Be true (and kind) to yourself, the pain is only a diversion!

Since childhood I was always involved in at least one sport or another. I was a hyperactive child who needed to expend large amounts of energy, something that continues until the present day. I turned 50 in early 2016.

My back problems started around my late teen years, after years of Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis and Athletics, it seemed ‘normal’ to have my back ache from time to time. Through my twenties and until my mid thirties my back problem got progressively worse until I decided to have an operation to fix a right hand bulging L4-5 disc.

Looking back now, I had so very little joy in my life, something which I know now contributed directly to my physical situation. 5 days after my back operation, which was successful, I developed a pain on my left side of the lower back. Little did I know then that my disturbed brain was playing tricks on me.
Alon drummingNevertheless as time passed by, I was progressing nicely back into my normal physically active life and on top of that being able to turn my long time passion other than sports, playing drums, into what I call professional fidgeting.

Year in and year out, with playing the drums, band tours, recordings, photo shoots (which I hated with passion) together with playing tennis and then turning to kite surfing, my back was being a sort of Jekyll and Hyde. Some good days, some bad days. Episodes I used to call them, and some were more debilitating than others.

My life changed dramatically when I lost my parents suddenly and in a very short space of time, 3 years ago at the age of 47.  A few months after my father passed away I was supposed to meet my brother and go together to visit my uncle in hospital where he was evidently spending his last days.  At that very morning, what in hindsight seemed like my brain telling me enough (morbidity) is enough, I suffered a violent sciatic attack, lost the ability to move with excruciating pain and subsequently lost about 20% of strength in my right leg.

Alon Cohen kite jumpSome of my calf and toes were left numb. The days that followed were filled with a lot of pain, crying and desperate future prospects. Depressed and heavily medicated I lay days in bed, luckily having my girlfriend being very supportive and caring, until one day I got a text from my cousin with a link to a miracle sciatic recovery story which featured Dr. John Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain.

After 30 minutes of receiving the text I was well into the first 20-30 pages google books let you read for free and I could not wait to pay and continue reading. It was amazing and actually very emotional to read things about myself that I never knew, or never realised. It was as if Dr. Sarno knew me and my personality without ever meeting or speaking to me before.

From limping around the house, to starting long walks and then light jogging, I launched my kite for the first time after 45 days from the attack, whereas a month and a half earlier I was sitting disabled in front of a neurosurgeon telling me she’ll need to dig a bit into my spinal bone this time around…..

The miracle point for me was above all, what Dr. Sarno’s book explains in an unbelievably straight forward, ground breaking way. That nothing physically is wrong with me!!! It was the best news I could ever get. It all had a perfectly good explanation. The cause of all the years of pain…. it was one of the biggest revelations of my life and I am thankful for it every single day since. Every kitesurfing day, 10k day, tennis day, swimming day, hiking day or drumming gig. I am thankful. I am thankful even on my lazy days!

But the story does not end here. As I now know, with help from Georgie Oldfield of SIRPA (Dr. Sarno’s TMS ship captain in the UK and beyond), the knowledge and realisation that you need to continue to take care of all departments or “rooms” in your life, especially the emotional one, is something I was never used to doing. I was very good at bottling up or ignoring things altogether.

I now meditate and journal almost every day and even if I have a niggle of pain once in a while, I always revert back to the truth…. it’s only a diversion!
Best wishes on your road to recovery,

Alon Solomon Cohen
Professional drummer and percussionist
Charity fundraiser
Personal fitness trainer
Kitesurfing Junkie