Kathy Upper


I was fortunate enough to work as an Employment Counsellor for Niagara College Employment Solutions for over 27 years. I loved my job and the opportunity to help others discover their dreams and how to achieve them. I developed workshops, facilitated training and offered career assessment along with one-on-one counselling. It was a rewarding career where I was able to continue to learn new skills while assisting others. 

My other love is the magical world of spirituality. I have my Reiki practitioner, level two and I have explored various types of treatments. I always had an interest in meditation and in 2007 I attended the Willpower Institute Meditation Instructor course. I credit that six-month course and two week trip to Thailand for waking me up to spirituality and the joy of living in the moment.     

In 2009 a dream compelled me to create a website to help others find the spiritual, wellness and heart centered services they were seeking. I learned to create a website and started looking for Spiritual service providers. I found the more I looked the more I found and I'm still finding them.

In 2010 I discovered that the pain and swelling that I've been having for a few years in my shoulder was due to an arachnoid cyst which was compressing my spinal cord. After referrals to various doctors I was told by a neurosurgeon in Toronto that if I didn't have it removed it would cut off the spinal fluid to my brain. The pain and swelling was affecting my ability to work so I stopped working at Niagara College in August 2012 and waited for a surgery date. 

In October 2012 I had a thoracic laminectomy to remove the cyst from my spinal cord. As a result of that surgery I suffered a CSF leak, and had to spend the next nine years of my life lying down to lessen the constant pressure in my head. I was also living with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, MCAS which I learned about much later. MCAS is common for those with CSF leaks. Both of these diagnoses are rare and it's difficult to find treatment in Canada but really the most difficult part is not being believed.

Early in 2021 I got some great news. I was approved by Ontario Health to be funded for treatment at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina with Dr. Krantz. It took place in March 2021.  I'm not part of a trial.

However, while at Duke I received a fibrin glue and blood patch to my spinal cord but went into rebound high pressure shortly afterwards I had a lumbar puncture to remove pressure. We had to extend our stay to try to get the pressure under control. They have a great medical team at Duke and I highly recommend them.

My other diagnosis, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, I have discovered, affects each person differently and has numerous symptoms that affect all of the systems in the body. It can go undiagnosed for years and effects the histamine levels in the body.

I experience many symptoms such as insomnia, I can go for up to three days without sleeping, severe nausea, anxiety and panic attacks. Those are the most difficult for me but there are many other ways that it affects me. This information about MCAS was created by a writer who experiences this as well as a CSF leak. 

Thankfully I have found a nutritionist with a lot of knowledge about MCAS as she lives with it as well, Trina Thornhill. I've been working with her and gaining a better understanding on how to get a handle on this and hopefully improve the symptoms but it does mean major changes in my diet and learning what my body is reacting to. 

I am so grateful for the love and support that I have received from family and friends throughout my journey towards wellness. I have met so many inspiring people and tried numerous types of treatments.

In 2019 we adopted our dog Sam from Niagara Dog Rescue. He has also been helpful to me with his unconditional love and the daily walks we go on. He brings a lot of joy to our lives as my husband and I are empty nesters now. 

I continue to have high pressure headaches and I still have limits as to how much I can do. I experience nervous system issues,  pain in my spine from the surgery along with my MCAS symptoms. My ability to stay upright is better than it was and I'm hopeful it will continue to improve. 

Spiritual Niagara has continued throughout all these challenges with the help of an incredible team. I'm so grateful I have had the ability to continue to have a purpose in my community and so thankful for the help of all our team members past and present along with the incredible membership of spiritual and heart centered services that we are able to highlight.

I do my best to stay positive and enjoy writing and sharing in the Spiritual Niagara Community. I love working on the website, collaborating on events, and looking for new ways to support our members. Although I'm still not perfect at it, learning to balance self-care and the care of others is a focus of mine. I truly believe that it all starts with the love ❤ that we have for ourselves that we then spread out into the world. Self-love and listening to that inner voice are the keys to a rewarding life. I'm certainly not perfect at it by any means but I'll keep breathing... and trying, lol.

Thank you for reading my story and thank you to Carolyn for inviting me to share. She has asked me numerous times and now just felt right. Namaste

You can contact Kathy Upper 
by going to her Website or following / connecting with her or her  on  Facebook Twitter,  Linkedin, & YOUtube

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