By Anne Kyle
Leader Post, Regina, Tuesday July the 13th 1999.
Jacques Gauthier has proven the doctors wrong. Ten years ago the 60-year- old Quebec man was told to prepare to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Today Gauthier and his wife Dorothee Lavoie are walking across Canada to share their secrets on the freedom of good health with all Canadians. Their trek began March 27 in Vancouver and on Monday they left Regina heading east with the hope of reaching Halifax before year’s end.
The secret to Gauthier’s self-healing and the couple’s good physical health is stretching. « Everyone can do it. What’s more, it is free. All that is required is an investment of time, » he said.
In 1981 at the age of 41, Gauthier was diagnosed with very serious neurological disorder that resulted in the loss of use of his left hand. The doctors told him at the time there was nothing they could do.
A couple of months later when he began experiencing the same symptoms in his right hand and feet, and had reached the point where he could hardly walk, Gauthier sought a second opinion. He said he was told there was no cure. In order to slow his physical deterioration and control the pain, Gauthier was told to take cortisone on a daily basis for the rest of his life.
While the steroids provided some relief, the side-effects of the drugs carried their own risks.
When Gauthier reached 50, he was told that one of the side-effects of taking steroids, was osteoporosis, and that he had lost 20 per cent of his bone density. It was dangerous from now on for him to do any kind of physical exercise. He was told he now required a second medication to counteract the side-effects of the steroids, and would be on medication for the rest of his life.
« It didn’t make any sense. I turned to my faith to look for answers. If God wanted me in a wheelchair, then I decided I would not fight it anymore. That day I said a prayer and choose to take no more pills. If I was to end up a quadriplegic, it would be from the disease not the drugs, » he said.
Gauthier quit taking his medication. A few weeks later, because of the cortisone withdrawal, he ended up with arthritic pain from head to toes and became bedridden. In excruciating pain, Gauthier spent $25 000 on alternative medicine searching for answers and anything that would provide relief.
Six months later, Gauthier again turned to prayer. « It’s hard for me to accept this situation, but if this is your will God, I swear I will be an inspiration for everybody that is confined to a wheelchair. »
The next day, he said, he heard about an American who’s unorthodox methods involving stretching and breathing exercises, were said to help people overcome the crippling effects of arthritis. He spent three weeks undergoing the alternative therapy.
« The first day I hurt so much I passed out. I told him I couldn’t do it because it hurt too much. He told me the pain wouldn’t kill me and that I should continue with the stretching exercises until it didn’t hurt anymore. »
Gauthier returned home and continued his stretching exercises regime. For six months he stretched his muscles for two to four hours a day.
« It took me seven months but today, 10 years later, I’m still stretching 15 to 20 minutes per day. I’m not on any medication and I’m living without any pain and I’m physically in better shape than when I was 30, » he said, demonstrating his flexibility by grabbing his ankles and bending over to touch his head to his knees.
« I thought to myself there is something to this. By doing 15 different stretching exercises for 15 to 20 minutes a day you can exercise 95 per cent of the muscles in you body, » he said.
« It is a miracle we can create ourselves, » Gauthier said, noting we all must take some responsibility for our own health.
Two years ago, Gauthier and Lavoie decided to walk across Quebec and share their story. As a result of the response they received, the couple decided to take their message across Canada.
« We have found a solution to an efficient, natural way of promoting physical health and want to share it. My passion, my purpose, is to share the freedom of health with everyone. Stretching is the easiest and most effective self-healing technique available and has been around for thousands of years, » he said.
As part of their tour Gauthier and Lavoie are also promoting their video on stretching exercises, which is being sold through HMV Canada in the Cornwell Centre.