This guest blog is by Kirsty Lewin; Kirsty spoke to Marie over the phone in May, 2021. Marie has been treated regularly by Glynis at Eyre Place since November 2005. With her medical history, Marie says, she is extremely glad to be 84!
When Marie was three years old she had a lung infection. Part of the treatment involved removing a piece of a middle rib on her right side, which left her with chest problems all her young life. Marie is not sure whether she was unlucky, or whether similar issues ran in her family. She does recall that her mother’s younger sister was always prone to pneumonia, and that her great aunt died of ‘a decline’ in the 1870s.
In 1960, when she was twenty-three years old, she had a then modern thoracic lobectomy. This involved a partial lung removal on her right side. Before the operation she was seeing physiotherapists, and they were intrigued to discover that the rib had grown back from the surgery twenty years beforehand. Glynis suggests that, at possibly at such a young age, the growth plates in the remaining rib were still active and had continued to develop into a full rib. Bones do continue to grow through our lives although they are more active when we are young and these cartilaginous growth plates are present.
In the mid 1960s, Marie was running a newsagent in London. She leant over to pick up a large pile of newspapers, did it the wrong way, and ping – it felt like a huge piece of elastic had given way in her back. She doesn’t remember walking across the shop floor, but does remember leaning across the shop counter in agony. She had slipped a disc. She didn’t go to hospital, she says, as you didn’t in those days.
She saw doctors but they didn’t have much to offer her. She thought her own doctor certainly wouldn’t have approved of osteopathy. But Marie decided that may be the route for her. She called the College of Osteopaths (she didn’t dare inform her doctor) and was put in touch with Dr John H Davidson. Dr Davidson had a practice in a street parallel to Harley Street. He himself had damaged his back and had learnt to treat other people as a result of his own experience. Marie saw him on and off for nearly twenty years. He helped her with pain relief, got her joints back into position, and helped her with muscle strengthening. According to Marie, Dr Davidson was not like Glynis, he was a crack crack crack man, all the way down the spine. Marie was a bit frightened to go to him sometimes but the treatment was worth the effort.
Moving to Scotland
In the mid 70s Marie moved back to Scotland but she continued to travel down to see Dr Davidson, usually with her mother who also got treatment for an ankle injury. One day, Marie and her mother were sitting in a café after their treatments, discussing the doctor. A stranger approached them, and asked her mother about her accent. They got chatting, the man mentioned his own health issues, and Marie recommended that he try osteopathy with Dr Davidson. The next time she was in London, Dr Davidson told Marie that the stranger had made an appointment and had started treatment. It seems word of mouth recommendations were as important then as they are now.
Marie then had several years without back problems, even while doing heavy work, and she had no further lung issues apart from the occasional lung infection. Then the niggles started. Marie had been looking after her mother and her stepfather, and they died within three years of each other. Her caring work had taken its toll, as Marie focussed on looking after them rather than herself. She sought help early this time though, and was diagnosed by x-ray with osteoarthritis in her back.
First visit to Eyre Place
It was then, in 2005, that a friend recommended Glynis at the Eyre Place practice. Her first impressions of Glynis were that she knew what she was doing, and Marie felt much better after that first appointment. In fact, she found the osteopathy treatment so effective that she continued going for regular maintenance appointments once her back pain had gone. She also booked appointments for her sister when she made a trip to Edinburgh to visit her. She is still attending regularly in 2021.
Marie’s medical history means that the left hand side of her ribcage sometimes used to compensate for her right side, and much of her treatment over the years has been working around this to strengthen her muscles to avoid the need for muscular compensation. As a keen knitter, she sometimes suffers from aches and pains resulting from sitting in one position for a long time. Although knitting creates movement in the upper back, it can involve intense muscular action of a few joints while the rest of the spine is kept still. This can cause pain and muscle ache, similar to that of time spent at a computer. Glynis is able to address this and ensure that Marie is able to keep on knitting without causing further structural damage.
Glynis has worked with Marie to identify the things in her routine that she would like to do the most, and, through advice and treatment, ensured she is able to do them. This has included not only knitting for her family and charities, but looking after her cats, driving, socialising with friends, and going out to concerts and the theatre. Glynis uses techniques that suit Marie. One of these is gentle joint articulation, or ‘a good shoogle’. Glynis aims to balance the way the muscles function, making sure no one muscle or group of muscles is tighter than it needs to be. This balance helps Marie to stay active and well.
Marie says that Glynis is easy to talk to, and that her treatment is much gentler than Dr Davidson’s. Both of them, she says, have been conscientious, although Dr Davidson, being a doctor, could provide other treatments, for example cortisone injections. Marie and Glynis work in partnership, discussing both the treatment requirements and exercises she could do at home. Marie confesses that she doesn’t always do all of these exercises, although she reckons that doing all of her own housework, and trying to stay mobile, is an important contribution to her wellbeing.
Marie is very independent, she drives to the clinic, and, as she is a blue badge holder, she is always able to find an easily accessible parking space nearby. She describes her walking as not too bad, and she is good at pacing herself. She rests when she feels she would benefit from a break.
These days Marie goes once a month for osteopathy and uses her attendance allowance to fund the treatment. After her session, Glynis always ensures that Marie, as with all patients, sits up and steadies for a few minutes to ensure that any light headedness is minimal. Marie always feels more comfortable after her treatments.
Marie has continued going for treatments during the pandemic, aside from when the practice was closed, and has felt safe and secure the entire time.
We would like to thank Marie for sharing her story with us and giving permission for it to be shared. Thanks to Kirsty for writing it up.