An invisible disability is defined as a neurological, mental or physical condition that is invisible, or hidden, in nature. Though they may not be inherently noticeable from the outside, these disabilities can significantly affect and impair the daily lives of those who struggle with the associated symptoms. Examples of invisible disabilities include traumatic brain injuries, mental illness, learning disabilities, chronic pain and more. Unfortunately, due to the fact that symptoms of invisible disabilities may not be readily apparent, many who suffer from these disabilities are often misunderstood.

At any given time, 10 percent of Americans struggle with an invisible disability. That equates to roughly 30 million Americans. Since those who suffer from invisible disabilities are often misunderstood and have difficulties functioning in “normal” everyday activities, close friends and family members are also often impacted and left feeling frustrated. 

Aaron Sexton, unfortunately, knows the ins and outs of how an invisible disability can affect a family’s dynamic all too well. Aaron is an Iowa native who spent four years in the Navy and then went on to become the owner of a mechanical contracting company. He has been married to his wife, Sarah, for 18 years and they are raising two boys who are now 9 and 11 years old. 

To a bystander, Aaron and his family may seem like they have it all (and in most ways they do) — but, what you wouldn’t know just by looking at them is that Aaron suffers from an invisible disability.

About eight years ago, Aaron was on a boating trip and dove into the water off of the side of the boat. What he didn’t know was that there was a large rock underneath the surface and he dove straight into it, head first. The impact smashed his C3 and C5 vertebrae and severely damaged the left frontal lobe of his brain. Initially after the accident, Aaron was partially paralyzed but after quite some time regained the function of his spine.

In the months following Aaron’s accident, he basically had to start over from scratch.

“Due to my brain injury I had to re-learn simple things like right and left, how to drive, even how to maintain a conversation. I also had to re-learn how to walk, how to feed myself and how to do just about every other motion,” Aaron said.

To make matters worse, after his injury, Aaron was prescribed a long list of pharmaceuticals to help him with everything from pain levels to anxiety and depression. Due to these prescriptions, Aaron completely lost who he was and completely lost his purpose in life.

“I don’t remember the first two years after my injury and I believe it was due to the medications I was prescribed,” said Aaron. “I remember waking up one day and just realizing that I had lost a couple of years of my life.”

 After realizing he’d been living in a fog, Aaron began supplementing his prescriptions with plant-based medicines as well as other natural methods of healing. He started using chiropractic care, nutraceuticals, cryotherapy, CBD and a handful of other natural methods. In addition, he started focusing heavily on his nutrition and exercise regimens as means to heal.

As Aaron used natural medicine to wean himself off of the pharmaceuticals that he was prescribed, he started to get back to his old self. He was able to be more present in his family life and get back to living with a purpose.

After witnessing firsthand what an invisible disability can do to a person, and in turn their family members, Sarah and Aaron set out to find a way to help other families dealing with similar circumstances. They purchased a large ranch in Elizabeth, Colorado and called it Iron Will Ranch. Their mission is to help those with wounds, both visible and invisible, keep themselves and their families together by finding a purpose and living balanced, fulfilled lives.

“We moved into our ranch in December of 2018. The goal in purchasing this place was to help others with injuries as well as support their family life. Our main goal is to keep families together. We understand that the injury happened to one person however it impacts the spouse and children immensely,” Aaron says.

“Unfortunately, a majority of TBI marriages end in divorce and the kids get hurt in the process as well. We’ve learned to navigate a lot of these personal issues together as a couple and as a family and would love to help others do the same.”

Iron Will Ranch specializes in equine therapy but they also offer a handful of other activities. They work with all types of clients including veterans, children and those suffering from neurological disorders. The Sexton’s realize that each person requires a different type of therapy and what really helps families heal is just getting out there and enjoying their time together.

Aaron and Sarah also help educate ranch-goers on how they can supplement pharmaceuticals for more natural remedies.

“We just want to help others with injuries get off pharmaceutical drugs and take a more natural approach to their healthcare. So many follow along with exactly what the doctor says, and to some extent, that’s perfectly fine. But we want to remind people that they are in charge of their bodies and there are better options out there that allow you to stay present with your loved ones,” said Aaron.

Aaron has been using CBD for years now to help manage his pain levels and mental clarity. He has tried just about every way of consuming CBD, but he believes nothing works as good as the Gofire Inhaler. As a participant in Gofire’s Beta Test Program, Aaron has been able to track his exact dosages and uncover a regimen that ensures predictable outcomes. Using the Gofire Inhaler, Aaron can do everything he needs to do in his everyday life — from feeding the animals and running the ranch to attending elementary school concerts with his kids and spending time with his wife. Alternative medicine has allowed Aaron to manage the symptoms of his traumatic brain injury in a way that pharmaceuticals never could.

As patients continue to look for other ways to manage symptoms from invisible disabilities, Gofire is here to provide a platform for these patients to use. The Gofire Health Suite allows patients to dose plant-based medicine at 2.5 mg increments and track each dose on the Gofire App. They can also search for top-rated products for managing symptoms like pain, anxiety and insomnia. Taking control of your own health is important, and the Gofire Health Suite allows patients to do just that.

“I’m thankful for my injuries is something we say a lot around here, they give me perspective and allow me to find more purpose in my life.” -Aaron Sexton