Back to About  

My Path out of Pain

Around four years ago I was at a point in my life where chronic pain had taken all joy from my life. Apart from neck, shoulder and back pain, I was experiencing headaches which would last for anything up to three months at a time with pain twenty four hours a day. It didn’t matter whether I was working, driving, going to the cinema or even on holidays, pain had become my constant companion. By that time I had undergone a ct scan and spinal x-rays; had seen a physiotherapist and myotherapist; was taking prescribed medicines such as Panadeine forte for my pain; was being manipulated by a chiropractor twice weekly; and seeing a masseur at least once a week as well. I had reached the point where I believed that if I had to continue living with my pain then life really wasn’t going to be worth living. Around this time I was seeing a masseur in Melbourne as well, and one day I broke down in tears on her table. This was the first time I let my real distress be known to anyone. She gave me a contact who she said may be able to help me.

It turned out to be Rosemary McIndoe and I attended a weekend seminar, a workshop on relief from chronic pain. I left the workshop armed with a manual of information, exercise techniques, weekly planning sheets and four cassettes: one for pain meditation, one for muscle relaxation and two to take you through the exercise programs for upper and lower body. I also bought a large medi-ball and a small massaging ball. I left with a better attitude knowing I wasn’t alone and also feeling confident that I was going to be able to beat the problem. I started my program the very next day.

I started walking twenty minutes a day and made time in my day for the exercises which were very gentle and never hurt. Initially, I used the tapes for the exercises to learn how to do them but, eventually, learned the program by memory, as once I knew what to do I was able to get through the program faster. I found it hard to bring myself to listen to the relaxation and meditation tapes. I realized I was afraid to stop, and lie still, and listen to something that was going to make me look at my body and mind. It was then, perhaps, that I realized just how high my anxiety levels were. The first few times listening to the relaxation tapes were hard but eventually my body started to have tastes of calm and quiet times.

The real breakthrough came when I listened to the pain meditation tape. I would always finish the tape with less pain in my body than when I began. Fancy that! I did that. Not a masseur or a chiro or a G.P. I was able to bring down my own pain levels. That made me think that if I was able to bring the level of pain down by myself then maybe I had partly been responsible for increasing my pain levels with my lifestyle. I started working more seriously with the weekly planning schedules or “my contract to myself” as I liked to call it. I started to roster in at least three or four times where I would go out for dinner, see a movie, watch a video, anything that gave me some time for me. I looked realistically at the amount of work I was doing and realized I had been working fifty or sometimes sixty hours a week. Couple that with never doing stretches, exercises and relaxation and I think you have the perfect recipe for disaster. I think I had been using my work as a way of hiding from the world and life itself; after all it is very acceptable these days to say no you can’t do something because of work.

Well, after three weeks I had my first day where I had periods of time without pain. These periods grew all the time until a few weeks later I had my first pain free day and then over more weeks I would start to experience days in a row and then eventually, after a few months on the program, I became pain free. I stopped taking pain killers and started to regard my body as an asset, not as a machine that can be driven all the time but never maintained. I learned how to listen to my body as sometimes I would become complacent and work a bit longer and exercise and stretch a bit less and my old friend pain would quietly say hello, but I knew what I had to do by then. I’d drop back a bit with my workload and get more serious with the important stuff. I feel that I am still on a journey to improve my body and my mind and I have realized that not everyone living with pain is as committed to getting well as I am.

I have a friend who received over $300,000 in compensation through Workcare for lower back pain. His x-rays are the same as mine, nothing really there but some degeneration, but he chose to go down the avenue of compensation. I get tired of hearing him grumble about pain and so one day I offered to show him the exercises to see if he would be interested in doing the program. He asked if he would have to do them everyday and I said, “yes”, and he said he wasn’t interested. He also didn’t like the idea of having to pay for the workshop. In some ways I have more sympathy for him as I can see that he is stuck in a place where he is safe for the moment, and maybe one day he will reach the point where I did.

I have learnt that the meditation tapes can be used to overcome more than pain alone, and I still seek ways to improve my life, health and my mind. I still have some bad days but I know now that I can do more for my body in thirty minutes than any practitioner can do in less and it’s free! I am still a very driven and ambitious person which is probably all part of the same parcel but I have learned to say no when my body tells me to and I know when to do more when my body tells me to. All I can say is give it a go. Face what it is in your life or mind, and your body may just thank you for it!

Top of Page
All Rights Reserved ® 2003