How self-love can save a life

When life threw drama and difficulties at TLS ATX Global owner Valentina Gaylord, she learnt to become her own Valentine

Article by Sarah Ivens

Photography by Whit McGuire

Originally published in Austin Lifestyle


In 2012, when Valentina was 42 and in great shape – she thought – her world was rocked when she was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a form of brain damage. Here, she shares her story of recovery… and why she’s using her experience to help others boost their self-love and find their voice when it comes to advocating for better health and wellness, in her fitness studios and online.

My life changed the morning of March 29, 2012, as I was stepping out of the shower. At the time, I was a stockbroker with two small children, Luc and Valletta, and my days were long, my nights short, and my stress very high. As I was drying off, I noticed my left arm going numb and a sharp pain in my left ear.  I looked in the mirror and the entire left side of my face had completely paralyzed. I couldn’t smile or blink. I rushed to hospital.

After hours of tests, a doctor told me that I had Bell’s Palsy and there was no guarantee my face would ever return to normal or there would not be a recurrence. I was devastated.

On the way home from hospital, I stopped at CVS to pick up my prescriptions and as I stood in line, I felt a hand on my right shoulder.  A woman, who I did not know, was praying for me.  I looked back and all ten people in line had placed their hands on the shoulders in front of them and were praying with her, an emotional moment I was grateful for.

I’d been worried how my children would react - unable to close my eye, the doctor gave me a patch to wear - but when I got home, Valletta and Luc ran up and hugged me tightly.  My daughter told me how beautiful I was while Luc put both of his little hands on my cheeks and was trying to put my face back together. 

In pain in the following days, I found an article that said acupuncture helped many people with my diagnosis, so I started treatments, six days a week for 6 weeks.  I was exhausted, emotional, and my brain was in a complete fog but I was determined to get better. By the time my six weeks were up, I had 90% of my face back, I was no longer needing a straw to eat and drink, and I’d stopped slurring my words. 

Although my face was coming back, I was nowhere near feeling myself.  I could not concentrate, I was losing my hair, I was depressed.  I did not know how I could get through each day and on some days, I did not wish to. One morning, my feet were tingling and numb.  I tried to get out of bed and I fell to the floor, and in that moment, I knew that Bell’s Palsy was just the onset of something else.

Over the next two years, I went to some of the best doctors in the country but got misdiagnosed repeatedly.  I was told I had Muscular Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, early onset Dementia, the list goes on. I turned to nutritionists, healers, and all sorts of gurus to look for answers because nothing I was being told resonated with me. They were all putting me in a one-size-fits-all box, prescribing more medicine, supplements, hormones…all at once.  None of it was working and only made me feel worse.  I was losing control of my body, my life, my self-worth, my self-confidence… hope.

Just before turning 44, I took a hard look at my life: my choices, my health, my career and what it was that I truly wanted.  I made a list. Getting my health back was number one, but I also wanted a change of scenery, and a career based in health and wellness as this was now at the forefront of my life. I knew I had to regain my own health first but I also wanted to help people experiencing what I was, so decided to open my first fitness studio. Shortly after, I was approached by an investor, and together we opened two more studio locations within three years, despite my health still being in decline. 

The weekend before my 46th Birthday, I was at my absolute worst. I knew that I could not live my life this way any longer.  I was giving up, convinced I would not recover or be the person that I once was, getting my affairs in order for my children and business just in case the worst happened. 

Then I heard about a book called The Medical Medium by Anthony William.  I read it in 48 hours and knew I had to contact the author. He was my last hope. Four weeks later, we spoke on the phone. My first experience with a medium, I was skeptical, but asked him just to give it to me straight.  Was I dying? Did I have cancer?  He said no; that I had Epstein Barre Virus in my liver and in my thyroid.  He said I could have my doctors confirm this with ultrasounds and a blood test.  24 hours later, I had test results and sure enough, Anthony was right!  He gave me a very simple plan to follow, based on a plant-based diet and supplements, while my body healed. With guidance from him, Muneeza Ahmed and Dr. Janet Zand, my symptoms soon dissipated. I was getting my life back.

Everything I have been through in the last decade has made me realize that to achieve optimal health, you must go deep within - face your fears, advocate for yourself and make tough decisions. In my experience, it works. By January 2020, at the age of 50, I was officially off all my medication, as Anthony predicted I would be. I reversed all my autoimmune issues and genetically tested as a 26-year-old. People tell me I look better than ever and much younger than my age, but the work is not surface level. It began deep within – with self-love. When you journey into the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of your being, as I had to when I got ill, you can achieve everything you set out to achieve and live powerfully.”

On the shoot: Valentina is wearing Korman Fine Jewelry kormanfinejewelry.com

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