Changing your thinking to change your pain

I swear I am not getting kickbacks from Dr. Sarno…I have seen such a difference in the last few months just by talking to myself. Yeah, I know. Crazy and a bag of chips. Sh*t, now I want chips…

Where was I? I now tell myself the cause for any of my symptoms is psychological. Even a simple headache or feeling fatigued. I am placing blame in a different place. I would say if you have chronic pain that has been vetted by a doctor, you might want to try Dr. Sarno’s books. Even if you have other symptoms (also vetted by an MD) perhaps you want to read his books.

This is a great blog entry.

“It became a medical controversy when Dr. John E. Sarno’s book, “The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain,” was published in 1998. In it, the renowned physician explained the vital connection between mental and bodily health, insisting that many painful conditions—including most neck and back pain, migraine, repetitive stress injuries, whiplash, and tendonitises—are rooted in repressed emotions…Sarno believes the brain has seen fit to reduce the blood flow to the painful areas. The real culprit is the rage, and other powerful feelings in the unconscious. “The pain had to be created as a distraction to prevent that from happening.”

1. Knowledge is power. In most cases, Sarno notes, psychological factors were involved—life stresses, perfectionism, or childhood trauma. Given this, the goal is to thwart the brain’s strategy.
2. Repudiate the structural diagnosis for the pain. The pain will not stop unless you are able to say, “I have a normal back; I now know that the pain is due to a basically harmless condition, initiated by the brain to serve a psychological purpose, and that the structural abnormalities that have been found are normal changes associated with activity and aging.”
3. Acknowledge the psychological basis for the pain. “The brain tries desperately to divert our attention from rage in the unconscious,” Sarno writes. “This is an automatic reaction of the mind, not based on logic or reason. So we must bring reason into the process.” He suggests asking yourself, “What is the sense in producing pain to distract one’s attention from the repressed rage?” Then decide, “I would rather deal with the rage than have the pain.”
4. Accept the psychological explanation and all of its ramifications as normal for healthy people in our society. “We must say to ourselves, ‘It’s all right to be the way we are: illogical, unconsciously enraged, like a child having a temper tantrum. That’s part of being human, and it’s universal.’”
Then, Sarno says, take these next steps:
Think psychological. I tell my patients they must consciously think about repressed rage, and the reasons for it whenever they are aware of the pain. This is in contradiction to what the brain is trying to do. This effort is a counterattack, an attempt to undo the brain’s strategy. It is essential to focus on unpleasant, threatening thoughts and feelings to deny the pain its purpose.
Talk to your brain. It sounds silly, but it’s effective. The conscious mind addresses the unconscious, the more forcefully the better. Successfully treated patients report that when they feel a twinge of pain, the kind of thing that used to be a harbinger of an attack, they talk to or shout at themselves and the pain disappears. You tell your mind that you know what it’s doing, that you know the physical pain is harmless and is a distraction from the repressed rage, and that you no longer intend to be intimidated.
Make a written list. List all of the pressures in your life, since they all contribute to your inner rage. There are self-imposed pressures, typical of the conscientious perfectionist, and the pressures of everyday life—which also include happy things like marriage and children, since they also represent great pressure. You should also list anger left over from childhood. Here’s the goal: By consciously identifying and dealing with sources of pressure, you reduce their potential negative effect in the unconscious.
Set aside a daily reflection or meditation period. This part of the treatment is essential for very busy people who feel they don’t have a moment to think of anything but their work during the day. This is best done in quiet and solitude, so a time must be found each day when you can sit and think about what it takes to get better.
5. The bottom line. “For some people, simply shifting attention from the physical to the psychological will do the trick,” Sarno says. “Others need more information on how the strategy works, and still others require psychotherapy.” But in every case, he is confident that knowledge is essential to the cure. “By making people aware of what is going on both physically and psychologically, we frustrate the brain’s strategy.”

Foot bath for RSD Headache

Lately when my RSD headache kicks in, I grab my footbath (i just have a Dr. Scholls one from Rite Aid), fill it with as warm or hot water as i can handle with about a half a cup of Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar. I then soak my feet for at least 20 minutes. The water brings the energy and focus away from my head and, for me, I feel the effects last through the day. Supposedly there are also detox benefits with this through the feet. My gut feeling is that is happening because I feel so good after that when I soak them even without RSD headache.

I now associate the smell of vinegar with feet. 🙂 My feet are definitely sensitive from RSD but at times less so and I can handle warmer to hot water. I just feel it out for what’s working for me that day.

Brain Fog Fix

For those of us who struggle with brain fog, we know very well how awful it is and how you can’t really manage to do anything when it hits.

Here’s what i know helps me
: Omega 3 fish oil capsules every day. I keep them in the fridge so I don’t stink (i don’t think I stink anyway).

Here’s what completely knocked it out
: glutathione IV and/or the Meyer’s Cocktail IV. Either one of those or both together made the brain fog a non-issue and it was GLORIOUS. Not sure yet. I tend to think it was the glutathione because it cleanses the liver but I have yet to do that IV on its own. I will do that and report back. Since I stopped doing the IVs regularly, my brain fog is back. I should note that it has been much less severe though.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t develop brain fog right away. That came later and after lots and lots of pills. I recently spoke with a heart patient who was getting an IV next to me. She was born with a heart condition in which people do not live past 18 years. She was just about to celebrate her 35th birthday and partly credited her monthly IV vitamin cocktail for that. She sees that much of a difference just once a month. So I wonder if eventually I can do the IVs once a month or every two weeks to keep the headaches and fatigue at bay while not breaking the bank.

Week Two: The Experiment

Well, my head is killing me but (bummer that i can’t really concentrate on TV – see post below. I am nuts) I am hopeful we are onto something. When I told Dr Lee my plan last week he looked at me and said he’d been waiting for me to ask for that, like i was Luke to his Yoda. It was a funny moment. Was asking him the way to know I was ready? And more seriously, does this mean i’m a Jedi?

So on the last two Mondays i have gone for Swedish massage (mainly for the benefit to my lower legs) but very light touch so as to not overstimulate the nerves. The first Monday night things were rough and by Tuesday morning just about every muscle was in spasm. On Tuesday afternoon I went and asked for moving cupping on my lower legs to attempt to desensitize them. I’ve been able to desensitize my feet much better than my lower legs. This just gets very painful.

After some screams that i imagine were akin to those you hear in a  North Korean prison, the electric feelings dissipated a bit and, of course, the muscles stopped their spasm. Yesterday I went for the Swedish massage and last night i was ok. This morning things were a bit off and my headache has been awful today (this was not helped by a run-in with an “eccentric?” neighbor).

I had moving cupping again today and i was even able to withstand some cups sitting there on their own for a bit and not screaming. Hoping next week will be even better.  I have egged on my own headache by exciting my nerves so I only have myself to blame for that one!

RSD Headache

We’ve all been there. You’re trying to focus on something but you can’t because your head hurts. It’s not a normal headache. Some days it’s not too bad, other days you can’t function. You really can’t do anything.

In recent months I have been trying to cleanse my liver which I knew was overburdened from years of prescription drugs.  It is this trial and error that leads me to believe this brain feeling is due to our livers being stagnant. I’m not a doctor and don’t pretend to be. But from a common sense perspective (often missing in medicine), when your liver is not removing toxins from the body efficiently, the sympathetic response (your inflammatory response) goes bananas to try to fend off those toxins. Could that be why our diet can affect our RSD symptoms? Perhaps that eating leafy greens and things that help cleanse your liver might ease your brain symptoms? And perhaps also ease the burning pain since your inflammatory response is calmed?

All I can say is I have noticed a substantial difference by adding Gentian drops (bitter root) to my water, cooled dandelion tea to my smoothies and upping my leafy/bitter greens. It may very well be that the meds prescribed to help calm our brains may be actually contributing to the very issue they are meant to treat. Your liver then has to process that pill.  Even if your liver function tests come back normal, there is a very good chance it is not functioning optimally due to the extra stresses put on it.

I am headed to the doctor this week to ask to go off the last med i am on. I was put on Cymbalta in April of this year to see if the calming of my nervous system would help the sympathetic nerve blocks last longer.  There was a slight change but the biggest benefit was for my brain. I was able to think a lot more clearly and that RSD brain ache was lessened. But I want off of it. I have not taken any Robaxin (muscle relaxer) in months and am relying solely on cupping and epsom salts for muscle issues and I took one Advil recently when my headache was out of control.  Otherwise I have relied on foods, qi gong, acupuncture and turmeric capsules for pain. It is my goal to not take any medications whatsoever.

If I dramatically improve without any Cymbalta and by continuing to treat my liver, I will be one happy girl. And then I will start my 2 week trial of intravenous Vitamin C to hopefully knock this thing into permanent remission.  I have said for a few years now that I believe the medications we are put on end up causing more problems than they fix.  I still believe that.