By Laverne Stewart
The Daily Gleaner, Fredericton, Tuesday, November 2, 1999.
Nearly 20 years ago, Jacques Gauthier was diagnosed with a crippling neurological disorder.
Today, he’s in better shape than he was before he became ill and he’s walking across the country to tell people how he became better without medication.
Back in 1980, doctors prescribed cortisone pills for the pain.
« It did help, I was a superman because I was on steroids. When I went to parties, I could dance all night and I was never tired, » Gauthier said.
What he didn’t realise was that the steroids which were preventing the pain were causing loss of bone density.
By the time he reached 50, doctors informed Gauthier he’d lost 20 per cent of his bone mass which was leading to osteoporosis.
Specialists said along with the cortisone he needed a second medication for osteoporosis.
He was told if he stopped taking the pills, it wouldn’t be long before he would be paralysed.
Gauthier worried one medication would lead to many more. That’s when he decided to give up all of his medication.
« I said to my wife it’s obvious God wants me in a wheelchair. If that was the case, it would be because of the disease and not the drugs, so I quit the drugs. »
Arthritis quickly spread to every part of Gauthier’s body, sending him to his bed for the next six months.
Family and friends thought he was dying. Through an acquaintance Gauthier met a New Brunswick man who said he might be able to help.
That man was a lumberjack and self-proclaimed healer who taught Gauthier stretching exercises. « He told me to try to touch my toes without bending my knees; I couldn’t even bend to my knees. »
Within three weeks of daily stretching, Gauthier said 50 per cent of the pain he had experienced was gone.
Gauthier will not say who this self-proclaimed healer is because he said the man was ordered by the court to stop what he was doing.
« I sent a lot of people to him, but he said he was in trouble with the medical board and was in the trouble with the court. He had to stop practicing. »
Despite this, Gauthier decided to continue the stretching exercises he was shown.
Ten years later, he said he’s in better shape now than he was before he first became ill.
He decided to share his story with others and he and his wife Dorothée Lavoie began teaching stretching exercises.
Gauthier soon realised the stretching routine that had helped him, was helping people with a variety of ailments including migraines headaches and arthritis.
Two years ago, he decided to walk across Quebec to share his story.
This year, he sold is home and furniture to finance a cross-Canada tour to spread the word.
So far he’s covered 6000 kilometres from Vancouver to Fredericton. Now he’s on the final 500-kilometre leg of his information tour, which he expects to finish in Halifax on Nov. 15.
Gauthier isn’t suggesting people should give up their medications as he did and he doesn’t call himself a healer.
« I’m only teaching stretching. I’m not talking about healing. I tell people I don’t know what’s going to happen to them, » Gauthier said.
« I’m not against medication. I’m against the abuse of medication. I tell people if they are on medication and want to start stretching they should keep taking their medication as prescribed. If they want to reduce their medication, they could give it a try. You will know immediately. Listen to your body, » Gauthier suggested.
As soon as he’s finished this journey he will begin making plans to walk across the United States.
Doctors are baffled by Gauthier’s recovery.
« They said you’re crazy; you’re controlling your pain with your mind and eventually you will crack and die, » said Gauthier who said he’s been pain-free and living a healthy life for years.
« They don’t understand what happened to me. »
Gauthier said he’s no walking miracle and he’s far from cured.
Without daily stretching exercises, the 60-year-old said he could easily slip back into the painful condition, which tortured for so long.
After his walk across Quebec, Gauthier neglected his daily exercise regiment and had a setback.
« One morning I woke up and my left knee was on fire I couldn’t walk. »
Doctors told him to go back on his medication. Gauthier decided to take the cortisone for a month, slowly decreasing the pills while increasing the exercises.
That was two years ago, and Gauthier hasn’t stopped his daily 15-20 minutes stretching routine ever since.
« It’s like food for me. If I stop eating, I will die. If I stop stretching, it might come back. »
For more information Gauthier invites people to call his toll-free phone number: 1-(877)-833-6363.