Ben’s story – “I felt like I was losing my mind”

Apr 9, 2015

What do you think of when you think of a physio? Everyones’s perception, experience, and opinions will vary, and after this, my first blog, you may have a slightly different perspective. Maybe not. But my aim of this blog in particular is to share one of my dearest patient’s stories, journeys if you will, of which I am proud to be part of. It may give you a different insight into how I work, the type of patients I can help and how important it is, to connect, truly connect with our patients. Most physios will have the same training but it is what we do post graduately that forms us, gives us our clinical base and our skills, and our reasoning continually evolves us , as professionals and as people. But it is our patients who I feel, continually improve us, challenge us, question us, and make us, one would hope, better physios.

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I would, with your kind permission, like to share some of ‘Ben’s story, a lovely, quietly spoken young man, 29 years of age, who initially came to me with “ pecs strain” ( a pulled chest muscle), which he felt he sustained whilst weight training. All things in life, including patients, are sometimes not quite what they seem, and this is an example … It quickly became apparent during the subjective (talking bit) assessment that Ben had other multiple problems which were playing a huge role on his symptoms. He was suffering from stress, anxiety and panic attacks.. I will let Ben tell you the rest..

“ I first visited Vicky in January 2013. In September 2012 I suffered from pain in my left breast which made me think I had a heart problem. I was in and out of hospital for weeks with panic attacks, chest fluttering, throat closed feeling. I could not walk for 10 metres or drive a car without a panic attack. I went to the doctors for anxiety meds, and put on a CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) waiting list. I attended CBT and still had fear of places, getting heart rate going, socialising. I was having a pressure feeling under my left chest and was so focused on this. I decided to try and contact a physio to see if they could help. I went in for an assessment and Vicky was thrilled to take me under her wing as she had the experience and suggested a therapy called craniosacral. I had never heard of this and Vicky gave good advice and how this could help with my stress, chest pain and debilitating headaches. The headaches I suffered made me feel like I was losing my mind.

medical 3d illustration - male having a headacheMy first session, I remember very well. I lay on my back and immediately she said I was like an old man as my body had locked up in every part of my back, head and neck. This was due to me not moving for three months. I had gone from a fitness junky to a couch potato because of this anxiety and panic disorder. Not only was the treatment great for relaxation, releasing energy, but Vicky is just like a counsellor, or CBT therapist in one. We talk about my work, life and her own life, she is a caring person and gives good advice. We particularly worked on a sensation in my left breast where I first had the panic attacks. She used visual techniques and talking to help me accept it, and understand my body better, and what it was “telling me”.

Throughout the year I vastly improved, I got back to work, finding myself a partner and moving house. Going from panic attacks every few steps or driving the car I can now go to the gym and drive long distances. I am not cured but have the tools to deal with it. I could not thank Vicky enough. It is with her dedication and commitment I am where I am today.

‘Cranio’ has helped my headaches, I went from daily headaches to now only one every few months, I have my down days, but I can let my emotions out in front of Vicky and she is very understanding. She has helped me understand my anxiety and given me tools so I can help myself and to cope.

My first honest thoughts of craniosacral was that nothing was happening, then you realise afterwards how much better you feel and how loose your mind and body feels.

Vicky has started a new adventure starting her own business in Durham, and I have decided to continue seeing her, due to her excellent cranio skills, her motivation, her dedication, personally I now regard her as a friend in my life. To be able to walk into a stranger’s physio room and get on well like you have known the person for years, with my social anxiety, pain disorder and agrophobia speaks volumes of her personality. She has helped me get my life on track and my mind focused on living to the full. “

Thank you so much for sharing your journey Ben. When I first asked Ben to write a short testimonial for me to use on my website, when he returned with a six sided essay, I felt humbled indeed. I didn’t feel like I could or wanted to shorten it, so it became fitting to introduce it into my blog.

In my opinion, as a health care professional, we are in a very privileged position. Patients come to us with expectations to explain, diagnose, assist and help their recovery. We need to always work within our scope of practice, and decide which of our ‘tools’ will best suit that person, at that time, and review and change this pathway according to the response. There is not, and should not be a “one size fits all” and I strongly believe this, perhaps why my skill base is wide and varied. I treat with my core physiotherapy skills at the forefront, but utilise craniosacral therapy techniques on a daily basis, utilising some amazing skills I have learnt over the years such as visual imagery and dialoguing, assisting somato-emotional release. Where I feel it is appropriate, I will always cross refer my patients to other professionals for their help and guidance, and feel proud to have built up a rapport with professionals whom I trust and respect, and have no hesitation in recommending my patients.

If you would be kind enough to share this, we may be able to spread the word a little further, and do give me your feedback, I can take it!!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I truly believe we all have so many skills with which to help each other, and I thank all my patients, past, current and future, in helping me be a better physio… A phrase popped into my head this morning which I will end with…. A PHYSIO WHO DOES NOT USE HER BRAIN IS ON A ROAD TO NOWHERE, A PHYSIO WHO DOES NOT USE HER HANDS IS ON A VERY NARROW PATH .

Vicky Smith