Dan’s story: From chronic back pain to whole-person transformation
Just six months ago, I was lost in pain. I was living in fear, I felt like I always needed to be careful about how I moved and what I did. It was no way to live. Lin helped me to understand that there's a different way to look at chronic pain. Now, life is so much richer, I see the bigger picture now.
It started with pain in my right hip. I got physical therapy, but I couldn't shake it. Eventually, I had surgery. My surgery was just a few weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak. Right when I should have been getting into post-op physical therapy, everything shut down. My wife got sick with COVID, and suddenly, my back went out. And that was that – it never really went away. There'd be good days and bad days, but it was just always there. And my hip still hurt. I was constantly in PT, visiting doctors, and trying different treatments.
It was as if the pain was bouncing around my body with no particular logic.
I thought I was just another medical mystery. At least three doctors and a chiropractor assured me that the structural issues with my back were minimal. Not knowing what was going on put me in a very dark place for a little while.
I just wanted to be an active, normal guy again and take care of my family and home and maybe go for a bike ride every now and then. But I couldn’t even do that. I couldn't even go for a walk around a block at one point.
By the time I found Lin, I had four or five areas of pain that I just could not get over.
I stumbled across the concept of brain-centered healing. I tried some of the techniques, and there were a few hints that a brain-centered approach was helping. But the pain would always come back.
If I had a stressful day at work, my neck would be tight and painful. I would relax at home, and it would feel better. I was aware that at least some of this was related to my mental and emotional state, but for some reason, I just needed a bit more hands-on support because I wasn’t putting the pieces together by myself.
When I searched online for mind-body therapists, Lin came up. I said, "Why not give it a try?" I signed up and started working with my coach Tim on strategies that would help for the long haul.
Lin helped me to understand the “origin” of my pain.
I've always been extremely active. I did mountain biking and triathlons, and I swam at the University of Delaware competitively for a couple of years. I would get hurt all the time. So up until the hip pain started, I just assumed, "Hey, I'm so resilient."
And then all of these major stressors in my life hit all at once, changing the way that I carried myself – mentally and physically. The stressors started to express themselves in my body. I think that because I’ve been such a physical person my whole life, my body is where I felt it all.
“Just six months ago, my world felt so small. This week, I went boogie boarding in the ocean and on a mountain bike ride.”
Lin is different from other self-healing approaches – more customized and accessible.
To me, it’s important for things to make sense. I have to know why they work.
Tim, my Lin coach, really customized the experience to this aspect of my personality. We started with some knowledge-based stuff that helped me understand the different strategies I could apply to my pain. We also did some more somatic tracking (which I had tried previously on my own), but this time it was made more accessible, something that I could do in a pinch for just a few minutes. That was a real breakthrough.
Tim suggested some breathwork meditation and yoga. We also worked on building evidence lists. It was very empowering.
Lin works because it helps you overcome things one at a time.
Part of my evidence list included things like this: I went for a walk around the block. I drove the car. I wore different shoes. I calmed myself down when something stressed me out. Every time I have a success, I add it to the list. It builds on itself. It builds up enough that even if the pain comes back, I have all these tools and affirmations to get myself past it. Lin helped me to understand that there's a different way to look at chronic pain.
Personally, I had a lot of built-up stress; I had hit a point where I had no healthy outlets for my pain because my healthy outlets used to be running, swimming, or biking. Once I lost that, everything just spiraled out of control. New health issues just kept appearing and not going away. And it was my brain saying, "Hey, you're hurting, something's wrong. You're not dealing with things. Pay attention." It's the only way my brain could get my attention. My coach, Tim, was able to help me get to the point where I really believed that my body was fine and that most of the “pain” was my brain overreacting to normal sensations. That took a lot of work and exploration, the encouragement from Tim made a huge difference.
Lin helped me to get my full life back again.
Just six months ago, my world felt so small. I felt like I was in this tiny little box, and I always needed to be careful about how I moved and what I did.
This week, I went boogie boarding in the ocean and on a mountain bike ride. At this point, if my hip starts to feel tight – I just say to myself, “It’s OK, you’re almost 40, you have a little tendonitis – no big deal.”
Now, if something gets hurt, I believe it's going to get better.
Thanks to Lin, I can trace the origin of my pain. I can look back and see how my body was expressing the stress of these events via pain sensations. Knowing this helps me to move forward and heal.
Lin led me through a full, whole human transformation.
I am so much more mindful. Before this, if anything was bothering me, I would just go for a run. I didn't deal with any of it. Now, at work and at home with my wife, things are so much richer. I see the bigger picture now, whereas before, I just got frustrated and went to the gym to work it off.
It is really easy to get started with Lin, and the cost-benefit ratio, for me, has just been off the charts. So it's absolutely worth a try.
My Recovery Toolbox
- Favorite Neuroscience Fact: “Motion is lotion.” You've got to move to accept that you can move. Your body's designed to move. Sometimes you've got to rewire these neural circuits.
- Fear-busting thought: When I’m fearful, I go straight to my evidence list writing. I jot down what I’ve been doing and remind myself how far I’ve come. I also take a look at what might be upsetting me. The combination of those two things just seems to melt the fear and pain all away.
- Something I’ve put into my life in place of pain: Meditation, focusing on emotions. Before, I saw myself as all these labels – mountain biker, swimmer, a scientist at a biotech company. And now, I see myself not just through these physical labels but also as an emotional, spiritual person.