Pain is Your Ally; Learn to Interpret Your Body’s Signals

Pain Is Your Ally; Learn to Interpret Your Body's Signals
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Doctor Neha: Welcome to Talk Rx with Doctor Neha. Today we’re filming in New Zealand, and I have a wonderful guest, Christine. She is one of the women at World Women 17. She is a brave soul who’s willing to ask her questions so that all of you can learn. Welcome, Christine.

Christine: Hello.

Doctor Neha: So tell me what you’ve been thinking about.

Christine: My question has to do with what you talked about yesterday—how the mind impacts injuries and how we can connect the two, or stay disconnected.

Doctor Neha: Yes, it’s much easier to disconnect the two, for sure. So what type of injury are you experiencing?

Christine: I’ve got problems with my SI joint and hip. I’ve had it for about a year. And I don’t think that taking [medicine] every week is the solution that I want to end up with.

Doctor Neha: Right, because it can numb it out for a little while, but it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

Christine: Not at all.

Doctor Neha: So some part of you knows this is more than a physical ailment that’s showing up, and professionals are probably telling you they can’t do anything for you.

Christine: Oh no, I’ve been told I’ve got arthritis and that’s it. I should be taking either Ibuprofen every day or prescription medicine once a week. And tough luck, that’s it for the rest of your life.

Doctor Neha: Wow! All right, and you enjoy movement?

Christine: Yeah. I used to do yoga every day, swim, run. I can’t run anymore. I can’t touch my toes anymore, and I struggle to put my clothes on. We’ve been at a conference for two days, and I can’t sit in a chair for two days.

Doctor Neha: So, when something physical is happening, you go to the medical system first to have a physician check it out. Make sure nothing big is happening, such as a need for surgery or a serious diagnosis. When you get an answer of, “We can’t really help you,” it’s pretty disheartening.

Christine: Completely. And, you know, you hope you’ve got another fifty years ahead being able to do the things I love doing.

Doctor Neha: So I have a series of questions that I use to ask my patients. I’m wondering if you would be open to answering them?

Christine: Sure.

Doctor Neha: Okay. Let’s try it. This is to help Christine get some clarity on how her physical discomfort is connected to the other parts of her life. It’s called the awareness prescription. So the first question: Why this? Why your sciatic nerve, your left leg, why your mobility? Why is this the part of your body that’s trying to get your attention?

Christine: I don’t know. I go back to when it happened because I think it’s connected to that. I decided I was going to go on a health kick and foolishly I walked up a hill three times. Then the next day I was in a lot of pain, which didn’t go away for a year. But the day after I decided to go on a health kick, I decided I had to start making change, because it was 10 years after my partner had died and I thought 10 years was enough. So at the time I was thinking, Let’s get cracking now. It’d been enough time of honoring death of a partner, honoring the family we didn’t have. But then I go and get myself really stuck and caught in a lot of pain.

So now it’s been 11 years [since my partner’s death] and I did all the things that I needed to do last year. I went to the cranial osteopath. I went to the chiropractor. I went to the doctor. I went to massage. And it’s improved, so that’s cool. But it’s not there. And I’m done with it. I’m taking a prescription every week and I’m hoping that at least that way I can get moving, but I need to be done with the pain—because I’m done.

Doctor Neha: So you were grieving for 10 years over the loss of your partner, right, and then you decided, “I’ve got to change something,” and you walked up the hill three times—not a small hill once!

Christine: That’s not my way.

Doctor Neha: No! It’s all or none.

Christine: Absolutely. I am black or white, all or nothing.

Doctor Neha: And you were telling yourself, “We are getting over this, and we are getting over it today!”

Christine: Yeah, pretty much.

Doctor Neha: And your body said, “No, we’re not!” In fact, your body is there to remind you that it might not all be done in a day. So in a day things really changed, but the way you are describing it sounds as though your emotional pain over the death of a partner has now manifested into physical pain.

Christine: But I’m ready to be done with the emotional pain.

Doctor Neha: So let’s keep going on our questions.

Christine: Okay.

Doctor Neha: You can kind of see how this is all connected, right? It was a 10-year span when you felt grief and you were mourning.

Christine: Yeah.

Doctor Neha: And when you decided to get going, you got going. Almost without listening to your body. Almost pushing through it.

Christine: Yes.

Doctor Neha: So now does your body let you get away with not listening to it?

Christine: Not at all. On every level, it will tell me, “No.”

Doctor Neha: So your body is there saying, “You’re not going to forget me. We’re in this together.

Christine: Yeah.

Doctor Neha: All right, so, second question: Why now? Or why then? You answered this a little bit already. You made the decision that you were through with the pain, right? But why then, who not two years earlier, why not three weeks later, why in that moment did your body need to get your attention? What was important about that time?

Christine: I left a corporate life soon after Brian had died. I wanted to get some balance in my life so I ran away. I took myself off to Paris to live a dream and do photography. That was really important to me. I decided, if life’s going to be short, let’s live our dreams. But a year before I got sore, I’d taken on a corporate role. And I put away all my cameras, stopped taking photos and that part of my life.

Doctor Neha: You put your dreams away.

Christine: I was nervous about it because I photograph women nude outside. So it’s a little bit different from being an engineer and in corporate life. I was nervous about the perception of others. So I stopped.

Last year I went back to this place in France that I go to and started taking images again and started doing a yoga retreat. And so now I can carry on with that. Over the last year, it felt that if I can get back to having the balance that I wanted and embracing all of me, rather than just a little corporate part that someone might judge.

Doctor Neha: One little part of you. Sometimes your pain can give you an excuse to say, “I need to do what I love because there is so much energy that I’ve got. And so I’m going to make it important to do what is important to me.”

Christine: You say that, but sometimes in regard to my body, I’ve got time for everything else in my life rather than time for my body. And I just expect it to run along beside me.

Doctor Neha: And it’s saying, “No I need attention.”

Christine: Well, it doesn’t get it very often.

Doctor Neha: Wow! So third question: with hindsight being 20/20, what signals might you have missed along the way? Name two signals that you might have missed along the way.

Christine: Honestly, I’ve been thinking about being fit but never putting time into it. That would be one of them.

Doctor Neha: So valuing something but not taking the action to actually do what you need.

Christine: Correct. I want to do more but I haven’t. And I’ve forgotten how much joy I get with my camera. To get my camera out when I go to the northern hemisphere is such a long way to go to be able to pull my camera out—which seems crazy that it only comes out over there and not here.

So I haven’t quite found the courage yet to get my camera out in New Zealand very often.

Doctor Neha: Okay. The fourth question is, What else in your life needs to be healed?

Christine: My immediate response is my heart.

Doctor Neha: So I want you to take a nice deep breath in and out. Can you feel the tears?

Christine: And the dribbling nose.

Doctor Neha: And the dribbling nose—that’s okay because the truth is something needs to be healed here. Your body is trying to tell you, “Me too, me too!”

Christine: Yeah.

Doctor Neha: So the final question is, if you spoke from the heart, what would you tell me? What would you say?

Christine: I want peace.

Doctor Neha: You want peace. Take a nice deep breath in and out. And notice if it resonates as true for you. Where do you feel it in you?

Christine: Mostly in my stomach.

Doctor Neha: Okay, so put your hand on your stomach. And as you take a nice deep breath in, I want you to feel gravity pulling you down. Feel your feet on the floor. Take a nice deep breath in, bringing oxygen to your stomach. And for a moment, tell your stomach, “I’m going to listen to you. You are speaking and I am listening now.” Also your leg, your sciatic nerve, it’s talking to you, you’re going to listen now.

Christine: Okay.

Doctor Neha: Your heart wants to heal, and you’re listening. It might be a little uncomfortable for a little while. You might feel tears, and you might feel trembling. And that is the pain that you experienced with the loss of your partner and not listening to yourself and not doing photography—because you know it’s what you love—leaving you. That pain is leaving you. When we have trauma, we have pain on the way in and then we hold onto it for dear life because we think if we open that box, it’ll be like a tsunami. Except the only way to let go of it is to re-experience the pain as it leaves. That’s what you’re doing now.

Christine: Okay.

Doctor Neha: Yeah. Can you feel a little bit of a shift?

Christine: Yes. It’s not as hard.

Doctor Neha: Not as hard as holding it inside and carrying it everywhere you go. When you have a little bit of discomfort, let it keep going in waves, and practice allowing it to move through you. I can already tell it moved through you just now. Do you feel that?

Christine: Yes.

Doctor Neha: So thank you, my darling, this is how you’re going to heal your heart. It’s going to feel better, it’s going to all move through you.

Christine: Sorry.

Doctor Neha: You don’t need to be sorry at all. Thank you for being honest and authentic. For any of you who know you’re holding onto pain that you don’t know how to deal with, or physicians have told you they can’t give you an answer, please answer the five questions of the awareness prescription to get a sense of what else might be happening.

Write a note down below on the blog or drop me a tweet at #askdoctorneha.

Leaving the drama to Hollywood,

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  • Maureen

    So nicely put. I see this every day in a clinic – stoic or disheartened or frustrated or depressed people in pain due to an unclear reason and no treatment in sight. And I’ve experienced it myself. I love the visual of listening to the pain so it can move through the body for release. Thank you.

    • drnehasangwan

      Maureen – thx for feedback & sharing…warms my heart ❤️

  • Janine Le Roux

    So amazing how good it is to bring awareness to pain

    • drnehasangwan

      Such a huge issue in our world Janine! We need to start addressing problems on the level they’re really happening if we want to solve them. Currently we’re just focusing on numbing the inmediate sumptoms…costly and only effective until the meds or cortisone shot wears off!