This is me holding a heavy box (~35 lbs).
Why am I smiling?
7 years ago I couldn’t have done this. In fact, 7 years ago I could barely stand for longer than about 30 seconds. I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t lay on my back, the only sort-of comfortable position was laying on my tummy on the floor. So I did a lot of that.
This is my back story (p.s. this is a long one. For the TL/DR version jump right to the bottom of the page to learn how I got out of pain, what’s I’m doing now to keep my back strong, and how I can help YOU if you are suffering from chronic pain.)
For as long as I can remember, I have suffered some sort of low back discomfort on a semi regular basis. Tightness, pain, my back “going out”. Trips to the chiropractor. Several other members of my family suffer from back pain. I thought this was “normal”.
That is until I tried Pilates in my 20’s. I woke up one day with zero back pain and thought to myself – Ok now, this is “normal”. And this is what I want!
Jump to 2014, I’m running my business here in Portland, teaching weekly Pilates and yoga classes, doing about 10-15 massages a week. My back and hip started to tighten up to the point I am suspecting that I have a pinched nerve. I am terrified that I may have a disc issue that will need medical attention as I do not have health insurance and am self employed. By early 2015 I had tried everything, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, private sessions with my Pilates instructor, ice, heat, movement, rest.
Nothing gave me lasting relief and I was now at a constant 8 out of 10 pain.
By February 2015 I had signed up for a high deductible health insurance policy. My plan kicked in and I immediately got at MRI which showed a herniated disc. I was thrilled to finally have an official diagnosis, and it just so happened that one of the best spine surgeons in Portland was available to see me. Within a week of my diagnosis I had a successful surgery to remove the disc material that had been pinching the nerve in my hip for months.
I woke up from surgery confused because they had rolled me on to my back. I remember asking the nurse why I was on my back (I had not ben able to lay on my back for months) and then once I realized I wasn’t in any pain I just started sobbing. She thought there was something wrong, and I just sobbed “I’m not in any pain!”
I can not tell you how good this felt. I was so relieved to finally be out of pain. I was able to walk, to stand, and to sit relatively comfortably for the first time in months!
My sweet mommy came to stay with me while I recovered. We walked the Springwater trail like a turtle after having eaten a large burrito pace – I think we covered 1.5 miles in about 90 minutes. I didn’t care how slow I was moving, I was walking! I was showered with love and support from all my people. Every day someone stopped by with food, flowers, or just to visit.
I started back to work very slowly. I taught one class while talking my ladies through the exercises, while I remained seated or standing, not demonstrating any of the moves. I rested. I walked in nature.
Now 7 years out I still do have some residual tightness in my hip. I have also learned lots of tools, both to relive pain and tightness, and, more importantly to help calm my mind when I feel myself getting wound up.
Experiencing something like this is traumatic, any twinge of back tightness used to send me into a fear response, what if this happens all over again and I can’t move? Now, I can catch my spiraling thoughts, take a look at them to see if they are true, and decide how I want to proceed, rather than being driven by the fear of “what if?”. Most of the time anyway.
So what’s my current plan, and how did I easily lift that 35 lb. box?
- I’ve been doing weekly Somatics classes to help calm my mind, and connect my brain and my body.
- For the past 6 months I’ve been following a structured strength training program.
- I average 3 strength sessions per week.
- I do some type of gentle exploratory movement most days.
- I work on my hip and shoulder mobility several times a week.
The biggest thing I have learned thru all of this is that when something hurts I can now stop, listen, gather information, then take action (or rest).
Before this experience, I didn’t know what to do. I was waiting for someone to “fix me”. After having gone through this, I now have a variety of tools that I use on myself, and with my clients to help both the physical, and the mental aspect of chronic pain.
If you have suffered, or are suffering from chronic pain, I feel for you.
AND, there is a way out! Call me if you’d like support.
I suffered a herniated disc that left me paralyzed with fear and in constant daily agonizing pain. I had a successful surgery that led to me learning about different types of movement that helped me realize that no, my body was not broken, no I didn’t do anything wrong, and yes it was ok to move again! I now incorporate aspects of mobility work, soft tissue mobilization, Somatics exercises, and traditional strength work (squats, deadlifts, chest presses, rows…) as part of my ongoing self care plan.
I am thrilled to share what I have learned with you! If you are ready to take control of your pain, if you are willing to work to get better, if you see the value in having me lead you to the land of mind/ body connection and pain free movement, give me a call.
* What the heck does TL/DR mean? It stands for “too long, didn’t read”…all the kids are saying it! 😃