The Power of Our Minds to Control Pain, My Son’s Experience
Research has shown that hypnosis and hypnotherapy can help alleviate symptoms of many medical conditions. Read Lesli Berggren’s first-hand account of how she stood in awe as she watched her son hypnotize his agonizing pain away, without medicines.
My son Nils Berggren, age fourteen, had beaten stage 4 lymphoma. However, his life threatening problems continued because of the required stem cell transplant he had received at the National University Hospital in Singapore, where we lived. We moved to Seattle for further specialist treatment of Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD). My first encounter with Seattle Children’s Hospital astonished me.
This hospital room, are you kidding me? It is the most incredible hospital room I have ever seen. The view! (In the pic above)
The large window overlooks the lake, with Mt. St. Helens’ snow-capped peak in the background. This is definitely going to create some healing. The room is huge; I’m talking master bedroom huge. Sliding, glass doors line the wall of the room to the hallway. And the nurses, holy moly, they are all as talented as they are gorgeous. Nils’s dreams are coming true. A tall, blue-eyed, young woman with long, blonde hair, who could have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, skips into Nils’s room. As ill as he is, he lights up like a boy on fire.
This hospital has it all and more. There are therapies and services here I had no idea were even available. Hospital staff give me brochures on the various options: chaplaincy, child life services, clinical patient navigators, social worker services, emotional and psychological support, housing, a school for children, family financial assistance, family education, resource centre, physical therapy, nutritional therapy, swimming pool therapy, dog therapy, music therapy, art therapy, creative writing therapy, movie therapy and even self-hypnosis therapy!
You name it, they have it, and most of these services are available at no added cost.
Nils' first experience with one of the therapies comes at a much-needed moment. He had been spending a lot of time in his hospital room.
“Mom, I am tired of taking the morphine! But it is the only way to really make my pain stop. I lose three to five hours a day on that stuff. Morphine works, it really does, but it knocks me out. I am tired of taking Lorazepam, and Xanax too. They both help me sleep, but is there something else I can do?”
“Hmm, I like the way you are thinking, Nils. I wonder if I can talk to Ashlei, the hospital social worker and see if she can suggest an alternative for pain management.”
The next afternoon, the hospital’s in-house hypnotherapist walks into Nils’s room. He explains that he helps kids with self-hypnosis and teaches them how to do it, for whatever reason, and whenever they need it. Nils immediately takes a liking to him.
“What’s the problem, Nils?” he asks.
“This prednisone makes me crazy. I can’t sleep, and my skin is itching and driving me to the point I want to peel my skin off. Sometimes the pain in the rest of my body gets so bad I just can’t take it anymore. I am tired of being drugged up on pain medication.”
“That sounds fair enough, Nils,” the hypnotherapist says. “Those are a lot of very good reasons to want to make the discomfort go away on your own and to be in control. I can help you remove the pain with hypnosis. Have you ever tried that before?”
“No, sir,” Nils replies.
The hypnotherapist asks Nils to relax, breathe deeply and close his eyes.
“Nils, I want you to visualize a hot-tub. This tub is filled with the most amazing liquid and at the perfect, warm temperature to your touch. This liquid will stop any itch and pain, because it has power. Now, Nils, I want you to slowly, one step at a time, get into the tub. I want you to put your entire body in this amazing liquid with your head just above the water. Feel the water surrounding you, feel the liquid touching your skin, feel the liquid calming and healing your skin.”
He verbally describes each body part that is being healed, limb by limb; the entire holistic system is being treated right there and then. All healing, all comfortable and all in Nils’s mind.
“Now, Nils, I want you to slowly step out of the tub, and gently pat your skin dry with the soft towel next to you. When you have finished, slowly open your eyes.”
Nils opens his sleepy eyes. He looks at the doctor in disbelief. “It’s gone; there is no more itch! I feel amazing. It worked!”
“Yes, Nils, it is gone. You can make it go away any time you like. You can do this to yourself whenever you need to. You are in control. I’ll keep coming to see you and give you more tricks to help with other things. Call on me any time,” he says as he turns to leave the room.
A week later, Nils’s new Hickman line goes in. He has fussed about not wanting one again; he hates having a tube inserted into his heart and having to tape it up every time he wants to bathe. But his veins are too weak to keep inserting IVs into for the long duration of meds that need to go in.
He reaches across his bed to grab his computer from the bedside table. “Oh man! That hurts so bad!” he yells out.
“My new stitches on my chest! It’s the Hickman line!”
I unbutton his shirt to see the stitches under the clear bandage are holding the line in place, his reach has pulled his skin slightly open. Stitches are still taut, but a bit of blood is coming out. I call for the nurse who quickly assures me it is all fine.
“The pain is incredible!” he moans.
I suggest the hypnosis technique instead of the drugs.
“Right, Mom. I’ll do it.” I watch him. On his own, he closes his eyes. Slowly entrancing his brain and going to a new place. Nils’s body begins to relax; it is no longer tense. After about two minutes of him being in complete stillness, he lifts his left hand and reaches over just a few inches above his right chest muscle where the stitches are. He opens his hand slowly, then slowly begins to close it, as if clasping on to a baseball. He clenches his fist tight, pulls his arm back deliberately, recoils his elbow and then gently throws the imaginary ball into the air. He calmly lets his hand drop by his left side. He stays quiet and still for a while longer. Gradually, he opens his eyes.
He looks over to me and smiles. “All gone!”
I am in awe. He does it himself…removes pain without the drugs and with self-hypnosis.