In the following video, Dr. Susan Schumacher shares her story of recovery from fibromyalgia,
while a Bowen Therapy session is demonstrated in the background. Her written description, in the form of a letter to her personal physician, appears below.
"I am pain free!! Unless you have suffered as I did, you do not know how much this means! I hope you will consider investing the time to learn more about this wonderful therapy"
Susan Schumacher, PhD, Greensboro, NC
The following is a copy of a letter written by Dr. Susan Schumacher, (speaker in the video above) who is a professor of psychology at NC A&T University in Greensboro, NC. It was addressed to her personal physician, and mentions the names of several other physicians she consulted. We have elected to delete those names, because no good purpose can be served by including them. The letter is genuine, and we thank her for caring enough about others to share her experiences with them through this website.
Please note that, the result of our treatment of Dr. Schumacher is that she is free of pain from fibromyalgia.
Dear Dr. [her personal physician],
I have been a patient in your office for several years. Among the health problems bringing me to your office was the constant problem of fibromyalgia, which was first diagnosed in me almost 50 years ago (called fibrocytis then, I believe), and which I can remember having as far back as age 5. I am certain that you have other patients with similar conditions and for whom medications and physical therapy do not help very much. I wanted to share with you a treatment which has totally eliminated my pain, in hopes that you may offer your patients this approach as an alternative, before they seriously contemplate suicide, as I had. First, I will tell you about my history (at your office and other places), and then describe the therapy. Finally, I will tell you that I may have Mr. McKeithan contact you for a more thorough explanation of what he does, so that you would feel more comfortable in referring someone to him.
In recent years, the pain had progressed until, in October of 2001, I was considering taking disability leave from my job as faculty member in the Department of Psychology at NC A&T State University, where I teach and do biomedical research. In December of 2001, I requested to be put on medical leave, rather than disability, as I could no longer function well enough to do my job, but hated to admit to having a disability that easily could become permanent. By February of 2002, my symptoms of extreme pain, particularly in my hands and feet were totally debilitating. It required over an hour for me to get out of bed and walk. I would roll out on the floor and crawl around first, until I could stand, and finally walk. I had severe “fibro-fog”, often not knowing what I was supposed to be doing or where I was driving (unless I had a yellow ‘sticky-note’ on the sun visor with my ultimate destination.) My husband had to quit his job to care for our horse farm and me. I had even contemplated suicide, although I love life, and just could not accept that there was no help for me. In addition to [here she names the four other physicians she had consulted], I had been to the pain center at what was then Bowman Gray School of Medicine, now Wake Forest Medical Center, and with two physicians at Greensboro Sports Medicine. I had been under the constant care of Dr. [her local chiropractor] during this. I had been prescribed Motrin, Celebrex and Wellbutrin (among others) for either the fibromyalgia or arthritis (which I also have), but none lessened the firbromyalgia pain. I also tried glucosamine, shark cartilage, and several other vitamin/holisitic approaches, and read every book in Greensboro’s Public Library on the topic. I had been on Medline, PubMed, and every website I could find on fibromyalgia and/or arthritis, including the immune system ones, seeking something to relieve the pain. While being treated for two separate injuries, I pleaded with the four physical therapists I saw for suggestions to relieve fibromyalgia pain. I think the worst treatment of all was the attitude that “it was all in my head and I needed psychiatric help”. Fortunately, the psychiatrist did not concur, but if he had, I would have sunk into a catatonic state of immobility and severe depression, for it was being suggested that I was purposely sabotaging my career, marriage, and entire life.
I was determined not to be the way I was, in bed and nonfunctional, for the rest of my life, so I discussed my fibromyalgia with everyone, looking for something to help. Finally, my attorney referred me to two of his friends who had been treated for fibromyalgia at Transformative Bodywork [now McKeithan Pain Treatment Center] In Winston-Salem by Kent McKeithan, and who were considerably improved. One had come all the way from Newport News, Virginia to be treated, so, after talking with them, I scheduled an appointment with Kent, thinking I had nothing to lose but time and money, neither of which mattered in comparison with my pain. By then (March), I had been on medical leave without pay for 2.5 months, and the “rest cure’ was not working…
The treatment consisted of a combination of Bowen Therapy known as Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST)*, and rigorous coaching for breakthrough, with various highly focused action assignments to break the emotional/muscular programmed interaction that had been in place for so long. In laymen’s terms, it was a form of Bowen therapy, which seems to reset one’s muscles to their original functioning level, accompanied by a type of what I would have to call dynamic psychological therapy, although, as a Licensed Practicing Psychologist, I was not a believer in any type of psychodynamic therapies. In other words, I brought my biases as a trained psychologist to the sessions, and did not believe the therapy would work, which I felt totally negated the placebo effect from occurring! In spite of my negative bias, by about the third session, I noticed that I could get out of bed in 15 minutes, not one hour, and it took much less time to start to move. I could walk farther than I had been able to in months.
I started with six basic sessions from March to may, 2002. Sessions were two hours each, one hour of “coaching” followed by an hour of NST. I than had three follow-up sessions in June, July and October, 2002, in which my fears of challenges to the new, pain-free way of being were addressed. These sessions were similar in content and length. I was afraid that when I returned to work full time in mid-August, the symptoms would return, due to the increased physical demands on me and increased stress. They did not.
I should mention that, during and following my treatment, I experienced a number of highly emotionally-charged events, which were dealt with during and following my recovery. These were things such as being out of work (I identify with my job) and the resulting financial problems, including tax hassles; illnesses and deaths in the family; delivering seven foals during all kinds of bad weather; severe damage to the farm (and my pocketbook) from ice storms and high winds; sick horses; husband out of work because of his increased responsibilities taking care of the farm, the damage, and of me; severe PTSD symptoms of my husband related to the terrorist attacks and war; the sale of property………….and I could continue for another page.
Since last fall, I have been totally pain-free from fibromyalgia and from almost all arthritis pain. I am no longer debilitated and can ride my horses and wrestle with the foals and yearlings on our horse breeding farm. I take no pain medications of any type. Since I now have access to the causes of my pain, I can prevent its return. This spring, not only have I taught full time, but I took a sick faculty member’s classes as an overload, maintained my animal research lab, directed a graduate student’s thesis, attended to all of the general professional responsibilities associated with my job, and am now preparing two new grant proposals for submission to governmental granting agencies. In addition, I am able to help my husband with our 16 horses: delivering foals, raising, showing and selling horses. I still tire easily when running after horses, but that is due to my long period of total inactivity, and is improving daily.
But I am pain free!! Unless you have suffered as I did, you do not know how much this means! I hope you will consider investing the time to learn more about this wonderful therapy.
Susan Schumacher, Ph.D
*Now augmented with other modalities.
Versions of this account have been previously published in Natural Triad Magazine and Art of Wellbeing.