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How technology helped this lady recover from severe back pain!

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Working in a pioneering field can be frustrating at times because we are so often challenging people’s belief’s about the cause of their chronic pain. As you will also see though, some patients have to overcome much more than just a belief in order to recover.

Sometimes people are just ready to accept that their pain might not actually be due to a physical cause as they begin to clearly see the links between their pain onset and pattern and their past and present life experiences.  Some of my patients have come across this concept months, or even years before, yet they just weren’t ready then.  It’s often about sowing seeds and gradually these seeds begin to flourish and grow as they experience life, until they do come across it again, when it often just makes sense.

It’s the same when any of our beliefs are challenged though, but everything begins with just a thought, an idea.  e.g. that we would ever be able to fly, speak to someone on the other side of the world, have tablets that kill bacteria which would save millions of lives etc etc

Too challenging to accept 8 years earlier
One patient of mine was told about ‘Healing Back Pain’ by John E Sarno MD in 2001.  She bought it, but didn’t actually read it! She persisted through years of chronic back pain trying various therapies, at times spending months unable to work and bedbound for 5 months, yet she then went on to have 3 years without pain. 

The seeds had been sown
In 2009 the back pain returned and this time she read the book and following the advice was pain free for 9 months, although at the time she wasn’t sure whether it was this approach or the medication she was on.

In 2010 the back pain returned with a vengeance after lifting a sofa bed and she was sucked back into the conventional medical world of seeing therapists, nutritionist, Neurosurgeons etc.  Tests showed that she did have two prolapsed discs, yet nothing they could offer her seemed to help.  In time she was able to work and look after her son, but it was a daily struggle with such severe pain.

More help needed and her recovery journey began
She decided to read the book again, but had no relief this time, so she decided to call Dr Sarno.  Dr Sarno recommended she contact me and her journey to full recovery from her pain began in earnest then.

Additional challenges
What is interesting with this lady is that she is Spanish, spoke very little English and we have never met! Initially we used google translate and then I suggested she speak with another Spanish lady, let’s call her Sienna, who speaks excellent English. I had worked with Sienna the year before and she had progressed from being virtually housebound in a 3rd floor flat with severe back pain to being able to drive, dance, go to concerts, work and travel abroad. It all took time, but she persisted and succeeded.

Sienna agreed to translate the assessment forms and the required medical disclaimer form for ‘Maria’ and she also translated all the medical tests in order for me to be sure we had ruled anything more serious out, such as cancer, infection or an auto-immune disorder or even a serious psychiatric disorder.  Sienna then acted as her translator during her SIRPA assessment, which we did via an on-line webinar provider.   I had realised the session would take longer, but I hadn’t realised it would take 3 hours!  It was hard work for us all, but we managed and I was able to help Maria begin to gain a much deeper understanding of the underlying causes, links and triggers for her pain, which she was then able to begin addressing.

Maria used google translate in order to understand everything on the programme and we met weekly online to help her progress, plus we kept in touch via email for support and guidance.  Rather than continue to expect Sienna to help, we roped in my daughter to translate because she was in Peru volunteering at a children’s home during her gap year and spoke very good Spanish by then.  We therefore had a 3-way conversation with me in England, Maria in Spain and my daughter in Peru.  The wonders of modern technology!

I can’t say it was the easiest of undertakings for any of us, but Maria was determined to take responsibility for her recovery. The aim initially was that Maria would come to England for a Summer holiday (in 2012) and we would at last meet and she would be able to complete her programme face to face.  This actually never happened because Maria became pregnant, after trying for many years, so rather than risk a flight in the early weeks, she successfully completed her final consultations using the on-line webinar facility.

It is now 12 months since Maria completed the SIRPA Recovery programme and both she and Sienna are still in touch with me and send the odd photo.  This blog today is a result of an email she sent me this morning in which she told me, “As you can see, I'm great, I've never been so happy. Who would have told me a year before?  It's amazing how time flies and things that have happened in a year ...  Everything is possible!

Not only is she now fit and well, even her English is much better! If you want to read Maria’s own account of her journey, you can read it here.

What challenges have you overcome in order to recover?

Your Key to Recovery

 'Chronic Pain: your key to recovery', by Georgie Oldfield MCSP, the first UK-written book about this cutting edge approach.

Find out more about how you could recover from chronic pain and other persistent health problems and the click through to buy from Amazon.

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What others say ...

Hazel Cross - back pain, anxiety & depression

After suffering from severe back pain and anxiety and depression I was constantly seeking a cure for my pain which became very expensive and I was finding I had reactions to pain medication. I felt a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders when I finally met Georgie and she assessed me.  At first I was naturally skeptical, but now I realise it was the best approach. I am now virtually pain free and would highly recommend Georgie and the SIRPA programme. It all clicked into place when I read the programme and  I still read it every now and again. I am much more active now than I used to be because before I was unable to go outside. I hope you will find help from Georgie whom I highly recommend.

Irene - update 4 years after recovery

I am totally pain free in both legs .... and feel wonderful.   I enjoy life so much and will always be grateful to you and Dr. Sarno.  Whenever I get a twinge of (what used to be) sciatica, I can will it away by just using the techniques you taught me, but that happens very rarely.   I thoroughly enjoy the SIRPA newsletter you send out every month and always read it avidly. You're doing such great work and I love the fact that you're going from strength to strength, expanding and spreading your knowledge to others who need help.

L.Phillips - hand & back pain

"This is not a quick fix but if you want to get to the root of your pain and are prepared to go on a journey that will last a lifetime, then the SIRPA programme is for you. The online material will provide you with all the tools you need to understand and change your pain, but the assessment and ongoing support from Georgie was essential for me. Just knowing I could quickly email any worries if anything went wrong was a great comfort and knowing I had a regular appointment helped me maintain the momentum and keep going. I would recommend the programme to anyone who is struggling with pain that cannot be explained or has no serious underlying cause."

C. Henderson - Backpain

"The work I have done with Georgie has been life changing... I have been working through the SIRPA online program at my own pace (as I have a little baby) and booked a package of 1:1 sessions with Georgie, which we carried out on Skype. The online program is so well structured & the 1:1 sessions were a wonderful supportive lifeline, especially when I experienced setbacks. Georgie always promptly, professionally & compassionately responded to my emails in between sessions. She is hugely knowledgeable, supportive & practices what she preaches, which makes her approach so genuine." 

Sally - Sciatica

I had been following the SIRPA online programme for nearly 3 weeks before deciding that I would benefit from seeing Georgie in person. I was very glad I attended the appointment and it was well worth the 3 hour journey from London! (Which in itself was a challenge that a month prior I would never have tackled!) Seeing Georgie really helped me feel like I was less alone in my pain, I felt the face-to-face contact with Georgie spurred me forward in understanding and accepting that I have been suffering from stress-illness. Having a physical examination and Georgie talking me through different examples that were similar to my own experiences, really helped me feel motivated and encouraged in continuing my path on the online SIRPA Recovery Programme. 

L.Stoddart - patient

Georgie is absolutely dedicated to trying to improve the lives of chronic pain sufferers by helping us to understand what lies behind our pain and giving us the tools with which we can turn our lives around and end what, for some of us, has been years of pain. She is smart, enthusiastic and very approachable and will bend over backwards to give additional support when required.  From my own experience with Georgie I can wholeheartedly recommend her to all chronic pain sufferers.

Amaya from Spain

I have no words to say how thankful I am for Georgie's support. From the very first contact on the phone, she was keen to help,  inspiring me trust and confidence.  She has been key in my recovery. The fact that she has a background as a Physiotherapist really helps because she perfectly understands what you mean when speaking about physical symptoms. You can tell she is passionate for what she does and her work is enhanced by her human touch and sensitiveness.  Amaya, Spain

James Wiltshire

"I hope that all is well with you and your mission. I sent you a few emails last year and you were so incredibly helpful.  Dr Sarno's work and your help meant that I have gone from chronic RSI on statutory sick pay to going self-employed musician. I have never felt more balance and physically I really feel best ever! I would always recommend people to you Georgie."

Carol - backpain and prolapsed disc

"I've been testing and pushing myself to the limit.  e.g. climbing trees, zooming down 150 feet high zip wires, climbing over un-mentionable obstacles.  Cycling up and down some very severe hills, camping and sleeping on the floor, moving furniture and lifting and manoeuvring a very heavy wardrobe!  All of which I have not done for at least 20 years for fear of hurting and making my back worse.  Thanks once again Georgie."

Wayne Kampers MRCPsych

"Georgina has an infectious and warm disposition. She is passionate about the Mind-Body link and her dedication to establishing what is still not accepted in mainstream healthcare is admirable and refreshing. She believes she can make a difference and because her belief is unshakable she does make a difference! The world could do with a lot more people like her.” Consultant Psychiatrist

Professional Endorsements

Member of the Royal Society of Medicine