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    JOHNTJ1   73,514
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Sharing My Painful Experience, YOU are not alone.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

I didn't realize there were so many of us. I thought I was the only one. Actually, that made it worse. Imagine that you're standing all alone on an island in the middle of nothing. It causes you to stay awake at night. A few weeks ago, however, a Spark friend who had been missing in action reached out to me in an effort to get back on track. It seems they were suffering from the same malady that I was. Call it being down and out, call it the blues, call it depression, call it whatever you want, I found out there are more of us who have it, then don't.

In May of 2011 on a warm, rainy day, Joan and I went to the grand opening of a new health food store. On our way to the car, I slipped on some wet pavement and fell. As I fell I twisted my lower back. We had to drive about 45 miles to get home and every mile was full of pain and agony. I just couldn't get comfortable. That night I tossed and turned as I tried to get to sleep. I had pulled muscles before. During the course of working out and running but I had never had a pain like this. I even tried sleeping in my recliner in our living room. So I did what you do when you pull a muscle. You rest, apply heat and stretch. In a few days the pain went away and other than being slightly tender, you wouldn't have known I was hurt. A few weeks later my hamstring muscles started to tighten up. It didn't matter if I exercised or didn't my legs started to feel real tight. I started walking like Frankenstein's monster. Everyone close to me kept telling me to "walk right." The problem was I couldn't. As a chiropractor explained to me a little later on my hamstring muscles were actually shortening up.

I went to the doctor. The doctor told me to stretch more and that would take care of the problem. She did order some back x-rays and told me when they returned that I was "getting old." Two weeks later I was back in her office. Now I was in pain. My calf muscles were cramping, my feet were cramping and it was really difficult to move around. She ordered an MRI. Three days later she suggested I see a neurosurgeon. Talk about being scared. I went from stretching to potentially having back surgery. I was fortunate enough to be able to see the neurosurgeon a week later. He poked and prodded at me told me to push my feet against his hands, reviewed my MRI looked up at me and said, "Why are you here?" He told me there was nothing wrong with me, that I was obese and that I needed to walk. Back to my family doctor I went.

While all this is going on my mobility is diminishing. It hurt to get out of the chair. I couldn't walk without fear of falling. I realize a lot of this was mental and that I really wasn't going to fall but it only made me tenser. I didn't want to go anywhere; I didn't want to do anything. I just want to be left alone. It got harder and harder to walk. Each step was full of pain and agony. I went to physical therapy for three weeks and that only made it worse. I finally saw a chiropractor who was able to give me some relief. But is all this was going on. I got deeper and deeper into a state of depression. I want from my bedroom to my office to the living room to the kitchen and back to my bedroom. If I could deal with you on the phone, everything was fine. I got so tired of people coming up to me saying "What's wrong with you?"

During the past two years I have become very active. I had run and three 5Ks, had started spinning, and was seriously looking at beginning triathlon training. I had lost 79 pounds and felt great. Then my world came crashing down. I actually had dreams at night where I was running. There was no pain and I was just running and running and oh gosh it felt good. I would wake up in the morning, get out of bed, and the pain would return and I would sink deeper and deeper.

Since every healthcare provider I had visited told me there was nothing wrong with me I decided to stop spending money and to treat myself. I was starting to get scared because I didn't want to leave the house. I thought the whole world was laughing at me. The people from my gym, who were my friends, suddenly stopped calling. Right after Thanksgiving I started visiting the therapy pool at my gym. I walk back and forth for 30 min. each day. At first, those 30 min. were filled with agony. I couldn't keep my balance, I couldn't walk without pain and I felt like everyone was watching me. Slowly I have started to regain my balance, and three days out of seven I am walking in the water without pain. I noticed when I am on land, LOL, which my legs are not as tight and along with it, my attitude and demeanor have improved to. It's a long journey. I'm not sure I'm even halfway there, but the one thing I do know is that I made the decision that if this was going to beat me I wasn't going to take a called third strike. I was going to go down swinging. Falling down in the water provides you with a sense of security and a unique ability to laugh at yourself.

I'm sharing this with you because I'm sure there are many of you out there who are like me. Many of you who feel like you want to give up. I checked out mentally and emotionally for about six months and now I'm back and by the way, I have your back to. So if you'll excuse me, it's almost time to go walk in water. Ever great day.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
WALKIETALKIE 2/20/2012 5:55AM

    So weird. You've described a pretty similar experience to one I've had recently.I was starting triathlon training last fall and hurt my back during a personal training session. One of the machines didn't fit my body and I'm so short I could not adjust it correctly so I thought I would learn about using free weights. I totally overworked my back and ended up not being able to walk, stand, sit, lay flat, pretty much couldn't do anything. I've gone from walking over 5 miles a day to less than 10 a week. After finding a chiropractor that gave me relief, my back feels about 95%. It's a struggle for me to get back out there and it's all mental. I tried too return to exercising too soon. I made the mistake of trying to ride a stationary bike and fatigued the same muscle, knocked my back out of adjustment and had another setback. I decided to take a couple of weeks off. Now I'm wondering if I will ever get back to where I was? It bothers me that I have been so easily knocked off center by one muscle that most of my life I never knew existed. Now I've decided to face several other medical issues that I've been avoiding/ignoring. In the back of my mind I wonder if I'm just making excuses. I'm gaining weight and I feel like I've lost control of my weight, my diet, my exercise program.

I remember that you blogged about your hamstring back problems last summer. I'm glad you are still doing the best that you can. I needed to read your blog now. I need to own my injury and just work with it. It's part of me and I can't wish it away. Changes. I'm still adjusting to them

Comment edited on: 2/20/2012 5:58:07 AM

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DONNA088 2/7/2012 9:07PM

  Keep up the good work!

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MACEWOMAN 2/2/2012 1:48PM

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MARYHENNIG 2/1/2012 11:21PM

  Thanks for posting. You blog will spread a Spark for many. Congratulations on your progress. Enjoy the journey.

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LUCKYONE60 2/1/2012 11:14AM

    We love you here and are glad to hear that you are doing well. Your voice is an important addition to the "Family" so thank you for posting. You are inspiring a lot of people today to just keep going. Keep up the good work and give yourself a pat on the back from me!

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JDELEON81 1/31/2012 9:18PM

    Love this blog. Glad you're coming back to us.Good luck with everything!

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MERRICK549 1/31/2012 10:59AM

    I wanted to tell you that your story really struck a cord. I have had the similar problem since June, I was hurt at work and the Doctors tell me there is nothing I can do, but walk with a a cane and take pain pills. I personally hate taking pills, so I have decided to work out and lose as much weight as I possibly can to help. When I was hurt I grew very depressed, much like you described and being only 29 I just receded from all of my friends. I know am on track and just started doing this, so good luck to you sir. You're an inspiration.

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-CHERYL 1/31/2012 1:04AM

    Yeah depression is a follower of medical issues. It's a vicious cycle. Since I had strokes at age 32 and was stuck in a wheelchair until I learned to walk again I've had a serious fear of falling and breaking something and ending up in the wheelchair again.

I've learned how to fall with minimum impact. My stroke ankle will suddenly just "give out" and I'll fall, my daughter cracks up (if I'm not injured) because apparently she can see by the look on my face the "Oh well" moment when I just fold in and drop, in hopes of not injuring myself more by flailing and grabbing onto things.

I did have a period recently where my left foot (my stroke foot) hurt so bad if I started walking a bit fast. It felt like I was walking on a brick, every step was agony! The only relief was a painkiller, but I didn't want to take them forever. I started taking Baclofin 3 times a day for the stiffness in my foot. Then about 30 minutes before my walk I take a Flexoril (a muscle relaxer) and a couple Ibuprofen for inflammation and so far its working.

It is so disheartening to work hard toward a goal then have medical roadblocks. Keep on trekking!

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CALLIKIA 1/30/2012 12:09PM

    *nods* Every word of this means so much to me. Keep fighting the good fight...we gotta keep fighting.

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LUNADRAGON 1/28/2012 4:31PM

    I so feel what you have been through. Coming back after injury is not easy. Keep up the encouraging words!

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SILLYHP1953 1/25/2012 11:41AM

    I have a magnet on my refrigerator that I love by Winston Churchill. It says "If you're going through hell...keep going". I'm glad you kept going.

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MYOWNHERO 1/17/2012 1:39PM

    "Can't keep Johnny down"

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DUTCHIEKIWI 1/16/2012 8:57PM

    You have been a great inspiration to me over the last years. I have admired you in so many ways. Your persistence, your positivity, your compassion for others.
You have been a brilliant human being to everyone around you, and to be dealt such a nasty card was the last thing you deserved.

You are you, and like me and many of us, we fall down countless times. It's all about getting up again... and reaching out to those that are always willing to give us a helping hand. Our vision gets blurred, sometimes more often in the difficult times in our lives.

My friend, this time it's even harder for you to get up after falling down, but all our eyes are focused on you, as we know, we have SEEN what you can achieve.
As all our eyes are watching you, so are all our hands reaching out... to offer you that helping hand when you need it most.

You have and will always be there for us, as we... my true friend... will always be here for you.

I know I speak for many of us.

Keep swimming, I for one, am VERY proud of you!!


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BETHANYBOUND 1/15/2012 9:14AM

    This is all part of the great journey of life - dealing with setbacks and the emotional and physical pain and chaos they create. I think that it is how we want to live our lives and the limitations that we are willing to accept that motivates us. Thanks for not staying down for the third strike. There are more of us than you think and we all need to accept our own personal responsibility for our health like you did. Bravo.

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GOOFIERNU 1/14/2012 6:07PM

    I'm sort of there now with this hamstring injury. I have to keep telling myself to be patient. A doctor friend of mine told me to stop thinking in weeks and think in MONTHS for it to heal and finally be back to what it was before. (Long drawn out sigh....) What gets me down is that I had JUST figured out how to run without having an asthma attack. It felt WONDERFUL! And then I got hurt. But I REFUSE to give in to this. I'm down 50 pounds and I don't ever want it back! I WILL beat this! I WILL get back to running!!!!


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CAMEY13 1/14/2012 3:49PM

    John, I know what you mean.I have the arthritis all over, but on top of that had to have cataract surgury, which left me being able to read, without glasses, when there is plenty of light. Then came the double herina in my incisions I had years ago, and now it is 6 weeks Monday and have a long way before healed. Well, if that isn't enough I have a membrane over the retina and have to go Tues for pictures to see how far it has advanced and may have surgury. It didn't end there. Had a mamo and they found something, so went back and now have to have a biosphy as they found a nodule, so I know what you mean about pain and we need to air our problems with each other to get them off our chest. Hope you get better soon. Let us know how you lost the weight. Thanks for joining Tips for Writing, Wellness and Weight.

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NASFKAB 1/14/2012 5:19AM

  Thanks for sharing

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AJDOVER1 1/13/2012 10:43PM

    Thank you. When I'm in pain I'm full of fear. I so admire your courage in looking at your pain and working through it.

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SPARKENISTA 1/13/2012 1:32PM

    John--I feel your pain--literally--if not to the same extent. While your situation was more extreme than mine, I can relate. I am so glad that you had no physical issues. I'm sure that you were relieved when the neurologist sent you home.

I have something very constructive to share. While I know that WE have to lose weight, there is a phenomenal book, "Healing Back Pain" by John E. Sarno, M. D. He was the head of the Rusk Institute of Rehab @ NYU--a world-class facility. He was a back surgeon (I said "was" b/c I believe he is retired).

In any case, he has discovered that many times, when we are tense, the muscles tighten up and cause pain in various areas of the body. His book addresses this and how to get better. He cured my sciatica many years ago. His book is a best-seller.

One of my physical therapy students recommended it back in the day b/c her grandmother, a 90-something Holocaust survivor who spoke only Yiddish was bedridden with back pain for years. My student's mother took her grandmother to a class given by Sarno. She translated his words into Yiddish. The grandmother started walking around and was functioning.

Please get the book. I do believe it will help--particularly since the doctors have ruled out an underlying issue. PLEASE!

And, have a great weekend!
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EILI359 1/13/2012 12:19PM

    Thanks for a great Blog John- I can certainly relate. I'm glad you're starting improve - we've got your back too xx
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TRISTAROSE 1/13/2012 5:17AM

    Hope the water therapy gives you the relief that you are looking for. Just don't give up!!


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MORTICIAADDAMS 1/13/2012 12:05AM

    Most of us have been there at one time or another. You just have to take it a day at a time, do the best you can, and hope that you get a break.

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7356WILMA 1/13/2012 12:04AM

  Thank you for sharing, I had similar pain this last year, but fortunately most of the pain was repaired when I had my hip replaced. So I was able to see an end to the pain. Sounds like you are doing everything right and what is best for you. I'm still hate the attitude of Dr's who blow you off because you are overweight. My ortho just dismissed me because of the weight until he found out that I had just lost 30lbs, only then was he willing to talk to me about having the surgery.

May your journey continue to work for you and may you continue to improve!

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GEEMAWEST 1/12/2012 9:33PM

    This is so me right now, John. The back pain keeps getting worse and the doctors all just say 'well, when you get older you have back pain.' I feel like a real wuss.

I'm so glad that I have friends like you on Spark. You're more encouraging than any doctor and cheaper, too!

Love ya Dude!

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DEBRITA01 1/12/2012 8:34PM

    Thanks for sharing. Wishing you improved strength and mobility each day, as well as, relief from your pain. I think your water therapy is the ticket...glad you are taking control and matters into your own hands. Good luck and God bless...

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DEE797 1/12/2012 4:18PM

    So glad to hear that you are getting better. I'm not dealing with a injury but have been down and depressed for a while now. Thanks so much for sharing this blog with us as I really needed to read it.

Wishing you continued success on your journey wherever it leads you. emoticon

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GETFIT2LIVE 1/12/2012 4:15PM

    John, you have been down a long, difficult road; I hate it when the medical community brushes off very real issues and says (either directly or indirectly) it's all in your head, or lose weight and that will solve everything. I'm glad you started treating yourself and have found something that is helping; no one knows our bodies quite so well, and it sounds like you are on the right track to get permanent relief. I'm also so glad that even though you say you checked out emotionally and mentally for about six months, you never completely left here. Keep the spark alive; you are worth the effort.

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JENNY888 1/12/2012 3:51PM

    As you regain your strength John think back to how great it felt in your dream to be able to run like you did. Pay attention to all of the sensory feeling you had in that dream. Live it completely in your mind. I was listening to an audio book of Jillian Michaels while I was on the treadmill a couple of days ago. She was talking about this same thing, how we have to have more than just a vision. We have to live that vision in our minds with all of our senses and imagine all the ways that vision will make us feel both physically and mentally. I wish you the best in your recovery.,

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SHERRYJVP 1/12/2012 12:56PM

    Yeah for you!!!!! thanks for sharing. emoticon

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KJDOESLIFE 1/12/2012 12:37PM

    Thank you for sharing. I'm glad you took action to help yourself. It sucks that your doctors didn't want to listen or help you.

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CMA444 1/12/2012 11:33AM

    Thank you for sharing John! I really do appreciate hearing your story!

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GIRANIMAL 1/12/2012 11:29AM

    Boy, you always have good timing. I needed to hear this right now, after being up at 3 a.m. in various kinds of pain and finally just crying in frustration. You know most of the details, but I'll share again for the sake of encouraging your other faithful readers.

I've had headaches -- many of them migraines -- for the past 20 years. For the past, oh, nearly 10 years, I've also been suffering low back pain. I likely have a mild form of fibromyalgia. I've seen more neurologists, rheumatologists, chiropractors, massage therapists and physical therapists than I care to count. This past year my ongoing digestive problems that I just thought were normal started to take center stage as I was coming home or waking up doubled over more often than I was cool with.

I just turned 35. I'm young and supposed to be vibrant. Chronic pain is rarely a visible ailment and therefore people rarely understand.

But through the pain I FINALLY reached deep down somewhere and found the courage to get serious and lose 75 pounds, and yes, losing that weight has contributed to my relative improvement. I still hurt but I am far, far, FAR more mobile.

But to do so, I further slacked on sleep. I ran on 5 hours a night for years, and now I'm paying the price for that. As I tried to fix my sleep patterns, about half of my exercise began to suffer...and now, my pain and mobility problems are rearing their mean ol' heads again.

And so it goes. I'm really frustrated right now, but I'm not giving up. I want to. I've even tried to! But somehow, once you've known a healthier version of you -- even if there's still loads of room for improvement as there probably always will be -- somehow there suddenly IS NO other option. There's nothing to quit and go to. The alternative is not just unacceptable, it actually becomes ... well, nonexistent.

So! Onward and upward. Or at least forward. The point is we just keep on keepin' on, as the saying goes. emoticon

emoticon And I can too!

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PGNBRI 1/12/2012 11:16AM

    Glad you're starting to improve John! And it just goes to show that WE are our own best advocate. :-)

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HAPPYSOUL91 1/12/2012 11:11AM

    There isn't anything worse when something is really wrong and nobody can find it. Congratulations on going into the water

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PEYTON0914 1/12/2012 11:10AM

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can definitely relate. I am back today as well and lurking around the boards for inspiration so thank you!!!

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TRULYVISIBLE 1/12/2012 11:10AM

  I am glad the water gives you release and helps. I hope you continue to improve and that the healing is in the steps you are taking.

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QUIKSYLVER 1/12/2012 10:32AM

    I'm dealing with my first injury - back - right now. It is so frustrating! I am eating everything in sight, and no exercise obviously. I can totally understand your situation.

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HEALTHYASHLEY 1/12/2012 10:28AM

    That is scary. Thank you for sharing your story. Too many of us give up and you should be proud you didn't just let the doctor's bounce you around. You advocated for yourself and are taking the steps to improve. You can do it.

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KKINNEA 1/12/2012 10:15AM

    Boy, nothing makes me more irritated than doctors who misplace blame on someone being overweight - it's no wonder people feel beat up!!

I'm glad to hear the pool is working for you - I know how much you wanted to get back to running and hope that's still a possibility for you! Maybe we should start paying ourselves instead of the doctors!

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ZURDTA- 1/12/2012 9:59AM

    Oh John, what a setback! My setbacks have been on a smaller scale, but injury and illness have dogged my efforts. It is scary to get back to it... and it is demoralising when you know you were so much fitter before. BUT we keep on going... step by step.

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CAROLYN0107 1/12/2012 9:56AM

    Welcome BACK. Thanks for sharing your story. Have a good walk in the water!!!

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HDHAWK 1/12/2012 9:51AM

    I'm glad you are fighting back John. I am too, although with little scale success so far, but I'm not giving up. I know you won't either! emoticon

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