This touching note came to the office for Belleruth from a woman in chronic pain from her auto-immune condition.
Aside from being a beautiful thank you note and a reminder of the effectiveness of guided imagery for reducing pain, it also makes an important point about how we stop breathing when we're in pain, when what we need to do is breathe more deeply and fully. Please read on. Here is the note:
If possible could you pass this on to Belleruth.
I just wanted you to know how grateful I am of the work you have been doing and continue to do. A friend gave me one of your CD's and I have been listening to it for a very long time now. I have suffered so badly for years with an auto immune arthritis condition, which has been very difficult to cope with because I'm so sensitive and unable to take the typical biologic drugs that are needed in order to help with the inflammation process.
So what is left after I incorporate a really good diet, exercise when I can, and whatever medicines are tolerated at any given time, I have relied on your chronic pain CD, which honestly has been a Godsend for me.
Hello, Health Journeys and Belleruth. I'm 52 and I have suffered from horrible panic attacks off and on since I was 16. I never know exactly when they will strike. At my worst times, I would have 2 or 3 a day, where I could barely function. For reasons I won't go into here, I cannot take medication.
My daughter who is a nurse suggested I try guided imagery, so 3 mos ago I uploaded your Panic Attack audio to my phone and started listening to one or two segments of it 3-5 times a day.
I found the voice and music calming. What I liked even more was knowing it was in my phone!!! I could access it any time of day and nobody would know I was "undergoing treatment" for my panic attacks!!!
I had to write you all to let you know that after 3 months, I can go up to a week without an attack. This is like a miracle!!!! I may even get rid of these horrible things altogether. I have hope that I will.
I have Patricia Neal's breadbox. (For those of you too young to remember, Patricia Neal was a movie star who became a terrific actor. She was also an all-round plucky dame with a lot of class. She may be best known for her role in HUD, as a tough rancher who resisted the charms of Paul Newman. She was also married to Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, who was a lot better writer than husband).
I have her breadbox because she regularly had house and yard sales at her Edgartown home, to support various island charities on Martha's Vineyard, where she lived a good chunk of the year.
She knew that if she had a house sale, her fame ensured that hundreds of visitors would show up, just to gawk at her and traipse through her house, and that they'd drop some serious change on her discarded chochkes. And that's what happened. She moved those units... including the breadbox.
This lovely note is a great reminder of how important self care is for those giving care to others, and what an important part mind-body resources like guided imagery can play in delivering self-nurturing during a difficult and exhausting time....
My headphones and Tablet with your programs became as vital a part of my travel kit as my toothbrush and plane ticket as I raced back and forth the 600 miles from his place to mine.
He passed away a year ago and your meditation on grief was a vital part of my healing.
So often, it seems, caregivers believe that caring for themselves will somehow deprive their loved one of care. Of course just the opposite is true!
We were pretty tickled to find this ringing endorsement of guided imagery for before, during and after surgery, from a Kaiser Permanente HMO member who found it on the KP patient education web page.
A friend of mine recommended guided imagery for surgery --- her surgeon had recommended it to her. I was lucky to find out that Kaiser offers this on their website, and I was able to get it there.
I listened to the "pre-surgery" (tracks 2 and 3) portion each evening for a couple of weeks before my (hip replacement) surgery (skipping past the intro each evening).
I took my portable CD player into pre-op with me and was listening to it as they prepared me for the operating room, and was still listening to it as they wheeled me down the hall.
Guided imagery, it turns out, is an ideal intervention for insomnia. The voice tone and music soothe the primitive, over-alert, survival-based parts of the brain; and the content and images distract the neocortex that's busy worrying over the to-do lists of the coming day or reviewing the slights and shoulda-saids of the day before.
Here's what the wife of one sleep-deprived guy had to tell us (We know it sounds over the top, but this is verbatim):
The guided imagery for Healthful Sleep has changed my husband's life. Not an exaggeration. He used to take medicine to help him relax at night. He could sleep, but it wasn't restful sleep. He thrashed, had nightmares, and always felt tired the next day - even after 12+ hours of sleep. After using the imagery a few nights, he was able to quit taking medicine because he began sleeping so restfully. One big, unexpected side-benefit: he's much better company!
I also sleep much more soundly and feel more rested. The mornings after I listen to this particular imagery, I feel what I can only describe as 10 years younger. It occurs to me that truly healthful sleep would improve general health, energy, mood and prepare you to deal effectively with stress. Good sleep is invaluable! I tell my patients, if they can only afford one guided imagery audio, they should get the sleep one.
Doubly Delighted Doc
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I work in a high stress environment with a boss who is a complete head case. She critiques me and micromanages everything I do from the second I arrive to the time I leave.
I cannot say anything back to her because she's fragile and starts crying and hyperventilating. The woman truly needs help.
I am a problem solver and I have tried every sensible tack that I, my friends and my personal coach could think of. After a series of failed attempts at changing the dynamic, we determined that I have two options left: to quit, or tune her out and keep on doing my job to please myself and meet my own standards.
Someone who suffered a traumatic injury, with many broken bones, lots of pain and multiple surgeries, gives a testimonial to the power of guided imagery for help with sleep, pain and despair.
It should also be noted that some of the very earliest studies with guided imagery – back in the 70's and 80's, with Jean Achtenberg and Frank Lawlis, demonstrated that it could in fact speed up the healing of broken bone tissue.
Here is the note:
I have had the healing from trauma CD for years and listen to it almost daily; it has helped me through a very trying time involving a very bad fall which broke several bones as well as aggravation of old back surgery, necessitating another surgery soon. If not for imagery, I would never be able to take as little as a third of the pain Rx's, or sleep well without pills. I know that I'll be able to get through the rest of this experience with this imagery. It marshals my inner strength and gives me patience. And hope. Thank you, thank you.
We got this marvelous email from a phobic driver, who got herself back behind the steering wheel by playing affirmations... she probably has no idea how much good company she's in with this challenge. Here it is:
I wanted to share my experience with affirmations and driving. Maybe if there is someone else like me, it might help.
I am 48 years old and am terrified of driving. I got my driver's license at age 16 as did all my peers, but never drove until I was 22 and starting my first teaching job after getting my degree.
This note arrived in the mailbox, and this is definitely not the first time we've heard these sentiments. There's something to be said for having your heart cracked wide open by all the love, care and appreciation that can surround a person who knows he/she is dying. Read on:
"I am a 69 year old man, in the hospital at the moment getting 5 days of chemotherapy treatment for another recurrence of a cancer that I've been fighting for 5 years. Realistically speaking, I probably have less than 6 months to live.
"I have an inspiring story of my own although it is obviously not about finding a miracle cure. I want to tell about the importance of friends and family, how they make all the difference, even though they can't cure this disease. I have been transformed by their love, concern and generous giving of time and work to me and my wife. It overwhelms me at times in a good way.
"I have always been a strong, silent type but lately my heart is touched many times a day. Tears fill my eyes from the affection and kindness people show. I understand I matter to them and that I contributed to their lives in a positive way. It is as if I can see myself and my life from outside myself, and it looks good. I am a happy man.
"My dear wife of 48 years shakes her head at the new me. My two daughters and son-in-law as well. I have meaningful conversations like never before. I thought this would be a worthwhile perspective for your readers. Blessings.