Heal thyself (myself)

6 05 2012

Sometimes the healer needs healing. That would be me.

If you read this to the end you’ll know how I’ve decided to heal myself, but briefly, some background.

About two months ago I experienced excruciating sciatic pain in my right calf while driving. Fearing a blockage of some sort, I detoured to my internist. On a previous visit for a sudden bad pain in my buttock when I stepped out of the swimming pool, the internist sent me to a physical therapist. Eventually the pain went away with some massage and certain yoga exercises. This time, he referred me to sports medicine.

Sports medicine ordered a two-part nerve test that indicated a pinched nerve. This data was evidence for an MRI that showed “severe” arthritis of my lower back (probably inherited, said the doc) and lumbar stenosis at three levels. I was referred to a spine surgeon by the sports medicine doc who explained my options were surgery, spinal injections, or “live with it.”

I would have to wait a month for my first appointment with the surgeon when I presumed he would discuss surgery. Imagine my anxiety.

In the meantime I “put it out” to a small group of Facebook friends, some of whom are my first cousins, and I learned that spine problems are common in my mother’s family and that several have had surgery with mixed outcomes. My friends were kind and offered moral support.

I began researching spine surgery, symptoms, diagnoses, doctors, hospitals. I found online support sites where people, having no one else to sympathize with them, share their stories. I began seriously/finally to look at ergonomic furniture for me and my laptop computer, knowing that if I did have surgery I would still have to take better care of my body afterward. I thought of at least three people who opted for outpatient-type microsurgery and who came through with flying colors.

What to do, what to do? I decided to see how well I could live with it for the four weeks between appointments.

I went to see my naturopath for a Chinese acupuncture treatment. He also gave me liquidambar tablets for the arthritis. On the second visit I asked him all the questions I had, to which he replied, “That’s a good question!” I said I noticed that when I became “ill,” I somehow recovered, but when I became ill the next time, it would be worse followed by a greater recovery (I would feel better than ever), and so on. This most recent episode is a doozy. My naturopath said if this pattern gave me awareness, then it was a good thing. He said I could pay attention to the situations that coincided with pain.

Now this is the best part: He told me of John E. Sarno, M.D., who presents evidence that the kind of pain I’ve been experiencing is caused by unconscious emotions. He told me, “I believe you have the information and the ability to heal. There’s just one missing piece: the emotional piece. Think about it.”

So I did and I am. I went to amazon.com and looked up one of Sarno’s books. Here’s the link to a preview: http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Back-Pain-Mind-Body-Connection/dp/0446392308#reader_0446392308

I thank my naturopath so much, for listening to me — each appointment with him lasts 90 minutes vs. the 15 minutes of traditional health care — and for pointing me to Sarno’s work.

Sarno’s diagnosis of TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) resonates with me. He discusses my exact symptoms, and I fit the profile of the type of person prone to have TMS. I am giving his method for “no more back pain” a try. So far, so good.

As you may know, I am a Reiki master. I am able to help others. I know intellectually that the body heals itself and that many physical ailments have emotional roots. Though I tell clients about healing the whole self—body, mind, spirit and emotions, I hardly ever address my own need for emotional healing. If it occurred to me, I  quickly put it out of my mind. Now I am willing to own up to my denial and willing to let go of the pain.

When my Reiki master teacher heard that other members of my mother’s family had back problems, she wondered if what we all experienced was “ancestral pain.” We don’t have to know exactly what our ancestors did to cause pain or what it was that caused them to have guilt or other negative emotions, we just have to acknowledge it, express forgiveness, and release it.

I may have inherited that problem, but I have my own “stuff” to fix, too.

Sarno says (I think) deep unconscious emotional pain is the cause of a particular physical pain that is very real. TMS is induced by emotional phenomena, but it is a physical disorder. The pain is my body’s defense mechanism for unexpressed emotions. If I can get in touch with those strong (like rage), buried, and uncomfortable emotions, face them, acknowledge them and explore why, then I can release it (to the Universe) and say, “I don’t need the pain anymore.” Further, that pain is the sign for me to stop and think, “Why am I having this pain at this moment?” and answer, “Okay. I understand. No more pain.”

Like I said, I’m working on it. Talking about it. Writing about it. As for the scary images from my MRI, I’m still keeping the appointment with the spine surgeon. In taking charge of my healing I want to cover all my bases.

Thank you so much for listening. It has been therapeutic for me to write this post. Perhaps what I’ve learned will help someone else.

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke



2 responses

7 05 2012
Rebekah's Studio

I hope folks find this information useful. I did! To me, it’s too bad this information seems to be absent from the repertoire of traditional health care. Sarno published many years ago, but one would not necessarily know about his work unless one had this kind of pain and sought answers.

7 05 2012
Linda Abbott

Very interesting information. I, too, have some lower back issues and want to look into this. Good luck and keep posting.

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