The Connection Between Addiction & Chronic Pain – Recovery 2.0 Interviews Elizabeth Kipp

#LivingBeyondChronicPain seen on Recovery 2.0 Beyond Addiction Online Conference, May 3-7, 2014   

You can view the video version of this here.

Tommy: Welcome to the Recovery 2.0 Conference. I am your host Tommy Rosen and today I’m so psyched to be speaking with Elizabeth Kipp. Elizabeth has a special tale to tell and she has lived with the problem that plagues so many people who desperately seek relief and often don’t find it. That problem is chronic pain. Elizabeth has been dealing with chronic pain since 1968 when she fell off a horse and broke her back. From that point until last year, she had been looking for solutions but had been unsuccessful in finding health and wellness in her mind and body. On September 15th, 2013,

Elizabeth entered the Betty Ford Medical Center to take a deep look at her pain. What she found was a level of recovery she did not feel possible. Her story is one of immense courage and hope. Elizabeth, thank you so much for sharing your voice at the Recovery 2.0 Conference. Welcome.

Elizabeth: Oh Tommy, I’m so happy to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Tommy: Oh my goodness. Well, as I said in the introduction, Elizabeth, you have an amazing story to tell and I’d like to begin and ask if you would share a little bit about just what happened in your accident and how the sort of that initial injury sort of translate it in to a multiple decades of pain and challenge. What have you learned about that?

Elizabeth: Well, first I grew up with an alcoholic family so I think that’s an interesting back-story.

Tommy: Good place to start.

Elizabeth: Yeah. So the behavior is already kind of ingrained in my mind just in terms of what alcohol could do. When I was 14, I was on a horse, I took a spill, landed on a rock at the base of my spine, split the bone so that the front of the bone fell forward and pulled the nerves with it. I actually got up and walked away from that accident figuring that if I could walk, I didn’t have a broken back. I didn’t have anything broken and I grew up with this no pain, no gain like attitude when it comes to sports so I really kind of shook it off.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: Even when I couldn’t walk quite right, I got back on the horse. What followed seven years later when I couldn’t literally walk up the stairs one night, I said maybe it’s time to see a doctor about my back. So I went to a doctor and he said, “Oh,” he took an x-ray, “you’ve got an old injury,” and I knew exactly what that injury had been. I just like I knew. Anyway, I dealt with chiropractors for about seven years and then the surgery started. The chiropractors said sometimes our patience needs surgery. So I had three surgeries that attempted to stabilize the slip on the bone. And finally the third surgery actually stabilized it but by then the slip was 80% forward in to my pelvis, which is pretty significant

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: Causing a lot of pain and each surgery I had caused pain I was given opiates for that. In the beginning, the doctor said, “We’re not going to give you enough pain medicine to treat your pain. We’re worried about addiction.” And then in the ’80s that changed to “Well, we don’t really care about your addiction, we want to treat the pain.”

Tommy: Yeah, a shift in the philosophy there.

Elizabeth: Big shift.

Tommy: Right.

Elizabeth: In 1998, enter Fentanyl, very strong synthetic heroin, very strong, and if I look back on my work with all this time with opiates and benzodiazepines, it’s that drug that I think really I crossed the line with. But to prior that I had been able to actually stopped taking say Oxycontin, that level of drug for a couple of months at a time without any withdrawal symptoms but once I started on Fentanyl, there wasn’t any issue at all for my doctors about “we’re going to stop doing this.” He actually his attitude was “You will need these medicines for the rest of your life.”

Tommy: Right.

Elizabeth: I got to the point where the medicines weren’t helping anymore and I was at a really high level dose of Fentanyl and people were dying from overdoses of this medication and I’m only 110 lbs. So I’m taking this huge dose wondering if I’m going to wake up in the morning once I fall asleep and you know the universe kept me alive. I have really given up to my higher power for keeping me alive all this time. So I got to a point where I was like I need to get off these medicines. And I brought myself down 75% in 2012 and I had to wait about a year as my body was-I had a lot of irritable bowel that was like getting way worse. It’s like whole down off the Fentanyl.

Tommy: Lots of symptoms.

Elizabeth: Oh yeah. And it got to a point where I just felt stuck and I don’t like feeling stuck. I like forward momentum. So I got very uncomfortable and I really felt I needed to put a call out. So I put a call out to my friends including my son and said I need help getting off these medications.

Tommy: And your son is Mastin Kipp, my friend.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Tommy: He’s the founder of The Daily Love.

Elizabeth: He is.

Tommy: Okay.

Elizabeth: And he knew an addiction counselor who works at the Betty Ford Center who knew Dr. Peter Przekop. Dr. Peter has this chronic pain program for people, patients that other doctors just don’t know what else to do with and it was Dr. Peter’s work and the confidence in his voice that actually got me to Betty Ford. That was the draw.

Tommy: Before we get to that point, you’ve covered a lot of ground I want to ask you a number of questions. From 1968, the first thing you mentioned was there were seven years before you actually went to have somebody look at your back.

Elizabeth: That’s true.

Tommy: And then another seven years of sort of chiropractic visits, etc. So during those 14 years I’m interested in the progression of pain, the progression of the disease in the body. What’s going on for you during those years?

Elizabeth: I was very athletic as a young teenager and I came from an athletic family. I have a lot of drive. I have a lot of-I felt like I had a lot of pressure around me to perform at a very high level. So my issues with perfectionism run pretty deep. And I really was pretty good at just ignoring the pain that I had. I mean it would get kind of to the point where it took a lot of my attention but it would only be for a few months and I could redirect. So I got pretty good at like okay, I have this pain but I want to redirect my focus. So that became a very early practice. And I was also once I got out of school and I went to college for a few years and then I went to work, I worked in a food cooperative and required me to lift 25 lb. bags, one bag in each arm out of a truck upstairs. I mean it was very physical work and I was very strong. However, that was the job that actually brought me literally to my knees up the stairs.

Tommy: Yup.

Elizabeth: Eventually. And fortunately, I had a friend in the food coop who had a chiropractor who was actually able to help.

Tommy: And that’s how you got on that chiropractic path.

Elizabeth: That is.

Tommy: Okay.

Elizabeth: That is. The thing is once we saw the x-ray, I went to every kind of spinal doctor I could find and everybody but the chiropractor said, “You need surgery,” and I was not really wanting surgery. I was afraid of surgery. I don’t want anybody cutting on my nerves. The whole concept was just I didn’t want to go there. So I thought, “Well, the chiropractors might help.”

Tommy: Now, how many surgeries did you end up having?

Elizabeth: Well, I had three on my back and then one on my abdomen to try and repair an incisional hernia that they get on the third surgery. So it’s four all together.

Tommy: Okay. Now obviously there’s times when surgery is absolutely necessary and there’s times when people can look back and say, “I wish I didn’t have that surgery.” There’s no black and white here and I really feel that people need to pursue the path of healing that makes the most sense to them at the time. And I understand from the bit that I’ve gotten to know you that you have always been a seeker not just for health and wellness and trying to solve this problem but also for spiritual knowledge and hungry for-I know that you’re someone who looks and is curios and is truly looking to better yourself continually. When you came through those surgeries and obviously when one leads to another leads to another leads to another at some point you have to be thinking, “God, is this what it is for me? Is this what’s left for me?” So that has to be a very tough place to be.

Elizabeth: Tommy, that actually happened to me after my second surgery. I was given a prognosis, this doctor says to me, “You will be in level 7 pain 24/7 for the rest of your life.”

Tommy: Oh my God.

Elizabeth: “And you’ll be in a wheelchair when you’re 40.”

Tommy: Oh my God. Who would say that?

Elizabeth: Yeah and not knowing any better at the time, I was so shocked by this guy’s statement and he had a confidence and I had to go with it I guess.

Tommy: Wow.

Elizabeth: I took that in for two weeks and for two weeks, I literally felt like I was in a black small closet.

Tommy: Oh yeah.

Elizabeth: I could not find the door or the doorknob. I was there and I couldn’t get out. And after two weeks, I realized that this doctor was not a fortuneteller and I know enough about science to know that paradigm shift like we used to think the earth is flat is a quick example.

Tommy: Sure.

Elizabeth: And I went wow, I’m going to empower myself. This is my life. This is not his life. This is my responsibility to pull myself out of this thing and that was when I found the doorknob to get out of that closet.

Tommy: Now what you’re describing is a move, so I talk a lot in my book in particular disempowered healing, the idea that we don’t have control or power over our own healing process and so we end up giving our power away to other people much to our own detriment and that when you discover and take responsibility for yourself and your life and you take responsibility for your healing process, you’re now in empowered healing and now you can actually make some progress. Makes sense?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. That’s foundational.

Tommy: Yes. So from that point when you had that second surgery, until last year September 15th when you stepped in to Betty Ford, you had the opportunity to basically go in to severe drug addiction as a result of surgeries and trying to find your way through this pain, right.

Elizabeth: That’s correct.

Tommy: And so that situation, that exact trajectory is the main reason that I so appreciate you having come out the other side because I mean I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to over the last 22 years of recovery, these are people in addiction and in recovery who are in so much pain and they’re going the surgeries and the drugs and how many people relapse by the way around surgeries and then the narcotics that they give you afterward, not that I have necessarily have-well, I have thoughts about it but I don’t have a solution. If you need surgery you’re probably going to need some kind of pain killer but it’s just a real problem and then when you get to somebody like you who had been in chronic pain for so long, what is it like to be-what’s that cycle of addiction and how does the addiction keep you from ever really being able to face the pain.

Elizabeth: Well, it numbs the body. It also numbs the mind and the emotions so you know Rene Brown says it so beautifully, when you numb your pain you numb your joy. And I actually heard her say that, I don’t know 2011, 2012 and when I heard that that was like a call from the universe for me to like change direction. That was huge for me. I was like if I’m numbing my pain and I’m numbing my joy by doing that, it’s not worth it. That was a big message for me and it was a big motivation. It wasn’t the only motivation but it was a very strong one.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: And it was really an intention that I put out in to the universe like is there another answer? I really put that out there for at least a year, it might have been even longer. And it was very interesting the way the answer came back of actually there is another paradigm out there. It’s an unusual paradigm but you know you can put down that pain medicine and maybe not actually be in pain. I never heard such a thing. It was completely new to me.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: But I was not having success with the Fentanyl and the Ativan that I was on so I knew I was poisoning myself with that medicine and it was kind of like okay, you’re either going to die from this addiction because I was like literally had a prognosis of-a diagnosis of poor digestion because my whole digestive system was frozen from all these medication.

Tommy: Go figure.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I wasn’t taking nutrients so I’m like literally dying by the inch or taking a leap of faith and seeing well maybe this other paradigm works. So it was really like for me, it was like stepping in to the unknown from a place of certain death to a place of the unknown and it was really like a call from the universe to like change directions.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: I took the leap.

Tommy: You took the leap. Well, there are many people out there right now who have been dealing with chronic pain and they’re taking similar medications as to what you were taking to deal with it. And they’re feeling as you were feeling. I can’t stop this. I will be in level 7, level 8, level 9, I’ll be in pain and I cannot stop. If I go off medication, the pain is going to be there and the symptoms that I have in my body I’ve got all these other things going on, we’re not sure if it’s because of this medication or because of side effects or because of other things like there’s just so much unknowing in this disease of chronic pain and addiction. What happened for you? What was it like on day 1when you stopped taking medicine or when your doctor, the doctor at Betty Ford that you mentioned, Prescott, when he said to you, “You can do this and we’re going to take you through it,” what is the way that it happened? What did they do? What did you do?

Elizabeth: Oh well, I gave them my medicines. I took my Fentanyl patches off. And they gave me medication; they gave me Subutex to bring me down like slowly, slower off the medication. I was pretty sick for 10 days physically. I was sick. But it wasn’t anything I couldn’t come out of. I was just sick. And after those 10 days that was a big turning point. I’m not exactly sure what happened during that 10 days other than the fact that I was physically really sick.

Tommy: Detoxing.

Elizabeth: But it was really-oh yeah, but my metaphor is like it was almost like I was in a crucible cooking because when I got out, because I was like in bed for 10 days and when I got out of that bed, I got up and walked and I didn’t have any pain in my back. I had a lot of visceral pain in my gut. I had a lot of irritable bowel syndrome but I had no back pain. This is an experience that I haven’t had since before the accident. I mean that’s a lot of time. That’s 40 years or something.

Tommy: 40 years, yup.

Elizabeth: So that was what happened. I’m not exactly sure what happened. But I will say this, I will say that for me it’s been very important. I’ve been very careful about what I believe is true. And when I went in to bed for I believe that it was possible to make a change. I just didn’t know what that change was going to look like. I just kind of went in there and open and said, “Take out the program. I haven’t got a clue what it’s like. I’m going to embrace it whatever it is.” And I think that attitude is kind of critical and I think it’s really important that we’re careful about what we believe. If I believed that I was going to be in level 7 pain for the rest of my life and I stayed there, you know I might have been in level 7 pain for the rest of my life. That’s how strong our beliefs can be. So I think my own belief system walking in to Betty Ford was part of the solution. I think the doctors totally knew what to do biochemically. Then the program they have there is there’s a whole slew of healing modalities. They had acupuncture. We had four people to work with on emotional pain, which turned out to be a big issue I don’t even realize was foundational prior to the accident that was in there. And then there was the fitness and yoga and a lot of getting up and moving and I hadn’t like my walking ability prior to walking at Betty Ford was I could barely walk three grocery aisles without just spiking you know intense pain. And I couldn’t stand for more than about two minutes without spiking intense pain. And I’m not exactly sure how, what exactly happened if it was attitude, it was the universe, it was all these modalities and it was just getting up and moving. There was so much cooking in the mix at Betty Ford I’m not exactly sure which one worked or they all worked or exactly what happened.

Tommy: The attitude that you expressed of being willing to embrace a new way obviously letting go of the drugs was critical. Having a time, a period of time where you were detoxing in bed was critical. Having somebody medically help you to get off the narcotics in a manageable way, all these things important. And how important, I mean this is obviously the unknown but you have a lot of support, I believe you have a lot of love and support from your family, your husband, obviously Mastin. Tell me a little bit about the piece of this that can’t be measured which is the love and the prayers that are coming your way.

Elizabeth: Well, that’s a whole other huge piece of equation. I’ve been married almost 35 years to an incredibly loving, supportive man who’s always had my back. And there has never been any doubt about that. That for a patient, I mean for a person that’s awesome is just another person in a relationship, that’s just an amazing relationship as a patient to have an advocate like that is you know truly a blessing of [to mention] is beyond my reckoning. And then Mastin adds a whole another layer of love and support and knowledge. I mean there was a whole community behind The Daily Love. You’re a part of that. I was the editor The Daily Love from the beginning until like last June so I got to know all the bloggers, a lot of the community, very supportive loving people.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: Also the team of health care workers that I worked with I didn’t just have like a pain specialist and a GP, I had you know an acupuncturist. I had a massage therapist. I had a yoga teacher. I had all these people where not just critical in their modalities but critical spiritually and supportive.

Tommy: Wow.

Elizabeth: And opened my mind.

Tommy: What a blessing. Let’s stay on that piece about opening your mind for a moment. In what ways-can you draw some generalizations like for example people who have chronic pain who were struggling with chronic pain and this kind of addiction, in what ways might you think their mind would be closed and what did you experience personally?

Elizabeth: Well, one thing that really helped me and was a gift really it just kind of came to me so that was so much a gift from my higher power was learning how to stop resisting the pain. That’s just a whole concept and I learned that through meditation. I started meditation when I was 20. I learned transcendental meditation and I kind of had a practice already started so that by the time I started having surgery and getting in really huge amounts of pain, I already had a practice of focusing on one thing and just being still and staying with whatever that one mantra was. So it was pretty easy for me to take the experience of say, I used to be for a year I was a [0:27:47] carpenter and I can remember taking a hammer and setting a nail and taking the hammer down and hitting my finger instead of the nail and you know my tendency would have been to like freeze up and aah, make a big noise and just be totally tense. Well I learned, I don’t know, this was a total gift from the universe; I learned that the fastest way out of that pain was to not freak out and tense up but to relax. So that’s a totally different direction. I mean who does that?

Tommy: Yeah.

Elizabeth: I never thought that was a gift. It was a gift to me.

Tommy: Easier said than done sometimes.

Elizabeth: Yes, that’s a really good example of how to do it quickly like when you bend your elbow or you knee or whatever and you got like a reaction is to tense up in pain, instead of doing that you just surrender to the pain.

Tommy: Yes, yes.

Elizabeth: And it goes away really fast. Well, I already had that experience so when I started having this really a lot of pain where migraine, headache, the low back which was probably like really read hot throbbing and I had to go lie down, I would like down and I would go in to a meditation and instead of trying to jump out of my skin which is really what part of me wanted to do is jump out, I would dive in to the pain and by looking at the pain instead of trying to get away from it, I found that dropping that resistance I know this is really hard but it’s a practice and it worked for me, by surrendering to the pain, it doesn’t take the pain away but it made it easier to bear. It made it easier.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: And I think that practice of dropping the resistance and surrendering was critical to my attitude going at Betty Ford because I had to totally surrender to these people. I didn’t know who they were. I’ve never met them before. I mean I had met Dr. Peter on the phone a couple of times but really he talked to my husband more than he talked to me. And yeah, I was just going to this huge population of people I didn’t know.

Tommy: Yes. It’s remarkable. It’s remarkable.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Tommy: Well, I’m so pleased that it turned out well. You sent a couple of lovely emails out to your community when you were at Betty Ford. And one of the lines that you wrote was, I’m going to quote here, “I am having a blast educating the nursing staff here about the nature of what a pain patient goes through and they really appreciate the knowledge I’m passing to them so they can better understand the needs of other pain patients here.” And I really appreciate the idea because nobody can know what you’re going through as well as you and you know people who are treating people with this issue are not going to be able to understand it completely unless they have themselves be in those shoes and felt that pain. Can you share a little bit about what kind of stuff was important for you to share with them?

Elizabeth: One of the big things that comes to mind right away was the number of calories that I seemed to burn in a day. We found that over 20 years ago that a pain patient can burn 7,000 calories in a day. That’s just a huge number of calories. And I just have not been able to get enough to eat. I mean I didn’t have much of an appetite until I got through my detox. I still had to force feed because I was just constantly hungry. That was a very new concept. The nurses did not have a clue. Where did you hear that? I mean I’ve known it for 20 years. I was in the literature. I was studying that stuff trying to learn everything I could about pain. I still had a really high metabolism. I don’t have that pain load anymore but my metabolism is still high so I’m still consuming a lot of calories in a day.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: I’m hoping that will change but that was something that was a big aha to them. It was like wow, these people need a lot of food. But it’s really basic but it’s really important.

Tommy: Oh yeah. It’s good. What I’m thinking of now, Elizabeth, is I’ve known through my own experience with stress that when I’m particularly in a stressful mode, I can burn a lot of calories and if I’ve been working you know just feverishly on a project or something and it’s really like the intensity of it is big and the stress of it is big, inevitably someone usually a family member will come up to me and be like, “Are you eating?” Like, “Are you okay?” I’m looking a little gaunt, a little thin around the edges and I’m like, “You know what, I am eating. I’m eating as much as I can.” They know that I love food and that’s not an issue for me but yeah, I mean stress and the mental sort of thing of addiction also just really can cause us to burn it up and so I love, I love this point.

Thank you.

Elizabeth: The one that goes hand in hand with that is my tendency, this isn’t everybody, but my tendency to drop weight really fast. I mean I can drop 9 lbs. in 2 to 3 days, which is a scary amount but with pain and the stress that comes with it and I don’t know I just have a high metabolism, whatever that is it’s very scary.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: I was particularly worried about gaining weight. I was worried about losing it and that goes hand in hand with burning the calories.

Tommy: Yes. Now when you went in to Betty Ford, you also gave up smoking cigarettes.

Elizabeth: I did. Yeah, I totally did. Yeah, that was the easy part. I was so worried about that. I have so much more worried about smoking than it was the other two things. The smoking was the easy one compared to everything else.

Tommy: But it happened all at once.

Elizabeth: It did for me.

Tommy: Well, I just want to say, how long have you been smoking?

Elizabeth: Probably 40 years.

Tommy: Yeah and obviously you haven’t smoked since.

Elizabeth: No. I would like to say that I had I think the really cool, one of the really cool things other than not having this load of pain has been I found all the space in my lungs and in my abdomen where I could breathe, where I just didn’t even know I could before. So I not only gave up smoking but we kind of have gotten rid of the irritable bowel, the pain from the irritable bowel and all of a sudden there’s all the space in my body I never knew I had before. It was like getting a whole new body, Tommy. It was wild. It still is.

Tommy: That’s incredible.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Tommy: This has been incredible story. This is why part of the reason I wanted to so so badly to have you tell it. So I have to imagine that for somebody coming off, well I know for somebody coming off drugs and alcohol or any addictive behavior, somebody in your case coming off all of that with cigarettes and the pain situation, what I’m hearing is having some form of structure around for example you have to eat like we’re clear you got to be eating, you’ve got to create a structure there. Other points of structure I’m imagining that part of the program that you went through was building-I have to imagine you’re pretty busy, right, they keep you busy at Betty Ford, so tell me about that since you’ve gotten out.

Elizabeth: Well there were a lot of components. Yeah, they would start at 6 in the morning getting us up at 6 in the morning. We have a med called then we’d go to breakfast for an hour. Then we went to meditation. Then we went to lecture. Then we went to small groups. That was our morning. Then we went to lunch. Then I, being on pain track, I went for three hours on pain track, which was like an hour and a half roughly of sitting as a group and then another 30 minutes or so of chi gong and then another 30 minutes or so of mantra meditation. So that’s meditation twice in a day and different kinds of meditation. Then I went to fitness. I had an hour of fitness. And then I went to dinner and then we went to a meeting. So we would end up being finished at 9 at night. So it was from 6 in the morning to 9 at night and the structure was the same pretty much every day. And I also had a horrible case of insomnia. I still do as a result of the benzodiazepines getting off them has probably my sleep more than the opiates, getting off the opiates has. That apparently that’s a way bigger deal than I ever knew it was.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: So you know you all can imagine that I was a nervous wreck for a while. I was like literally physically shaking for I don’t know how long, a few weeks. I would go in to the nurses in the morning and we do a how shaky am I with my hand test to see how shaky I was that morning.

Tommy: Oh, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: Yeah. So the meditation time was huge for me. It was a huge deal because it helped me to focus and calm myself and then at night when I wasn’t doing the program but I was wide awake because of this insomnia, Mastin had downloaded a bunch of Sanskrit mantra music on to an iPod and sent it to me and I listen to those for hours.

And they were very, very soothing and they’re all healing. They’re all Sanskrit power words, healing words so powerful music, which I knew about that.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: So that was a whole another modality that I threw in to the mix, which I think, was just as powerful as anything else, very calming. So the calming part for an addict at least for this addict was huge, just how do I calm myself down? I mean I met a whole bunch of new people. I had a new physiology going on in to my body. I had a whole bunch of new modalities, a lot of new ideas. There was a lot of stimulus coming at me and here I’m trying to calm down. So yeah.

Tommy: Yes. It’s amazing.

Elizabeth: It was a real practice. It was a real practice. There was that meditation thing and then when things really hit the fan, and even before that, I would just throw it out to my higher power and say okay, I seriously need your help. I cannot do this alone.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: So there was a lot of  praying going on.

Tommy: Yes. The structure as you’ve explained is self-evident and that’s amazing. And you used the term higher power a number of times in this interview. That comes from working you’ve done in the 12 Steps?

Elizabeth: Well, yes, Tommy, but my higher power, I had a very deep spiritual foundations starting when I was wow, a young teenager that just grew and grew. Really if you look back at my life, statistically, if you look back at my life and said, “Should she be alive?” No. I just had too many near misses that there’s like there’s a reason. I mean it’s just totally, that’s just where I come from, it’s where I’ve been coming from since I was about 14. I’ve just always felt this deep connection to something else. It’s what drove me as a seeker. It’s what drove me to meditation. It’s what drove me to yoga. It’s what drove me to study all the religions in the world and figure out why are they different, what do they have in common. It’s what drove me to spirituality. When I learned about the 12 Steps, I think the first time I learned about the 12 Steps was when you blogged for The Daily Love. And I wasn’t reading them as an addict at the time. I was reading them just as like a normal person. And they made sense to me then. They made even more sense to me now.

Tommy: Yes. Me, too.

Elizabeth: So I’m redoing my 12 Steps right now. I’m in the middle of Step 4. Yeah.

Tommy: Good work.

Elizabeth: Yeah. The 12 Steps were, they just fit right in to what I already had as a foundation spiritually.

Tommy: Beautiful. That’s so great. I came to it kicking and screaming basically. I came to it kicking and screaming. I wish honestly if I could just see a video of myself arriving in rehab in 1989, oh my God, I and many other people would pay a lot of money to see that guy, what he looked like then. Wow, just kicking and screaming but I’m grateful that you shared that piece of it. So today, tell me what are the things that we need to be careful of? What are the things that sort of you think about and you know you’re in this new place now and what you have described is that you are in early recovery from all these stuff. What’s happening for you today?

Elizabeth: Well, I’m still working-I still feel like when I get up, I felt like this at Betty Ford, I still feel like it, when I get up in the morning I really almost have a conversation with myself about working my program for the day, like I really feel like I actually am kicking ass to get up out of bed, do my program. It doesn’t matter how I feel. It doesn’t matter if I don’t feel like it. I need to do it anyway and I feel so much better when I do. It’s really important that I keep moving. I’ve had a few days where I was more sedentary than I should be and I didn’t feel pain but I didn’t feel well. I don’t know. I felt like I had stuck places, stuck energy all throughout my body. I don’t know how else to describe it. So I’m going to means and trying to connect with the local narcotics anonymous groups, which is different from California. It’s very different kind of feel to it.

Tommy: Where are you?

Elizabeth: I’m in Lawrence, Kansas.

Tommy: Okay. Yeah, that’s going to be different. That will be a little different than California.

Elizabeth: Well it is different, but it’s very interesting. I never noticed before until I came back from Betty Ford how many bars there are in this small town. They’re everywhere. I mean they’re on every-there’s a bar on every street, on every-it’s just amazing. So here we’re at the University of Kansas, it’s a college town and I get back from Betty Ford and it looks to me like half the community is in recovery and the other half is going to be in recovery.

Tommy: Hopefully.

Elizabeth: I mean it’s like literally what it looks like. It’s wild. So there’s a very healthy recovery community here.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: And I’m still discovering that. Also I have the blessing of being able to spend a week with my son and his yoga teacher, Seth Siri, who specializes in Kundalini Yoga and I’ve been having a lot of trouble with muscle spasm and insomnia and really hot like my body will get like really-I don’t know have a temperature but it feels really hot, hot and cold, hot and cold. It’s very strange. It’s just part of my detox. And I worked with Seth Siri for a week. We did Kundalini yoga for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening and it included chanting and meditation so it wasn’t all physical. But what was interesting was how much calmer like a factor by a huge factor. It wasn’t just a multiplier. It was like an exponent kind of power.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: How much calmer my detox symptoms got.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: I mean I’m still not sleeping all that well but I’m sleeping better and almost all these muscle spasms that I had for almost five months are gone. So that was huge. Those things were really painful.

Tommy: Kundalini yoga.

Elizabeth: Yes.

Tommy: I tell people all the time just get in the class, get in the class, get in the class. Practice.

Elizabeth: It’s all about the breath.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: And we did a huge amount of breath work at Betty Ford. They did breath work there but the Kundalini yoga breath of fire and all that other breathing with exercise, it takes breathing to a whole other level as you know.

Tommy: That’s cool.

Elizabeth: That really changed-I could feel the change in my brain chemistry. It’s just I’m clear.

Tommy: Yes, I know just what you mean. It’s amazing. Well, Elizabeth, any parting words for a person who is really suffering in pain right now, somebody who would come to you and say, “I just don’t know how to get out of this,” what would you say to that person?

Elizabeth: I will say never stop searching. I would say that there’s hope and I would suggest that they do their research. I think Dr. Przekop is a good, he’s an excellent doctor and his program is really good. I mean there were 20 people in the room with me and I wasn’t the only one that had good results. I don’t know how many other people out there are like Dr. Peter but he’s kind of at the edge of the paradigm, the scientific paradigm, but he’s not the only one. And I really think it’s just a matter of like building your team, being aware of alternative medicine like the yoga, the breathing, the meditation, getting a good physician, understanding – Dr. Peter is like an addiction specialist so he’s not just dealing with the pain, he deals with the addiction. So that’s really huge. And I think really understanding – I’ve run into so many pain patients that just would rather not – they’d rather just give the problem to the doctor and not take on their own responsibility, stepping in to that responsibility is huge. It creates a big shift to help you move through instead of getting stuck in moving through.

Tommy: Yes.

Elizabeth: Moving on the journey.

Tommy: Well, thank you so much. Elizabeth, are you writing a blog right now for The Daily Love?

Elizabeth: Yeah, I’m working on that.

Tommy: Okay.

Elizabeth: For my recovery. I’m blogging about my recovery on The Daily Love. That’s correct.

Tommy: Cool. I want to give an opportunity to where can people connect with you and read what you’re writing and just want to know how people can get in touch.

Elizabeth: Well, they could certainly get in touch through As a blogger, there’ll be place, an email spot where you can get in touch and you can find me on Facebook and Twitter. So that’s it’s done.

Tommy: Beautiful.

Elizabeth: I welcome any and all. Also I’m, so you can find me there.

Tommy: Beautiful. Beautiful. Me too, I love It’s awesome. Alright. Well, Elizabeth, I want to thank you so much of sharing your experience, your strength, your hope, your wisdom with the Recovery 2.0 Conference. And just super grateful for you’re being willing to express what you’ve gone through particularly as it relates to pain and addiction so thank you so much.

Elizabeth: Thank you, Tommy. I really appreciate the opportunity.

#Recovery2.0 #MoveBeyond #LivingBeyondChronicPain #kippinitreal





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