Noose Around My Neck
Author: Annette Mary Moody

Chapter 8
Working Remedies

 

The Noose Around My Neck

8.  Working Remedies

So often one reads a book such as this, which suggests the promise of real assistance. A treatment for a symptom, and often one finds disappointment because, there is none. My aim is to offer a variety of superficial and lasting remedies, most of which I have tried and still employ. If these or any other methods cause you pain – stop and rest!

Here is the opportunity to talk about The Alexander Technique more fully. It is a precise and intricate science worthy, of course of its own book. I can only give you an overview of the method. It is my view that there are two aspects to this treatment, one is teaching techniques for good posturing - visually pleasing and comfortable - to regain one’s natural balance of the whole body to enable walking, standing and sitting. The other is structural manipulations, which meant lying on a table while the body was gently stretched. Each arm was in turn moved away from my body, straightened and then folded back onto my lower belly with the palms opened. My legs were individually treated in a similar way. My torso and, rib-cage, forehead and neck also adjusted and re-aligned. These initial 10 sessions were conducted over 7 - 10 days in July of 1998, usually twice daily.

I have found the most effective tool to relieve pain and induce relaxation is called the ‘Semi-Supine position’. It was the only way I could relieve the numbness which plagued my entire left side, by myself. Initially this numbness was caused by sitting at a computer for hours on end. Aggravated further by answering telephone calls holding the handset between neck and shoulder – ie ‘phone trapping’. Later it was another form of ‘static posturing’, sitting too long reading. Thus the book became the instrument causing discomfort, especially if a large volume, or more exactly the combination of holding the tome, and oneself still. I recommend you sit at a table reading the book, or place a pillow on your knees, and rest the book on that. This way, you are bringing the item closer to your eyes, and your hands are freer to turn the pages, therefore you are not gripping the book, and you are not compressing your fingers, palm, forearm and so on up the limb to your shoulders and ultimately the neck. I also found tasks such as carrying a heavy load of washing to the line, and reaching upwards to peg them out would cause a period of numbness, as did collecting, carrying and unpacking groceries.

To employ this Alexander technique, you first need to study the length of your little finger! Now put some books to good use! The height of your littlest finger represents the distance between your shoulders and ears, thus the books you have chosen will equal that space. Put the books on their sides and place your finger across their spines. When a match is found, lay them on the floor. Get yourself down there too! Lying on your back, place your head on the books. Bring your knees up, with your feet flat. The area between your knees should be in line with the width of your shoulders. Place your hands on the sides of your lower belly, palms downward and open. Elbows out from the body, at right angles, touching the floor. Repeat to yourself, my muscles are lengthening and widening. You will find your body melting into the carpet beneath you. I added a headset, plugged myself into my stereo and listened to a meditation tape. The aim here is to relieve pain, numbness, fatigue, and induce deep body relaxation.

While you are busy with this open-eyed meditation, you can practise your breathing! As I described in Daze and Knights, practice breathing into your belly, in one - two, hold, one - two - three - four – five – six - seven, and out, one – two – three - four. Never push things, always be comfortable. When you get it right, don’t be surprised if you fall asleep! Spend at least twenty minutes each time. Your body and your mind will thank you.

You can take this simple method further if you want to improve your vision! Indeed OOS does decrease your eyesight. So, still lying on your stretch of floor, look up at any point on the ceiling. Look through your eyes, but think focus to the back of your head! Simply use your mind to direct your body. If you can view this point on the ceiling with absolute clarity, you have succeeded, and you are employing ‘depth perception’. If on the other hand, it is blurry, you are staring, so try again. As you study this point above you, notice also the range of your peripheral vision, and widen that too. We look through our eyes, but see from the optic nerve located at the back of the skull. You can use this method with your eyes closed. Interestingly, we employ this spontaneously when dreaming - if you can recall a dream so clear it seemed ‘real’, you have utilised this amazing gift. The trick is to use it in your daily waking life. It is part of how you become totally present in the moment, in the physical - grounded. Your body will feel heavier and more connected to its counterparts. Have you ever tuned into the ‘Magic Eye’ picture books? When you can ‘see’ the hidden images, you are using depth perception. Now that you have sufficiently rested, roll over onto your side, pushing yourself up with your arm. Face your books and move into a kneeling position before picking up the books. Pause and then rise naturally.

Peter, my instructor, taught me practical ways to operate, for example, the vacuum cleaner! Stand tall, keep your back straight and place one foot in front of the other, as if you are about to take a step. Then place your hands around the upper stem of the pipe/hose, and as you push the equipment forward, bend your knees in the same direction, stay tall – you may look rather like a ballet dancer, however you are lessening the impact of the action upon your lower back.

Another tip is reaching for that elusive object on the top shelf. Again, stand tall, back erect, place one foot in front of the other – same as above, rise onto your toes, retrieve the object, and drop back onto your feet. This distributes the effort more evenly throughout the whole body. When rising from a chair place one foot slightly in front of the other and 30cm apart, push up with the feet so that you are not impacting on your arms or elbows. To sleep I lie on my side, with my legs bent and laid out one in front of the other, therefore I am not compressing my hips or my knees. My arms are also out in front, gently bent at the elbow with the palms open and lying on top of the mattress, head forward. It is more restful.

These sessions compliment Cranial Osteopathy, brilliantly. However, they cannot be done close together because the body needs time to absorb the reconditioning taking place. In November 1999, CM3 kindly authorised payment of a further 10 sessions, with a possible extension, (another 5). With no imposed time limit. The final appointment was in May 2000. Therefore in conjunction with Anne or Felicia, my Osteopaths, Peter would see me during alternate weeks. Because I refused to cease my treatments with Anne, despite ACC’s desire I do so, my body was stronger, and Peter was able to intensify his involvement. This in turn allowed Anne even deeper access to the skeletal structure, nerves, muscles, soft-tissue, fluid and energy pathways of my body.

It amazes me that medical personnel tend to forget that if the left side is the injured part of the body, the right side is of course over-worked, or over-compensating for it’s weaker partner. Not until December 1999, after the 3rd of the next block of 10 sessions with Peter, did I experience the difference in partial recovery, due to the combination of Osteo and Alex. After two particularly intensive sessions where both practitioners treated, coincidentally the same area, my right shoulder felt lighter. It worked without causing pain! In fact, as a friend commented, you mean ‘it feels normal’? Yes! A poignant reassurance that light was indeed at the end of the tunnel. Now because this shoulder was more free, so too the pain in the right elbow/wrist lessened, and the right side of the neck became stronger.

Palming is another method employed in the Alexander Technique, however I first became aware of this aid in the Manual on the Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite. Frankly, I was inspired that such a company would include a short chapter devoted to Ergonomic Guides. Under the section on ‘Exercises,’ relevant to refreshing your eyes it states:

¨      ‘Yawning and blinking can help to keep your eyes lubricated.

¨      Changing focus can help to relax the muscles of your eyes. To try this, look at your fingertip with your arm stretched in front of you, then to a point far away from you, again, back to your fingertip.

¨      Palming can help to relieve eyestrain. To try this, cover your eyes with your hands, resting your palms on your cheeks, while you breathe deeply.

¨      Deep breathing, during a break, can help relieve tension in your muscles.

¨      Hand and finger massages can help to keep your hands warm and reduce cramping and stiffness.’

Both Osteopathy and the Alexander Technique treatments are gentle, non-invasive, and best of all you keep your clothes on! I simply hate taking my clothes off for strangers – I’m shy! I was embarrassed when I attended the physio assessment because my bra was not ‘top-shelf’, and not thinking, I had chosen to wear a g-string that day. The lady physiotherapist was not concerned, but I was. She understood and offered me a pair of shorts – which smelt of urine! So remember to dress accordingly!

Massage, or ‘soft tissue therapy’ is especially useful, and will relieve any numbness. Again it is excellent in conjunction with Cranial Osteopathy; however there must be a period of days between these sessions for optimum benefits. A word of warning, if deep tissue massage is chosen, you will initially feel very sore for quite some time after. Always drink plenty of water following any and all of these treatments, as the released toxins need to be flushed out of the body. Always rest; preferably sleep, after any session, and reduce physical activities, especially repetitive ones for the next two days.

Massage, is particularly useful in the early stages of OOS, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Poor use of posture greatly damages the soft tissues throughout the body - another solid reason to treat yourself to a series of the Alexander Technique sessions. However, using massage in combination with Fascial Kinetics commonly known as the Bowen Therapy is successful. This works predominantly with the fascia, which covers and runs through the muscles, attaching them to bone. The treatment involves a series of short, sharp ‘pinches or tugs’, which frees the affected areas. I did not find this a pleasant treatment as my condition is chronic, but it did provide temporary relief, and I had a good night’s sleep. Later in the programme I was to learn very simple, very gentle stretches, which did increase my range of movements. For example, after a period of typing find a doorway! Stand in the middle of this area and raise your arms upwards lightly place your hands on the top of the architrave (or as high as you can reach - I’m 5’ 9” - therefore it’s easy for me), and hold for up to 15 seconds. That’s it! This is the 12 noon position, next move your hands to 2:50 and finally to 2:45. It will hurt, and it will take time to achieve all three positions for 15 seconds, however you can do it.

A woman from Peter’s office recommended a chat with Tania Clifton-Smith from Breathing Works, so I rang her. She does quite a lot of work with ACC and deals with OOS patients. Her book Breathe To Succeed is available from her office (09 522 1122). It is easy to ready and easy to utilise the exercises she offers. Deep breathing is definitely the key to releasing body tension. I am happy to report that I learnt to breath all the way down into my tailbone at will, and hopefully without conscious thought!

I decided to seek a session or two of Hypnotherapy and happened to ring the Osmosis Academy. Speaking with the Managing Director, Merv Holster, we got onto the subject of one’s Rights under the Health and Disability Services Code, which amazed me because I had been editing my Chapter 5 Know Your Rights - A Critique. I told Merv that I was extremely interested in this topic and why. He was intrigued with my work and the reasons for it - especially OOS/RSI. Indeed he had recently assisted a couple of women with their symptoms and was doing a little of his own research in this area. He then invited me to have a session with him at no charge if I would give him feedback on my progress. Naturally I readily agreed.

With more than a bundle of nerves, since this was a new experience, I arrived at his clinic on 2 February 2000. I was hoping to give up smoking, however what I gained was an increase of self-esteem and confidence and a temporary decrease in physical pain, induced by deeper sleeps. By using a combination of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (eliminating the negative, accentuating the positive), Counselling, and later Hypnotherapy we achieved a more lasting form of wellbeing. I found these three sessions to be fascinating. It is absolutely true that you are totally conscious throughout hypnosis, and yet so relaxed mentally and physically, it’s unlike any other therapy I have tried. Very uplifting.

I was not able to combine my conscious decision with my sub-conscious need to release the habit of smoking, until I read Allan Carrs "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking ... for Good" A Brilliant book. I need to continue to listen to the tape he made for me, preferably as I drift off into dreamland. I now understand that working on the ‘why something’ has occurred, is not as important as succeeding with the ‘how to change that something’ from a disadvantage into an advantage. I have spent much time in trying to change circumstances to make events turn around, mostly to no avail, other than adding to my physiological and emotional stress. I want to, and do choose to make a difference in the education and re-education of OOS. Part of the ‘how to’ is this book.

I have spoken with a wide range of ‘fellow-suffers’, and I’m sad to say that some of them have truly given up, and no matter how many business cards I pass out, they probably won’t seek treatment because they are lost in their misery. Some feel it is too late for resolution. I understand that, but I have years and years yet to live and I expect to enjoy them with optimum physical agility! The real trick is to catch the symptoms as they begin to manifest, and get straight onto it. You have probably gathered that I am not an advocate of physiotherapy for this dis-ease - in the very early stages, sure - because it involves so much stretching and pulling. In some cases bone crunching, which is how my condition worsened! After such physical trauma, there is no point in just treating one area – the whole body needs attention in the gentlest possible way.

Depression is the real killer and I recommend counselling, though a word of caution: if you don’t relate well to the counsellor, get another! Keep your sense of humour [I lost mine] which is of course the best medicine, otherwise I suggest St John’s Wort! It is now available as a herbal tea, or in tablet form. Valerian is a natural aid for sleep. Magnesian Chelate is good for muscles and these are all available from Golden Glow (0508 444 888). They will courier your requests for a small sum. Noni, touted as one of ‘nature’s miracles’, is found in the humble pineapple and now available in tablet form. It is reputed to reduce bruises, depression, fibromyalgia [a soft-tissue dis-ease], headaches and insomnia, while improving energy, circulation, and general well being.

Aromatherapy helps. For example lavender oil is great for reducing headaches, rub a drop into your temples, and another across your forehead. Put a couple of drops on your pillow or a little under your nose to induce relaxation. Rescue Remedy made from bach flowers in liquid form, offers convenient relief whenever you need, by placing several drops under the tongue. There is virtually a Rescue Remedy for any ailment. A bottle costs between $5 - $14.00, and is available from most pharmacies.

Reflexology too is good; the feet and hands are a map to the body. The Reflexology Handbook by Laura Norman [available through Doubleday] has brilliant colour plates and is easy to understand. I purchased from a craft shop a thing called a ‘footsy roller’. It is a piece of wood with ridges carved into its surface and looks rather like a fancy rolling pin. Simply place on the floor and put your foot or feet onto it and roll! Great for strengthening calves and thighs too! This is easy to do whilst watching TV or, chatting on the telephone. As I grew stronger I was able to do a combination of 70 - 100 step-ups + 5 minutes on my air-jogger. Or do 15 minutes on the jogger, + 40 step-ups. Or try 25 minutes of walking. Wriggling your toes aids circulation!

A small hand-full of Sunflower seeds really do induce a deeper sleep, by releasing the amino acids in the brain. A word of caution; if you suffer from genital herpes over-indulgence in seeds and nuts, especially peanuts, will bring on the infection. Obviously diet, nutrition, and water intake (especially from fruit and vegetables) are very important to refresh and nourish.

Ice in a plastic bag and rubbed over wrists and forearms etc, will reduce inflammation from typing. Heated wheat bags will alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Wrist straps with magnets sewn on the inside of the strap will promote circulation, and in my case stopped bruising. These straps can be purchased for $16.90 each from Magnamail (0800 170 270). To use hook over the thumps and wrap around the lower palm and wrist, closing with Velcro. I found these particularly useful for typing and driving my car. I haven’t tried elbow aids of any kind, although I know they are available.

Bio Magnetic Therapy Ltd (an Australian Company) in North Shore Auckland, (09 415 4959) offer pillow pads, which slip inside your pillowcase, and a blanket underlay for the bed. These will assist in removing toxins from the body and promoting a sounder sleep by working with your own electromagnetic field. $244.00 [queen size plus two pillow pads] delivered to your door. Not yet available in New Zealand, the company also offers soles to place in your shoes - an all over body therapy! My friends Di and Martin from Queensland swear by this product and talked so much about it that I did some research of my own and eventually persuaded ACC to purchase it for me. Martin, a builder in his 30s was diagnosed with tenosynovitis of the right arm from repetitive movements ie using a trowel, and after 10 days of physio nothing was resolving. His wife, Diane suggested that he wrap a pillow pad around his arm - and hey presto he was healed within a day or so! I came to find that I function so much better after using these products; they truly work!

Spiritual healing, using the ‘Golden God Light’ is helpful to seal the aura and release emotional distress stuck in the charkas – the body’s energy pathways. I enjoyed several relaxing sessions. I also suggest you might like to invite a clairvoyant to bless and clear your home of disruptive or ‘stuck’ energies. If you are like me, all that anger and frustration which builds up needs to be dispersed and more healthy vibrations will then flow into your home. I know there are several treatment providers who use a combination of practical and spiritual techniques – of course they may not say so – but if you tune in, you will recognise them.

Meditation to ground and energise the body is very helpful. Doubleday (awesome selection), offer some easy to follow guides. I particularly like a book called The Meditation Plan; 21 Keys to Your Inner Potential by Richard Lawrence. It offers a variety of simple meditations. Here is an example I have adapted from a book called Spells written by Matthew Green, also available through Doubleday New Zealand Ltd - Book & Music Clubs (09 479 2200), which if practised daily will increase your sense of well-being.

 

One of the easiest methods of meditation is to sit quietly in a comfortable chair by the light of a candle. Close the eyes and take three deep breaths, in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Silently repeat the following:

“ I dedicate this moment to the powers of pure golden light and allow the stream of universal energy to flow through me, unhindered by trivial and harmful thoughts. This quiet moment connects me to the core of creative energy”. And it is so.

 

‘Take 10 deep breaths counting from 10 down to 1. When you are ready, open your eyes and begin your day or use this peaceful moment to make a wish. This daily method will open the psychic points on your body and learning to trust your insights, in time you will find the voice of your intuition will be clear and unmistakable.’

Affirmations can be useful, I remind myself that I love and appreciate me, and where I am right now - a compliment to Louise Hay. When sleep doesn’t come, I repeat the words ‘calming and peaceful’ until that’s where I’m at, or use self-hypnosis by counting down from 10 and telling myself that I am sleeping, 9. I am sleeping 8. I am sleeping 7. Frequently I don’t reach 3. Again Doubleday offers Master the Power of Self-Hypnosis by C. Roy Hunter, M.S, although to be honest I think that one is a bit beyond me!

Prayer helps. Allow me to share part of a letter I wrote during February 2000, to the NZ Catholic: Lead us not into darkness, or death, but into light and love, Amen. [A pity they chose not to print my caption]. Times change, as do attitudes - or fashions. This special new century offers hope. Let us reflect this in our old favourite prayers, by up-dating them to embrace the new millennium. Let us replace the word death with rebirth or need. Let us be positive.

For example: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our need, Amen. Isn’t that more uplifting?

My personal favourite:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in living and loving that we are re-born into eternal life. Amen! Let’s take the plunge, and make the change for Hope’s sake!

  

 

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