October 2023 Zebra Spotlight: Tara Curtin

admin@michigancreativeZebra Spotlight

Hi! I am Tara Curtin, and I am a wife, a mother to two amazing girls (and lots of pets), daughter, sister, friend, caregiver, Zebra, and so much more. It took many years and several doctors to connect the dots to my official diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in 2016. I am happy to put a name to what I have been dealing with for decades but wish there was more out there for us. I am thankful for the community of other Zebras and organizations fighting for awareness and answers!

5 Invisible Symptoms

  1. Chronic pain and fatigue
  2. Dizziness and nausea along with other Dysautonomia/POTS symptoms.
  3. Pelvic prolapse and pressure (I had pelvic reconstruction surgery in 2016 which included a hysterectomy).
  4. Vocal Cord Dysfunction
  5. Anxiety

4 Things That Help Manage My Pain

  1. REST REST REST! Getting proper rest, especially with my feet up, is crucial. 
  2. Physical Therapy and Massage- I did read up on the Muldowney Protocol and incorporated some of that with programs tailored to me by my team of physical therapists. Building muscle to support my body and joints is imperative. As is relieving spots of spasm and tension. That balance can be tricky but when met, it is key! 
  3. Good nutrition- For me this means eating a well-balanced diet of fruits and veggies, protein, and complex carbs. Also drinking enough water and often supplementing with electrolytes. I do need to limit my dairy intake as it makes me extra achy and increases a number of my gastro symptoms. I
    should eat less sugar but I have a sweet tooth! 😉
  4. Use your resource toolbox! Daily ice and heat sessions make a big difference for me. I ice my lower back and my knee, while I use a heating pad on my upper back, neck, and my legs. I sometimes need to wear compression leggings or compression socks. Kinesiology tape and braces help me be more in control when I know I will have a more strenuous day, and I do take Ibuprofen when needed. These are just a handful of my personal tools!

3 Ways My Life Has Changed

  1. My work and life balance are different. I am privileged enough to be able to work in line with my body’s needs and my heart’s wants. It took a lot to get here, and I am lucky to have a partner that supports and encourages me. The compassion, empathy, and grace I had to learn for myself over the
    years is helping me, now help others. I may not really be utilizing my numerous degrees in international Relations and Global Security, but I am where I am meant to be. 
  2. Working out is now part of my survival and quality of life, and not a means just to look a certain way. My fitness journey is constantly evolving based on my body. From running, to kickboxing, to weightlifting, to swimming, to now Pilates…I have learned to go with the flow.
  3. I have to be significantly more proactive in the planning of my time and energy.

2 People Who Inspire You and Give You Hope

  1. The Zebra Community as a whole is incredibly inclusive and inspiring! I believe women like Lara Bloom, Director of the Ehlers-Danlos Society, and Life as A Zebra’s own Katie Dama-Jaskolski who are driven to make others feel less alone while blazing a path forward eliciting acceptance, love, courage, awareness, and HOPE are just so badass.
  2. As for people in my own little circle, my husband is my hero. He is very much in this fight as I am. I always feel acknowledged and believed. He is my biggest fan, and he truly makes me feel like a
    warrior when I need to be reminded of that.

1 Thing You Want People to Know

Throw away all those traditional self-help books! Seriously! They are typically able-ist and make people with chronic health conditions feel like failures. Every day someone’s best looks different, which is even
more true for Zebras. Some days are for kicking butt. Other days are for rest. Listening to your body and mind is what you should be doing. Progress is not linear, and rest is just as important as anything else.

I’m going to cheat and add one more thing…find your people. The ones who make you feel like sunshine. The ones who make you feel worthy no matter what; where you can be authentically YOU…whether it’s a whole tribe of awesome people or one close person who gets it and gets you! You deserve that!