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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 Play.

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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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