December 29, 2010: Shortly before Christmas of 2009 I was working two jobs; I had also just moved out and bought a place with my current boyfriend in July of the same year. I was a 26 year old female and was excited to start a new chapter in my life.
On December 22, a very uncomfortable pain started in my lower back. I didn't understand as I had never had back pain in my life until that day. I was also feeling a tingling down the side of my left leg. I tried stretching, but it made it worse, riding my horse was excruciating, but I persisted through it for a good week. I had a kiniesiologist work on me and he told me to rest and stretch. The stretches were painful and I didn't feel they helped, but the rest helped. I went back to riding and within two rides, the pain returned.
I went through the month of January without seeing my regular chiropractor, instead I saw the kinesiologist a few more times and it helped a small amount, but then the pain would return.
I've always been strong and been able to lift heavy objects. If I lifted something too heavy before this incident, it would hurt for a couple days, and then I would be fine. So I found this pain very puzzling. Everyone around me, except my boyfriend, said that I just finally wore out from all the years of abuse, tried to lift like a man for too long, body just gave out, I had too many falls off my horses when I was younger and so on. All of us also attributed it to a fall I had down my stairs almost a month and a half prior. The fall barely hurt at the time and I have fallen down the stairs at my parents when I was younger many times before and healed within a day or two, usually I just had bruises. But I heard from others "that was the last straw that your body could take", or, "it probably triggered something". It didn't make any sense to me.
In February of 2010 I finally went and saw my regular chiropractor who I have always trusted. He said I looked a little bit unstable, worked on me, and then I rode that night. I went back the next week, he worked on me, I didn't ride for a week after this time under his instructions, I started to feel much better, and the pain was almost gone. I tried riding again, as he said to do, and the pain returned within one ride. I went back and asked for prolotherapy, which I've had before with success. I was excited and was pretty sure this was going to help me, as it had a few years prior.
The next day I met with the Dr. and he warned me of the great danger I was in, that I could have herniated discs and that they could rupture if I lifted something the wrong way in the condition I was in. He injected seven shots into me, told me I had to wear a sacral joint back brace and told me to do nothing. I was very sore for a few days, but didn't find any relief after these first set of shots, I actually felt worse. I couldn't lift anything, just as I was told I couldn't, I was very scared after this first session. At the second session; I had only three shots and was sent home for rest again, wearing the back brace.
The third session I had seven shots and more rest, missing at least two days of work each week. I felt so weak and helpless. I continued to get worse and very depressed. I didn't see my horse much and wondered if I would ever ride again. During these sessions the Dr. explained to me what a herniated disc would feel like, the burning, zinging feeling, shooting down the back of either legs, and said to "watch out" for that.
I had someone out to ride my horse the next week, but the second day my horse threw her off. I didn't want to let him get away with this, so I got on quickly and cantered him one circle and he was fine. It actually didn't hurt to ride. But I did worry and stress about what I had done. The next night, I had the zinging that the Dr. had described to me shooting down my left leg. It was painful, but I rested and then I went in to see him. I told him about the pain, he said I had a herniated disc and that it could take years to heal. I asked if I need to get a scan done or anything and he said no, that he could just tell by the symptoms. I came back for more appointments and more shots until he told me that my back was stable. And that now we just needed to heal the herniated disc. He instructed me to ice my back for a few days. The next week I went back he said I could try riding now, I didn't see him until the following month.
During that month, I started to ride, but the pain persisted. I was also standing at work all day during this time, as sitting caused pain, or so I thought. About two weeks before I went to see the Dr. again, I started feeling excruciating pain in my knees, the right one more so, for whatever reason. Everybody said that it must be the standing all day at work. When I went in to see the Dr. he said that my knees must have been weakened from all the years of riding and he injected the right knee and told me to come back the next week for my left. I was very upset, I didn't understand why I was falling apart all of a sudden and that it was happening all at the same time. It was also during my vacation time and I was supposed to go out and stay with a friend at a horse show. I decided to go anyways, I could barely walk, so I borrowed some crutches and packed everything up and went out there. I felt a like a cripple hobbling around the show, but really enjoyed getting to see my friends that I hadn't seen much of that year.
While I was at the horse show, a friend mentioned to me that there was a lady she knew that had a herniated disc in her lower back and she injured her knee, she went and had laser therapy, and was healed within weeks. I decided to give it a try as I knew the prolotherapy injections weren't helping.
I did laser therapy from the middle of August to the middle of October. During this time I started doing Bikram yoga as well, I noticed some improvement from the laser therapy, but more so from the yoga.
Next I decided to try acupuncture. I found a lot of relief from the sessions, but when I tried to ride the pain would come back. Frustrated, I went back to my original chiropractor again. During my visit with him, we talked about my "herniated disc", he was telling me that most people have them and don't know it because they don't cause any pain. But he told me to hold off on any kind of scan.
I was desperate; I started researching the internet for hours, just trying to find something that would help me. Then I searched "herniated disc, my story" and found Sensei Adam Rostocki's site. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before! So I ordered his book that day, printed it out, took it home and read it that night. I was in tears because I saw myself in the book, it all made sense, the emotional pain that I had pushed so deeply down just a couple months before my back pain started. I also had an MRI done a few days after reading the book to rule out anything serious. The MRI showed that I have a herniated disc in my lower back, but it isn't causing pain and it is old. I have probably had it for years and have never known! One medical doctor recommended I have surgery and another told me just to wait it out and hope for the best. I asked the latter doctor what he thought could have caused this, he said, "these things just happen". He really didn't know how to answer me.
I ordered Dr John Sarno's book, Healing Back Pain - The Mind-Body Connection and re-read Adam's book until Dr Sarno's arrived. During this time, I took down my standing desk and got rid of my braces that I had stopped wearing a couple months prior. I started doing small things that I was afraid to do, working through my emotional issues, and the pain started to diminish.
After about two thirds of the way through Dr Sarno's book I decided to try riding my horse. I did a few minutes a day, just trying to get past the fear and kept focusing on my emotions. Within a week I was riding as much as I could handle, since I was out of shape, not because I was in pain. Now I have been riding for about a month, I sit at work all day and run and jump around. I feel liberated.
I think I will still have to work on my emotional issues during my lifetime, but I think since this has happened to me I will lead a healthier life, not just physically, but emotionally as well.
I want to sincerely thank Sensei Adam Rostocki, without your story and your site; I don't know where I would be. And to Dr. John Sarno, I don't even have words to express how thankful I am for the work you have done.
Update May 12, 2011: I am now totally pain free. I can do ANYTHING, lift ANYTHING and am enjoying life. I'm saving money and am totally in control of my pain. I don't even get car sick anymore! And best of all, I'm not afraid.
A quote I used to repeat to myself while I was healing:
"Inside, you have nothing to fear". [Dave Gahan]