HEAL ME- Book Review

The unfortunate thing about Chronic illness, is that when you are already sick,  stressful life events only make you sicker. So....after an extended period of devoting every shred of energy to ...well...being ill basically.... the elephant is BACK and getting down to this week's Blog...

Heal Me- Book Review.

According to NHS UK,  it is estimated that around 43% of people in the UK experience chronic pain....with 1.5 billion suffering worldwide. It is one of the most poorly understood and difficult conditions to treat.

Like many in the Chronically ill posse, after being left to my own devices by conventional medicine, I have tried many things over the last 30 years in a repeated attempts to find a 'cure':

Chinese Medicine, Cranial Osteopathy, Chiropractic treatment, Natruropathy, swimming, breathing lessons, spiritual healing, Reiki healing, exclusion diets, physiotherapy ( x4), acupuncture, yoga, learning Reiki, private allergy specialist, holistic hospital... You hum it- I'll sing it. Some have made me sicker, some have helped in the short term and some have been helpful up to a point....ALL have left me noticeably poorer!

Even in my worst moments I would not have bathed in chicken's blood at the behest of a voodoo healer,( nor could I have coped with so many long-haul flights!) but I can understand the impetus that made journalist Julia Buckley travel around the world with the aim of getting her life back. Fear can make you lose yourself in desperation...or write an excellent book on the subject of the search for healing.

Julia Buckley explains clearly the current understanding of how chronic begins:

"Chronic pain usually, if not always starts with acute pain. There's a genuine injury- John Smith really did step on that nail- but even though the immune system does it's stuff, the wound heals, the swelling goes down, it still hurts...."

"...Science says the longer you've been in pain, the less likely your chances of getting out of it. In a process called neuroplasty, the nervous system starts to reset itself: pain pathways are strengthened , normal ones left to atrophy.."

This gripping book is not merely an account of the passive horrors of being a pain patient, but is part cultural- guide to a world of different esoteric healers, and part forensic investigation into the mainstream approach to pain.

She attends pain management and finds ( as I did) the CBT approach to be unhelpful and debilitating. Amongst ( many) others, she visits a dowser at Joshua Tree, checks out the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for Relief of the Suffering) set up by Padre Pio  in Italy...and finally ends up face to face with 'John of God' in Brazil.

' Heal Me' is both a very personal account of her journey to find a 'cure' for the pain that has destroyed her life, as well as a rigorous overview of the epidemic of chronic pain: how we are treated by clinicians, how society views those of us living with no cure on the horizon.

This is not a ' how to get better' guide, nor is it a dry tract on the societal problem of people whose quality of life is ruined by pain. 'HEAL ME'  is a painful walk in the shoes of a woman desperate to find a cure and get her life back, but also funny and touching at times.

When I put this book down, I knew I would be returning to it before too long.

Heal Me- In Search of a Cure By Julia Buckley
For the record, the things that have been healing for me: prayers, meditation, creativity, keeping a pain journal, aromatherapy, homeopathy, Bach flower essences, and ...yes...strong pain relievers...

 I do not think of my life (crowded now with illness) as meaningless as I once did. It is a long journey to grieve the loss of your healthy self, but no less an interesting journey than a pilgrimage undertaken with a pack on your back and hiking boots on your feet.



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