Truth! My medical results

The truth is there is nothing wrong with me

physically that is. It’s a huge relief that hasn’t quite sunk in. But it needs to, if I’m to stand a chance of getting rid of this chronic back pain that I have endured for over six months.

This morning I went to see my GP to discuss the results of my X-ray, MRI scan (for my lower back) and the blood test I was advised to have.

The conclusion was that I have a flatter than ‘normal’ back (I don’t have a curve in the lower back where I should have one) and a herniated disc, but nothing pressing on a nerve that would cause any pain down my legs. I’ve had pain down my legs; this just proves that is either emotional or just tight muscles (or a mix of both!). I have pain in my lower back constantly, but there is nothing in those results that accounts for this pain.

“Surgery is not advised” said my doctor, “and you can carry on running”. Not that I had any surgery planned or intended to stop running!

But it just shows, to me at least, the importance we give to the opinions of people in the medical profession. I realised that, although I thought I had fully accepted my diagnosis of TMS (tension myoneural syndrome) I hadn’t really. There was still a thread of doubt that my pain was caused by a structural abnormality.

I realised I have been muddling along for a few months, trying to get better, but still (unconsciously) seeing the pain as the result of something wrong with my body, and not with my mind.

From the insightful book ‘Dr. John Sarno’s Top 10 Healing Discoveries’ by Steve Ozanich: People who believe their body is broken remain in pain. Those who believe their body is okay, tend to heal.

So, it really is high time I 100% (not 99.9%) believed that my body is NOT broken. I have, what Dr. Sarno would call, ‘normal abnormalities‘ in my spine. The spine starts to degenerate from the age of 20 (yes I was surprised by this fact too!), and many people have herniated discs without any pain, or any knowledge of them. If spinal structure is the problem in back pain, then why does the rate of back pain drop off after the age of 50?

(From page 15 of ‘Dr. John Sarno’s Top 10 Healing Discoveries’) We are far, far stronger than we think we are. Healing occurs when you no longer fear the pain. It takes confidence – and fear is a lack of confidence. As long as she fears the pain, she will have reoccurence.

As for my blood test, I’m low in iron. Nothing more, nothing less. I have some iron tablets to take and I may as well do – I’ll be needing lots of it for the physical training I plan to do!

Rigorous physical movement teaches the brain to react differently to movement (Steve Ozanich again).

So, I left with my ‘certificat medical’ to prove it’s safe for me to run and with my goals firmly set in my mind: a half marathon in May, a marathon in September and an ultra run in October! (shit I’ve said it now, I suppose I ought to now enter those last two ;))

Have confidence my friends. Work on the fear. Understand where it is coming from, and don’t stop moving.

Why it's good to 'switch it up '

I realised that I’m a real creature of habit – aren’t we all to a degree? I have the same salad almost every day, I do the same type of run several times a week and I stay with the same yoga classes each week. Essentially, I keep it ‘safe’. The exact same rituals may not apply to you, but we probably share a habit of keeping life boxed up fairly neatly, not straying too far from our comfort zones.

My back pain from TMS has not gone away yet, although I have seen improvements that I’m feeling really positive about. I realised I was avoiding certain movements out of fear – fear that they would hurt if I did them, or that I wouldn’t be able to do them at all.

So, today I decided to switch it up a little! OK, I didn’t suddenly take up rhythmic gymnastics (I much prefer the ‘proper’ stuff without the ribbons and hoops!) BUT I did try bridge pose and wheel posa in yoga! I got my bridge up, and even though it wasn’t beautiful engineering and you couldn’t have got much weight across it, it did go up!

And yesterday I went on a fast (relatively speaking!) 5k run instead of my usual slower 10k run. And, OK, it wasn’t as fast as I used to do it, but it was still better than I HAD been doing it, so I was happy!

And what happened as a result of this ‘switching things up’? I realised that there is nothing I can’t at least try to do, and that trying it is not going to kill me or make anything worse. And, that the only way to really rid myself of the fear is to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. In the words of Dr John Sarno, what I have going on in my back is a ‘normal abnormality’ (mainly disc generation, and a suspect diagnosis of a ‘pinched’ nerve – pinched for as long as it has been I’d have lost sensation to my legs by now!)

I’m also trying visualization techniques, which are proven to help with pain relief. Essentially I visualize a beautiful, strong and healthy spine and moving however I want with ease. I even talk to my spine sometimes (not out loud, I wouldn’t want to draw unwanted attention!).

This from the website Pathways: (https://www.pathways.health/visualization-for-pain-relief-management-the-ultimate-guide/ A compelling example of visualizations being used to relieve pain is from the example of psychiatrist turned pain specialist, Dr Michael Moskowitz:   Dr Moskowitz suffered a serious accident when water-skiing. The severe injuries left with battling with crippling pain that dominated his life for 13 years. When all conventional methods of treatment had failed, he began researching the discovery that the brain is neuroplastic (it’s always changing & adapting) and seeing how this might relate to him.   He realized that many of the areas in the brain that fire in chronic pain also process thoughts, sensations, images, memories, movements, emotions, and beliefs – when they’re not processing pain, that is. He thought that if he could practice visualizing pain relief when pain strikes, that will help him ‘reclaim’ the areas of the brain that get ‘hijacked’.   He started noticing a reduction in pain within a few weeks. Within a few months he had his first pain free periods. Within a year he was almost always pain free.   

So, please, if you’re suffering from what you feel is chronic pain (pain that you have experienced beyond the body’s normal healing period of 12 weeks) and, like I was feeling before I discovered the work of Dr Sarno, you are pretty fed up – even desperate – just open your mind to the idea that your pain could be a result of your emotions, even if you really don’t think it’s possible. It beats jumping right into surgery and regretting it, doesn’t it?

I’m here to help if you’re at all curious 🙂

On a final note, my sister said I should post a photo of myself as ‘people’ would want to know what I look like. So, people, this is me, in the middle of my first ever ultra run last year. That was one of the best days of my life 🙂


Some of the dos and don’ts from Healing Back Pain by Dr John Sarno, published in 1991:

Thanking Annie Grace and Dr John Sarno

My exciting news today was that I received a message from the amazing Annie Grace, founder of ‘This Naked Mind’ that read: That’s so great! Delighted to hear you’ll now be helping others!

I had messaged her to thank her for introducing me to the work of Dr John Sarno through a podcast she had been interviewed for. I mentioned I would be working to help people recover from chronic pain.

She had talked about her own chronic pain, and how she had been ‘cured’ by reading one of his books – ‘Healing Back Pain’. I’ve read it too, and it changed my life (no joke)! I have this book to thank for putting me on my own road to recovery. He was probably America’s most famous back pain doctor. He died in 2017 at the health age of 93, and thankfully his legacy continues in the form of (among many):

  • Nicole Sachs, LCSW
  • Dr Harold Schubiner
  • Dave Clarke, MD
  • Alan Gordon, LCSW
  • Barbara Kline, LCSW-C
  • Georgie Oldfield, MCSP
  • David Schechter, MD
  • Howard Schubiner, MD
  • Eric Sherman, PsyD
  • John Stracks, MD
  • Peter Zafirides, MD
Dr Sarno argued that chronic pain is actually the result of a psychosomatic process and emotional factors.

Don’t even get me started on this topic! I have so much I want to share with you. If you feel you are suffering from chronic pain (pain that has endured beyond the body’s normal inflammatory and healing process of 12 weeks) anywhere in your body, please get in touch and I will help you! It is my passion, and my mission, to share this work and to cure others as I have cured myself.

Healing from within

I am always studying the fascinating mind body connection and how past trauma and current day-to-day stress can manifest itself in the body, if not expressed, and lead to chronic pain. I’ve been doing a few exercises on myself and it’s incredible how many ‘aha!’ moments I’m having.

I will be talking much more about the mind body connection and adding some really useful and insightful information to help coach clients to better health. Watch this space! I already have two clients lined up and can’t wait to get started.

In other news, I can finally talk properly after losing my voice for several days! I had been travelling a lot, talking much more than is usual for a country mouse and my immunity was compromised. I ended up with a stinky cold for almost a week. I couldn’t even remember the last time I was ill, so this time I just told myself to accept it, rest and take care of myself and let my immune system do its work. It meant I couldn’t exercise for 7 days (and nobody wants to be around me when this happens!), but it did mean I had plenty of time to read, research and be kind to myself. It worked, and was just what I needed.

This morning I ran and felt great! I even had my son with me for the second lap, so we had a little bonding time. This time together becomes rare during the teenage years, so I’ll take any positive moment and treasure it!

Back to work now. Wishing you a wonderful, positive day doing at least one thing that you love, just for you.

Hard work and good luck

I’ve added what I’ve learned since that day.

Unbottle life

It was a strange day yesterday! Two things happened: I was offered a job (yippee!) and I learnt that I was carrying a LOT of tension in my body. The two are not linked, but both were positive discoveries, even the second one!

First of all, the job offer. I don’t want to talk too much about it I case I jinx it, so I’ll talk more about this when it actually materialises next month! But, safe to say, the job offer was based on a recommendation of my work, so it’s a bit of a confidence booster for someone who doesn’t often rate themself very highly. I need to start believing I’m a champion!

(Freddie Mercury from the best band in the world!Don’t even try to argue with me)

I’ve always tried to see the positive in life, and, at this moment, I do wonder whether…

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Experiencing the 'symptom imperative'?

This, from the TMS Wiki site: https://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/The_symptom_imperative

The symptom imperative

When a patient makes a major TMS symptom subside by doing “the work”, the brain is no longer effectively achieving its goal of distracting attention away from emotions. To counteract this, the brain will attempt to find a new area of focus, with the result that the patient often gets a new symptom – which can become chronic if it is not recognized for what it is.

The patient can have TMS knowledge and even a strong conviction about their main symptom being TMS, but will continue to experience new symptoms if deeper emotional issues are not eventually addressed.

The emergence of new symptoms as old ones subside is called the symptom imperative.

I’m working on the reasons for my lower back pain and have been ‘sent’ something else to deal with to distract me – a stinking cold and I’ve lost my voice for the last two days! This may or may not be the symptom imperative but it’s doing a good job as one.

My daughter has suggested I start using sign language as she’s finding my strained whisper a little annoying!

It’s not been pleasant, but interestingly enough, my back has felt less stiff and painful for the last two days. This cold and ‘let up’ on pain in the usual area has also coincided with the most amazing weekend at the National Running Show in the UK with my best friend – another great distraction from the TMS.

So, although I’ve been suffering a little, this has enabled me to focus away from my usual ‘ape to modern man’ walk as I get out of bed in the morning and look after myself to get better. I wasn’t really doing that before, and just ‘ploughing through’ the pain symptoms. Perhaps my mind is asking me to slow down properly this time…….

I’ll post an update soon.

Me getting up in the morning! Not for much longer…

Why NOT me?

What makes me any ‘less’? It’s time to wade through the fear.

As I look at professional coaches’ websites, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, blogs etc etc I find my stomach tightening, and I think it’s from fear. Fear of them because they are better than me, more intelligent and more wise than I am, with so much more to offer the world than I could possibly have. And then I see this image, posted by Dawn Nickels from She Recovers (https://sherecovers.co/) and it makes me think: what if it’s just fear and it’s not true? What if I AM as good as these people and that I, TOO, can make a difference?

It excites me, and at the same time it terrifies me! But isn’t that what it’s all about – feeling the fear and doing it anyway? Faking it until you make it? It’s been a long time since my last blog post and I wonder why I haven’t posted recently. When I really consider the reasons (of which they are no doubt many – one of them being a busy working mum to two teenagers) I realise that some of this ‘going off the radar’ comes from fear: fear that people I know will ‘find’ me and mock me for my writing. Fear that I will ‘out’ myself and make a fool of myself. And fear that my words are falling into an abyss where no-one is present or listening, where they have no impact whatsoever.

Then I realise that it’s a big old world! That there are millions of people out there, many with the same fears as me. And that we all have a story to tell. And that telling that story might just help someone else. This sounds a little all-encompassing I know, but I have plans! Watch this stage. It’s time to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.