Susan: The Gift of a Broken Back

Approach: Rest, Personality Trait Awareness, Community Support, Somatotherapy, Meditation, Near Death Experience.

 

Background: The Letting Go

Susan was building a house in the countryside of Tamil Nadu. One morning, prior to the building work being completed, Susan decided to climb up the steps onto the roof to see the morning view of the holy mountain Arunachala.

She was distracted by the view of the mountain and due to there being no walls or flooring in situ, she fell from the first floor of the building onto the ground below. She recalls the feeling that she was going down and maybe, that “this was it”. She considered that it was a metaphor – looking at the sacred mountain and feeling that she needed to let go.

When she landed, she stood up immediately. She didn’t know at the time due to the shock, that two vertebrae in her spine and her foot was broken, she felt it was a gift to be alive.

Papers on near death experiences show a vast difference in people after such an event. (van Lommel., 2011) found that people’s consciousness appears to be permanently changed by near death experiences, with areas of self-identity, cognition and emotions being most apparent. A philosophy paper from Iran (Salariyan et al,. 2022) , found that afterwards, people had an increased understanding of love. This may explain why Susan’s story provides such a clear understanding of her own psychological needs in recovery.

 

Misdiagnosis and Pain

She was taken to hospital and the initial X-rays determined she had no broken bones. However for the next ten days, whenever she tried to get off the bed she would experience excruciating pain in her back. Susan and her husband decided to arrange an MRI at this point and discovered then that she had fractured her back. She recalls being grateful for the scan as she now understood the seriousness of her injury.

Susan’s husband Murray then consulted two Orthopaedic Surgeons on her behalf, sharing her scans. Both suggested bed rest and a large amount of prescriptions for her pain and psychological health – like anti anxiety tablets. Susan was glad that her husband stood up for her, and declined these anxiety medications. According to Susan, the procedure in India is to give many drugs after injury.

 

Acceptance & People Pleasing Tendencies

Susan was in bed for four months. The early excruciating pain abated when she stopped moving. She looks back on that time as a gift. At no time did she feel angry about the situation or at life for putting her in that place. During that time, she recognised the feeling of Grace and believed what happened was needed to stop and slow down, so she could concentrate on herself.

She recollects the night before the accident a friend had come over to her house and made a request of her. Susan had felt overwhelmed at the time and didn’t feel she could take on the task. The next day, the same friend came to her in the hospital and said to her “Susan, you just had to stop”, which she subsequently contemplated.

She saw how in her life she had been taking on far too many requests from people and had got into the habit of ‘People Pleasing Behaviour’ as if it was her responsibility to make everyone happy. She had an awareness of this personality trait beforehand, but had no idea of how far she had embraced this ‘delusion’ until she had the accident.

Her four months of bed rest was a ‘A-ha’ moment. “I just have to take care of myself here”. Taking care of herself meant that she had to trust there was a reason for the orchestration of this accident and both to accept it and see it as a blessing.

Susan’s awareness of her People Pleasing Tendencies is not an uncommon one in people who struggle with chronic conditions. Dr John Sarno highlighted the TMS (He refers to Mindbody Conditions as Tension Myositis Syndrome) Personality Types in his seminal work in 1999, The Mindbody Prescription. His research found this can put a significant amount of stress on a person every day of their lives. Please see (here) for more details.

 

Getting Too Comfortable & Finding Agency

She became aware after a few months that she was becoming too comfortable in bed and in being taken care of by her husband and friends. Something rose up in her saying “be careful here Susan, you are enjoying this too much, you’ve got to move off the bed”. She understood this was an important step in regaining her agency at a time when she was strong enough to adapt. Agency is one of the top ‘Personality Key Elements’ that we find at Liberation Found that help people recover after life changing illnesses and diseases. You can find more about these Personality elements at the bottom of the page and on this Journal post

 

For the Love of Community

A few positive things came out of the near death experience for Susan. Initially, she did not have much involvement in her local community, but after the accident she began to learn how important the love of others is when things go wrong. When she first went to hospital, during the first hour, four people she didn’t know too well came to see her, armed with food and support. Then, when she came home, friends and acquaintances would visit all the time to see how she was, bring flowers, fruit and come to sit with her. She found in that experience the value of love. “Love is such a great healer”.

“To not just love, but to accept the love”. She understood that she was good at loving others, but had to learn how to receive the love from others.

With the bookBeing Mortal’ by Atul Gawande, he speak on the strong necessity for people to thrive as a group. His care home trials in America involved bringing in children and pets into pensioners’ space and saw that the mental and physical health of the elderly significantly improved. With no other changes to the environment, it shows a strong case for the mental health and immune boosting benefits of giving and receiving love.

 

Wisdom from The Guru

Murray, Susan’s husband, was visiting a Guru at the time and asked her advice about Susan’s healing. She told him “Just Abide in Stillness”. When Murray conveyed this to Susan, it moved her considerably and she took the advice to heart. She understood the advice as:

 

“It wasn’t about making an effort to be still. That defeats the purpose. All that efforting! But, to be in that still place”

 

Susan’s recovery room had a view into her garden and she notes for the first time she took the time to actually look into the garden and see the birds. She was amazed at what she was seeing because she wasn’t busy. In that still quiet place she found the beauty of her surroundings.

Susan’s experience of the power of nature in her recovery closely mirrors that of Sangmu, who found relief from her depression with taking time in nature, being mindful to notice all the beauty around her.

A friend suggested at one point a healing mantra to use when she felt she needed it. She practised this meditation internally during this time. She listened to beautiful music which she didn’t normally have time for. It was a time for delving in and contemplating her habit patterns. The Nepalese Lama, Minjur, also reported use of mantra meditation as a key reason he recovered from an unknown gastrointestinal illness.

 

Starting Again

Whilst she was taking bed rest, Susan trialled a number of therapies including magnet therapy, but she did not explain whether this helped or not. She is a Homeopath so was also taking Homeopathic remedies.

When she first came out of the bed she was using a lumbar brace. She visited the Orthopaedic Surgeon and he suggested that she began , what she considered was intense physio on some machines in the hospital. She felt she needed to do something, but found that suggestion too intense.

By chance, she met an Osteopath who focussed on Somatic healing. He worked with her and it gave her such a confidence in herself and her spine. It made her feel really well and recognise there was nothing wrong with her.

(Waters, 2005) speaks on the topic of confidence as a necessary part of the return to sporting life after injury. Whilst it is known anecdotally that confidence plays a role in getting back to movement, less had been researched about the types of confidence one requires to ‘get back on the horse’. Waters found that confidence has to be both in a physiological and psychological realm in order to be affective, whereas it was assumed only confidence of ones physical capacity was necessary to return to sport. When Susan spoke of her increase in confidence in herself, this may be related to this necessary growth with the support of her osteopath.

 

If it Happened Again?

Susan’s response was that she wouldn’t change any part of her healing process. She felt the biggest element of this was the surrender and acceptance to the reality of the situation. Acceptance is reported by Gabor Mate to play a large role in recovery from multiple conditions. You can read this in detail in his book ‘The Myth of Normal’ Pg 380 and in our breakdown of key personality elements here.

 

Why did this Lesson come to Her?

She had a false perception of reality that she was responsible for so many people’s happiness. However due to the accident she learnt that she didn’t have that omnipotent power. Prior to the accident Susan had recognised that subconsciously. After the accident, she became fully aware of her habit pattern.

She reported that she now didn’t fall into bad patterns like she used to, feeling she was responsible for other people’s happiness.

 

Murray

Susan specifically stated how much of an extraordinary support her husband had been. He had been able to take the reigns and manage the ongoing projects and life that she wasn’t able to whilst she was recovering and recuperating. She recognised that she had more control issues before her accident And was still working on those traits, as she knew she could do better. She explained this as:

 

“If the awareness is there, it can stop it”.

 

(Hollaway., 2021) is a Philosophy thesis on the important of romantic relationships during recovery. Whilst Hollaway speaks on the recovery being from a substance abuse perspective, the acknowledgement of attachment theory underpins all relationships that are required when people are recovering from adverse life experiences. Hollaway finds that a secure relationship helps the recoveree better handle stress and difficult moments than disordered relationships that lack trust and communication. This resonates with the importance of Murray’s support throughout Susan’s healing.

Lastly, Susan advised that she sees an osteopath once a month, who has told her that her back is now the strongest part of her. There were no ongoing symptoms of pain in her body and Susan reported she was fully recovered, and finds it both easier to recognise her ‘edge’ now, and where her boundaries are. This was the biggest change she noticed on a day to day basis. She reflected that she was very cautious for the first year after the accident, but now three years later, holds no caution or fears about her capacity.

 

Personality ‘Key elements’

  • Gratitude – for being alive and for the examinations and people that helped nurse her back to health, including her husband, Murray as well as numerous friends and her Osteopath.

  • Surrender & Acceptance – to not try and fight against the necessity for rest and recovery

  • Grace – the feeling that things happen for a reason and to follow the path willingly.

  • Agency – at the right time to regain her movement and independence.

  • Awareness – of People Pleasing Tendencies and need to control this disordered belief.

 

Barriers and Learning

  • On one question – ‘If this should happen again’, the author included an extra sentence: ‘If it should happen to somebody she loved’. This threw off the meaning of the question and it was re-asked to gain clarity. Ensuring questions remain clear for the participant is key.

 

A few Practical Features about Susan’s Healing Approach:

  • Mindfulness based activity – whilst resting in bed

  • Mantra meditation

  • Accepting help from others

  • Advice from a guide/Guru

  • A combination of physical and psychological healing approaches.

 

‘Case Studies shared on Liberation Found reflect the individual experiences of people who have undergone different methods of treatment and have found a way that has worked for them. However, individual results may vary. We do not claim, and nor should you assume, that any experience recounted is typical or representative of what another person might experience. We cannot guarantee that anyone will achieve the same results. Before you undertake any methodologies that are new to you, please work with a medical professional to ensure this is a suitable technique in your circumstance. We encourage you to discriminate carefully and make your own decisions before signing up for any retreats, sessions, or healings.’

‘The opinions and beliefs shared in individual case studies do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of “Liberation Found”. The video content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. We do not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness or completeness of the video content. We do not warrant the performance, effectiveness or applicability of any sites listed or linked in relation to the video content’

Fact Files

  • Resolved Symptoms: Pain & Loss of Function due to a Fractured Spine
  • Approach: Near Death Experience, Rest, Personality Trait Awareness, Community support, Somatotherapy, Meditation.
  • Guided method: With Somatotherapist
  • Touch method: some involved in Somatotherapy
  • Time taken for result: 1 year
  • Combination of techniques: Somatotherapy, Mantra meditation, Homeopathy
  • Language: English
  • Location: Tamil Nadu, India
  • Culture of Technique: Non theistic in part, in part Vedic Mantra
  • Profession/work: Homeopath

Links

(van Lommel., 2011)

https://tinyurl.com/mcy5p8dz

(Salariyan et al,. 2022)

https://tinyurl.com/tyuudwsh

(Hollaway., 2021)

https://tinyurl.com/49mxnukr
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