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Suggestions to Speed Recovery after a Traumatic Medical Experience

17 Jun

We received this question from a woman who was traumatized by a clumsy practitioner and then made to suffer an additional amount of time by the medical system, until she finally found some help.  By then, she was the worse for wear, psychologically and physically.  Sadly, we hear variations on this far too many times:  

Question:

I am having a difficult time recovering both physically and psychologically from a traumatic hip injury caused by my medical treatment several months ago.  The rehab specialist was very insensitive and aggressive and used the wrong equipment on my leg with such force that he messed up the proper functioning of my leg.   It then took four months to get a doctor to listen to me or correctly diagnose the injury. I finally found a hip specialist who did, and had arthroscopic hip surgery in late January. By then, there was a lot of surrounding trauma and weakness to the back and hip, which has made recovery very slow and painful. I am still frightened and tense all the time, and worry that this is also impeding my progress. Which healing program do you think might help me the best, at least to start with?

Answer:

Holy cow. Your story of getting ground up (or down) in the medical mill is upsetting to hear about, let alone experience.  Of course you're frightened and tense - how could you not be?  You're probably also feeling angry, sad, disillusioned, helpless, distrustful, traumatized and cranky, too.  At least I know I'd be.

I'd suggest  a couple of things:  
First, to answer your question about what programs, I'd suggest Carol Ginandes' Rapid Recovery from Injury, which I think will speed your healing, help you manage pain and fear, and most important, counter the helplessness and give you back a sense of control and agency.  So that's for starters.  Another might be our Relaxation and Wellness, to give you a sense of peace, safety and support.

I'm not sure how much more by way of treatment or practitioners you're up for at this point, but you might also want to consider some sessions with a Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch or Reiki practitioner.  Any of these methods are very gentle but powerfully soothing, whether you buy into the underlying principles or not.  I'm thinking that the deep calm and centered peacefulness that these practices catalyze would be - forgive the expression! - just what the doctor ordered… kind of like the opposite of the frightened helplessness you experienced.

I also would like to underline that your feeling scared is not likely to impede your progress.  In fact, you're probably going to improve no matter what you feel.   (We enlightened, psychologically-minded types all get a little nuts from thinking our 'negative' feelings will be ruinous to our health and progress.  We're actually much tougher and more resilient than that.  

If in a few months you're still having trouble moving forward (and I really doubt you will), you may want to try working with a Somatic Experiencing practitioner in your area, who will be able to help with this traumatic experience in a relatively brief time.

I hope this helps.  Let me know.
All best,
Belleruth

 

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award