Agoraphobia Masking as Pain

I met Dr. Hanscom under the most stressful circumstances imaginable.

When I moved back to the Northwest a little over a year ago, I experienced crippling anxiety, panic and agoraphobia – combined with excruciating lower cervical and upper thoracic pain radiating down not one, but both arms. I was in and out of the ER four times in one month, and over a period of several months, with new and emerging physical symptoms, I had seen over sixteen doctors of different specialties and had nearly every study and workup imaginable, running up some fifty-thousand dollars in medical expenses in the process. I simply did not know what was wrong with me and was completely frustrated with the medical care system to a great degree.

When my back pain became the focus, I came to the local spine center and presented to Dr. Hanscom my symptoms. After filling out an extensive questionnaire, which covered not just physical lifestyle, but emotional and behavioral as well, I sat in the exam room waiting. He came into the room after having viewed my MRI and offered not surgery, but something different, as an option. He told me to read a book, use the tools in it and begin to look at how my lifestyle and the way I was thinking were affecting my physical symptoms. In fact, he said, if I quote correctly, “I believe that when you do the exercises in this book and get a handle on your anxiety and depression, these symptoms will clear up.” He also stressed the importance of good quality, full stage sleep, which I was also being deprived of, as a crucial aid to the healing process. After this experience, while driving home I remember telling a friend down in LA on the phone, “Gee I went to see a doctor and I ended up finding a healer.” In light of everything, it just made sense. In short I was ready to move on to the advanced user features of my own software and hardware for that matter. I purchased the book, read it and did the exercises, used the tools contained therein, followed up with Dr. Hanscom and after a few months, I began to notice a difference. Then on a recent trip to Los Angeles for work this year, I noticed I had no back pain at all. Diligence is key and maintenance is the watchword, but I remain asymptomatic to this moment and when I do feel the twinges, the spaciness, or any other telltale symptoms, my first impulse now is to confront the thought behind the physical and emotional feeling. And more often than not, I return to a normal, happy and focused state of mind – only this time with a much easier disposition.