Hip pain, hormones, hysterectomies and autoimmune.
Three and a half years ago my life fell apart when I suffered an injury to my hip. This was the beginning of a very frightening downward turn in overall health, with a lot of confusing symptoms. I have always led an active life; working outdoors with horses and in plant and tree nurseries. My hobbies were horses, gardening, hiking, squash and back packing, to name but a few. The ‘hip injury’ I sustained was never really diagnosed and after steroid injections, rest, intensive physio and acupuncture, I was still in a huge amount of pain. I rather stupidly took the anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers prescribed, so that I could continue working. This was when I began to experience digestive problems and lower left hand side abdominal pain, especially when menstruating.
I was referred to an orthopaedic consultant for the hip pain, and following X-rays and MRI scans, was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis and Ankylosing spondylitis. My hip pain was explained by the RA and I was told it would always be painful, but could be managed with medication. I was put on the waiting list to see Dr Sam who would be able to prescribe Biologic medication for the RA. I would point out at this time that I also have a very bad phobia of hospitals and my stress levels were going through the roof. Anti-depressants were offered to me, which I strongly refused, but I did have to take Diazepam to even get myself through the hospital doors. After a year of pain, and diarrhoea (my doctor did not think the diarrhoea was caused by the anti-inflammatory pills and pain killers, but recommended Omeprazole to line my stomach before taking pills. Omeprazole made things even worse and I quickly had to stop taking it) The RA specialist advised that digestive problems often accompany RA and AS and that I probably had IBD (irritable Bowel Syndrome), but due to my phobia I opted out of a colonoscopy.
Then, aged 45 and peri-menopausal, my menstrual cycles changed and my periods became uncontrollable; with very heavy periods lasting on average 17-21 days of my regular 28 day cycle. After an ultra sound that found a very small fibroid, I was advised to take the mini pill. The mini pill did slow the bleeding, but now I bled every day, in unpredictable amounts. I suffered badly from bloating and water retention, head aches, insomnia, painful breasts and nausea. After a year of bleeding every day (Doctors kept advising that it would take some time for my cycles to return to normal) I was in total meltdown; I had had to give up my job and barely left the house for fear of heavy bleeding and not being able to get to a toilet in time. I had no energy and suffered every side affect under the sun, plus ongoing nightmares and panic attacks about the hospital visits.
I was prescribed more anti-inflammatory drugs and Tranexamic acid for the bleeding, but NOTHING was working. I had gone from an outdoor, natural girl who didn’t believe in ‘popping pills’ to a total wreck, being prescribed so many medications, it made my head spin.
I was trying to avoid the medications as they all seemed to make me worse, but failing to find an alternative solution. Two years since the original ‘hip injury’, I had tried loads of herbal treatments, ayurvedic diets and supplements, and homeopathy. Some things I tried gave small relief but it never lasted.
I couldn’t handle the ‘mini pill’ any longer and had to stop taking it. My cycles then returned to the heavy bleeding, abdominal pain and huge blood clots, of before. The Gynaecologist recommended a hysterectomy.
This led to the blackest time of my life, with fear, stress and depression ruling my every day, but as I was now passing out and vomiting with pain when having a period, I knew I had come to the end of the line.
Out of the blue, I received a Facebook friend request from an Australian girl I had met, years before, when travelling. In conversation she told me about a very bad car accident she had been in, breaking her back and pelvis. After initial bone healing she was told by her doctors that it would take approx one year before she would walk again and that she would never be able to ride her horse again. A friend of hers had recommended Bowen therapy to her and within six weeks, she was riding! She now rides for the Australian mounted archery team!!
This was when my life took an amazing turn. On my friend’s advice, I sought out a Bowen therapist and met Nicole Livingstone-Smith, Principal of The Bowen Clinic. After my very first treatment, I dubiously lowered myself off the bed, expecting the usual hip pain…but felt nothing! I walked out of her treatment room with no pain! After over three years of intense pain, I could not believe the difference that just one session made. I had four sessions, in total, in November 2016 and have had no hip pain since.
Nicole is a holistic healer; treating the whole body and the person. She is experienced in unravelling complex patterns of musco-skeletal dysfunction, balancing the body using bio-identical hormones and tackling metabolic and autoimmune conditions through diet. During my treatment sessions, we discussed my menstrual problems and impending hysterectomy. Nicole recommended I make an appointment with Dr Alison Grimston, a Functional Medicine Doctor, who now also works at the clinic and specialises in Bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT). She also recommended trying the Paleo diet, which I have done with great success and my RA symptoms have decreased dramatically. Diet plays a huge role in role in our lives and the correct diet can make a phenomenal difference.
Meeting Dr Allie (Alison Grimston) was the second revelation. With quick intervention required to ‘save my womb’ I began a course of BHRT; topical oestrogen cream and progesterone in pill form (the bio-identical progesterone, in pill form, works best and quickest for heavy bleeding). I started the treatment 1 December 2016 and within one month I knew I would be able to cancel the hysterectomy! Again the result was so fast I was staggered. BHRT has no side effects and quickly rebalances the hormones. Five months on and I have not looked back. It took me three and a half years in total to find the right practitioners and the correct treatments.
Coming off the anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers and incorporating a predominantly ‘Paleo’ diet, I have no more digestive problems and can keep my RA flare-ups to a minimum. BHRT has resolved my menstrual problems and Bowen therapy has given me back my freedom of movement and taken away my pain. I now have my life and my health back.
Both Nicole and Dr Allie are amazing people who have completely turned my life around. They are both very kind, approachable and knowledgeable women, who inspire confidence and really care. I am eternally grateful to them both.
Dani, Wadhurst - Scoliosis and headaches
I started to see Nicole last year. After years of increasing discomfort, I was in almost daily pain from a thoracic scoliosis. Added to which were the neck and headaches I was getting from my work as an artist (My work is very detailed and I can paint for up to 50 hours a week). I was in constant pain with frequent mild to migraine like headaches - it affected every part of my life, I slept badly and often had to cancel social engagements and struggled to get through the day running a busy shop and trying to paint. I was often tired and stressed with a constant low mood. I also had to take strong painkillers, which were increasingly less effective and left me feeling groggy, fuzzy headed and addicted. The osteopathy which had helped me so much in the past was no longer relieving the pain in to way it had, despite very frequent adjustments from an experienced therapist.
After a very few Bowen treatments there was a palpable difference in the whole feel of my back and I quickly started to experience less and less pain. The treatments were relaxing and pleasant to receive and I would feel the stress reducing and my body almost unwinding....Nicole also gave me some exercises to do and suggested several ways I could help myself, including watching my posture, sitting up straight and stretching. Nicole explained what she was feeling in the soft tissue under her hands and I had a real feeling that at last someone was able to read and gently unwind the complex patterns of compensation that my body had tied itself into and which was causing me such pain.
I have now been seeing her for treatments for nearly a year and we have managed to increase the length of time between appointments as the pain has reduced. I still get some pain but nothing like the severity or the frequency it was a year ago, despite an increasingly hectic schedule which I could not have even contemplating doing a year ago. My back and neck feel looser and I have more energy and feel so better in general. I now sleep well.
I would not have thought it was possible to affect change so completely in what was an relatively severe and entrenched problem. The treatment Nicole has given me has had an enormous effect on me and my condition and allows me to live an almost pain-free 'normal' life.
Jacqie Carr Taylor - Migraines
I have suffered from migraines on and off since I was 19. However, in my last job, I experienced workplace bullying which totally exacerbated my migraines. They escalated from 1 every couple of months to 2 or 3 a week. Alcohol has always been a trigger, and I had to become virtually tee-total. To try and alleviate my stress levels, and to generally keep in shape, I had always done aerobics and zumba classes, but these started to trigger the flashing lights that are the aura I have that signals the start of a migraine attack. The same happened when I tried running, even cycling. I was given first anti-depressants then beta-blockers as they can help prevent migraines in some people.
After I left that workplace, I nonetheless continued to suffer from regular migraine attacks. I returned to my GP who suggested doubling the dose of beta-blockers. A lucky coincidence brought me to Nicole. During my first consultation, she identified trigger points in my neck, as well as LOTS of tension in my neck and shoulders. When she consulted her (I assume) Bowen "bible" and read out the type of headaches associated with the trigger point she had identified, she described my headaches better than I could. I was amazed at how accurately Nicole was able to identify where the trouble lay, and what it was doing to me.
I have been having treatments for a few months, and my symptoms are at last coming under control. Migraines are down to far more manageable levels, and I have even managed a couple of social occasions with a glass of wine and not been incapacitated for the whole of the next day. I feel like I am gradually getting my life back, and I am so grateful to Nicole.
As a result, I have been recommending her to anyone who professes the slightest ache. If you are reading this and, like me, have had your life severely impacted with migraines that "normal" medicines don't seem to touch, go and see Nicole. I can't recommend her highly enough!!
Mrs LC - Labryntitis and Tinnitus
Approximately 9 months ago I started to suffer from pressure and ringing in the ears, which progressed to include nausea and acute dizziness. My GP diagnosed labrynthititus, which can be caused by a virus. Anti nausea tablets and a nasal spray were prescribed, and was told it should go away in time. After several bad episodes which included being sick, not being able to stand and falling over, and being told there was not any more the medical profession could do, I decided to look at alternative treatment.
Nicole had treated me in the past for a post operative problem, and I felt I had nothing to lose. One of the first question Nicole asked was, had I had any dental treatment recently. A lightbulb moment! Last summer I had had major root canal treatment on several teeth. Nicole treated the area in question, my ears started to pop, and the pressure disappeared. After having three treatments, I have lost the pressure, no more nausea, no more dizziness and my hearing has returned to normal.
I was suffering from almost continual hot flushes both day and night. I am a pretty fit and healthy 50yr old and it was beginning to get me down but i was not willing to consider HRT. Nicole explained the options available for treating this hormonal change naturally. We started with a bowen session and to my absolute amazement my flushes have almost stopped. I have also made some changes to my diet which I feel better for as hot flushes can also be attributed to blood sugar imbalances. We haven't needed to use the Natural Progesterone Cream.
Mrs W, Rye
I have osteoporosis in the spine and arthritis too and have and a replacement knee which has always been painful despite the operation. Over the last few months i am in constant pain especially in the groin, and can hardly stand for any length of time. I have been reduced to walking with a stick. I have been on Diclophenac for nearly 20 years and i have now discovered that i have a completely inflammed and ulcerated gut and so can no longer take the pain meds. X rays do not reveal the need for a hip replacement. The Doctors have nothing to offer me except pain patches.
Bowen is about the only treatment that I could stand, its gentleness is even more remarkable considering how effective it is. Nicole has a uncanny ability to find exactly the spots that are causing a problem, most of which I am not even aware of till touched. One small rolling move and the tenderness evaporates. Nicole has got me walking again and in much less pain. We are now working on a programme to heal my gut, get me exercising gently and detoxing my system which I now realise is part of the problem that my pain is so acute and so overall. I have been on apple cider vinegar for about a month and i feel no more pain than when i was on the diclophenac. I really appreciate her help and support and enormous depth of knowledge on diet, exercise and bodywork. thank you for helping me out of a very dark place and i hope that i may get to the point where i can walk my puppy again.
Denise Honey – My experience of Bowen Treatment (neck pain, visual disturbance and balance problems)
I first went to Nicole Livingstone-Smith in July, 2009. I had heard of Bowen Treatment from Rotherfield St Martin and, having reached the point where I could no longer cope with the increasing shoulder/neck/head pain that I had experienced for several years, I decided to seek help.
The pain was exacerbated by any lifting or stretching and would take several days to settle. I could manage just a few items in my shopping bag and could only hold my tiny new grandson if I was sitting down. Even the shortest of spells on the computer would trigger the pain.
In addition, symptoms were aggravated when travelling as a passenger – whether car, bus or train. The jolting caused me to feel very ‘spaced out’ and afterwards would take 2 or 3 days to settle. I took to wearing a neck support collar on longer journeys. It felt as though my skull was somehow ‘rammed’ onto my spine.
I had a wide range of other symptoms - feelings of mental fogginess, loss of memory, being ‘spaced out’ and unable to concentrate (especially in group situations with peripheral noise). I wondered whether it was just my age, or a problem with the blood supply to my head – or something worse.
In moments of tension (eg within church services when I was assisting or preaching) my neck would go rigid and I found movement very difficult. I experienced a kind of vertigo, feeling unsteady on my feet, especially on uneven or sloping ground or trying to assess steps etc. I developed a rather plodding, wide gait which I was unable to correct despite conscious effort.
My vision was affected – bright lights in shops were a problem as were strong patterns. Although my sight was blurred, the optician was unable to find anything untoward. My eyes tired very easily and I would get double vision in the evening. I was aware of a lack of proper, sharp focus when driving.
It was difficult to get comfortable in bed and my sleep pattern was disturbed. I felt weak, listless and became increasingly depressed.
During the initial consultation, Nicole ascertained that I was extremely stressed and I had been doing a lot more computer work than I had been used to. My neck and shoulders were very tight and my spine was also affected. Going through my medical history, she also noted that some 35 years ago, I had suffered three separate instances of whiplash – though at the time they hadn’t appeared to warrant medical attention.
Initially I had treatment every week or two and was also able to discuss some of my anxieties with Nicole. I decided to ease right out of all my commitments. The head pains began to ease; the neck muscles would also ease but then tighten up again within a few days. However Nicole persisted in the treatment and gradually the periods of improvement grew longer. My overall posture improved and after two months we were able to make the treatments every 3 weeks.
Progress was slow and sometimes almost imperceptible. But then, there would be definite turning points :-
* the day when I left the clinic feeling as though my neck had been stretched – my skull no longer ‘rammed on’. The relief was wonderful. I felt like one of the ‘giraffe-neck’ women of Africa!
* the morning when I got up and realised that I was walking with a normal gait again, though still experiencing unsteadiness on my feet.
Treatment by treatment, Nicole was gently working her way through the complex layers of neck muscles. I was now fairly pain-free for longer periods of time – though it was easily re-triggered. The depression was lifting, I was more comfortable in bed, sleeping better and no longer needed the support collar when travelling.
By July 2010, although not completely ‘cured’ I felt like a new person. I was going to the clinic every 4 weeks or so and the effects of the treatment were lasting longer. Then I seemed to hit a plateau and wondered whether Nicole had achieved all that she could for me. I was extremely happy with my progress.
However, I had remained concerned about my mental state and was anxious that perhaps there was something more amiss. My GP arranged for an MRI brain scan and tests to be done. The results were all good and my anxiety eased enormously.
In September I felt fit enough to start going to a yoga class – the first time I had done yoga for over 10 years. It was a challenge (especially for my balance!) but I stuck at it and am really benefiting now, feeling so much better in myself.
Then, in November, there was another breakthrough. For the first time, the neck muscles Nicole had been focussing on had remained soft between treatments and she was able to feel down into the next layer – the three Scalene Muscles on each side of the neck – which were themselves extremely tight. She sensed that she was getting to the root of the problem which, she was sure, had its origins in the whiplash I had sustained back in my 30’s.
I felt somehow different as I drove home. The following morning, as I woke up, I had an extraordinary sensation – the fog had cleared from my brain and my vision was clear! It lasted for six wonderful days before fading again – but it proved that further improvement was still possible.
Nicole explained the structure of the Scalenes to me and the fact that an artery and nerve run between them, one on either side of the neck, to and from the brain. With the muscles very tight it was likely they could cause compression on the blood flow and account for the muzzy-head and visual problems.
Now, at the beginning of 2011, the muzziness and blurred vision has improved greatly as has the vertigo. I feel confident that, although I have setbacks (because I refuse to stop doing things!) I will continue to improve. I have more energy now. Nicole’s gentle empathy, expertise, and persistence have been second-to-none and I am absolutely indebted to her. She’s given me a new lease of life!
(for interest - 11 appointments July-Dec 2009; 13 appointments 2010)
Hazel Offen - hip problems
About 7 years ago i was in a mess, having spent two years "ouching" all the time. I was dropping down on my left leg , and clutching at door posts in an attempt to walk up a step. The single step between my living room and kitchen left me marooned in one room for most of the day in a chair. I dreaded going out as when I saw the bus coming I knew there would be a drama getting in and even worse getting out. It seemed that I was destined for a hip replacement. I was begining to feel old and look it too! (I was only 71!)
A friend said "you can't go on like this, I am going to ring Nicole". From then on I have never looked back, only to compare my life then to what it is now. I am now 79 and have no hip pain and have not had a hip replacement.
I had one Bowen treatment a week for a month, then every two weeks and then every three. A total of 8 treatments. Now I have a top up every month. During the third week of treatment I felt "something is going on here". I discovered that I wasn't "ouching" on rising from my chair, or using the bus and I no longer clutched at door posts. Treatment can take a little while to kick in, depending on the severity of the complaint and sometimes i feel a bit sore the day ofter the treatment, although it is very gentle, the muscles are just responding and then the day after that I am raring to go! Bowen is now part of my life and I have been well and active for the past 7 years
A lady on my street has Bowen too and we both say we feel "glowing" afterwards.
Thanks to Nicole, life is a lot more manageable now. She is a dedicated therapist, always putting her clients first. We all have a good laugh when Nicole is around, she makes me feel like a recycled teenager!
Thank you Nicole, oh and who mentioned a hip replacement? - rubbish!!
Doreen - Plantar Fasciitis and worse...
For many months I suffered great pain in my foot. The doctor diagnosed plantar fasciitis but referred me to a consultant. They diagnosed a condition that they said would require major foot surgery and up to two years to recover. They said if I didn't have the operation I would be in a wheelchair soon. Nicole had been treating the plantar fasciitis very successfully and the pain was receeding but I was frightened by the what the consultant had told me. Nicole researched the condition for me and we had an indepth conversation about the different options open to me. Her concern was that given my age (75) and the fact that I live alone, with no family, I would be unable to cope on my own in my own home for the long recuperation that would be required as the operation involved breaking my foot, and doing a ligament and bone graft. The crutches would upset my neck, which since having Bowen no longer plays me up (I used to be in a collar)and the knee and hip on the good leg would most probably not cope with the compensation as I have arthritis in both.
I decided to continue with the treatment for the plantar fasciitis, adopt the foot supports that Nicole recommended and put the operation on hold for a few months.
This is now two years ago and with manual therapy and physical foot supports my condition has healed completely, though I understand that I must continue to wear the supports to stop the bone descending. I have no pain, I can walk where ever I want and I avoided an operation that would most probably have left me in an old peoples home. I cannot thank Nicole enough for encouraging me to give the body a chance to heal itself, and for everything she did for me. Thank you.