Brainwashed by Big Pharma and the Medical Profession… or do you need a TMS therapist to  help change the neuro pathways in your brain?

Brainwashed by Big Pharma and the Medical Profession… or do you need a TMS therapist to help change the neuro pathways in your brain?

“Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?”
― Peter Hitchens, British Journal

 

Last year we lost two incredible independent thinkers:  Dr. John Sarno, MD, who healed thousands with his mindbody medicine, and author, Louise Hay, who was famous for saying, “It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.”

From the cradle to the grave, we are taught to become dependent on physicians, to believe that surgery, pills, hardware, and physical therapy are the only alternatives to healing. We are taught what to think, not how to think.

Healthcare is big business, According to the Services for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the average annual costs per person hit $10,345 in 2016. In 1960, the average cost per person was only $146 — and, adjusting for inflation, that means costs are nine times higher now than they were then.

First, it’s important that you see a physician to ensure that there are no structural or biochemical problems lurking under the pain. But once you know it is mind-body, it’s unwise to stay with that physician because he will offer scans, prescriptions, physical therapy and any number of physical modalities that might do more harm than good. Medicine is big business in America.

This I know for sure. After stopping opioids pain doesn’t magically disappear like doctors or the government would lead you to believe. Not only did I still have pain, but I was consumed with anxiety and depression. Opioids had stopped the feel-good natural hormones in my brain from kicking into gear.

My medical physician recommended seeing a mental health counselor connected to that health care facility. A relationship with this particular healthcare provider is different from one with a regular shrink in that the counselor shares your information with the physician. With mainstream shrinks, everything you say is confidential. That might be important to you. I’m not real comfortable with my information being shared. Maybe you would like that?

I have been to this counselor twice now. It wasn’t until the end of the second appointment that I realized we were on different pages when talking about mindbody symptoms. She keeps saying “the mind is very powerful” but I’m not sure she knows exactly what to do with that information. It seemed to be a talking point without legs. According to Dr. Sarno, the mind is so powerful, it creates most of our pain and we can also change that with our mind.

When I mentioned creating neuro pathways in the brain, she said “that’s what I’m talking about”…but I never would have known as she never once used the word. Did she think I would not understand the concepts?

One of the first things I learned when taking classes in clinical psychology in college is to never give advice to patients. And yet, this counselor had our entire time scripted.  When trying to go deeper, telling her I had a lot of anger toward the surgeon who fused my back (twice due to error), she didn’t seem to know what to do with the information. We can talk about that at another time, she told me. Then thanked me for being so honest. I just wanted to delve into things rather than skirt the issues. But like I said, she appeared to have our time scripted.

I also mentioned that I had read that patients who suffer congestive heart failure like I have usually only live about five years after the diagnosis, that I tried to get the idea out of my mind but I found myself going back to it. I have a lot of anger about that, I shared.

That’s when she hit me with, “Your mind is very powerful. If you think that, then I guarantee that you will die in 5 years.”

Yet, later when she asked me to rate my pain from one to five as to where I wanted to be in three months, she added,  “I doubt we will reach zero with your pain.” What happened to “the mind is very powerful?” TMS doctors will definitely hold an expectation for you of a pain free life. As Dr. Schubiner says, people in pain don’t want to manage their pain. They want it gone.

The inconsistency confused me.

During my first visit, I asked this mental health counselor if she had heard of Dr. Sarno? She said “yes” so I thought we were on the same page about mindbody issues. During the second session, I told her that there were only about 20 physicians nationwide who practiced the Sarno or mindbody methods. She admitted she had not heard of these doctors. She had no idea what I was talking about, or the points I had been making.

When I tried to tell her that spinal surgeon (Dr. David Hanscom’s website) in Washington State said that only about 22% of spine surgeries are successful, she interrupted me, stating emphatically,  “You really are angry about your spinal surgery, aren’t you?”

It took me back because my spine surgery was not my point at that moment. I was trying to explain to her that often surgery is unnecessary because it’s a psychosomatic or mindbody problem. I admitted I was angry, but her comment came out of the blue and hijacked my thoughts.

It was then that I realized she and I were not walking down the same path. I’ve had a great deal of therapy between the ages of 20 and 30, but we rarely ever talked about my repeated health issues, and how they tied in to psychosocial aspects of my life.

I had at least ten root canals due to dental pain during a ten year period when I was in a stressful relationship that made me unimportant. Had I been fortunate enough to go to a mindbody therapist then, I might have saved my teeth and thousands of dollars.

Therapy in general and therapy geared toward those who suffer mindbody issues vary widely.  Mindbody patients need a practitioner who is educated in Dr. Sarno’s theories or in how the  neuropathways in the brain are formed and changed. Recovery from mindbody pain is specific, requiring therapists who know the program inside and out.

The TMSwicki Website offers a listing of TMS Therapists. who practice mindbody techniques. Also therapist Hasanna Fletcher   has written an article to help with your search.

I know that the counselor at my health center is not the one who will help me the most with my pain issues. I feel like I need to teach her the program. I encourage everyone to use the TMSwiki website to find a practitioner who can help you the most.

References

(https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nhe-fact-sheet.html

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Rage into Consciousness

“There’s nothing like a little physical pain to keep your mind off your emotional problems.”
― John E. SarnoHealing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection 

If you have Tension Myoneuro Syndrome (TMS), you have a certain personality which the late Dr. John Sarno labeled the “T Personality.” One of your characteristics is that you avoid anger and conflict.

As Dr. Sarno writes in his book, Healing Back Pain, “Many TMS patients are the antithesis of hostile; they often have a strong need to be good, nice, pleasant, accommodating, and helpful. Though they may be ambitious and often very accomplished, they do not necessarily pursue their goals with the intensity that seems to be characteristic of the Type A person.”  (Not sure what that says about me who has chronic pain and suffered four heart attacks in 2008)?

For more details about the personality of those who suffer from TMS, read a former post which has been popular:  The Care-Giver Personality

Maimed by the Medical Profession

Those who injure TMS victims are frequently traditional physicians. They are not taught how to deal with pain, especially now that chronic pain has become a special disorder.

They relinquish their responsibility by writing unnecessary prescriptions, or sending you to physical therapy or a specialist for whom you have to wait months for an appointment only to find the specialists don’t know what to do with chronic pain either. As a result your rage is pushed further into your unconscious. You don’t take a stand. You stuff the anger.  

In June 2016 my disks L5-S1 degenerated, causing sciatic pain and the inability to walk or sit upright. First, my primary care physician prescribed three muscle relaxers a day for six weeks which did nothing but make me sleep and increase my anger because I knew I wasn’t being helped. 

I asked for a Cat scan, he did X-rays. Lying on an X-ray table was excruciating. After two more months and finally a CT scan, he referred me to a neurosurgeon.  Waited five months to see the neurosurgeon and was in his office less than five minutes when he directed me to a pain clinic. 

The Disastrous Pain Clinic

Then I waited three months before seeing the pain clinic doctor. During the exam, he said he was going to push under my belly. He pushed extremely hard, I yelled and tears came to my eyes. “That’s your femoral nerve,” he said. No explanation, no apology. I was furious over the harsh treatment that diminished my anger. 

After the exam, he suggested a spinal chord stimulator but announced that I had to see a psychologist first. “We don’t put them in crazy people,” he said tactlessly.  Actually insurances require this. More waiting for another appointment to take a psychological exam covering 300 questions. Then an appointment to discuss the exam.

The loquacious shrink asked no questions. All he did was talk. He said we would discuss the exam, but when we didn’t, I ask about it. He said it was fine, that I was extremely consistent. We didn’t talk about because there was nothing screwy to talk about.

He admitted he could give me the green light, but insisted I was clinically depressed, not suffering from S.A.D. as other physicians had concluded and wanted me on an increased dose of an antidepressant followed by a compulsory third appointment a month later.

If I was clinically depressed why could I be given the green light?

(According to Dr. Sarno, prescribing antidepressants without therapy can be dangerous but traditional physicians do it all the time). I stopped taking them the minute the spinal chord stimulator didn’t work out because of negative side effects.

This psychologist was incredibly boring; I dreaded another appointment.  I had therapy in my earlier years, and I know therapists ask questions, lots of them, they don’t talk about themselves incessantly. But did I express my rage about being held hostage for not one but three hours of billing by a boring shrink? No. Rage driven into the unconscious again and again.

Finally in May 2017, the grating pain doctor was ready to implant the trial stimulator, a procedure that usually took 40 minutes for others but took him two hours with me. He complained that my back was hard and bumpy and that’s why it tripled his time. I was in a rage, but I hid it.

Isn’t it interesting that the current medical profession bombards us with the idea that our backs are weak and falling apart? We need physical therapy, braces, wraps, corsets hot packs, cold packs and chiropractors. We shouldn’t lift anything over ten pounds, sleep on a soft bed  or walk in flimsy shoes. Our backs are falling apart before our eyes.

Yet, fifty years ago people made their living by the strength of their backs. They rarely went to doctors. I can count on one hand how many times I went to the doctor when I was a child. The medical profession has made billions by keeping us weak. Or, at least, thinking we are.

Yet, my back was so hard, it took two hours to get one lead inserted. The research was right. Spines break down above and below back fusions. That’s exactly what happened to me after the fusion in Indiana. It triggered four fractures in my thoracic spine  (as I did physical therapy and the therapists ignored it), and the degeneration of L5-S1 below the spinal fusion. More rage pushed under.

(And all of the above doesn’t take into consideration how I stuffed down anger when my PCP told me my heart was “good, very good” as I had three heart attacks, the last one nearly killing me. And the surgeon in Indiana who fused my back in spite of my protest, when it didn’t need it, using screws & rods that were too small, requiring a second surgery.

Basically those two physicians crippled me, changed my life forever & are the biggest rage of all. What was I suppose to do with all this anger? I stuffed it because I’m a goodist.

The Horrors of a Spinal Chord Stimulator (and Defibrillator)

During the procedure, the pain clinic doctor injected only one midazolam to relax me and  0.1 mg of fentanyl for pain during the entire two hours he jammed a lead up my spine, with a direct hit on every nerve, I swear. He didn’t even try to put the second lead in because it would have taken too much time.

If he had looked at my medical records, he would have seen that fentanyl didn’t work for me when my defibrillator was inserted (another horrendous experience). Either a muscle or nerve or both was injured during the defibrillator debacle while I was wide awake the entire time.

Apparently the cardiologists and the pain clinic doctor gave me too little medication to make a difference. During the defibrullator implantation, I kept rising up, it hurt so much, and the cardiologists kept shoving me down on the table.

One cardiologist said, “Shouldn’t we give her something to relax?” But nothing was done. He had been bragging that he was ten minutes ahead of schedule, and that was what was important to him.

When I tried to talk about it to my regular cardiologist, he cut off my conversation stating, “Mistakes were made.” Did I express my rage over painful, negligent treatment? No. That I couldn’t even use my walker due to my injured shoulder? No. That I wasn’t allowed to even talk about it? I buried the rage.

I could hear a thousand voices screaming in my ear like I had heard all my life, “People make mistakes.” So I pushed the rage into the unconscious. I wasn’t suppose to think about me. I was suppose to make others comfortable even when they made horrendous mistakes. So much rage buried deeper and deeper.

What I went through, regarding the spinal chord stimulator was equally heartless and unsympathetic, especially when the company advertised that the patient could be asleep while the device was implanted. I cried the entire two hours, it hurt so much. I couldn’t stop.

Indifferent to my suffering, the doctor was protecting himself, wanting to know when he had or hadn’t hit a nerve. For obvious reasons better training needs to be conducted and supervised before using patients as test subjects for  hit-and-miss implantation of medical devices.

Furthermore, I was told a representative for my defibrillator would be there to make certain there would be no electrical interference from the stimulator that might offset my defibrillator, but it seems no one from the pain clinic ever contacted anyone at no cardiology. Did I speak up and ask about this? Demand that cardiology be there? No. Another possibly dangerous misstep which I pushed into the unconscious.

After a five-day trial, I gained only a 25% reduction of pain (with one lead) so he refused to insert the permanent device. I was disappointed at the time, but I realize now I finally got a break from ghastly treatment about my pain.   

I had waited from June 2016 to June 2017 for help with my chronic pain only to be told there was no help. I was livid with my primary care physician, neurosurgeon, psychologist,  anesthesiologist and the cardiologist, but did I express my rage? No. I’m a goodist. We have to look and act kind all the time. We give everyone else the benefit of the doubt. We suffer pain instead. How noble of us.

Now, what was I to do about my back pain?

The Rewards of Seeing a TMS Physician

In his book The Mindbody Prescription, Dr. Sarno tells about a patient who explains that a traditional physician tells you pain patients to go to bed or have surgery further injuring and dis-empowering you.

When you visit Dr. Sarno (or a mindbody physician), he emphatically affirms and soothes your feelings which makes you feel safe enough to look at your feelings. 

On July 17, 2017 I made a trip  to Southfield, MI to see TMS doctor Dr. Howard Schubiner at Providence Hospital (even though I wondered if my heart would take the trip, and it barely did). After being housebound for three years, I finally found a physician who not only offered hope but activated a sense of power instead of depletion within me.

As Dr. Schubiner and I talked, I was treated harshly by the pain clinic doctor and I deserved better. No kidding. I was finally being heard.

After a physical examination, he said, “You will walk again. Your surgeries are healed and the strength in your legs denotes that you have no nerve damage. Your current pain is from TMS.” 

I started listening to Dr. John Sarno’s TMS books online at the beginning of July and continued to do so almost 24/7 after seeing Dr. Schubiner, who gave me his updated book, Unlearn Your Pain (2017). Many nights when I slept in my lift chair, I had the books (Audible, Audio Books or You Tube) playing as I slept.

I had hope again. TMS physicians give hope. As Dr. Sarno writes in his book Healing Back Pain, “The pain disappears only when that person has an opportunity to express the terrible, festering rage that has occupied his or her unconscious (sometimes) for years.”

Back to the Cardiologist

As I mentioned, I had been struggling with painful, frightening angina since February 2017. I didn’t know how I could manage lying on my back in the Cath lab due to my severe back pain.

After seeing Dr. Schubiner, I made an appointment with the cardiologist. His PA sent me directly from his office to the Emergency Room, thinking I might be suffering a heart attack at that moment. I was hospitalized for a week while two stents, causing 80% and 70% blockage, were repaired.

But once again an infuriating incident occurred. What are the odds of something going wrong as frequently as it has for me? The cardiologist nicked my artery while fixing the stent with the 80% blockage. He had to insert an additional stent to buttress the nicked artery. I went for help. What I got was a weakened artery, requiring yet another stent to reinforce it. Oh, lucky me.

I thought I was dying on the table when it happened. The pain traversed from the feeling of crushing cinder blocks dropping onto my chest, to a deep ache in the left arm to excruciating pain in both jaws that felt like all the nerves in my teeth were dying. 

I continuously verbalized my pain, puzzled why he wasn’t fixing it, but all he would say is, “I’m sorry, Dianne Hang in there. We’re almost through…we’re almost through…we’re almost through.”  He never told me about the nicked artery. He told my friend who was in the waiting room. Did I express my rage and disappointment about all this? No. 

My checkup 10 days later was scheduled with a PA.  Considering what had happened, I wanted to talk directly to my cardiologist. I had questions. Instead, I was shut down by the PA. In fact, I fully believe I was scheduled with the PA so I would be “calmed down” by the time of my next appointment in November. Did I express my rage? No. I stuffed it again and again and again and again to the almighty medical profession.

A few days after arriving home, I suffered shortness of breath, a symptom I didn’t endure before the procedure. I had nightmares and panic attacks. I had no motivation, no interest in talking to people or doing anything. My house got cluttered because it seemed like too much effort to put things away. Washing piled up. I’m a perfectionist so this was unlike me, but I couldn’t make myself get interested in anything.

There is a big difference between connecting with your rage and complaining about an incident. I had done a lot of complaining without integrating the rage. Then when unbearable depression descended upon me, I asked, “What’s going on psychologically?”

Integrating Rage

All of a sudden I realized how full of rage I was toward the cardiologist who nicked my artery. In fact, it took my breath away, and I realized why I had been struggling to breathe for days. It takes much energy to deny rage, to keep it under the bridge unnoticed. Now, I connected with my rage like a match to gasoline. Every time I went to that hospital, someone screwed up on my body. Wow. I was furious.

The next day I woke up depressed again, so depressed I could barely function which temporarily stymied me. And then insight hit again. The depression was my brain switching gears to protect me. The purpose of TMS is to keep you away from facing the psychological rage buried in the unconscious.

I had faced my rage toward the cardiologist in the cath lab, but I wasn’t finished by any means. My brain was afraid I couldn’t handle more rage. It wants to protect you from psychological wounds that would be worse than physical pain.

Talking To Your Brain

 I yelled at my brain. “Cut. It. Out! Stop it! I don’t need this depression, I can handle this. I have every right to feel rage. And anyone who tells me differently is someone who is afraid of their own anger, afraid of mine or both.”

My anger was appropriate, and trying to pretend I didn’t have it was a lie. It’s not your job to make medical professionals comfortable. You have a right to first-rate medical care. And if you don’t get that, you have a right to a face-to-face apology. Everyone does.

Nor is it helpful to be told by friends and relatives that feeling rage is wrong. That has been as hurtful as what physicians have done. Those who suffer TMS have been told that all their lives, or allowed others to shut them down. They grew up being told they not only had to be nice but they had to make others happy at their own expense or be considered a bad, selfish person. 

Do you know how angry that makes your brain to be told you have to live your life to make others happy while you are being abused?  It’s not right. It’s dishonest. If you want to get rid of your pain, you have to face your rage. When you do, your pain will subside. When you are healed, your pain will disappear. 

The Drive To Consciousness

The only way a victim of TMS will heal is to bring the rage from the unconscious to the conscious, and then sit with it as long as you need. There can be other emotions that you push down, too, not just rage and anger, although Dr. Sarno found that most of his patients healed their severe pain by facing their rage.

Research shows that many who suffer the pain of fibromyalgia, which according to Dr. Sarno is TMS on a severe level, have had physical, sexual or emotional abuse and neglect in their childhood. Many have rage from childhood that has been jammed into the darkness for years. 

The brain participates in this game of pain by causing about 5% oxygen and blood deprivation to a specific area of your body. It’s not enough oxygen deprivation to injure tissue but enough to trigger horrendous pain in your muscles, nerves or tendons. 

It chooses a place where you had or have an injury like a bulging disk or a prior knee or shoulder pain or injury. The brain wants us to believe we have a structural problems so we will focus on the body and not the emotional rage in your unconscious.

“The purpose of pain is to focus on the body,” explains Sarno in his book Healing Back Pain. “As long as the person remains unaware that the pain is serving as a distraction, it will continue to do so undisturbed. But the moment the realization sinks in–and it must sink in for mere intellectual appreciation of the process is not enough–then the pain stops as there is no further need for the pain. It’s the information that gets the job done.”

For example, I had surgery on my wrist, believing it was tendinitis. Whenever I’m psychologically upset, my wrist hurts even though I had surgery to fix it. That’s when I know my brain is playing TM tricks. I tell my brain to “cut it out” and it stops hurting immediately. That’s how it works.

Dr. Sarno calls it Knowledge Therapy. It really is.

Whenever you feel physical pain, you must ask: What’s going on psychologically? Sometimes it won’t seem like there is anything but keep asking.  You feel pain because your brain wants you to focus on the body, not the emotions submerged in the unconscious. The brain things they would be to powerful or devastating to face. 

The feeling might arise in the moment or take hours or days to acknowledge, but it is the only track to healing. If you don’t figure it out, the pain continues or shifts to another vulnerable area in your body to keep you off track. After all, the mind and body work together. They are not separate issues.

Figure out what emotions are holding you hostage to pain, then deal with them. You can do it. Do you want to walk again? Stop your knees from hurting? Unmask your neck pain, shoulder pain, sciatica? Think psychologically. What’s going on that seemingly hurts your body but really hurts your heart? What is your back pain or leg pain closeting? What does your brain think you can’t handle…but you can.

Some people heal their pain by merely reading Dr. Sarno’s books. For others it might take weeks, months or years. I’ve been submerging my feelings of rage and abandonment since I was four so it takes more work for people like me. But why not try it? I’m a whole lot better than I was in June, I can tell you that. And I have more work to do. It’s almost like living a mystery and solving the crime clue by clue.

 

Body Movin’ in the Last Five Weeks

Body Movin’ in the Last Five Weeks

This is the fifth week of practicing the MindBody program, a fascinating approach to manage or expunge physical pain from your body. It’s the antidote to opioids. It was developed by New York’s John Sarno, M.D., who died June 22, 2017 at the age of 93.

Now progressive physicians across the country continue to keep his program alive. I hope my battle with pain, using the mindbody method, will be my small contribution to Dr. Sarno’s work. Basically the last three years I’ve gone nowhere except medical appointments due to pain and tradition medicine that failed.

Since reading and listening to audio books and watching videos by various mindbody physicians, I started to make changes. My biggest revelation was when I realized that fear was preventing me from progressing. I wasn’t exactly sure which of my physical issues were mindbody, so I held myself back out of fear.

Since June 2016 muscle relaxers, X-rays, Cat-scans, a neurosurgeon, the pain clinic, and a trial spinal chord simulator failed to ameliorate my pain. The MindBody Program was my last hope. It should have been my first hope. But we are programmed to believe that traditional medicine is our only answer.

As a result, we have little faith in the idea that we can control pain through the neural pathways in our brain, that pain in the body means the brain is controlling it. When it hurts, we want a quick fix like surgery. According to spinal surgeon Dr. David Hanscom in Seattle, Washington, spine surgeons have only a 22% success rate with back surgeries. That’s low. Many surgeons admit that it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of back pain. According to Dr. Sarno, disk problems or bone spurs don’t automatically cause pain.

Additionally, Dr. Sarno said there are no verifiable studies that show inflammation causes back pain. The reason patients find relief from injections is mostly due to the various anesthetics used with the steroids. It helps for a while. For instance, Dr. Sarno found that a steroid, such as prednisone, helps fibromyalgia patients temporarily, but the pain returns.

After the trial spinal chord simulator failed at the end of April, 2017, I wrote MindBody doctor Howard Schubiner a letter, explaining what had happened in the last ten years since I took his MindBody classes at Providence Hospital. He called and set up an appointment to see him in Southfield, MI on July 17, 2017.

Finding a way to get there was stressful. After several attempts fell through, I hoped a transportation company called Lake to Lake would be my answer. When I learned that the charge was $2.85 a mile, I knew that wouldn’t work. A 400 miles round-trip cost $1150.

It’s a shame that medical necessities, such as, transportation are unreasonably expensive in this country. But I knew that if I were to have courage and confidence to use the MindBody program, I needed a thorough neurological examination from a MindBody doctor. Other physicians would send me for testing I didn’t need or refuse to send me for testing I needed, perhaps, wasting another year of my life.

I’ve accomplished the following in the last five weeks:

Stopping one opioid prescription for pain.  Two opioids were prescribed when I was admitted to a nursing home for back/leg pain April 2015. It was finally a cocktail that worked. However, when I re-injured my back June 2016, the pain pills didn’t work as well. There was an increase in pain, but I didn’t want to increase the medication.

At my June 2017, appointment with my new primary care physician (PCP), I listened to the lecture about cutting back on pain medications. It’s like an airplane, he said. Don’t stop them suddenly. Wean off them slowly as you come in for a landing.

I felt defensive. Assigned a new physician and immediately he’s badgering me about taking too much medication, I thought. They are eager to prescribe it, and I accepted it willingly, but there are usually no quick fixes to stopping it.

However, I had been suspicious for several months that one of the opioids didn’t do much except make me sleepy.  On July 3, 2017, I stopped taking 30 mgs of an opioid every 8 hours and much to my surprise, I didn’t notice too much difference in pain levels.

I hurt when I took them. I hurt when I stopped them. That definitely points to the theory that mindbody pain is not tissue damage. Nor did I have any heart palpitations or other disturbing side effects when I ended them. I assume addiction to pills is not one of my major problems.

I was afraid of the  pain so I continued to take them. The MindBody program gave me the courage to try a different way. I do need the second one as I’ve tried to go without, but I have confidence that the program will eliminate my pain in time.  I’m proud of myself for stopping one of them.

Walking without my walker.  For short walks in the house, I’m using a cane or walk under my own volition. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more painful and takes more effort. I have to start building up my body strength.

I don’t know what happened in Indiana because I was all alone and the medical profession was responsible to absolutely no one about my physical status, but my right leg has acted like it was a victim of a stroke. They asked me three times if I had ever had a stroke? No.

It could be the fusion, or the fact I haven’t walked with a natural gait for three years? Whatever, one definitely utilizes different muscles using a cane or nothing at all. I have to start somewhere.

Drove my car for the first time since August 10, 2014.  I called AAA to get the battery charged and took a spin around the condo complex. Driving a car is like riding a bike–you never forget how to do it. Both created neural pathways in the brain.

Previously I couldn’t get out of my car due to the low seats and the searing pain in my knees. But after listening to the principles of the MindBody Program for four weeks, it was much easier. I anticipate getting out rather than focus on pain.

I was feeling powerful behind the wheel so I decided to drive into town for a car wash. I drove about three miles to the main street when it stalled. This was the same car that had been fine-tuned and tested to make it to Phoenix, Arizona, August 2014.

Everything went out–power steering, brakes, windows, AC, you name it. I wonder if a cable came loose on the battery, but the AAA guy was young and did nothing to check it out.

It was a sweltering hot day, no doubt over 100 degrees inside the car.  I was the second car in line for the left turn lane. Tempers flared and horns honked to let me know I had fouled up traffic.

Thankfully, some guys pushed me into a gas station where I waited for AAA to roll in again. My basic concern was my heart. It functions at only 35% with a defibrillator and due to the stress and heat, I was rapidly losing stamina.

Triple A followed me home. The car conked out about three minutes after he left. I will have the car towed to a garage this next week. But I kept thinking–I made it. My first trip out was stressful and unpredicated, but I handled it. It was also a warning that I need to be safe when I travel due to my heart.

Took a 400 mile round-trip to Southfield, MI to see Dr. Howard Schubiner, M.D., doctor of Internal Medicine at Providence Hospital and a MindBody physician. My angel neighbor drove me. (Even Dr. Schubiner called her an angel.)

I rented a car, but she drove due to insurance coverage. My appointment with Dr. Schubiner was from 2:00  p.m. to 4:30 p.m. It was extensive and worth every minute. He, like Dr. Sarno, had learned new things since 2007, so now I’m privy to them, too. He gave me the updated edition of his book Unlearn Your Pain (2016).

We talked about the MindBody Program, he examined me, then we spent the remainder of time discussing emotional issues. He put me in touch with my anger, power and how to change neural pathways in the brain.  One time when I cried, sharing a story, he wiped his tears away. “That’s sad,” he said. “It makes me cry, too.”

That, my friends, is a dedicated, compassionate doctor.

I will be blogging about techniques, and what I uncovered in my subconscious that has caused great pain throughout my body the last three years or more. I also learned that my heart and the swelling of my left leg and foot are not MindBody. That gives me confidence to go forward unafraid about issues I can control. And seek medical help for the other.

For example, my former primary care physician dismissed a muscle/nerve test recommended by the neurosurgeon saying, “We know you have nerve damage.”  Yet, Dr. Schubiner found good muscle strength in my legs. Nerve damage in my back would make my legs markedly weak, he explained.

“You do not have nerve damage,” he asserted. “You will get well. You will walk again,”  he added with conviction.

You can’t imagine how wonderful it is to hear someone encourage you rather than give up on you like all the other physicians did. Because the surgery was performed in IN, no doctor in MI wanted to take responsibility.

Pain signals come from the brain. All pain is real. It is often triggered by oxygen deprivation to the muscles and nerves which can cause tremendous pain. Or via neural pathways in the brain that have been turned on and need to be turned off. MindBody exercises can do that.

Dr. David Schechter in Los Angeles, CA said sometimes there is a loop from the brain to the spine, sending pain messages. That loop must be broken with mindbody techniques.

The two things you need to fight are fear and doubt. They mutilate confidence. You must be convinced that the pain is a message from the brain, not a structural deformity causing pain. The brain is trying to protect you from the emotional pain it thinks you can’t handle. You can handle it. You don’t need pain to distract you from the emotional work that needs to be acknowledged. Could emotional pain really be anymore difficult than the physical pain that is destroying your life?

I have many exercises to do daily to re-program my brain. Some people can read one of Dr. Sarno’s books and be healed instantaneously. I’m not one of those people. I had a stressful childhood which my brain deciphered as dangerous. Now, I’m always seeing danger in situations, especially walking on a painful back.

The brain doesn’t know the difference between physical trauma (like surgery or illness) that triggers pain and emotional trauma (like a childhood of emotional or physical abuse or neglect) that triggers pain. It reacts to “danger” or “no danger.”  The mindbody program teaches you how to turn off the danger response.

To reduce symptoms, you must notice your pain and negative thoughts but counter them with statements such as “That’s interesting.” “I don’t need to do anything about this right now.” “It will pass.” “I’m OK and will be fine.” (This is why you must believe unequivocally that your pain is MindBody and not structural). Pain might hurt but it won’t harm you.

When you feel confident, move forward by engaging in activities that seemed too frightening or painful, such as, driving your car for the first time in three years, working in your garden, or running  a 5K.  You learn to control your pain rather than your pain controlling you.

The medical profession wants scientific proof via studies (which Dr. Howard Schubiner and others are conducting now), but Dr. Sarno’s success was in the thousands of patients he healed, starting in the 80’s. He, and now other MindBody doctors, believe that this is the wave of the future.

The way we do medicine now is too costly. Do you know that 2.5 billion was spent on back hardware alone in 2015 and most fusions cause a spinal breakdown above and below the fusion?

I have a fusion from L1-L5 and didn’t want it. Two years later, I’ve suffered 4 fractures in the thorasic spine and L5-S1 in the lumbar region. And I still suffer spondylolisthesis at L4-L5. MindBody medicine, on the other hand, takes a few trips to the doctor and a book or three. You do the actual healing.

There is a peer-led website at http://www.tmswiki.org/w/index.php?page=The_Tension_Myositis_Syndrome_Wiki   where you can receive support and know you are not alone in your pain issues.

If you have given up hope about how to manage or eliminate your pain, please return to this blog because I plan to get better, and I want you to get better with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking Body

“Remember, the purpose of the pain is to divert attention from what’s going on emotionally and to keep you focused on the body.”
~ Dr. John Sarno, The Mind Body Prescription, p. 148

How many of you learned to think about your feelings, talk about them, but God forbid, don’t feel or express them? When shared in childhood, you might have encountered a caregiver or loved one who also struggled with understanding and/or expressing  emotions. Your feelings triggered their feelings, the ones they were avoiding. So they shut you down quickly with a dirty look, sarcastic remark, guilt, shame, misunderstanding, or silence. And your brain said “Enough of this.” And it shut down your emotions, too.

Feelings seem daunting. For many years I saw a brilliant but intellectualized therapist, who explained everything to me in great detail. But again I didn’t learn how to expressemotions. I could write a treaty about them but still walled them off. I learned a lot, but it was more intellectualizing.

Expressing emotions is a way of releasing the body’s truth. As you express emotions, that teaches the brain that feelings come and go, explains Alan Gordon, L.C.S.W., a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and Director of the Pain Psychology Center in California. “Your body is trying desperately to get you to feel, but it doesn’t have the power of speech,” says Gordon.

We’re afraid if we allow our feelings, they will overwhelm us, that we might lose control, go insane, and do great damage to someone or something. Terrified of my anger, I maintained a vision that I would grab someone with whom I was angry and beat them to death. That was one way my brain protected me from expressing anger. It offered a terrifying image to stop the anger dead in its tracks. I certainly didn’t want to beat someone to death even if I felt like it. I suspect your brain has fooled you into thinking you could do more evil than good, expressing negative emotions.

In time and with a different therapeutic approach, I learned how to express  my pent-up emotions in therapy where it was safe. You might need to do the same, although not everyone who has trouble revealing emotions needs therapy. You must decide for yourself.

The brain is a remarkable organ. It’s your friend. It adopts not only scary images but bodily pain to divert attention away from what it considers a dangerous emotion or situation. The brain of mind-body students uses pain to divert your attention away from what is perceived as alleged danger.

Instead of feeling angry, sad, anxious, lonely—whatever emotion feels threatening in the moment—the brain reminds you of pain in the body. Now, you are thinking about your back, knees, shoulder, hips, herniated disks, and so forth. The brain has successfully diverted your attention away from your negative emotions.

Now, you are thinking about your pain, not your emotions. Get it?

The brain, however, is not your enemy (even though it leads you down a useless path at times). It’s trying desperately to be your friend, to keep you safe from what it considers an unsafe situation, away from alarming emotions which could result in a potentially harmful situation. It believes it’s job is to protect you from harm.

For instance, you want to punch your sister-in-law in the face for the cruel comment she just made about the size of your hips and suddenly your hip hurts so much, you can barely walk. Your emotional situation might not be that obvious but you get the idea.

Don’t spend futile time in anger toward your brain for using these techniques of intellectualizing and diversion. Thank your brain for caring about you enough to protect you from what it considers a dangerous situation. Merely thank it for the message.

But then let the brain know that YOU are in charge of your life.

Thank you, brain, for wanting to protect me. Thank you for loving me enough to keep me from danger. But now I can handle these emotions. I don’t need this diversion of pain anymore. I can handle this. Thank you.

Be kind. Be gentle. Some people say they have to speak loudly and aloud to get their brain to hear the command. Some might yell “STOP IT!” when suddenly aware that the brain sends a pain signal to avert a threatening emotion. But whatever way you need to take control, use that method. Don’t let it run wild like an unsupervised, out of control three-year-old.

And then report back to me on this blog what happened to your pain. It most likely will take more than once for this technique to work, but don’t give up. Soon your brain will learn that intellectualizing and diversion tactics no longer work with you. They are unnecessary. You are strong. You are ready to deal with your emotions straight away. That also releases your brain to work on your behalf in other areas of your life.

The next time pain pops up in your body, ask yourself:

What am I not feeling? And then allow yourself to feel it, knowing you are safe.

Walkin’ Back to the MBS Program

Walkin’ Back to the MBS Program

I’m sorry that it’s been a long time since my last post. You see, on my way to Phoenix in 2014, I fractured my back. I had waited 4 years for a senior unit to become available, and when I finally got the call, I had one month to be in the Phoenix office to sign papers.

Every morning I got up at 6:30 a.m and started packing. When my sides started to throb,  I made a doctor’s appointment. I had fractured my ribs, packing and lifting boxes.  The doctor said there was nothing he could do, so I left Michigan, hoping the fractures would heal.  I thought he could have ordered a bone scan and put me on a bone-strengthening drug, but guess it slipped his mind. I was taking Boniva when I lived in Phoenix.

The first night of my trip I made it to Auburn, Indiana. The wind was fierce. When I turned to place my suitcase onto my walker, the walker was gone, clipping across the parking lot at a rapid rate. If it jumped the curb, I knew it would cause an accident on their busiest street. I tried to walk fast to catch it. The curb stopped it, but I half-ran the entire parking lot without the help of my walker.

That night I woke up about midnight with horrific back pain. Many have been there at one time or another—-grabbing the sheets to rise from the bed, but could barely hobble to the bathroom and back. I called 911 and an ambulance took me to DeKalb Health where they administered pain medication. An employee from the Sheriff’s Department took me back to the motel. I thought I would lie back, relax and be on my way in a day or two. Wrong.

When I showed up at DeKalb Medical the third time, I was sent to a Betz Nursing Home for therapy. When my pain grew worse, I was taken back to the hospital for a Catscan (finally). The doctor in charge told me my spine had fallen,ordered a pain pump, and sent me to Ft. Wayne for surgery.

Before I left for Arizona, I had read a study that said surgeons rarely fused backs anymore because (1) they don’t seem to work, and (2) the spine breaks down above and below the fusion. I said to the surgeon, “You don’t fuse backs, do you?”  He retorted angrily, “Yes, we do.”

On September 9, 2014, I woke up with a fusion from L1-L5. I was sent to a boot-camp rehabilitation therapy where patients were in and out in three weeks. I thought, fine, I can be on my way to Phoenix. I could never be so wrong.

Therapy was agonizing. After about ten days of tears and torture, they took me back to the hospital.  Due to the severe pain, they administered conscious sedation to do another MRI.  I was told the surgeon had used rods and screws that were too small, plus the screws were lying loose in my back.

As I’ve posted previously in the Body Says What The Mind Cannot, I had taken TMS classes in Southfield, MI with Howard Schubiner, M.D. in 2007. I had bulging discs and spondylolisthesis (vertebra riding piggyback on the ones below) but managed my back situation. For example, by age forty, 68% of people have disk degeneration without pain and by age sixty, 88% have bulging disks without back pain  (Brinjiki W., et. al. Am. J. Neuroradiol. 2015m 36:811-6)). In other words, bulging or herniated discs does not automatically mean back pain.

But a surgeon not versed in mindbody medicine, sees a structural problem on a scan and thinks “Aha” that is what is causing the pain. I had managed for 10 years with a bad-looking spine until this dreadful night in Auburn, Indiana.

They informed me that they had missed a fracture at L-3. I believe that if they had sent me to a nursing home for six weeks to heal the fracture, I would have been OK. But I’m not sure when the fracture occurred. The physician’s notes reported that the surgeons had missed it during the first surgery, but they didn’t put a rod and screw in at L-3, so how could they have missed it? However, the physical therapists at the boot-camp rehab dropped me onto a slider board which splintered it into two pieces, leaving me hanging between the bed and the wheelchair. I was terrified, and I thought the pain would kill me.  Did the fracture happened then? I don’t know.

To make a long story short, I was in 3 hospitals and 3 nursing homes (two abusive nursing homes) from August 10, 2014 until December 30, 2014 until Medicare funds dried up and I returned to MI.

In the last three years I was in and out of the hospital and spent 4 weeks in a local nursing home for rehab. One time I was ready to have surgery when the surgeon changed his mind at the last-minute. He told me to either go back to the surgeon in Indiana or to a nursing home. I couldn’t find a surgeon who wanted to touch another surgeon’s work.

In the meantime I was on a ton of opioids and in pain the moment they wore off. The surgery had taken a toll on my heart (had four heart attacks in 2008 which went undiagnosed even though I sought medical help twice before the “big one.” Each time I was told my heart was “good, very good.” I am alive today, only because a defibrillator was implanted in 2015. My heart functions at only 35%. I grow weary very quickly. It changed my whole life.

From December 30, 2014 until June, 2016 I went nowhere except to medical appointments. Due to the pain and weakness in my legs, I couldn’t rise from a normal car seat which limited me to riding in SUV’s only.  I didn’t dare go anywhere like a restaurant or movie theater for fear I wouldn’t be able to get up from a booth or seat. I couldn’t walk without the aid of a walker.

2015:  When a bone in the spine collapses, it’s called a vertebral compression fracture. These compression fractures started when I lived at Laurels Nursing Home in Indiana. They hurt so much in the morning,  I would have to inch my way upward, losing my breath with each movement until I came to a sitting position.  The therapists brushed off my complaints. One therapist told me that she had four bulging discs but therapy was the only thing that helped her and it would help me, too.

I’m lucky I didn’t puncture a lung.

When I had my first appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, the nursing home assistant took me for X-rays, then drove half-way back to the nursing home before she received a call, stating the doctor was waiting to see me. No one told her I was to have X-rays and see the doctor. She turned the bus around but by time we got there, it was 7:00 pm and everyone had gone home. Another appointment was made for the next day but with the PA, not the surgeon.

When I complained to her about the pain in my upper back, she looked at the images and said “the doctor decided not to do anything about that.” I don’t think she knew they were new fractures. It was so painful riding in the old nursing home bus, I never went back. So the fractures healed like they do in compression fractures .

After starting in-home therapy in Michigan, the therapist wanted me to get in and out, up and down from my Lazy Boy. While doing this, the pain from these vertebral compression fractures grew worse. He insisted that I wasn’t hurting myself, but when the pain got too much, I had an MRI which showed fractures at T-6, T-9, T-11 & T-12 all of which were old (at Laurels) except for T-9 (getting up & down from the Lazy Boy).

They tried to repair the T-9 compression fracture with a procedure called kyphoplasty.  However, as soon as I returned home from the hospital, the in-home therapists returned. Again the pain grew worse and another MRI was ordered. The kyphoplasty was suppose to heal before starting therapy so it fell causing a fracture on top of a fracture. Now I have more pain for about eight weeks. I spent a month in my hometown nursing home during another back pain trauma. Pain never disappeared. I couldn’t handle steps, ride in a normal car, eat in a restaurant or go to a movie.

Fast forward to 2016. I was sitting in my wheelchair working at the computer when my back fell. It hurt but not as much as when I tried to stand up and found the sciatic nerve was pinched. I laid in my lift chair for three weeks, hobbling to the bathroom and back to the chair until I could get to the doctor.

My primary care physician ordered muscle relaxers, scheduling a return visit in six weeks. I knew my back needed a whole lot more than muscle relaxers. In June I asked for a Catscan. He barked, “What would I do with a Catscan?” I was stunned. I retorted, “Find out what’s wrong with my back and send me to someone who can help.” He refused, sending me for X-rays which were excruciating as I had to lie on a hard metal table on my back and each side to get films. When they pulled me straight up from the table, I screamed; it felt like every fractured vertebra in the thoracic spine and every fused one from L1 to L5 was breaking.

The X-rays showed problems so he finally ordered a Catscan.  I was told that disks at L5-S1 had degenerated, pushing on nerve roots on both the left and the right.  A referral was made to a neurosurgeon. However, I didn’t know until later that my PCP recommended no surgery due to my heart. That was not his call to make. I have a cardiologist who told me, “If you have to have something done with your back, we’ll do a stress test.” End of subject.

I waited from June 2016 until October 2016 to see the neurosurgeon who had no intention of doing anything. He sent me to the Pain Clinic. I waited until January 2017 for that appointment. During the exam, the pain doctor pushed hard on my femoral nerve so hard, I yelled and tears came to my eyes, it hurt so much. What is wrong with these medical professionals especially this one who was dealing with pain issues. He treated me harshly without respect. I didnt’ deserve it.

The next day I could barely walk due to continual muscle spasms in the inner tights of both legs. The muscles are still that way, seven months later. When he re-examined me, he had no idea why the muscles were spasming but thought the trial chord stimulator would eliminate the pain.

Inserting the trial chord stimulator was a disaster. A forty minute procedure to insert two leads up my spine took exactly two hours because he said my spine was hard and bumpy. The conscious sedation didn’t work so I was wide awake during the tragic ordeal. I swear the man hit every nerve in my spine.

The trial stimulator subdued the pain on the front of the thighs, but my knees burned and the spasms in my inner thighs continued. I estimated a 25% decrease in pain. The pain doctor decided not to implant the permanent stimulator because he needed a 50% to 70% reduction in pain and he said, “I’m not hearing that from  you?” I shook my head no. He referred me back to the neurosurgeon.

When I was in the nursing home, the PA said “We’re going to get Dianne walking again,” but the PCP said he didn’t think so. The neurosurgeon, who had no intention of ever helping me regain mobility, referred me back to my primary care physician, recommending an EMG (muscle/nerve test). The test was not done because my PCP said he already knew I had nerve damage.” (wrong again). I was at the end of the road with a doctor who could not change his thinking and cross into the promised land with me.

That’s when I dusted off Dr. Howard Schubiner’s  book “Unlearn You Pain” from 2010 and started reading it, as well as, listening to his and Dr. John Sarno’s You Tube videos and audio books. For those who don’t know, Dr. John Sarno is the father of the TMS (now called Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMB) or MindBody Syndrome (MBS).

I started to improve but still had incapacitating pain. I could not go forward with the Mind Body program until I erased my fear and doubt. That’s when I wrote Dr. Howard Schubiner in Southfield, Michigan, a three page letter, outlining all my concerns. I needed to know which health issues were mind-body, and whether there was a chance for me to get well and walk upright again. For the past three years, I’ve walked hunched over with a walker, can’t do steps, and could only ride in vehicles that didn’t require me to lift up and out with my legs. Sad to say, I’ve been homebound for three years due to pain and the fear of hurting myself more.

He responded, and we set up an appointment for July 17, 2017–three years after I had received a letter about a vacancy from a senior living place in Phoenix. And on the way there, I fractured my back. Now, three years later I was taking a trip to Southfield, Michigan in the hope of being healed.

I believe my story and progress will encourage you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Fantastic Book

51KVwJDVQVL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_Dr. Lissa Rankin has written a book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That Your Can Heal Yourself which offers examples of mind-body healing that will knock your socks off.

When Dr. Rankin got sick, she found that “health care fails to recognize the body’s innate ability to self-repair and an appreciation for how we can control these self-healing mechanisms with the power of the mind,” she writes.

In her book she tells about Dr. Bruce Moseley an orthopedic surgeon renowned for his surgery on debilitating knee pain. He completed a study where one group received sham surgery; the patient was sedated, received three incisions in the same location as real surgery, and the patient was shown a per-recorded tape of another’s surgery, on video, believing it was their own.

One-third of the patients who received the real surgery had their pain eliminated. But shockingly, those who received the “sham surgery” had the same result. In fact at one point those with sham surgery had less knee pain than those who received the real surgery probably because they had not undergone the trauma of real surgery.

As Dr. Rankin writes: ‘This study hit me in the gut.”  She continues, “That was the first real evidence I collected that proved to me that a belief–something that happens solely in the mind–could alleviate a real, concrete symptom in the body. And some people get well on their own because the body is a self-healing organism constantly striving to return to homeostasis.”

For more about this book read the online article:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2421772/The-cancer-patient-cured-broken-radiotherapy-machine-paralysed-man-walked-visiting-Lourdes-New-book-shows-incredible-influence-mind-body.html

Dr. Sarno recommends that chronic pain sufferers read mind-body material every day like a meditation because this embeds the brain with the ideas of mind-body healing, creating new neuropathways that “think” healing rather than illness. This book is an excellent source for daily reading.

Is Anyone Making Money Off Your Pain?

9354_10151426254837965_887580121_nYears ago, a chiropractor told a friend of mine that he had trouble with his back because one leg was slightly longer (or shorter) than the other one. How many times have you heard that one? The leg was what it was. It wouldn’t change. So my friend returned for treatments for years. In fact, he may still be seeking treatment, I’m not sure.

Others have been told that poor posture, muscular imbalances, tendinitis, bursitis, shin splints, tennis elbow, sciatica, carpal tunnel, osteoarthritis, minor rotor cuff tears, minor cartilage tears and more are all causes for your pain and must be repaired. The truth be known, chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, acupuncturists, and various pain specialists make money from your aches and pains. The mystery remains that blaming (or fixing) the pain on a structural abnormality rarely gets a patient back to living a pain-free life.

Ninety percent of all people experience a back pain episode at some point in their lives and sometimes several. Yet, the explanation of structuralism often frightens people even more–right into back surgery. When my MRI exposed six herniated discs, my primary physician used the standard “scare tactics”, reminding me how fragile I was. “Don’t fall,” he warned repeatedly with great alarm, as if I would fall on purpose. So I sat in my Lazy Boy, terrified to move, the exact opposite of what I needed to do. Living in constant fear kept my attention focused on the pain, not the recovery.

As pioneer mind-body specialist John Sarno states:

“As long as the patient believes there is something wrong with their back or other joint, the pain will hang around.”

Backs are very strong unless you have some disease like osteoporosis. That’s a medical issue outside mind-body treatment as are fractures. But any mind body program of integrity will absolutely require detailed tests to ferret out any unhealthy conditions. If a program doesn’t ask to review your medical history, run in the opposite direction. Current MRI and X-rays were mandatory prior to my acceptance into Dr. Schubiner’s mind-body program.

Dr. Nickolai Bogduk, Professor of Pain Medicine, University of Newcastle and Head, Department of Clinical Research, Royal Newcastle Hospital, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia writes in his book Clinical And Radiological Anatomy of Lumbar Spine, Fifth Edition):

“Despite technological advances in the diagnosis and treatment of low back pain, and the logarithmic increases in cost of care, we have not seen a commensurate improvement in outcomes.”

In an article titled, “Low Back Pain” published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2001, Dr. Bogduk, who has devoted his career to teaching doctors not to overestimate the importance of biomechanical factors in back pain, writes:

“Degenerative disc disease conveys to patients that they are disintegrating, which they are not. Moreover, disc degeneration, spondylosis and spinal osteoarthritis correlate poorly with pain and may be totally asymptomatic.”

When I’m suffering intense pain and can’t work the mind body program effectively (or closer to the truth, have slacked off on working the program), I half-wish I had gone ahead with the massive surgery recommended by the orthopedic surgeon in 2007 who planned to replace four discs with hardware that resembled small, heavy-duty bed springs, stabilizing it further with a spinal fusion. Today, just six years later, spinal fusions are found to be ineffective and not recommended. The surgery was scheduled for my birthday. Happy birthday Dianne. Out of fear, I cancelled it the next morning. When I’m living in a fantasy, feeling helpless and hopeless about things in general, I wonder if I did the right thing. When I’m in my right mind, I don’t regret it.

The idea of that massive surgery by a surgeon I really didn’t trust or like, scared me enough to research mind body physicians and drive 200 miles once a week to attend Dr. Howard Schubiner’s classes in Southfield, MI. It was there that I learned I was not fragile at all. Before all our modernization and lack of activity, such as, sitting at a computer all day, using twitter and ipads, jumping in a car that does everything for you except wash your sheets, men and women were working the fields, lifting heavy equipment and doing strenuous manual labor. Our spines are very strong. And when a major bone, like the femur, breaks, it heals within 6 weeks. The body is amazing. Yet, we sit around with back pain for decades. How can that be?

Aligning with Dr. Bogduk’s quote above, Schubiner presented several studies that showed the backs of many, especially the elderly, are massively degenerated with no pain. Victims don’t even know about the degeneration until they have an MRI for another health reason. Yet, others have low to mild degeneration and suffer excruciating pain. So why doesn’t degeneration across the board cause pain? It would appear that structuralism can’t thoroughly or accurately explain pain.

The same can be said about knee pain. How many operations a year are done to replace knee and hips? At this point, it’s an expectation or a competition by the elderly. X-rays show that my knees are bone on bone, but why, when it’s warm outside, can I walk around with hardly any knee pain, and when the weather is cold, I can barely rise from a chair due to pain? It would seem to have more to do with internal fluids and lubrication than the rubbing of bone on bone? Personally, the inconsistency intrigued me, and one of the reasons I attended a mind body treatment program in 2007.

The same goes for treatment options. I have had some of the most inconsistent physical therapy experiences around. In the 1980’s, after back surgery, I was given a host of exercises to do all laying on my back to protect the spine. In 2009 a physical therapist showed up at my door asking me to do basically the same exercises I had done twenty-five years before, but now he had me standing upright at the kitchen counter with no regard for protection of the back or knees or my pain level while standing and doing these exercises.

Moreover, I’ve had several physical therapists, ordering me to do repetitive exercises while the rheumatologist, who diagnosed fibromyalgia, told me I should never do anything repetitive as it exacerbates muscle pain for people who suffer fibro. My point is, even physical therapists and physicians can’t agree on how to treat pain, and the years seem to bring little progress or change.

The idea of either physical therapy or surgery offer some people “hope” that things might improve, but I found it short-lived. In fact, the last time I was in physical therapy for my knee and back pain, one of my heart stents closed up, and I couldn’t get the therapist to take my complaints seriously. She acted as if I didn’t want to do the work. I landed in the hospital having one of my heart stent replaced. Whenever my doctor suggests PT now, I shake my head, NO! Why hang on to hope that brings no permanent change? And in my last case, seemed to exacerbate other health issues.

Integrated, mind-body physicians refuse to send their patients to PT any more. Pioneer John Sarno admits that in years past, he sent his patients to PT only because he didn’t know what else to do for them. That is, until he discovered the mind body theory and strategies and 80 percent of his patients have found permanent relief from pain.

Mind-body Explanations

According to Scott Brady, M.D., author of Pain Free For Life: (2006), pain is the result of what he calls the Autonomic Overload Syndrome (AOS):

“AOS is a group of chronic pain and other symptoms, caused by harmful levels of stress, pressure and repressed strong negative emotions that have built up in the subconscious mind. These emotions and stresses build up and overstimulate the autonomic nervous system and related mechanisms which control many automatic bodily functions, such as muscle tone and hormone production.”

In other words, we need to stop thinking of the body as a car that only lasts a few years before it breaks down totally and start thinking more about neurology and biochemistry. Dr. Brady says that 80 percent of his patients become 80 to 100 percent pain-free. Over time the cure rate holds firm. Ta-da!

If your pain moves around, it’s a good indication of mind body pain. If the left knee hurts so much that you can hardly walk on it, but two hours later the right knee hurts, and the left knee doesn’t, it’s a good indication of mind-body pain. No one is advocating the pain is false. It hurts and it’s real. In fact, the pain of fibromyalgia pain has been compared to the pain of a fractured bone. What mind body physicians are advocating is that the original cause is something different than what you’ve always been told. Maybe surgery, physical therapy, and drugs only provide temporarily relief because you have not found the root cause of your pain in these therapies.

Anyone who suffers pain knows that there is no secondary gain in having pain. With the AOS (and other similarly named programs), the idea is that your brain is trying to protect you from emotions that seem to threaten your self-image. The brain believes whatever is going on in your life is the scariest thing possible. Pain is an acceptable distraction. It’s common for the brain to choose an old injury for the site of pain because it’s sure you won’t associate it with emotions. You will automatically accept that an old injury might cause pain. Your brain will choose the symptoms that work as the best distraction for you. The brain is trying to be your friend but it’s techniques to protect you actually rob you of life.

We have to stop being embarrassed about admitting that our emotions cause us pain because hiding that fact keeps us from the treatment options that can alleviate our pain. There is nothing wrong with having emotions. Maybe the first step is to spend time in meditation telling yourself that over and over.

When pain hits, you must think psychological. Then ask yourself questions, such as, “What’s going on in my life that might be triggering this kind of pain? What is it that I don’t want to feel, admit, or deal with so I’m having intense physical pain to distract me from the real issues.”

And then, perhaps, it’s time to run an Internet search to see what mind body physicians are available in your area.