An Open Letter to James McIlroy of Cradle of Filth
As a longtime sufferer of chronic back pain, I can relate to what you’re going through with your neck. The inability to stand, sit, sleep, eat, fuck, do anything without pain — it’s completely debilitating. You’ll do anything to make the pain go away, including resorting to desperate measures like surgery.
Yesterday when I read on the web that you were scheduled to go in for neck surgery my heart sank because I know from experience that it’s entirely unnecessary (and potentially very harmful), but when I woke up this morning to the message that you decided to opt out of the surgery I perked up, and I felt compelled to write you this letter. You made the right decision.
Do NOT get the surgery, James. There is another way.
From approximately 2006-2011 I experienced constant lower back pain with accompanying hip pain and sciatica that extended down my left leg to just below the side of the knee. Sitting was especially uncomfortable, and since I sit on my lazy ass all day in front of a computer this was particularly problematic. Standing for more than half an hour was a challenge (also problematic since I go to so many shows), and after a time sleeping became uncomfortable too. I was miserable.
I tried everything: yoga, stretching, physical therapy, acupuncture, pain killers. When an MRI revealed I had two herniated discs I was sent on a long (and expensive) journey through the medical complex that resulted in cortisone shots directly into my spine and nerve medication pills that made me feel incredibly anxious, with little positive effect from either. I was this close to surgery. Desperation. Anything to make the pain stop so I could get back to my normal life.
Around that time a friend recommended I read a book that had greatly helped out a friend of his called Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Dr. John Sarno. What the hell could a book say that could help my back? Seemed far-fetched. But fuck it, I’ll try it. Like I said, desperation. Worst case scenario I wasted seven bucks and two days of my time reading the stupid thing.
Notice everything until this point has been in the past tense. Because here I am, three years later, and I’ve barely experienced any back pain since.
Oh, I won’t lie to to you, the occasional pain does crop up, but not to the degree I ever experienced it before, and it always goes away within a few days. Because now I know how to manage it.
Dr. Sarno has spent decades studying and working with patients with chronic back and neck pain. As you may have gathered from the title of the book, his studies focus on the connection between the mind and body, namely how our subconscious thoughts, anxieties, neuroses and hang-ups can have very physical manifestations. In a nutshell, it’s all in your head. Get your mind right, and so your body will follow.
I know what you’re thinking right about now: “This is some serious hippie-dippie, mumbo-jumbo bullshit.” To some extent, yes, it is, in that Western medicine does not embrace any mind-body connection that can’t be empirically measured. But such a measurement is impossible; how can you measure the thoughts inside someone’s brain? All I can tell you, James, is that it worked for me and for thousands (maybe even hundreds of thousands?) of other back and neck pain sufferers the world over throughout the past few decades. Sarno has become something of a cult hero in the world of chronic spinal pain, including amongst many celebrities.
I also know you’re thinking this: “But I know for a fact that the discs in my neck are damaged.” Without going too far into it (Sarno explains it in much more detail in the book), if you’ve got an existing injury — two herniated discs for me, disc degeneration in the neck for you — your brain selects that as the “point of least resistance” and channels the emotional pain right there, because it’s easiest.
I can’t recommend this book more for you, James. I’m positive you’ll gain something from it. It’s written in plain English, very easy to understand, but its tenets are backed up by Sarno’s scientific research and analysis. It’s also short: you’ll tear through it in a day or two.
Here, I’ll make it easy for you: buy it on Amazon.com new, used, or in Kindle form. You’ll never look back. I know the tone and subject matter of this letter could come off as preachy, but I am honestly just a concerned fellow (former!) back pain sufferer and I know what you’re going through. I have nothing to gain from this whatsoever other than spreading the word and keeping it going in the same way that someone once did for me and, literally, changed the course of my life. I trust that this letter will reach you through official channels once it goes live. Feel free to email me at vince[at]metalsucks.net if you have any further questions. Best of luck, my friend.
Ex-Chronic Back Pain Sufferer and Concerned Metal Blogger Vince Neilstein