I had tried doctors, chiropractors and physiotherapists (each helping in some small way), but my back problems increased to the point of desperation. If I forward even slightly from the perpendicular, I fell flat on my face as my back gave way.
Progressing to back spasms (every couple of days) made me cry out in pain before I collapsed on the floor yet again. My husband had to put my shoes and socks on for me and often help me to dress. I couldn’t sit in a car for more than 30 minutes without a walk to ease the pain and stiffness. Despite this I was moderately active at home for short periods between 9am and 3pm, once I loosened up after the many and varied stretches I did. During the night I changed position every hour and ran through my stretches again (sending my husband to another bed). The three mattresses I trialled made no difference to my comfort and by 5am I rose – to lie down was no longer bearable.
My lady doctor eventually referred me to a GP who practised Bowen (I would not have the suggested spinal operation – I saw too many failures of this procedure in my own family). She had recent positive feedback from other Bowen patients but admitted to not knowing much about it herself. The initial cost of $30 (2004) a session squeezed my otherwise tight budget.
As I waited my turn at the clinic, I watched faces enter in agony and smiling faces leave – my hopes soared. Photos of the slender, elderly doctor competing in marathons lined the walls in the waiting room of the remodelled timber house. Some patients sat in the morning sun on the patio with a peaceful view of the native garden.
“Mrs Jarman?” The doctor shook my hand and in a quiet, smiling voice introduced himself. I watched his eyes follow the last patient leave. “I am still awed by the difference in their strides”, he said. I sat in his office, while he listened to my problems, wrote notes, and then explained the Bowen modality to me. He led me to one of the treatment rooms, which held only a divan bed, a chair and a reverse cycle air conditioner. Left to undress in bra and undies, I laid on my stomach on the bed with a quilt covering me. Doctor returned, rubbed his cold hands for my benefit and began some very gentle, unique massage type movements down my spine for only a few minutes before leaving me to rest. A note was made on a memo pad attached to the door. He closed the door and went to another patient.
I thought, “That can’t do anything. He must be a quack”. I then felt a warmth run up my spine and I almost nodded off before he entered again and worked on my neck and legs, each time for just a few minutes, allowing a 10 minute rest between treatments. About 40 minutes later, I dressed and left with the doctor’s warnings not to use any heat treatment or hot showers; no massaging or rubbing (as one does to any sore spots); no sitting still for more than 50 minutes and to make an appointment for the following week.
Sitting in the passenger seat of the car as my husband drove off, I looked back, out of habit, to see if the traffic was clear. My head turned further than ever before. I didn’t realise I had any neck problems previously, but this was a new range of vision!
On arriving home I got out to open the farm gate. Grinning from ear to ear, I did a jig and told hubby, “I feel like dancing”. Unbelievably, the sun had set before I stopped working at weeding and clearing dead banana plants – carrying the long trunk pieces to the mulch pile (well, the doctor did say there were no restrictions on exercise)! I slept well and continued my new life throughout that week.
On my second visit I gave thanks to my new super hero doctor. He treated me but said I would not need any further sessions. I didn’t feel nearly as good but put it down to the cold weather. A week later, quite sore again, I made another appointment.
The Doctor apologised for my discomfort and questioned me further, finally realising that I had used my electric blanket. Apparently, any heat negates the treatment in the first 10 days. “Heat switches it off”, he said. “We don’t fully understand how Bowen works, but it does work.”
Yes it does, I was 90% better for 6 months. A problem in my groin sent me back for one session but the doctor told me he was not always successful for that area but gave it a try. That made him human to me – he, or Bowen, could not fix everything but it was worth a try. The groin did improve and released in time. I only had one other overhaul of my entire body 12 months later and now (2007) I am 100% fit and healthy. I walk 4.5km daily, plus work around the farm including filing the feet of my five miniature ponies.
An equine Bowen practitioner works on an injured pony of mine now, with great success. So it is not mind over matter or quackery, as many crippled horses also recover to lead useful lives. I recommend Bowen to everyone.
By Carolyn Jarman
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