGuirk: So I think that’s the biggest takeaway for me is you are your own self advocate and not to abdicate your sovereignty and your authority in what it is that you want to achieve for your own health to someone else. They’re a collaborator who’s there to help you. That’s the thing I learned the most is that at the beginning of it, I kept searching for answers around this amazing multidisciplinary team, but they weren’t connecting with each other.

Triena McGuirk: And then I had to piece it all together, but I’m like, okay, not everyone’s fully listening to me.

Muhammad Kermalli: And what can you do for yourself? What do you mean? Like, so you can talk about advocating for yourself with the team beyond that. What else could be just

Triena McGuirk: to inform you? So my, my biggest thing was informing myself of everything.

Triena McGuirk: So I. Looked at every cause the thing with migraines is it’s so unique. There’s not a lot known about it. The world health organization, which is anyway the world health organization. Yeah. Yeah. But he previously they’ve identified migraines is one of the top 20 most debilitating conditions in the world.

Triena McGuirk: Right. So, you know, it’s just informing yourself about different modalities of healing. I found like that for me, cause I was very much raised in, you know, the allopathic modality of healing. And so what I learned from this experience for me is there’s there’s there’s symptom management and then there’s healing.

Triena McGuirk: Right. So for me and my experience with, with this journey, the allopathic modalities were definitely amazing and kept me going for symptom minutes. I have medication in my bag right now, just in case something happens and I’m driving home. And I, you know, I, I gotta, I gotta, I still, I still have this. It’s still, yeah, it’s still a reality.

Triena McGuirk: Right. And I gotta be prepared for a migraine. And so, but the other stuff, but the other stuff is what is, this is healing me. And so the other piece we didn’t speak to too is, you know, the, I did the, the Mio activation, um, with Dr. Sloan, the Coldwater immersions. I changed to a vegan diet, which was not an easy thing for me because I love so many things that I was eating before.

Triena McGuirk: Um, but it gets to a point where it’s just not worth it anymore. It’s like, no, it’s like, how many times are you going to not listen to yourself? And the other thing too, right. And the other piece was like, Dealing with other pieces of the trauma work comes up because, you know, I had to do some work around specific forgivenesses that I cause through my meditation, I realized I hadn’t forgiven certain things and different on different abuses that were subjected towards me.

Triena McGuirk: So

Muhammad Kermalli: that’s the thing that gets me is that a lot of people who go through this, they see an improvement. But the improvement that they’re noticing is in the symptom management rather than the actual healing. So then they feel better. And then a little while later they’re back to the same place. Whereas when you focus on something like forgive.

Muhammad Kermalli: That’s where healing takes place. Would

Triena McGuirk: you say a hundred percent? I had a type of, so the issue that my friend, she was clairvoyant and she told me about my knee connecting to my head. She, I came, uh, I had a meditation and I had this matter come up related to my mom. And I said to her, I said, what do you think about residual trauma said, I don’t even think this is an issue.

Triena McGuirk: I don’t feel triggered by it. I don’t feel anything. Like, I don’t, I’m not like I felt like I had forgiven her. And, um, you know, we have a great relationship. Like she helps like, like I’m like, I’m like, I don’t, I didn’t feel it. And, um, she said, she’s like, no, there was a betrayal. And she’s like, when did your mom betray you?

Triena McGuirk: And then we work through and she just opened up to like being able to receive. Like insight when she was, um, she did Reiki. And so that was the thing that came out of, it was targeting this betrayal at a specific age. And I remember, I remember the incident with great clarity. Like it’s definitely a puncture point in, in my heart.

Triena McGuirk: Um, but I, I didn’t realize the power of it. And so I engaged in a very specific meditative process with that while I was doing the ones of revisualize in the pathway for the pain. And so that was really, really interesting to me because I never had that. Like, I had three different, like two primary, three different kinds of migraines, and I never had that migraine come back again after I targeted it through that way.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. So I can’t wait to hear the next.

Triena McGuirk: I had to see where it says when I’m getting back to work, it’ll be, it’ll be my accountability partner of your back to work. And what are you doing to take care of yourself, right? Yeah. So how do I find the balance again? Am I going to go back to my old habits? It’s like, there’s

Muhammad Kermalli: an exciting chapter coming up and, uh, thank you so much for today.

Muhammad Kermalli: This is amazing. Uh, Trina, the professional, what did we say? Professional healer to people who learn to personally heal, right. Such a big difference between the two and just the differences in the approaches. Uh, Thank you for, for today. That was amazing. Uh, and I’m looking forward to the next chapter. You know, some people there is like one episode to it.

Muhammad Kermalli: Like, you seem like you’re, there’s another episode coming up. There’s more, there’s more coming because you, well, you’re in the middle of it, right? That’s what I love it in here, but this is how you can still feel right here, but it

Triena McGuirk: doesn’t have to feel like, yeah, like to be great.

Muhammad Kermalli: You sound like you’re on the other side already, like in terms of your, your attitude and your mindset.

Muhammad Kermalli: So you’re bound to get there, but you know, like most people say, ah, that’s what I love about this specific point in time and this discussion

Triena McGuirk: right now. Yeah. I think, yeah. I think gratitude’s a whole other conversation. Cause I forgot about that one. That one’s a big one. Um,

Muhammad Kermalli: it’s good that you leave it at this point here with the gratitude, because when we talk about it next, we know that you’re you you’ve thought about it from now and watch that be such a, I a hundred percent agree with you.

Muhammad Kermalli: It’s going to be one of those.

Triena McGuirk: Yeah, one of those carried me a lot for sure. It carries you big time. Yeah. Whew. Thank

Muhammad Kermalli: you.