Ready to let The Pain Experiment continue challenging and changing your perception of pain? Today, experiment co-leader, Janice Dietert, takes the reigns, in Post #5. Enjoy!
“Have you ever seen a dog on a scent trail? Bloodhounds are particularly good at this.
They have the most acute sense of smell and can be as tenacious as a bulldog with a bone when they’re on the trail of a specific scent.
Some of us are like those bloodhounds when it comes to pain.
I’ll admit, I’m probably top of the pack for chasing down pain. Pain Bloodhound, at your service.
When Wendy first proposed the Pain Experiment, I wasn’t in pain and, frankly, hadn’t applied much of my “out of the box thinking” to the concept of pain. I really didn’t know what I had to contribute to the process. However, my husband Rodney and I had had one of the most enjoyable experiences of our lives collaborating with Wendy and Ken Graydon on last year’s $3,000 Experiment. We had life changing experiences ourselves during that time that are still playing out even to this day.
For example, Rodney gave a science lecture in California during that experiment, after which he was approached by two editors, each wanting him to write the same book based on his word and the lecture. Rather than having to pitch a proposal to the publishers, he just had to research the publishers and choose which was the better fit for him. In the end, he got a book deal, the book release was this past July for The Human Superorganism, and he’s still doing podcasts, radio interviews, book talks and book signings. Oh! And his book advance took us way over that $3,000 mark. [Side note: Rodney will be adding posts to the Pain Experiment in November.]
With so much potential for change and growth, I could hardly say no to the opportunity to collaborate with Wendy and Ken again. But what did I have to offer? Well, the universe has a marvelous way of providing just the right experiences and tools when you need them and you’re open.
Shortly before the Pain Experiment start date, I managed to develop plantar fasciitis in my left foot/heel. It then decided to extend up my whole leg. Ok, I was now in pain. I didn’t have to chase it. Pain had come to me, a bit more intensely than I’d have liked.
I went into my usual mode of researching what one does for plantar fasciitis. I iced, elevated, even bought KT tape and learned a new ways of sticking stretchy strips of precut tape around my ankle. They helped… some. I had my chiropractor work on it, and my yoga instructor gave me new stretches to try. My massage therapist found even more ouchy spots. Some more relief, but nowhere near what I needed in order to function.
Then, while reading over one of Wendy’s early posts, I saw Dr. John E. Sarno mentioned. I’d never heard of him or his work, but I’m perpetually curious, so I clicked on the first link to see what he was about. I was so impressed with what I saw, and it resonated so strongly with me, I immediately bought two of his books – The Mindbody Prescription and The Divided Mind.
I chose the first book to read. And as I read, I changed. The pain in my left leg went away leaving just a residual discomfort toward the back of my heel. This was just from gaining a new perspective on pain via Dr. Sarno’s informative explanations. A t that moment, I realized this was what I had been given to offer during this Pain Experiment.
While his ideas are interesting and, after helping over 10,000 people become pain free during his long career, let’s see a bit more about who the good doctor is.
Dr. John E Sarno, M.D. is a graduate of Columbia University College of Physicians and surgeons. He is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He had a thriving practice in New York City as well as being Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University’s School of Medicine.
After years of seeing patients with pain supposedly due to conditions that could be X-rayed, CT scanned and MRI’d, and watching those patients chase pain around their body, Dr. Sarno decided the pain was not solely derived from the physical findings. He came to the strong conclusion that the mind and the body are not separate. What was sometimes felt as anxiety or depression psychologically would at other times be experienced in the body as physical pain. It was all the same thing caused by the same neurochemical stew elicited by the brain. And having seen firsthand the power of panacea, it became obvious to him that if the brain was capable of creating its own cure, it was capable of creating pain.
For Dr. Sarno, information and education are the ways of releasing this pain usually permanently. What is important is that not only did many patients gain instant relief just by becoming aware of what their minds were capable of, Dr. Sarno found it even worked on himself. Here’s that experience in his own words. For reference, the fifth cranial nerve (trigeminal) is a pure sensory nerve, bringing sensation to the face and teeth. He was pondering this while dealing with patients with Bell’s Palsy.
“A number of years ago I had an episode of dental nerve pain that could not be explained. After suffering it for a few months, I was looking at anatomical drawings of the nervous system with patients one day when I came upon a particularly vivid depiction of the nerve supply to the teeth, branches of the fifth nerve, and immediately wondered if the dental pain might be TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) of the trigeminal nerve. I concluded that it was – and the pain was gone in less than forty-eight hours. This was an example of the therapeutic power of awareness….”
I’m always impressed when practitioners of any type can get major changes for themselves, since I’ve often experienced and witnessed a seeming block in this area.
The point Dr. Sarno makes about this nearly instantaneous relief from pain, regardless of test results and imaging studies is this: “the almost instantaneous cessation of pain…tells us something about the pathophysiology of TMS. The pain could not be the result of an inflammatory process, nor of a structural abnormality producing symptoms by compression; neither of these conditions could disappear in minutes to hours. But it is entirely compatible with a process in which the pain is due to mild oxygen deprivation, since the autonomic nervous system can change the rate of blood flow in seconds if it so chooses.”
How does information and awareness help to flip this switch? And what could be behind this condition where the autonomic nervous system causes pain that is easily relieved? I’ll use Dr. Sarno’s ideas to explain this next week, so stay tuned. In the meantime, his book are available on Kindle and paper copy. You may want to read and see for yourself.”
The new thought that Janice entertained for the first time was that the reason for her pain wasn’t serious at all. Thats its source was, instead, quite minor. And also easily changeable.
Think about your own pain for a minute. What thoughts plague you about its seriousness? And how hard it would be to change?
Then this week, see what happens if you think instead, “The source of this pain is not serious. In fact, it’s so changeable that simply thinking about it differently might reduce it!”
Thank you, Janice, for using Dr. Sarno’s work to powerfully demonstrate how a simple change in perspective can dramatically alter our physical bodies, including pain. I look forward to next week’s post. See you then!