My Journey of Discovery Required Soup
and Delving Into the Pain
Two months ago I was on a roll—cooking and writing, teaching yoga, feeling great. And then I wasn’t. That’s when debilitating back pain brought me to my knees. My journey of discovery these past couple of months involved delving into the pain to appreciate this sacred illness.
A sacred illness is one that educates us and alters us from the inside out, provides experiences and therefore knowledge that we could not possibly achieve in any other way. Deena Metzger
Perhaps it’s more than a coincidence that on the morning of my Pi Day birthday this week I woke up pain-free.
My journey of discovery . . .
It all began with sharp, debilitating pain that doubled me over, barely able to move. An hour later it was gone. With no pain when I woke up, I taught an early morning yoga class. After a few months of teaching, this class felt like my best yet. I found my voice as a yoga teacher. Rather than teaching from “memory,” I taught in the moment. I was engaged. The students were engaged. So life affirming.
However, once home, the memory of the previous night’s intense pain led to a call to my chiropractor for an adjustment. As the pain soon returned and remained throughout the rest of the day, the next morning’s ten steps from the car to his office were slow and difficult. Once there I received a diagnosis and a treatment, though no lasting relief. Two extremely painful days later I saw my primary care physician. From her I received both the recommendation to take a high amount of ibuprofen, and also the required referral I sought to see my physical therapist.
The journey continues
Five days later and still doubled over (with my stomach only tolerating half the suggested amount of ibuprofen), twice a week P.T. and laser treatments began. All in addition to another chiropractic adjustment, Epsom salt baths, several acupuncture treatments, and an MRI during the following weeks.
For over a month I never left the house except for these appointments. Sitting was impossible. With standing only slightly less impossible, my wonderful husband rigged up a standing desk. My only pain relief came while lying on my back with my heating pad.
Note: My dear supportive husband would make this nurturing and satisfying Creamy Lima Beans and Greens Soup for us almost twice a week. This soup and the love he put into making it became a required aspect of my healing. I highly recommend it.
With my body contracted in pain, my world turned inward and very small. After a couple of weeks of adjusting to the constant pain, I began some research. A few times a day I would stand at the computer for short periods. I read about yoga as medicine, hyper mobile joints and protruding discs, along with essays on the state of the nation. Perhaps once a week despair at the constant pain and fear that I would never get better hijacked my thoughts.
The inner journey begins
About the middle of week four a friend recommended the work of medical pioneer Dr. John E. Sarno. She reminded me of a mutual friend’s healing from chronic pain through gaining an understanding of his concepts and diligently following his suggestions. I found one of Dr. Sarno’s books in our local library Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection (published in 1991).
Once home I lay down on my back and began reading. Dr. Sarno’s revolutionary (at the time) ideas totally resonated with me. His insight came from many years of experience seeing thousands of patients at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University School of Medicine. I found myself, my beliefs, my personality and my years of seemingly unrelated pains described in each successive chapter.
Once I realized that Dr. Sarno had my number, the more closely I read his book. He explained how many painful conditions, including most neck and back pains, migraines, repetitive stress injuries, whiplash, and tendonitis are rooted in repressed emotions. Best of all he revealed how they can be successfully treated without drugs, physical measures, or surgery.
I began exploring my emotions before the pain began. Immediately I experienced the connection and angst with emotions from my childhood. After a couple of days of reading and releasing emotions I cut back the ibuprofen by half. Two days later I was off of it completely, yet the pain continued reducing in severity.
Standing tall and walking naturally for the first time in almost five weeks I entered my physical therapist’s office. She was excited to hear my story. You can imagine my excitement to share it with her.
Today’s a new day . . . and it’s almost Spring
I share this story with you my friends, as three weeks later I’ve resumed teaching yoga classes. I took a yoga class myself just this week. Although my journey of discovery continues (and perhaps never ends), I’m once again walking daily with increasing endurance, speed and joy. Such appreciation I now have for what I’ve learned during this sacred illness.
As my muscles have softened my world has opened once again and my grimace replaced with a smile. For the first time in weeks, I’m interested in writing. I’m now somewhat comfortable working at the computer (both standing and sitting) long enough to write this post and publish it.
May you never suffer such pain. If so, may my journey of discovery assist you in your own healing journey of discovery.
To your health ♥