I'm going to tell you something that will blow your mind. One time I read a book that made my back stop hurting.
In 2016, I was training Jiu Jitsu with my buddy Eddie at the gym, I bridged to escape, and immediately knew something was wrong. In my lower back, I had the peculiar feeling that my back was like a TV channel that got cut and now was displaying snow.
For the next year solid, I would be in various stages of complete agony. And I mean agony. Face changing, future clouding pain.
The worst thing about being in pain is everyone's advice. Under normal circumstances, I actually love advice. I always want to be better, and I assume I have bind sides. But when it comes to back injuries, everyone's advice was mostly shit.
In no particular order: yoga, ice, heat, let me pray for it, this chiropractor, weed, that chiropractor, foam roller, this stretch, hot tub, hemp oil, etc.
All these things have their place, all these things can help, but pretty much none of them helped.
There are some things that hurt so much that no quick answer will help. When we give people all well wishes, it always seems like a perishable good. Its unfortunate that there isn't some word or expression for "this will hurt for a long time, I'm aware of that, and I wish you good vibes anyway".
I got really scared. I couldn't put my right foot on the ground for months without pain. I couldn't sit without pain. Every activity of my life now had to consult with my injury before it got permission to proceed. At one point, I got an MRI.
I'll never forget getting a call from the doctor telling me that I needed back surgery and I needed it yesterday. I was at my friend Beth's house when I got the call and all the wind was knocked out of me. I remember going out that night to do a stand up show, having a good set, then going outside to cry in the street. It was hard days.
As I get older, I have learned to appreciate but also laugh at my own peculiarity.
I've learned that for whatever reason, I at all times must have a circus of ambition in the town of my life. Some big loud distracting purpose that requires a lot of me. Maybe its an overcompensation, maybe its a good use of time. You will have to buy a ticket and see for yourself.
Case in point, while I was in all this pain, I decided to travel to New York to record an EP with my dream producer Roger Greenawalt. I told him I was going through hard times with my back and might not be able to come because of a surgery. He recommended a book called Healing Your Back by Dr. John Sarno.
I read the book, and no bullshit, my pain symptoms went down dramatically. I was not cured. I would still hurt for a long time and need PT and other precautions, but something changed.
In his book, he explains that there are pretty much two things that heal backs, time and blood flow. That the back is strange in that pain and level of damage don't always correlate. For instance, you could be hurting but not be that bad off. Conversely, you could feel fine and be structurally on the brink of real trouble.
But the thing that made a huge impact on me was his thoughts on surgery. He talked about how there are documented cases of people having back surgery, coming out feeling perfectly cured, only to find out later that the surgeons never even got to the problem area. So why does the person feel so good?
The concept of ordeal.
An ordeal is a semi-voluntary painful experience that we subject ourselves to in order to attain some relief from pain or trouble.
Your back is hurting, so you let someone cut you open to fix it. Your brain tells you that now you deserve to feel good and just starts acting accordingly. Its crazy.
In medieval times, priests would conduct trials by ordeal. The concept was that the righteous and the guilty alike would go through some tortuous experience, and God would protect the innocent from death or injury. Putting your hand in a pot of boiling water, taking poison, drowning, etc.. you had to suffer to prove your innocence.
Ordeals are baked into a lot of religions and group think. In Jiu Jitsu, when you get a new belt, the entire class forms two lines and whips you like a mule as you slowly walk between them.
In Scientology, auditors dig through your painful memories making you recount them again and again until they think they have removed the root of the problem which they call an engram (thanks youtube for teaching me this).
I think at the heart of all healing is a willing subjection to pain. The obstacle is the way as they say. In order to feel good, some times you have to subject yourself to feeling terrible.