“If you can make her better then you can help anyone.”
Not my words but those of a neighbour who saw a client of mine arrive for her first treatment. Perhaps I should put some background around this.
For the purposes of privacy, I shall call the lady client A. Client A had been referred to me from another therapist who had treated her with Bowen therapy with some positive results, but without any tangible improvements. Client A does have some long standing conditions following injuries to her back and leg 20 years ago that left her unable to walk normally and for her back to spasm painfully. The inability to walk in a normal fashion has lead to foot problems as well.
Client A uses two walking sticks in order to move around and has been advised by the hospital in the past is a wheelchair full-time but she feels this would make matters worse and cause her to seize up. There have been to periods of time a few years ago when she had to relent and use a wheelchair full-time.
Client A’s conditions are in her own words extremely variable from day to day. Changes have been made to her lifestyle over the 20+ years, meaning she can still drive but only using an automatic and now living in a bungalow the stairs would be challenge too far.
Obviously, numerous difficulties are presented by such conditions including lifting anything and even when she can, this has to be balanced perfectly between two arms; otherwise, the strain on the lower bodies too much. Walking is severely limited to around 15 to 20 minutes using walking sticks.
As one could imagine client A is on substantial pain medication to make pain bearable. However, as with all pain medications there is a danger of becoming used to it and the effectiveness diminishing.
Just to add to the difficulty in treating this delightful client, was the fact that the slightest touch on her lower back caused her extreme pain before visiting me.
So with all that, it certainly presented a challenge. However, Bowen practitioners are nothing if not resourceful.
One of the particular benefits of Bowen Fascial Release Technique is that the touch required is very light yet effective. Therefore, it is especially well-suited to a sensitive client for whom touch can be extremely painful. The nature of Bowen Fascial Release Technique this all about getting the body to respond to the light touches and it certainly was going to be a benefit in this case.
So client A first came to visit me with the conditions outlined above along with a sore shoulder. On our first visit we discussed the injuries, the resultant pain she was in, and how it affected her day-today life, what it precluded her from doing, what she could do but with considerable pain, what she could do but it just took a long time. We also discussed the impact on her overall health and her sleep.
When we first met her back pain was quite severe with restrictions on length of time she could drive picking things off the floor most notably avoiding speed humps as these were extraordinarily painful. Her leg was painful spasming and with the fear of the leg collapsing. The walking sticks were constant compliment to her and the pain never left her, and obviously restrictions upon walking the days are varied as to whether she could walk very far but this was the exception rather than the rule and substantial residual aches occurred as a result.
Over the course of several treatments we worked addressing areas of tension in her facial tissue which had developed in order to compensate for the injuries she had experienced. As the treatments went on this, the levels of pain diminished to a fraction of their original levels. The use of walking sticks became a comfort issue to carry just in case, but not actually needing to be used the number of spasms in her leg reduced to the state where when they occurred there were a shock to her rather than the norm. Driving was no longer a problem and indeed in her own words speed humps had become almost fun to take out a greater speed than perhaps that should have been.
It would be very easy at this stage to say that answering the comment made by my neighbour originally was very satisfying. Indeed in some ways it was gratifying but only a very small part. What was gratifying then and now and hopefully for as long as I am a Bowen therapist is not this about proving people wrong or disproving preconceptions of how the Bowen Fascial Release Technique can work, but is genuinely for me about helping people and in this case this client in particular be free of pain or at least reducing their pain. But, it doesn’t just stop there. It is not about just removing pain that can be done with very strong painkillers. For me the essence of being a therapist is about enabling people such as client A to undertake the activities they wish to, that they once did and couldn’t, or indeed the simple chores around the house which most of us would gladly do without, but for someone unable to push a vacuum for 10 years the very act of being able to do it even if only for a few seconds is a joyous event. Most of us thankfully will never truly understand the pleasure of such a simple act as that for those of us lucky enough to be able to help it is truly humbling.