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Continued from page 1
I started studying Holistic Kinesiology at the Australian College for Energetic Sciences in Carlton. It seemed like such an all encompassing framework for helping people, covering energetic diagnosis and treatment of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms. The staff and students were lovely and I held a quiet hope that my departure into a career closer to my heart would be rewarded by greater physical health. Unfortunately I didn’t seem to get any better, and many of the physical aspects of the course were challenging to my now chronically aching wrists.
One day in particular I was struggling with the stress of trying to balance work and school whilst being in pain. I was rushing to school after work, running down Grattan St from the Swanston St tram and I suddenly felt a terrible pain in my ankles. I was late to get to an appointment with the finance officer at school so I kept running for a few moments only to realise I had done some kind of strain or sprain and I really needed to stop.
I hobbled in to school and had my appointment then wondered what I should do about my ankles. There didn’t seem to be any ice around so I caught a taxi home and rested up at home with some icepacks, eager for my new injury to be treated promptly and properly so I didn’t end up with more chronic pain. I was really feeling sorry for myself at this point, hobbling around at home, trying to look after myself but realising my ability to live independently was being seriously challenged.
One of the things I was rapidly realising by now was how dependent I was on other people – dependent in a bad way. My housemates (I lived in a wonderful share house in Kew I had established with friends a few years earlier) were great people but the added strain of living with a physically incapacitated friend who isn’t getting better was starting to show. Dishes need to be done, meals need to be cooked and cleaning in a five person sharehouse requires eternal vigilance. So despite reorganising chores to suit my abilities I found myself in a psychological struggle to maintain dignity in the eyes of my friends. And now I really needed to rest and be supported, determined that my ankles (or rather my Achilles tendons which seemed to be the site of the strain) wouldn’t turn into another poorly managed injury. But how do you do that when you are single, and don’t have any family in Melbourne you can call on? I did have a great group of friends and when I asked, they were happy to provide some help, although the realities of asking for regular support from a diverse group of already busy people left me feeling like I was at risk of slipping through the cracks.
After a week of the best rest I could manage in the circumstances, my Achilles tendons had improved a bit but were still hurting. Now it seemed I had chronic inflammation and pain in not two, but all four of my limbs. The more I used them, the more they hurt. If I didn’t use them however, the pain would pretty much go away. It seemed that rest was the only thing that really helped.
Given the worrying decline in my physical state I thought it prudent to go back to my doctor and get his opinion. He was looking less and less happy to see my distressed state and gave me a referral to a respected rheumatologist at the Monash Medical Centre nearby his clinic. I faithfully went to see her and she recommended some more tests (the ones previously undertaken by my GP hadn’t yielded any medical clues). She was at a loss for what might be going on, and the tests for some more exotic conditions I cant remember the names of didn’t show anything either.
Although things weren’t looking great I was enjoying the opportunity to try more forms of complementary medicine, being greatly interested in the paradigm shift in approaches to wellness that had swept the west in recent decades. It didn’t seem right to me on some level that western medicine’s deeply reductionist approach to knowledge could yield a truly successful form of healing. So whilst I respected the views of my doctors and of some aspects of their intellectual framework, the reality was that they had little to offer me. I was drawn to experiment with more holistic forms of diagnosis and treatment.
I tried numerous forms of massage including bowen, shiatsu, western myotherapy, as well as more deep tissue all to no avail. Another highly recommended acupuncturist for a few sessions. A couple of the most experienced (and expensive) holistic kinesiologists in Melbourne. Pranic healing. A couple of other therapies that I cant even remember the name of now, and as I reflect on the wild theories and bizarre practices that went on in some of the sessions, I not sure I want to remember!
The result? Bank balance – 0, pain syndrome – 4. I spent a lot of money and time and didn’t get any better. There did seem to be a pattern emerging which my scientific brain couldn’t help noticing. I would get hopeful and excited about a new form of therapy, go and see them for an initial consultation which was very promising, do a few sessions and feel that something was maybe starting to improve, then continue with the treatment only to realise there wasn’t any significant change. Whatever change I was feeling might have been a placebo… my first inkling that there might be some kind of mind-body aspect to the chronicity of my pain.
The year drew to an end and my experiment with studying kinesiology and getting my life-direction sorted was also yielding little in the way of pain relief. I was also feeling unsure about many of the theories I was taught… they seemed so simplistic and to overstate the ability of the practitioner to understand what is going on for the client. As for how they were arrived at in the first place… a hotch potch of hypothesis, case histories, channelling, and faith might be OK if the recommended treatment works for every client that you see but I couldn’t see that happening.
It was now a good two years into my chronic pain ordeal and my sense of desperation was steadily increasing. I had gone from being successful and creative, and widely respected in my community to feeling constantly stressed, a bit depressed and generally worn down. I was losing weight which from a starting point of 68kg was not ideal. But worse, I was losing those friends who preferred the successful, entertaining Hal over the burdensome new person I had become.
My business was still functioning but despite kinesiology not being the right way out of my predicament, it was still clear to me that I needed to let go of what I had been doing for the last few years. Perhaps in letting go, the answers would come. I found a buyer for the business and thankfully was able to get some money to keep living and paying for treatments. I was effectively earning nothing in the business and had to go on Centrelink’s ‘Sickness Allowance’ which was a pitiful equivalent of the dole, with no financial support offered for non-western treatments which might get me back to health.
So where to from here? I decided I needed to dedicate myself 100% to healing, and to set up a comprehensive and supported rest and rehabilitation plan. I had some money in the bank from selling my business and it was time to make some changes. I bought a new car which had power steering and an automatic transmission so when I really needed to drive I could do it without the aggravation caused by an old manual car with heavy steering.
I decided to move out of my current house and found a new place with some people I didn’t know so well. I explained to them my predicament and they were open to negotiating an arrangement of housework etc which would work for all of us. I kept an open mind in terms of treatment, trying still more western and complementary therapies. I was determined to get better.
TO BE CONTINUED
As you can see I haven’t fully finished writing my story. There are a few more chapters of getting worse before I started to get better, and if you want to find out how I did that I havewritten about it somewhat briefly on this page. But it should give you enough of an idea about how you can use the mind-body approach for your own healing.
Also if you have any feedback on my story, positive or negative, I would like to hear it, you can leave a comment below or contact me.
NEWSFLASH! ALL THE RAGE MELBOURNE SCREENING – 16 July Cinema Nova Carlton
Its about time we had a feature length film showcasing what has already been achieved in mindbody pain treatment. Well... its landing in Melbourne in July!>>read more >>
"Since I've started seeing Hal, I've quit drinking and smoking, gone off my antidepressants, stopped feeling shy, dramatically improved my relationships with my partner and with my mother, and largely gotten over my RSI issues.
Its been a transformational few months. I have to give credit to myself and to a course that I'm doing at the moment as well, but seeing Hal has really helped me get in touch with my emotions and given me the capacity to deal with life, rather than avoiding ... >>read more >>
"Seeing Hal changed my life. After 4 years of strong chronic pain I now experience minimal pain and have no restrictions in doing all the activities I love in life. Here is my story.
I initially developed RSI type pain in my wrists from typing and computer use while writing up my PhD. It manifested as strong pain right through both my wrists whenever I typed or used my wrists for normal activities. It eventually got so bad ... >>read more >>
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