Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yoga & Hope for Chronic Pain

I heard a story recently that might give hope to anyone (of the tens of millions of Americans and who knows how many others around the world) suffering from chronic pain.

Anna Tostrup Worsley is a Norwegian warrior. At eighteen years old, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and told that she would likely spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

Unable to find a treatment to help her condition improve or even a doctor that could give her hope, Anna decided to leave Norway and move to Indonesia to seek a warmer climate and explore alternative healing therapies. While in Indonesia, her condition improved and she felt well enough to return to Norway. A few days before her trip home, she was seated in the front of a bus when it crashed into a cement block and tree. The accident crushed her spine, leaving her with fractures in multiple vertebrae. Thus began her lifelong battle with acute and chronic pain.

After getting flown back to Norway for treatment, she spent years in crippling bed-ridden pain. Within three years of the bus crash, she was able to walk again. But then, while out on a walk, she was hit by a drunk driver and sentenced back to profound suffering.

The challenges she has faced are extreme and so is the degree to which she has committed herself to try to overcome them and heal. She eventually received spinal fusion surgery that helped relieve some of her acute pain. She then dedicated herself to self-healing through yoga, dance, and experimentation. Within another 
three years, she was able to walk again. In fact, after getting out of a wheelchair again in 2005, she walked 500 miles along the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela.

She still suffers from chronic pain but has learned to manage her pain and in her own words, leads a "great, challenging and meaningful life." She now trains in yoga and martial arts. And, inspired by the blog 365 Things You Can Do, Anna writes the blog 365 Pain Free Days offering words of hope and humor daily for sufferers of chronic pain. She’s also publishing a memoir in Norway to be available this fall and creating a stand-up comedy lecture about her experience.

Pain Resources

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