EMB #520: Healing Chronic Pain


This is a tough one to write about. When you run a public business sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to keep personal and what to share with the world.

I’ve always felt it’s important to lead by example.

Given that we teach health and wellness I feel like my health and wellness should always be optimal. I’ve had people say, ‘what do you mean you can’t do that, you’re the fittest person I know?’ Which makes me feel like people expect perfection but that could only be my perspective.

Over 2 years ago I was in a MVA, hit from behind (and the side) not going very fast at all. Since then my back has been giving me issues. I was going to physio and chiro and was at a point only 6 months ago where the pain and discomfort was almost completely gone.

This April, shortly after I came back from LA, I got a pinched nerve in my lower back which literally had me on my back for 3 or 4 days. I could hardly stand up let alone walk.

Some of you may remember when thankfully Dorothy filled in for live workouts on her own for 2 weeks at the end of April / beginning of May.

Since then it’s been a continued struggle. The pain from my back shoots down my leg into my calf and runs to the top of my foot and finally makes my toes numb much of the day.

Healing Chronic Pain

I feel like I’ve tried just about everything. Chiro, massage, acupuncture, cupping, rolling, stretching, thera gun, etc. Egoscue and even Eldoa exercises – along with focusing on anti-inflammatory foods (which is a usual thing but we’ve been putting more effort into this knowing food helps heal). I also ice multiple times a night before bed which helps me not wake up in the middle of the night with throbbing leg pain.

I’m not saying these don’t help, they do. Very much. The odd day when I lose all ambition to do anything for my pain it’s so much worse. But I would hope after doing these consistently the pain would be gone completely, not just a little bit.

Some days are harder than others. Some days mini depression rears its ugly head and I feel like I’ll never get better. These are the worst days when I feel like my mental strength (which I’m usually very proud of) completely breaks down.

Some days I’m irritable and likely hard to be around. My greatest fear is that the people I love, those closest to me (like Dorothy) won’t be treated the way they should when I’m in my most pain and discomfort and lash out for no reason. And I don’t think it’s a proper excuse to treat people badly when you’re in pain or aren’t feeling well.

Simple tasks like writing an email, answering a question or having a brief conversation is at times a challenge. It’s like someone poking me with a needle, when my entire calf aches when I’m trying to focus on something else like a regular conversation. Or someone tapping you on your shoulder when you’re trying to focus.

I should have mentioned at the beginning, I don’t believe chronic pain is something we have to live with. I don’t believe we should expect our health to decline as we age. And nothing is going to change my mind.

I’m committed to getting better and finding a way to do so. I may have watched every single youtube video on back pain, and herniated/bulging discs. I have talked to my doctor who mostly wants to do a bone scan, and mri (which takes a year to get) for the main goal of back surgery. For obvious reasons I’ll avoid this at all costs but I’m also grateful we live in a world where surgery is a possibility when needed.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to share this publically, but I know many people struggle with pain. I know a couple people in this group who have their own struggles with pain and discomfort, which is why I wanted to share.

I wanted to let you know that you’re not alone, and there are people that can relate. I’m not one to share these personal types of stories because I don’t want sympathy and I certainly don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me.

So far, what I’ve gotten most out of this experience (besides feeling like a back expert ;)) is it could be worse. It could be much worse.

The car accident could’ve been high speed and many other issues may have arised. I think of people like Max (Zach’s employee) who is still in a hospital bed right now.

I notice people limping, I notice people with prosthetic legs now more than ever. And it makes me grateful to welcome the pain at times knowing there are people much worse off that may even be doing better than me on some days.

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like eventually the pain will go away, I feel like the days that I feel sorry for myself and think of all the things I haven’t been able to do, especially in the summer like slackline, skateboard and surf (and even run down the beach) are less and less.

I change my focus to what I can do, I can walk, I can ride my bike, I can jump in the ocean and I can still workout with minimal limitations. These certainly help, and thinking about everything I’m grateful for may sound cliche but that helps as well.

I feel like there’s a lesson in all experience of life, maybe I’m to learn more patience and understanding, maybe we’ll be able to help more people in the future that deal with chronic pain or back issues….

Those of you that are struggling with your own pain, I hope this helps. I hope you understand you’re not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like we can all work to better days, a better mind set and being grateful for what we have.

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