After more than six weeks of back pain, I insisted that my doctor order me an MRI. Even though the pain has been steadily diminishing in the past week, I wanted to see with my own eyes the bulge that has rocked my world so intensely.
For anyone who hasn’t had an MRI, it’s a trip. I’m just so glad I know how to meditate. I showed up at the office yesterday morning with no idea what to expect. Before I knew it, I was on my back being fed head-first into a tube that was only slightly larger than my body. You have to wear ear plugs because the noise inside the machine is so intense. I kept my eyes closed so that I wouldn’t have to see the ceiling four inches above my nose. Every ounce of my attention was focused on my mantra, and I didn’t let it go for thirty minutes.
I wasn’t supposed to hear the results for 3 days, so I was quite shocked when I received and email from my doctor at 6 PM last night. “Amazingly,” he wrote, “your back is structurally perfect. There is no herniation. Apparently, all you’ve been experiencing is an inflamed sciatic nerve. It will go away soon.” I was overjoyed–ecstatic even. For the past six weeks I’ve lived with the fear that my back is royally screwed up, and If I don’t heal it properly, I’ll be limited for the rest of my life. I stopped doing yoga for fear of hurting it more. I curtailed all my regular activities to let my back rest. I haven’t lifted anything. I haven’t twisted. I haven’t bent forward. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on different types of therapies. And in the end, nothing was structurally wrong with me.
When I got the news, I felt like I had just been let out of jail. I felt like I could take the straight jacket off. I felt liberated and free. This morning I woke up, and I felt great. I didn’t just do my physical therapy exercises, I did yoga. I did sciatic nerve stretches. I started to open this poor body that has become atrophied and stiff as a board. It felt amazing! As I practiced, I just kept telling myself, “There is nothing wrong with me. I can’t hurt myself by moving my body.” I didn’t take any ibuprofen. I’m sitting at Starbucks writing, and I feel great.
Was this entire journey psychosomatic? It sure feels that way now. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t an irritation to the nerve, but did it have to snowball into such a disaster? Clearly it did, because there is a definite lesson for me here. I feel like I’m gaining a true understanding of the power of words; the power of suggestion; the power of thought. A misdiagnosis from a doctor is a powerful thing, but ultimately I am responsible for the content of my mind. This experience brings into strong relief the truth that in every moment our thoughts and beliefs create our reality. Before, this was just theory. Now I feel like I’ve witnessed first-had this universal law at work.