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Recovery Is Not a Straight Line

This interview is from the Like Mind, Like Body podcast. You can listen to the full interview below, on iTunes or Google Podcasts.


John Stracks, MD, has been helping patients overcome their chronic pain for over a decade. Then last year, during a particularly stressful period of his life, he faced a case of symptoms that he couldn’t immediately solve. The patient? Himself. Join us as Dr. Stracks takes a journey inward: re-learning how to listen to his body, finding new ways to move on from his past, and discovering lessons to pass along to his patients.

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We are going to talk about a really hot topic and that is relapses. Everybody gets relapses. Could you share your own experiences with relapses?

Yes. I first learned about mindbody medicine 20 years ago. I read Dr. Sarno’s book and worked through Dr. Schechter’s workbook and got better. My memory of it was that there weren’t very many flare-ups for a long time. But there were definitely times where I’d throw out my back. I share these stories with my own patients when run my own classes. For instance, there was the time when I had a shaving accident...

I don't think I've heard this story!

Yeah, this is a good one. I was getting ready for work and I was shaving. One minute I was shaving and the next minute I was literally on the floor with my back in a spasm. And shaving’s not that dangerous a sport – that didn’t seem right. And I pulled myself up and asked myself, “What was I just thinking about?” And it turns out, there was a conversation I needed to have with someone at work that I really didn’t want to have and I had been thinking about that. So I took some deep breaths, loosened up and I was fine.

The story I haven’t told was a really big flare-up I had last fall after I left Northwestern Hospital and set-up my own practice. So that’s why I contacted you because I thought it would be helpful for you guys to hear a story that wasn’t tied up in an hour or even a day.

I left Northwestern Hospital on September 1, 2017 – 13 months ago. I set up my own practice on September 5 last year, so I had Labor Day weekend off. At first, I was doing fine. I was playing golf with my son and threw my back out two to three weeks later. I thought I know what I’m doing with this. So I went bowling, because my son wanted to go. And my experience had always been that I could work it out in a day or two. This one just didn’t quite work out that way.

And I did what I normally do, which is to get a sense of what my body is trying to tell me. I did some journal writing - and some meditating, and I figured out if my body needed a break. So I slowly got better over the course of a couple of weeks.

And then I threw it out again. And this had never happened before. I had never thrown my back out twice in a row. And I kept doing my normal activities and I tried to work through it, and run through it (literally).

So I kept trying to exercise through it and I was stiff. So I did what people do, and I went to see my chiropractor friend...

[this was an excerpt ... listen above to find out how Dr. John Stracks ultimately found healing]
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Curable is an online program that uses proven mindbody techniques to reduce chronic pain.