They Said, “You Need Surgery”, I Said, “F*ck Off”, Part II

So…last week in I shared a big secret that I’ve been keeping for 5 months.

For 3 months this summer, I could barely walk or stand.

In Part I, I shared two of the three major things that helped me go from from limping around to hitting up the dance floor in less than two months…without getting surgery.

Today, in Part II, it’s time for #3, probably THE biggest factor for my healing…


It took me forever to understand this part.  From my body-talk practitioner, Laura, to the author of every self-healing book I could get my hands on, I kept hearing “release the fear”.

All I kept thinking was “F*#k you, it hurts.  I can’t walk – how could I NOT be scared?

When I was told in early July that my progress was unimpressive and I’d probably need surgery, I instantly became even more hunched over. My legs felt so weak I thought I would trip and fall.

Two days later, I waddled into chiropractor #3’s office as a last resort before giving in to surgery.

All it took was for him to look at me and say, “you can do this” for me to feel a major shift.

When I started standing up straighter that very same day, I was like, “oh, I get it now”.

Fear is a bitch.  Even if the worst case scenario of your injury feels super scary, wallowing in that fear is absolutely useless.  It’s like guilt or worry — it’s unproductive and debilitating.

Focusing on your fear eats up all of your energy, making you feel worse…which leads to more fear…which is more draining. It’s a vicious cycle.

Once I experienced how much the fear was obstructing my healing, I tried to focus on anything else.

Letting go of fear” is SO much easier said than done, but here’s what I found to be some of the best ways:

Surround Yourself With People Who Support Your Desire to Heal

When I encountered a practitioner who stressed surgery and injections, warned me I’d never get full strength back, or said something ridiculous like “have you tried stretching your hamstrings?”, they were freaking fired.

Peace out, see you never.

The ones I stuck with, the “Fix Heather’s Back Dream Team”*, knew I wanted to heal on my own and they honored that.

Don’t Tell Everyone What’s Going On

When people hear about your injury, they project their own fears onto you, and terrify you even more.

As my chiro Dr. Rudin said, “everybody has a scary back story”.

So only tell the people you trust to believe in what you believe in.  For everyone else, keep it to yourself until you get through it.

Focus on What Makes You Happy

Your body needs energy to heal. If you’re freaking out in your head all of the time, it’s sucking up all of your healing energy.

So focus on cheerful things. Although I couldn’t dance, I’d play salsa music and tap my feet in my chair, enjoy a gelato with my family, or invite friends over to hang out and laugh.

This goes back to last week’s tip to ask for help. It feels uncomfortable but trust me, your friends and family wish they could do something for you.

So let them. Tell them to come over and laugh with you. Watch a movie with you. Bring you some ice cream.

If they could physically take the pain away from you, they could. But since they can’t, give them a chance to help keep your mind off of what was going on.

Whelp, those are my big three.

In a few weeks I’ll be sharing the tools I swore by during the healing process, like:

  • what meditation audiobook I listened to every night,
  • breathing exercises that kept my nervous system in healing mode, and
  • what I had at breakfast every morning to fight the inflammation.

How About You?

I got a ton of comments and email from you last week – those of you who are going through something similar, went through something similar in the past, or have a loved one who is. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your own tips, I so appreciate it!

If you have a loved one who is struggling to heal themself, please forward them this post if you think it will help.

Have you experienced how debilitating fear can be on your progress? I’d love to hear about your experience and what you learned in the comments below.

With Love,

*The “Fix Heather’s Back Dream Team”:
I am SO grateful for these amazing practitioners for…having my back…pun intended:

My awesome doc Dr. E, physical therapist Francesco Gallaro, chiropractor Dr. Marc Rudin, and Laura Hames Franklin. I LOVE you all!


  • Leah says:

    I canceled my surgery! Although I knew in my gut it was the wrong decision, I very much appreciate the inspiration you shared last week.

    I am now very much looking forward to some anti-inflammatory recipes. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    I love this post! If people would just realize how much our emotions can add or take away from the awesomeness of our lives, their lives would work so much better. I’m going to look through your recipes now as I have a feeling they are going to be right up my alley!

    Thanks for the wonderful inspiration today!

  • Barbara says:

    Oh, I’m so glad I came across your website today! I really enjoyed this post. I too have healed myself in similar ways. One time from something doctors said would never heal. Thank you!

  • Sonya says:

    I had a herniated disc in my neck rupture and fragment in pieces so I had to opt for surgery earlier this year. But it turned out that it had been out of place *20* years. The surgery not only ended the extreme pain radiating down my arm to my hand that had gone on for six months, but also resolve the pain in my shoulder blade going back two decades — which was ignored by doctors. No one ordered an MRI until my hand went numb last summer.

    I tried many methods over those two decades (chiropractic of many styles, yoga of many styles, Rolfing, Alexander Technique, Rosen Method, acupuncture) — I suppose everything slowed down the progress, but once ruptured nothing reversed it. I am *excitedly waiting* for your next post on your meditation, breathing and breakfast. 🙂 I have no more pain, but part of my hand and one of my fingers are always pins-and-needles numb. Would love to to heal that.

  • Monica says:

    Hi Heather!
    This was such an inspiring story on how you healed yourself.
    It’s amazing that you avoided surgery that doctors were pushing on you.
    Could you provide the links to the article so we can read about what you mentioned in this article above…

    -what meditation audiobook I listened to every night,
    -breathing exercises that kept my nervous system in healing mode, and
    -what I had at breakfast every morning to fight the inflammation.”

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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