Physical Life with Pain

10 Jan 1973: “This must be the end, this must be the ocean.” That’s what I was thinking as our car fell for 25 ft. Later I learned that the driver, a former colleague at CERN, had fallen asleep and thus the car crossed Freeway 101 in California in the opposite direction, before falling onto a gulf course. That’s why I made it to Lawrence Radiation Lab in Berkeley on crutches and in pain…

Regarding CERN, the gist of the story is:

  • I’ve been cheated out of a disability pension by a doctor
  • I didn’t know that and how one has to fight for one’s rights
  • CERN failed to inform me of my rights when I was leaving employment
  • CERN’s insurance company should have paid a disability pension and recovered it from the driver’s insurance company.
  • Only very recently did I found out that CERN’s lawyer was on the board on insurance companies in Switzerland…

Regarding doctors and medicine, my learning is:

  • doctors are too arrogant to admit that they don’t know when they don’t
  • they are terribly limited in their way of looking at a patient
  • they prefer to look at the ‘hardware’ of bones and X-rays and don’t know how to deal with the ‘software’ of muscles, tendons and ligaments that surround the bones.

My head had hit the dashboard, and the safety mechanism of the motor had hit my shins, thus dislocating my left hip. Fortunately, a Deputy Sheriff had seen it happening and got us out of the rented wreck.

Three weeks followed “in traction”, i.e. after the hip had been put back into place, the leg was tied to the bed, trying to pull the joint apart so that it could heal.

Six months no weight on the hip, the American doctor said. Back in Geneva, the doctor said “the Americans are so strict, you can walk after three months.”

Well, I could, but not without pain, pain, pain. And when one of the doctors said “your pain is psychological“, I started to study psychology while on sick leave. I got so much out of it that I ended up organising the Second European Conference on Humanistic Psychology in 1976 in Geneva. Sitting on the floor. It had to be a hard surface. No angles, no softness.

But pains NEVER stopped. They just moved around and changed in intensity. I tried a LOT of approaches, until I went regularly to a chiropractor to maintain the various problems.

However, I swapped to doing ‘hot Yoga‘ instead: over and over again, the same 26 postures – in a room of some 40 plus degrees. First in London – some 3 – 5 times a week, since 2009 in Berlin, but only once a week, since I’m caring for my mum who lives in the countryside.

And thus I’ve been learning more about my body than I ever wanted to know and have replaced skiing, tennis, horseback riding and Judo with Yoga, swimming, cycling and sailing – all without putting weight on the hip.

Since March 2006 I have been documenting my Bikram story here.

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