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Dr. Hanscom's Blog Mark Owens’ Story – Breaking Through

Discussion in 'Mindbody Blogs (was Practitioner's Corner)' started by Back In Control Blog, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. Back In Control Blog

    Back In Control Blog Well known member

    Mark Owens’ Story

    This is a video that we shot of Mark Owens, who wrote the Forward of my book. I’d like to give you some additional background to his story, both from his and my perspective. He is a PhD scientist who has spent his life addressing environmental issues. At age 29, he left for the Kalahari desert with his wife, Range Rover and no weapons to pursue protecting elephants and other animals from poachers. He spent 23 years immersed in this project and he accomplished his vision. His work still continues on through the structure he put into place and the people he trained to carry it on. His story is reflected in his book, The Cry of the Kalahari.


    He returned to the United States and purchased a ranch in Idaho as a wildlife preserve for wolves and grizzlies. He also reversed much of the environmental damage done by indiscriminate logging practices. His commitment to making the world a better place is remarkable.

    The chapter he wrote is presented at the end of this post. The horse accident occurred on his ranch and his injuries were severe. A fractured spine represents severe trauma, but it isn’t nearly as painful as a crushed chest wall. After the surgery he developed severe chronic pain for over nine years. Why?

    My perspective

    Here are some points that I want to add to his remarkable story of healing.

    Although this was a major injury, the usual post-operative course for a fractured spine is severe pain for a couple of weeks and then it usually resolves in about six weeks. From a surgeon’s perspective he was the “ideal surgical candidate.” He was extremely motivated to get better, which is true for almost everyone in pain. However, there were a few details that were missed, and no one asked him the right questions.

    First, he was under a large amount of stress. He was forced to leave Africa, but only after his third assassination attempt by poachers. He then created a wildlife preserve in Idaho that created a backlash from the ranchers about protecting animals that were a threat to their herds. Under less stress, it’s unlikely he would have developed such severe chronic pain. He’s really tough. Few people on this planet would have attempted what he accomplished in Africa.

    Second, after he developed chronic pain from the first operation, a second operation was performed to fuse the lumbar 2-3 level just below his prior thoracic surgery between the second and third lumbar disc space for degeneration. It is well-documented that disc degeneration is not considered a source of pain and in addition, it has also been demonstrated that performing surgery in the presence of ongoing chronic pain of any kind, can induce pain at the new surgical site or worsen the pain at the surgical region. His pain become dramatically worse.

    Third, several surgeons had recommended surgically breaking his spine in two, re-aligning it and fusing him from his neck to his pelvis. One surgeon referred to the procedure as the “Blue Plate Special”. If a one-level fusion had made him worse, what do you think a 12-hour procedure with a high complication rate would have done to him? From my perspective, the decision not to recommend surgery was easy. His spine showed disc degeneration that was normal for his age. There was nothing to operate on.


    Fourth, he didn’t believe me in the slightest that his pain was solvable, with or without surgery. He’s extremely cynical. The DOC project is not about believing in it or not. It’s simply a framework that allows you to more clearly sort out your scenario, and you’re able to figure out a solution. It’s about connected and engaged thinking. The principles are universal and hold true regardless of how you feel about them. The key is to engage and move forward.

    Fifth, his healing was dramatic, which many of my patients find discouraging because they don’t have an immediate response. Most people don’t, and I have observed that the process generally begins to create change over three to four months. Maybe one out twenty people experience such a rapid response. The key is persistence.

    Sixth, there are over 1000 research papers that document the effectiveness of expressive writing. There is no debate that it improves mood, performance and lessens over 30 possible physical symptoms. The issue is how and why it works. Conversely, there is little evidence that a spine fusion is a solution for back pain. The success rate is less than 30% at two-year follow up and has never been compared to carefully structured non-operative care. Unfortunately, insurances don’t cover most of the treatments that have been demonstrated to work.

    Finally, his life wasn’t perfectly pain free after the initial healing. Unpleasant circumstances will cause your body to be full of stress chemicals, which increases the speed of nerve conduction and increases pain. We worked through several major flare-ups together and eventually he acquired the skills to pull out of these flares on his own.

    We have become close friends and we now support each other. Not only is he doing well over four years later, he’s thriving. The cost of healing was negligible for him and society. The risk was zero. I feel privileged that I was able to give back what I learned through my own ordeal with chronic pain. Watching people connect with their own healing capacity continues to be a remarkable experience.

    Related posts:

    1. The Enlightenment Light and Judgment Mirror
    2. My Story of Hope
    3. Never Give Up – Breaking Through After Six Years
    Click#7 and Sita like this.

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