What Excruciating Torture!

“The muscles in my back had knotted into a lump of searing pain between my shoulder blades. The tears welled up in my eyes and I bit back the scream of agony that was building within me”.

The woman working next to me had a background in massage. As she saw me stiffen in pain, she placed her hands on my back and her breath hissed in a sharp intake when she felt the extent of the muscle trauma. “You’ve got quite a problem here. Let me see if I can make a correction that will alleviate the spasm.”

Before I had any chance to react, I felt her knee on my spine and her arms jerking my shoulders back. At that point a high-pitched howl escaped me.

“It’s too tight. Let me try again.” There wasn’t even time to catch my breath and choke out the words, “No, please leave it alone.” Again I experienced the unimaginable torture of another correction attempt on my spine!

It all happened so quickly, but in hindsight I had to admit it was an injury that was waiting to happen.

I had been working long hours for three days in the intense Australian heat. A group of us were supplying the floats and heavy change bags for the twenty-odd food pavilions that catered a conference of five thousand people. The work was hot, physical and very intense. After three days it was a relief to us all when the portable air conditioner finally arrived. But my relief was short lived. The overheated and tired muscles in my back responded to the cold by completely seizing, sending out waves of searing pain that tested my endurance. The well-intentioned spinal correction only served to aggravate the injury.

There I was, injured in Australia and looking at twenty-two hours of flying time on my return trip home to Toronto. The longest leg of my journey was a nineteen and a half-hour flight from Sidney to Los Angeles. Somehow I had to pull together to survive the flight that was leaving in two days!

I could feel the anxiety building within as I searched the crowd at the conference for some health practitioner that could help me manage the pain that now consumed my body. Fortunately, there was no shortage of alternative health professionals and I had an introduction to Reiki, Touch Therapy and other forms of bio-energetic healing. The treatments were administered with a great deal of sincere love and caring, but they couldn’t unlock that lump of bunched muscles in my back. The sustained pain was becoming unbearable.

As I finally lay down that first night the pain seemed to grow and overwhelm my focus, I couldn’t choke back the tears as I lay there trying to quietly stifle my sobs so as not to awaken my roommate. Although he was a new acquaintance I knew he was a classical homeopath. Maybe in the morning he would help me. I tried to bury the sound of another sob into my pillow. If only that searing pain would subside.

“What’s wrong?” he gently asked.

After an explanation that was somewhat garbled between my embarrassment and my tears, Jonathan said, “Yes, I think I can help you. Please try to relax, I’m going to give you a Bowen treatment.”

I had no idea what was in store and frankly I didn’t care. While his kind and reassuring voice seemed to open the floodgates more, it also gave me hope. I was ready to submit to anything that might help.

I lay on my stomach with my arms at my side and I tried to relax calming my breathing as Jonathan began to work on my back. He prompted me to breath deeply. With each inhalation I felt his thumb gently probe one of the muscle groups in my back. As I exhaled I felt an, oh so gentle, rolling motion of his thumb across the muscle. The treatment was so subtle and was performed through the material of my nightgown. I questioned the effectiveness of this soft and non-invasive treatment and wondered how it could possibly work in this crisis situation. Yet almost immediately I felt a deep systemic response. The muscle tension began to relax and a floating sensation began to permeate my consciousness. I drifted into the blessed relief of a deep slumber. If these amazing Bowen treatments had continued, I could have easily managed the flight home, but Jonathan departed for Toronto a full day before me. I was obliged to seek a medical solution and went to an Australian doctor for an anti-inflammatory drug and a painkiller.

The doctor said his wife was a Bowen practitioner in another area of Australia. He commiserated with me when he learned of Jonathan’s departure. “The Bowen treatment was first developed in Australia in the 1950’s by the late Thomas A. Bowen and is now practiced in 30 countries by over 9000 therapists. It is a shame that you’re unable to continue the treatments until your return to canada. Let’s take a look at your back and I’ll see what I can do for you.” When the doctor examined my spine he proceeded to list problems I had never been aware of. “This spine is quite a mess. The spinal curvature is a clear-cut case of Scoliosis and the feel of the bones suggests the onset of osteoporosis. I’m going to prescribe a very strong painkiller and anti-inflammatory. Take one of each tonight and continue to take them as directed during the flight. They should help get you home without too much pain. I recommend you continue with the Bowen treatments on your return to Canada.”

That night within an hour of taking the medication the allergic reaction began. First I felt the muscles on one side of my face slacken, then my whole left side seemed to be paralyzed. I felt panic rising as my thoughts turned to questions. “What’s happening? Am I having a stroke?” The sensation passed, only to be replaced with severe nausea. I stumbled to the washroom and vomited for several hours. How I wished I’d never taken the medication! What a contrast to the relief provided by the Bowen treatment. This soft-tissue relaxation method provoked my body’s innate ability to restore and heal itself. The gentle stimulation of specific muscle and tendon groups at precise anatomical locations had activated a deep systemic response within my body.

In the next twenty-four hours, with the help of fellow travelers, I withstood the flight home. I couldn’t wait to contact Jonathan and resume the Bowen treatments. I was determined to take responsibility for my health and looked into a combination of diet, exercise and the Bowen treatment. I discovered the curative power of walking as a suggested follow up to each Bowen session.

For many years I’d followed a vegetarian diet and included micro edible algae, food enzymes, and probiotics as part of my daily nutritional intake. Although I felt very healthy, I was ready to experiment with other dietary solutions that might help me with this injury. Once back in Toronto. I headed for Bathurst Street to Toronto’s first indoor organic sprouts farm. Combining Sunflower, Garlic, Buckwheat, Alfalfa, Fenugreek, Radish, Spicy Lentil, and Mixed Bean sprouts into a salad helped to detoxify the lingering after effects of the prescription drugs. These foods provided a form of calcium that my body could easily digest and assimilate. There was a marked improvement as my body’s terrain moved from high acidity to an alkaline environment.

Jonathan kindly set me up with an appointment schedule in his clinic. Each Bowen treatment lasted about half an hour and corrected more of the chronic Scoliosis condition. After the first three treatments my injury was completely cured!

Today, I feel like a genuine success story. With only half a dozen Bowen treatments, a diet of sprouted foods and micro edible algae, my posture is better than it has ever been. I stand taller and my spine has undergone a re-patterning and now remembers its correct position.


Written by Alison Heath and published in Vitality Magazine, The Largest Wellness Magazine in Toronto