Life before brain-first
Before I had even heard about a brain-first approach to pain, I had three orthopedic surgeries within a one-year span that threw me into a chronic pain nightmare. I had developed a condition called CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). At the time it developed, I had no idea what it was. All I knew is that it hurt - a lot - and the pain stopped me almost dead in my tracks & prevented me from doing the things that I love. I’ve always been very athletic. I was a judo competitor for 18 years, I love to work out, and take my dog for walks regularly. Music and art are also big parts of my life. The pain made all of that impossible.
When I began my search for pain care, the pain was in my right foot. It was excruciating. I kept thinking, “my God, there's something seriously wrong with me.” CRPS causes all kinds of pain, and sadly, mine spread to my elbows and wrists. Honestly, it felt like they were on fire (which I’ve come to learn is pretty typical).
I found an out-of-state pain clinic that specializes in CRPS. It’s run by a doctor who had developed a really good and successful program - I was hopeful. I had an interview with the doctor and was prepared to travel and excited to participate, but, at that time, there was a year-long wait.
I realized that’s why they call CRPS the “suicide disease” because most people won't make it one year - it’s that intense. I was near the cliff emotionally and getting dangerously close to the edge. It was a dark time.
“I found an out-of-state pain clinic that I was hopeful about but there was a year-long wait... I was at the edge of a cliff when I found Lin.”
I was out of options. I didn’t want to try ketamine, narcotics, or spinal injections. And I certainly didn’t want another surgery! All the research I had done caused me to fear that this condition would worsen and it was already really bad.
A chance online encounter with PRT
I was searching for pain reduction techniques online and I happened to find a 40-minute guided Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) session - using a technique called somatic tracking. As the patient was being asked questions, I put myself in her position and I followed along with everything as if I was in the room with them. Then I got up to see how my foot was feeling.
I now understand how PRT allows you to observe the pain, be curious about it and relate to it differently. When I stood up (very carefully) and I walked into the room where my husband was, he looked at me with complete shock and said, “why aren’t you limping?” It felt miraculous.
From that point on, I scoured the internet for everything I could find about Pain Reprocessing Therapy. I learned about the Boulder Back Study, and that led me to Lin. I was at the edge of a cliff when I found Lin. The team was so understanding and helpful.
My work with Lin has taught me a great deal about how the brain and body function together and how the body-mind relationships interact. I’m learning how to deal with my chronic pain and how to manage it. I also learned how PRT can be helpful with dealing with emotions of any type- difficult ones as well as happy ones. I am a strong supporter of somatic tracking for both physical & emotional issues.
Becoming educated about the fear/pain cycle has made a huge difference in my recovery process. The brain-first approach is geared towards learning techniques that I can put into practice in my life; this has increased the quality of my life, both physically & mentally.
“My life has changed tremendously since applying these brain-first solutions.”
Things really started to turn around for me when I began working with my coach, Deb, one-on-one. It’s like she knows what I need before I even need it. There is so much care, compassion, and encouragement towards my physical and mental well-being. Part of Lin’s practice is teaching you how to be kind to yourself… positivity is a must. I call it giving yourself grace.
I feel “heard” and encouraged to voice my opinions. The Lin team always asks their members for ideas about features and even other platforms they’d like to see offered. This has been so positive for me, as my previous experience with the healthcare system was the complete opposite of my experience with Lin.
Meeting people that understand what chronic pain is and learning that chronic pain is my primary diagnosis changed my life. This brought a whole new level of access to my life that was simply unavailable to me before.
Now, I’m back in my music studio, taking my dog for walks, and keeping busy because I find that I feel better the more I move my body… which is usually slowly & cautiously. When I do have a pain flare-up, Lin has and continues to provide me with the tools and the support that I need to work through it.
My Recovery Toolbox
- Favorite science fact: If my brain can learn pain (in an area that is structurally fine)… it most certainly can unlearn this pain.
- Fear-busting thought: I can take a step (or two) back and not just dive into the pain/fear cycle. I can instead observe and be curious, and not judge myself or the pain. And if there’s an emotional cause for a flare-up I can use my tools to handle it.
- What I’ve put into my life in place of pain: I’m back in my music studio - and I just expanded it as it seems that I just cannot have enough guitars! I have also expanded my art area and I’m back to exercising and enjoying my life.
- My mantra: My Life Has Purpose. My Story Is Important. My Dreams Count. My Voice Matters. I Was Born To Make An Impact.