Is This Evidence Of The Powerful Mind-Body Connection?

My tooth.JPG

My tooth.JPG (Photo credit: Brian_Kellett)

Let me first state that for those of you who prescribe to the Cartesian/ Newtonian view of the world…..this post is going to sound woo woo…..as in “CRAZY”…..so bear with me. I have not posted for a few days because I have been rolling around in pain. Last Thursday I awoke with horrible face and head pain. I instinctively knew this was not a migraine and within a few hours had that confirmed as the throbbing in my jaw intensified. I had a tooth infection. Now anyone who has ever had a  tooth abscess can relate to the  incredible pain that accompanies it. Ughhh. I scrambled to secure an appointment with a dentist and called my family doctor for an antibiotics. I happen to be one of those lucky folks who has endured multiple total joint replacements, making a simple trip to a dentist a somewhat dangerous proposition. Any foot or dental procedure requires pre-medication on my part to lessen the risk of infection spreading to my bionic joints. So, twenty-four hours later, off I went to the dentist. As I sat agonized in the chair, the dentist informed me that I had a pocket of infection the size of a nickel between two old root canals. This meant there was not much of a tooth even there to treat, rather a neolithic post that closely resembles a molly bolt, going straight down and then expanding into a “T” shape in the jaw. That was not good news. You see, that post meant that no endodontist, oral surgeon, or dentist in the country would touch this problem without a full hospital surgical theater. Complicating matters further, my medical history as I have shared here includes a bleeding disorder, which is a very scary thing for surgeons. Now, I am in horrible pain and I am feeling hopeless. For those of you not familiar with the United States medicare system, dental work is NOT covered. What to do?

Over the next day, the pain intensified and triggered a full-blown migraine. Okay add visual disturbance and constant vomiting to the list as well. I become concerned that the pain will overwhelm my ability to cope and that I am throwing up my antibiotics.  I reach out to my psychologist for help and here is where the story gets weird.

You see, last Wednesday I made a concerted effort to dip my toe into the water of “the real world” and joined a meetup group in my area. This group, full of wonderful people, shall remain anonymous because I do not want to cast aspersions upon them. Professional, outgoing, sincere people attended this group aimed at assisting all in the art of public speaking. They were not the problem, I was. You see, my background includes some harrowing experiences being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. For those of you unfamiliar, part of my mandated religious experience included one to two hours every single week of theocratic ministry instruction. That is a fancy way of saying “learning how to speak publicly in a way that persuades others to join your religion.” So this well-meaning, innocent, meetup group triggered the Hell out of me. I hadn’t expected that and went home completely overwhelmed and struggling with dissociation.

Public Speaking University (cover shot)

Public Speaking University (cover shot) (Photo credit: justinplambert)

My therapist was aware of this incident. As I sat in his office yesterday, he gently offered an interesting point of view. Could it be that my body was reacting to the emotions and experience of that Wednesday evening? Could it be that I felt emotional pain with what I was hearing that night and it registered as an invasion in the jaw area by my ear. After all, an infection is an invasion of a foreign body gone wild. After all, every change that occurs in the mental and emotional state…..whether conscious or unconscious…..is accompanied by change in the physiological state.  After all, I did not like what I was hearing that evening, as it generated flashbacks of  nightmarish events. Was my body reacting to that? Is it possible? And if so, could I change it without further medical intervention?

After contemplating these remarks for a bit, I decided to give it a try. From my point of view, it couldn’t hurt and if it actually worked, well…..bonus! For the next twenty-four hours I employed visualization, EFT, mindfulness, and self-hypnosis techniques to the best of my ability. Please note that I am FAR from an expert in these things and would never be accused of being “skilled”…..but I did try. And here is the weird part. It worked. Really. I awoke this morning without the agonizing pain. My new dental x-ray shows that a dime size pocket of infection still exists.

EFT-tapping points

EFT-tapping points (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know, I know…..maybe it was the antibiotics. Maybe it had nothing to do with all my woo woo efforts. But maybe….. just maybe….. it did. What do you think?  I am curious about your thoughts on this idea. Is this evidence of the mind-body connection? Or am I crazy?

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15 thoughts on “Is This Evidence Of The Powerful Mind-Body Connection?

  1. Clearly, you’ll need some work doing at some point (I’m not a dentist!) but I find it amazing that these techniques can help to ‘distract’ you from the pain, wherever it emerged from.

    I imagine it’s a bit like accidentally cutting or hurting your hand when it’s very cold. You don’t feel the pain while it’s numb. It only kicks in once the temperature is restored and your mind brain then tells your body to react.

  2. Oh, geez I hope you don’t take offence but that tooth looks awful! I’m glad you’re feeling better though-even if the infection is still there. In Canada we have to pay for our dentistry too. It isn’t covered under our medicare. Actually, neither are psychologists. Sort of seems like we have to pay for what are seen as “frills” when in actuality they’re necessities. I hope you can get to the dentist to have your tooth seen to.

  3. It’s certainly possible your visualization techniques worked. I’m not sure how it works but I’ve heard of cancer patients being healed through prayer and other alternative healing methods. Couldn’t hurt to keep trying your technique if you’re unable to see a dentist soon. Best of luck, I certainly feel for you.

  4. Yes I think it is evidence… There is no doubt in my mind about, as you call it, “a mind-body connection.” None – even though I’m not very good at it.
    Just the other day my dentist was telling me about a guy who refuses the pain numbing stuff – he just takes a moment ot prepare and then feels no pain.

  5. You have it right, in my opinion. The mind does control the body. For example, when I am really stressed, I will vomit without warning. I too had to take public speaking classes (many) for a job. Learned techniques on how to deal with the stress.
    If I have something that I do not have closure on, or a personal issue that bothers me day after day, eventually I grow very weak, tired, lack of concentration, nausea, headache, poor eyesight, poor coordination, back pain, etc. The way I try to deal is with long walks in the woods or hiking with my dog, this relieves the pain and stress or even just sitting by a lake. Nature seems to help with stress. i also take the following vitamins:
    Niacin
    B Complex
    Salmon Oil
    Vitamin E
    Vitamin D3
    Acidophyllis (probiotics)
    Vitamin C
    Your therapist is right, think the mind caused the body to be ill. Sorry about the tooth pain, I know what that feels like. Glad you are feeling better. Wonderful post, as always.

    Liz

  6. thehurtfactory says:

    Hello “Crazy’, thanks for the follow.
    I’m a staunch realist and fear many ‘alternative’ therapies or ‘self-help’ ideas are utter rubbish. However, I have also studied a little about biology and the brain. I won’t go mad with detail, but if you actually look at the way the brain and body work it becomes not magical that ‘alternative therapies’ work, but rather self-evident, and little to do with the content of the therapy.
    In a horribly simplistic way; if you think sad your body is filled with sad ‘hormones’ (and other stuff) – If you think happy you create ‘happy hormones’. The body works better when filled with happy!!
    Your ‘alternatives’ AND your visit to the dentist, therapist etc. were ALL positive acts of self-care, and all part of the HOLISTIC cure.
    I hope the infection continues to fade, I know the pain is excruciating.

  7. Carey Mann's - The Bridge says:

    Hi thanks for sharing my post about EFT. I am also a pain expert and, as you are probably already aware, Pain is 100% produced by your brain, and the techniques that you used didn’t ‘distract’ you.

    Most sensors are in our brain and all sorts of thoughts can make alarm bells ring (thoughts, feelings, and beliefs) which then makes the sensors in the brain open. This will ring an alarm bell telling the brain that we are in danger, and then we will feel pain. Most of these
    thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are totally subconscious and that’s why EFT works so well because we are quite literally communicating with the subconscious mind letting it know that things have changed, and that we are safe.

    On a physiological level researchers at Harvard Medical school say that EFT ” releases endorphins, increases GABA and reduces blood flow to the Amygdala”.

    * You see pain is a normal response to what your brain perceives to be a threat and some of these judgements are totally subconscious.

    * The amount of pain that you experience doesn’t always reflect the amount of tissue damage that you may or may not have.

    * The construction of the pain experience in the brain relies on many cues and many contexts.

    I work with Olympic athletes, boxers, footballers, dancers and many high profile people living in the UK. EFT is not a placebo as most people that come to me believe it to be a load of old nonsense: but it still works.

    Keep tapping!

    Love Carey

  8. Hi, just found your blog and have been having a little read of some posts 🙂 This post is very interesting, it seems quite likely that the mind and pain were linked, although I’ve never heard of anything like this before! But whatever caused it, I’m glad the tooth pain is less now, and good luck with your tooth!

  9. […] my WordPress friends and family, I am facing  a daunting problem. As reported in an earlier post this week, I was experiencing some severe mouth pain that I felt was connected to unpleasant […]

  10. I totally believe in the connection. In fact I think it’s strange not to because otherwise you are suggesting a split..our mind here, our body there and no connection….crazy thinking…Research backs the connections…there is even a book out there called The Body Remembers..it’s about the body storing memories of trauma etc

    • Just ordered this book on Amazon, thanks! Over the past few years I have worked hard at putting in to daily practice the meditation principle of detaching from my thoughts, but I still have enormous difficulty detaching from my body memories.

      Thank you so much for your support.

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