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CHAPTER 7


THE JOURNEY OF THE WOUNDED HEALER


“Choose a job you love, 

and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Confucius



Those who pursue a career in the healing arts often do so after having been wounded themselves. It’s as though they get healed and then want to do the same for others. I received my wound at the age of 15. I had some vaccinations for typhoid and cholera. Within hours I was having a violent reaction that lasted two days. Within a couple of months I had diarrhoea that just wouldn’t stop. I went to the GP who prescribed medication but it just got worse. The pain was just unbelievable – it felt as if I was being stabbed in the belly repeatedly. When the bleeding started I was referred to a specialist. After some tests (which I would be in no hurry to repeat) I finally received a diagnosis. I had Crohn’s disease. This is a condition in which the gut wall becomes highly inflamed. My uncle Harry-boy’s daughter, Marion, died from a similar condition. 

I was put on medication (Sulfasalazine) that made no difference except that it turned my urine fluorescent orange. Some public urinals for men feature a long white ceramic trough. If I were at the high end of the trough, the other men would look down at the fluorescent orange liquid flowing past them and slowly look around as if to say, “What the hell have you been drinking?” Nobody ever actually said anything, though. After many months without any improvement my consultant, in apparent desperation, asked me, “Do you eat much sugar?” If you ask 100 teenagers if they get too much homework, 90 of them will say yes. Ask a 16 year old, “Do you eat much sugar?” and he’ll say no. I said no, but decided to cut out sugar just to see. My condition completely healed in weeks. I subsequently read a book about sugar called, Pure, White and Deadly, which described the effects of sugar on our health. This really awakened me to the fact that health and disease are largely determined by what we do in our lives, rather than being predetermined. It also made me wary of doing anything that would damage my health again – good preparation for a career in the rock business. Six months later I was interviewed at medical schools. My negative experience with health and disease drew me away from that path at the time, so I went into the music business instead. I don’t know if I would have ended up working in natural medicine if it were not for that illness.

According to the spiritual writer, Henry Nouwen; ‘The Wounded Healer's own wounds are profoundly important to the healing process. They provide an awareness of the pain, torment, and confusion underlying any affliction.’

Anyone who is involved with healing in any way must be aware of the inextricable link between the body and the mind. Norman Cousins (1915 – 1990) pioneered a great deal of the research on this. He was a journalist, editor, peace campaigner and also a wounded healer. However, I will always remember him as the father of Psychoneuroimmunology, which is the study of the ways in which the mind can influence the workings of the body. At the age of ten, Cousins went into a sanatorium for tuberculosis. Whilst there he observed that the inmates fell into two distinct groups: those who were waiting to die and those who were trying to escape. These escape artists had a much better survival rate. 

Thus, at the tender age of 10, the seeds were planted of an awareness that what goes on in your mind can influence your physical health. At 49 years old, Cousins’ joints were rapidly degenerating. He was diagnosed as having ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic, inflammatory arthritis and autoimmune disease with various complications. He was given a one in five hundred chance of surviving. Whilst lying in a hospital bed he noticed something very peculiar. When he laughed long and hard, his pain would diminish and he would get two hours of restful sleep before the pain returned. He acquired a projector and started watching comedy movies like those of the Marx Brothers. This helped his condition but disturbed the other patients, so with his doctor’s agreement, he moved to a hotel room. This resulted in two changes – better sleep and smaller bills. His condition improved and he came back to health, surviving over 20 more years. He later developed ‘The Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology’ at UCLA. One of the most profound statements he ever made was: ‘Words can kill and words can heal.’ I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve wished that all health professionals would pay heed to those words. So much damage is done to patients by the words of doctors. A common example is, “It might be cancer.” Such a statement can not only cause immense distress to the patient, as well as their family, but also physical damage in the body. I feel that there’s absolutely no point in discussing cancer with the patient unless there’s reasonable evidence for it. 

Talking of wounded healers, my old friend Nasty Suicide surprised everyone by making a transformation not unlike my own. He is now a qualified pharmacist. He still plays music, as he’s a gifted guitarist. I was delighted to hear that he is happy and settled as he used to get a bit wild at times.


*


My first clinic was such a big success that I had to bring my brother Bryn in to help me run it. We decided to open another one but we had different ideas about it. He felt that we should duplicate our success by opening a similar place in a similar area, which would, we predicted, be successful. I had some sympathy with this view but I had been to Liverpool St station, which is situated in the Golden Mile, the one square mile in the centre of London where more money passes through than in any other city in the world, as it’s the banking centre of the whole planet. I stood outside Liverpool St station in the rush hour one morning and watched a quarter of a million people emerge to go to work. I found out there were very few chiropractors within that square mile and that this was therefore a golden opportunity. 

Property prices are understandably very expensive in that area but the economy was in recession, which meant that there were good deals to be had. I found a terraced house, five storeys high, which was quite big enough for a clinic but it was very run down with terrible décor and a leaking roof. The owner was 94 years old and told me that he didn’t want to do a deal of more than five years duration, which was understandable. I said I would refurbish the building at my own expense but I wanted to pay £5,000 per year in rent, with the first six months rent-free. A crazy offer had worked for me last time so why not try again? The owner accepted. 

Bryn and I compromised by going for both options. We eventually bought a clinic in Finchley, North London and opened the one in the square mile in 1996. I got my friend Mickey Daltry, who is a builder, to refurbish the building, including a new roof, for £30,000. Thus I was paying in effect £52,500 for five years, the equivalent of just over £200 per week. When the five years were up, I had to pay the market rent and was told by the new landlords that it would be £1500 per week a 787% increase. At that point I sold the business. It is perfectly possible for a well-run clinic to pay £1500 per week rent but I have found in business that low overheads take the stress away. 

Running three clinics was certainly very stressful. I now realise that running two clinics creates three times the stress of one and three clinics cause five times the stress of one. When I told this to my friend Sally Middleton, she immediately responded, “That’s the same as children”. Soon after opening the three clinics I met Dr Chuck Gibson from California who taught me all about systems in a chiropractic clinic and also a great deal about chiropractic philosophy. After spending time with Chuck and his colleague, Dr Jay Morgan, I understood very clearly why utilising the body’s own healing power is so much better than trying to control the body with drugs. Chuck has been a long term friend and mentor to me. 

New patients come to me from all sorts of different sources. Driving home from a night out I had a call on my mobile phone. A man’s voice said,

”Is that Terry Chimes?”

“Yes.”

“Is it the Terry Chimes that used to play for The Clash?”

“Yes.”

“This is the singer.”

Of course it was Joe Strummer because there’s nobody else in this world that would start a conversation like that. He went on to say that a close friend of his was in serious trouble with his back and wanted to know if I could help him, which I eventually did.

Denis the dog was getting old and finding it hard to get on his feet. I tried everything I could but he was just worn out. The day came when I had to take him to the vet to put an end to his suffering. I took him there, said goodbye to that amazing little character with whom I’d shared the last sixteen years of my life, got back into the empty car and drove home. I’ve had some tough jobs in my time but that was the toughest.


LOOKING AFTER BUSINESS

My constant urge to help other people get better had resulted in my becoming a practitioner, but there was another way to help people, to which, I inevitably gravitated. Having been very successful in running a business, I had lots of calls for help from people who were struggling with making their businesses work. Initially these were other practitioners but later they were coming in from all sorts of companies. I formed a business club, which has been running for a few years now. We meet monthly and exchange ideas. We also support and help one another, as running your own business can be a very lonely life.

Looking back at the early days when work as a musician was scarce, I used my imagination and thought about how I could market my skills. I decided the way to market myself was to teach people to do what I do, which was playing drums. I developed a syllabus, sound-proofed a room in my house, and advertised. I quickly found a large number of people who were happy to pay for lessons. One of the problems with being an active musician is that you can never do a ‘proper’ job, because you are always being called away to perform in different countries. The beauty of this situation was that the students didn’t mind me disappearing on tour for weeks. In fact, they liked it, because they felt they were being taught by somebody who was the real deal. As soon as I got comfortable in my new teaching role, I looked for a way to raise my game further. 

It occurred to me that all my students were continually spending money on replacement consumables: drumsticks break, drum-skins wear out, and so on. I therefore decided to become a supplier of these items; after all, I already had the customers. I simply needed to expand the range of services I provided. I purchased the stock wholesale and had virtually no overheads. As a result, with only a small amount of extra work, I had doubled my income from the teaching. As soon I got comfortable with the new role of teacher and supplier, I needed to find a new way to raise my game. I decided to film an instruction video called Tricks Of The Trade. It was intended to show young up and coming drummers all the skills I had learned the hard way. I got it reviewed by the music press and put it on the market. 

The point is that by using your imagination and aiming higher you can usually go further. Incidentally, this was the first project that I carried out in partnership with my younger brother Bryn.

It was a similar story in my chiropractic career. I set up a clinic, that became a big success, and as I’ve recounted, I decided to hire some associate chiropractors to work with me, because with only one pair of hands there is a limit to how many people you can see. We soon filled up the building we were in and so I opened two further clinics in other parts of London. This taught me how crucially important it is to adequately train and manage your staff. By 1999 I had three chiropractic clinics in London and 26 staff. I couldn’t manage all of this by myself but for some time my brother Bryn had been helping me. He is much better with details than I am. We have often joked that I would be in prison by now if it weren’t for Bryn sorting out tax and legal matters. We have since embarked on many other projects together, along with my older brother John, since I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have the same mother as me!

Having faced these challenges and overcome them, I was getting too comfortable again. I decided to set up another company to consult with chiropractors and teach them how to run their clinics. Within one year, we’d become Europe's largest chiropractic consulting company, reaching fourteen countries. Next I realized that dentists face many of the same challenges as chiropractors, so I brought them into the program as well. We got so busy that it was difficult to find enough time. Then the Internet came to the rescue – we put everything online so people could do the seminars in their own time without leaving the house. As I started to get comfortable with consulting and lecturing, I found myself in need of a new challenge, which you will hear about later in this chapter. You may wonder why I don’t ever appear to stop when I get comfortable, but for me it is the challenge that is exciting and there is no challenge in being comfortable. 

As you look at people who have achieved what you want to achieve, you may find yourself asking the question, “What have they got that I haven’t got? Are they better looking, more intelligent, or better educated than me? Perhaps they are just luckier than me.” As someone who has coached hundreds of individuals, I can tell you that the difference is usually none of the above. The real difference is how they go about doing it. The whole world is littered with people who have great talent but didn’t fulfil their potential. In a strange way, great gifts and talents can be a hindrance when you are young, because they get you into the habit of not trying very hard. Persistence, hard work and focussing on the outcome, not the obstacle, is what sets successful people apart. Whenever a person says, “I can’t do that”, they are closing a potential door to success. When I coach people, I can show them what is possible, I can make the steps as easy and small as possible, and I can write down on paper the results they will achieve. What I can never do is step into their shoes and do it for them. When I start coaching a new client I can rapidly identify how far they will go by their willingness to change and their persistence in pursuit of excellence. 

I have given hundreds of seminars and had lots of funny experiences. I’ll share here my favourite one. We once threw a post-seminar party at the Renaissance hotel at Heathrow Airport, London. I walked into the hall quite early on to find that there was a DJ, about 15 men and no women. Some of the seminar attendees said to me, “Terry, where are all the girls?” I said, “Don’t worry, there will be plenty of girls along soon.” Five minutes later the hotel duty manager came to see me. He said, “I really need your help.” I couldn’t imagine what he wanted. He said, “We have 300 air stewardesses upstairs in a party. The sound system is broken and we can’t fix it. Is there any way that you could let them join your party?” I said, “OK, send them down here, but you owe me a favour!” I went over to the same guys and said, “I’ve ordered some girls for you.” They gave me a puzzled look and one of them said, “How many?” I casually replied, ”About 300.” They all burst into laughter and then another said, “So when will they get here?” I replied, ”In about ten minutes.” This was followed by even more laughter and one of them said something about me having an overactive imagination. I then sat down to watch their faces as, sure enough, 300 young women who were dressed up to the nines, walked in. Naturally, when the guys asked me how I’d done it, I told them that it was an old trick I’d learned in the music business.

In 2002 I had an idea for the chiropractic seminars. I planned to have around 300 drums in the hall and invite the seminar attendees to pick up one each and play. I could lead the session and have them all bashing out simple rhythms. I was confident this would work as so many people have told me how they would love to have a go at bashing a drum. I called up Darren, an old friend at Remo drums, and put the idea to him. There was a long pause. He eventually said, “Are you taking the Mickey?” I was a bit surprised and asked what he meant. He said, “We had this idea about ten years ago and we thought you would be the ideal person to do it. We asked you and you said you weren’t interested. Now you come back and tell me you’ve got a great idea!” Apparently they had been staging these ‘Drum Circles’ all over the world. I had no memory of that conversation but it would have been around the time I was taking two sets of final exams, so there would have been no way at that time. Darren was kind enough to help me get the 300 drums and it went very well. My main memory of that time is that the guys with big egos found the biggest, loudest drum they could get their hands on and the shy ones found the smallest instruments.


DR TERRY’S ANECDOSAGE

Over the years I have treated lots of celebrities, especially musicians, but also top athletes, footballers, boxers and actors. I have never made any effort to go out and find celebrity patients. They just seem to find me. It’s as though, because I have been in the public eye, they think I will be more appropriate for them than another chiropractor. Lots of doctors and therapists actively seek out celebrity patients and they feel this gives them kudos. I personally prefer to treat Mrs Jones around the corner as, having been around lots of famous people, I tend to see them as no different from anyone else. 

My brother, John, had his tonsils removed when he was nine years old. Just before going down for the operation my father explained to him what was going to happen but missed out the grisly details. He said, “You will go to sleep and when you wake up we will all be here.” John replied, “I won’t wake up”. My mother instantly said, “Lets get him out of here.” My father insisted that it went ahead. When he got home he found that they had bought him lots of lovely toys to make up for the ordeal he had been through. I distinctly remember thinking, “Wow – getting ill is really good – you get toys”. I didn’t go down that path but I have met numerous people who clearly did and for whom being ill appear to be their main reason for living. That childhood experience showed me clearly how this could start.

Several years ago, a delightful eighty-something Irish lady was referred to me with a shoulder problem. She was visiting London for a week and had high hopes of me curing her as other family members had recommended me. When asked to raise her arm above her head she could only move the arm a few inches from her body. This is not a good sign. I X-rayed her shoulder and was disappointed to see that not only was the joint worn out but the wear and tear had been going on so long that what had started as a ball and socket looked like one solid piece of bone. It would be very difficult to get even a few more degrees movement. I worked on her shoulder as best I could and told her to come back the next day. I expected her to tell me it was no different, whereupon I would reply that we had done our best but since there was no improvement we wouldn’t charge her a penny and that would be that. 

When she came in I asked her how her shoulder was and she pronounced with a big grin that she was cured and raised her arm fully above her head. I assumed this was the other shoulder so I asked her to raise the other arm. She raised the other arm above her head and said, “Oh, this one has always been fine, this one was the problem,” and raised both arms above her head. At that moment you could have knocked me over with a feather as I was quite certain that what I was witnessing was impossible. As she was leaving she quipped, “My doctor told me it was incurable but my family assured me you could do it”. I felt rather sorry for her doctor at that point. That case, along with numerous similar cases, taught me never to allow my conscious mind to put a limit on the body’s ability to heal itself. 

On another occasion an elderly patient once came in telling me how severe the pain was and how she had tried this and that to no avail. She said she had tried a vibrator but that didn’t help either. I am 99% certain she meant a mechanical massaging device but it can be hard to keep a straight face at times.

One Saturday a man I had known for years heaved himself into the consulting room like Quasimodo. I think he had overdone some work in the garden and was really feeling the effects. He said to me, “I know this is ridiculous but I have to play golf tomorrow because I’m the captain. If you can get me to just walk around the course, albeit in pain that would be great.” I told him I would do my best. He came back the next Monday morning looking decidedly more comfortable. I cautiously asked how he had got on. He broke into a big smile and said, “I won the trophy.” Apparently he felt much better but was so worried about the problem recurring that he swung his club over a much shorter distance. The result was the ball travelled in a straight line, and with his handicap, he got the best score. I have had a great deal of fun with golfers over the years because as soon as they realise that chiropractic improves their golf score they become far more diligent in attending their treatments and doing their exercises. Even Tiger Woods swears by chiropractic treatment!

The wonderful thing about chiropractic is that in most cases we are able to give patients good news rather than bad news and improve their quality of life. Obviously this is not so in 100% of cases. I remember seeing a patient who was forty years old and a fitness maniac. His time was equally divided between karate and squash. He was experiencing a mild dull pain in his hips and pelvis. When I looked at his x-rays my heart sank, as both his hips were completely worn out. They would need replacements and this would be the end of his karate and squash careers. I will never forget his face when I showed him the x-ray. He was so disappointed and upset. I am one of the most positive people you are likely to meet but even I was unable to say anything to make this man feel better. I have often been asked if over-training can damage hips. There is a great deal of argument about this in the medical world but I am a firm believer that long-term over-indulgence in high impact exercise causes irreversible damage. Having said that, doing no exercise is about the worst thing you can do for your health, approximately on a par with eating light bulbs.

I’m often asked why I don’t get sick and tired of listening to patients moaning about their problems. The simple answer is that I have to do that because it’s who and what I am. The urge to help and heal others is extremely strong in me. I only really feel like me when I’m helping someone. I especially like that first conversation with a new patient when they tell me what their problem is and how it has blighted their life. It brings up in me very powerful feelings of compassion, along with the urge to solve the problem.

When I see a new patient for the first time, I always put down my pen and look at them, inviting them to tell me all about their problem. So often the patient will remark, “It’s so nice to be listened to for a change”. This is because most doctors don’t do it. They are afraid that the patient will keep on talking for hours. As someone who has done this literally thousands of times, I can tell you that the patient will talk for an average of 45 seconds and then stop. They then get a happier expression on their face, their body becomes more relaxed and they allow you to direct the conversation. If the doctor interrupts the patient after 10 seconds, the patient becomes uncooperative and the consultation becomes longer and less productive. In fact with any human relationship, I have found that the best way to get others to listen to you is to listen to them. 

I saw a lady in her 50s as a new patient. She’d had back pain for the last 30 years and had never been offered any treatment apart from pain-killers – a depressingly common presentation. The detailed history-taking revealed nothing remarkable or traumatic. I examined her thoroughly and found the biomechanics of her spine and pelvis to be very peculiar so I took some x-rays and arranged to see her the next day for the results. When I looked at the x-rays, I thought someone must have slipped some hallucinogenic drug into my tea. She had about 6 major fractures in her pelvis, which had healed up in mostly wrong positions to give the most extraordinary zig-zag appearance that did not make any sense. Now it is not unusual for a patient to forget about a car crash or a fall down the stairs so I expected her to come in the next day and say something like “Oh, yes. I forgot to tell you my parachute didn’t open!” 

To my astonishment she said, “No, I have never had any kind of accident, car crash, fall or anything else of that nature.” Then she remembered one omission from the case history she’d described the day before. In her twenties she’d had an extremely rare disease called Guillan-Barre syndrome. This is a viral infection of the nervous system that causes complete lack of feeling that starts in the feet, creeps up the body, stops somewhere and then slowly moves back down the body. While the person is in the middle of this they can feel absolutely nothing in the affected area. She had long ago forgotten about having this disease but she did remember being in a hospital bed for many weeks. She also recalled that she had fallen out of the bed onto the hard floor several times. When the nurses came to pick her up and put her back into bed she had told them she was fine because, of course, she could feel no pain. Clearly she had fractured her pelvis many times and the bones had healed in whatever position they had been lying. The good news is that we managed to get rid of the pain that had plagued her for many years. Incidentally, Guillen Barre Syndrome is so rare that the average doctor is likely to see only one case in their entire career and many have never seen one. I have seen seven so far – the odds of that happening must be somewhat similar to winning the Lottery.

I once treated a lady called June, a very independent tough person that didn’t have much time for doctors of any description, but she had been nagged by her husband to see me about her migraines. She’d had them for decades and had given up on all the pills that had never worked. As soon as I put my hands on her neck I realized I could almost certainly help her because it was so very stiff and tense. After a few weeks of treatment her migraines had gone. To the casual observer this would be a nice but unremarkable story but I’ve always said that your health affects everyone you know and everything you do. I saw her husband sometime later. He was an old-fashioned straight-to-the-point kind of man but he astonished me when he looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you for giving me back the girl I married.”

A patient will often ask me whether they should have surgery or come and see me instead. Many such people are looking for a guarantee either from the surgeon or from me. Of course, when it comes to health, none of us are able to give a cast-iron 100 % guarantee – all we can do is explain the risks and benefits of each approach and let them make their own informed decision. Norman is a retired GP I have known for years. He asked me whether chiropractic or surgery would be the best option. I explained the risks and benefits of both approaches and said that I was happy to treat him but as for the surgical option it was his decision. He came back in the following week and said, “I’ve decided to have the operation – it’s nothing against you but I feel that it is the best choice for me. I’m having the operation next Wednesday.” I said I respected his decision and would be happy to treat him as and when needed. On the Wednesday, the day of his operation, I was happy to see Norman standing in Reception with a big smile on his face, saying “I’ve changed my mind.” We have managed to keep him active and relatively pain-free for many years since.

I saw another patient in the same situation. He was a cartoonist with the largest newspaper in London. He had a couple of treatments with me and then decided to go with the surgery instead. Round about the day of his surgery a friend showed me the newspaper. There was a cartoon with a patient in a back surgery ward, the nurse was saying to the patient, “You’ve received a card from your chiropractor.” The card had an image of a raised hand with the middle finger pointing up. Apparently anything that happens in the life of a cartoonist ends up in one of his cartoons. 

Lots of people are surprised to see chiropractors treating young babies and children. They are also surprised to see us treating people in their late 90s. They may have seen a rugby player being hauled around the bench like a sumo-wrestler and assume that we behave in a similar way with a 90-year-old and a newborn baby. Clearly all these patients have very different requirements. Many people have asked me why on earth a baby would need treatment. The answer is that if a baby gets pulled from the womb by a pair of forceps, the forces involved on those tiny delicate joints are the equivalent of you suffering a severe whiplash. If your baby is crying and screaming all day and all night, it may be the baby from hell but it is far more likely that the baby is in pain and needs help. The good news is that babies respond incredibly quickly. 

I see an endless succession of women in their late 30s or early 40s who have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant. It seems that if conditions are not ideal then getting pregnant is very difficult. Non-ideal conditions can range from emotional stress, chemical toxicity or the mechanical issues in a person with a bad back. The aim is always to find the stress and try and relieve it. There can never be any guarantees with this although a large number of patients have exclaimed, “You made me pregnant!” – an old joke that always makes me laugh. 

I’ve always encouraged pregnant women to get their backs in optimum condition before the birth, in order to make it easier. Upon hearing this, most of them ask for a written guarantee. The fact is that if you go into labour with a back that is weak, sore, inflamed and largely immobilized, you are quite likely to be laying there for 40 hours or more screaming your head off. On the other hand, if the muscles of your back are strong and well toned and each joint is moving like a well-oiled machine the birth is likely to last about two hours (this is an average of my patients over the last 20 years). Last year we set a new record with a birth in 45 minutes but I’m still aiming for the elusive 30-minute birth. I am of course never going to give birth myself but I just can’t bear the thought of all those unfortunate women screaming in pain for 40 hours when they don’t have to. 

I have some patients that I have been treating for 20 years and obviously we get to know each other very well. They will often discuss issues or problems with me – not just because there may be health implications but simply because we have become good friends. Diane was a senior government official who I’d known for many years. She announced one day that she was thinking of taking early retirement but was not sure about it. She told me that if she retired she would be able to look after her mother who had cancer but would probably live several more years. I always try to be as helpful as possible so I asked a few key questions. I said, “Do you like the job?” 

She replied, “No, I hate it.” 

I said, “Could it get better?” 

She said, “No, it’s getting worse because of the cut-backs.” 

I said, “Can you afford to live on the pension you will receive?” 

She replied, “Very easily.” 

I said, “I’m sorry if I’ve missed something here. There seems to be lots of reasons to do this and absolutely no reason not to do it.” 

She said, “The thing is, once I close that door I can never go back.” 

I replied, “You can never go back to a job you hate which will get worse and where you don’t need the money – I suggest you resign today!” 


She did that and has been very happy since and was able to spend many precious hours with her mother. It’s so often the case that people already know the right answer when they ask for your advice but they need to hear it from someone else. 

So often I am asked the question, “Is it my age?” Actually, the problems I see in patients are more often caused by lifestyle than age. I was concerned about my own spine after seeing so many people much younger than me with severe degeneration. I got one of my associates to X-ray my spine which I’m delighted to say is in almost perfect condition. I remarked to my girlfriend, “I have the spine of a 25-year-old.” She replied, “Yes, and the brain of a 12-year-old.” I was quite happy with that. A patient once came in saying, “I’m depressed today.” I asked the reason and he said, “It’s my sixty-fifth birthday.” 

I said, “That’s alright, the older you get, the happier you get.”

He said. “Is that true?” 

“It’s been proven.” I replied. 

He said, “Can someone tell my wife.” 

The reason people get happier (on the average) is that when you are twenty, you worry about what people think of you. When you are forty, you don’t care what they think of you, and when you are sixty, you realise that they weren’t thinking about you in the first place. 

Brenda has been my patient for many years. She’s the sort of person who has an extremely active life with complete disregard for her advancing years. However, she did tell me recently that she had decided to stop riding her horses because, although she was quite capable of riding them, in the event of falling off she might do more damage, as she was getting older. I was in typical male problem-solving mode so I suggested she should try riding an ostrich instead because if she fell off she would be nearer the ground and would do less damage. Keeping a straight face she said she would consider it. On her next visit she produced a photograph of her riding an ostrich. She told me with a glint in her eye that she had taken my advice. The photograph had of course been taken many years earlier on safari but she couldn’t resist getting one up on my leg-pulling. 

Sometimes I take on too much and tend to ignore those who say you should cut down and not do too many things.  There was a time that I moved out of my flat on the Thursday, putting everything I had into storage. The next day I flew to Fiji for a week long course. I arrived back the following Friday, moved into a new flat on the Saturday and rushed off to a seminar in Paris on the Sunday. All was well until I arrived in Paris and my neck completely seized up. There were sharp pains in my head and I could not move. I needed a chiropractor desperately but the seminar was nothing to do with chiropractic and I couldn’t find one. In desperation I got into a taxi and drove around trying to find a chiropractic clinic. Eventually, I found one – a very nice man called Francis. He was Canadian, which meant he spoke English, and furthermore, he was working for an old friend of mine called Phillipe Delite. Francis expertly adjusted my neck and the relief was so wonderful that I would gladly have paid him £1,000. I was delighted years later to meet Francis at many of my chiropractic seminars.


NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE NUMBER 4 

I met a very attractive girl at a party in America. After relentless pursuit I persuaded her to take me back to her apartment. We were sitting on a very nice roof terrace on a beautiful summer evening when the front door downstairs slammed. She jumped up like a scalded cat and told me to jump off the roof, as it was her boyfriend arriving. I looked down at the 20 foot drop and told her that wasn’t going to happen and that we would have to deal with this guy. She gave me an incredulous look and calmly said,” He carries a gun and he’ll shoot you”. In England we are not used to people having guns. I looked down. The ground didn’t seem as far away as it had before. I clambered over, got a foothold on an alarm box and jumped the remaining fifteen feet with knees bent, springing like a cat. I actually managed this without any pain or problems. As I was walking away, she opened the window and shouted down, “It’s ok, it was the guy in the apartment next door, so you can come up again if you want”. I suddenly remembered I had a previous engagement. 


*

I entered the 21st century with a bang – actually thousands of bangs. I was on the beach in Rio de Janeiro for a New Year’s Eve party. The fireworks were amazing and we partied until dawn to see in the new millennium. Only months before, I had started a consultancy to train various doctors how to be successful in practice. They were coming from all over Europe to attend our seminars. This trip was my payback for all the hard work. Shortly after returning to London I got a phone call from my Mother. She told me that my father’s speech had “gone funny”. I got round to her in ten minutes. My father looked happy and healthy enough but he was speaking in a completely unintelligible way. I knew immediately that this was a stroke. We called an ambulance and they got him straight to the hospital. He came out of hospital some days later but with only partially recovered speech. We worked hard on trying to restore his speech but it was a hard battle. There was no problem with his attitude – he didn’t have that reluctance to try that is so common with stroke victims. He just couldn’t do it. The man who could do anything had finally reached his limits. His health further deteriorated and he had to go back into hospital. It was very difficult to see such a proud and independent man in that situation. I would go to visit at 7 am and find him asleep. Not wishing to wake him I would have to leave after 30 minutes without having spoken a word to him. 

One day the nurses accidently cut him several times whilst shaving him. This enabled me to step in. I got the best shaving gear available and shaved him myself – very gently and carefully. This was therapeutic for me and, although he couldn’t say so, I knew that my dad liked it. It reminded me of when he used to get me to cut his hair when I was a teenager. Eventually he slipped into a coma from which he never recovered. I was the last one to see him alive. We had pre-arranged that if he should die in the night the nurses would call my brother and he would call me. He called me at 4 am and we arrived together at the family home before 5 am. I paused before ringing the doorbell, aware that the instant I rang, my mother would know her husband of fifty years had died.

But there was no use putting it off. Days later the funeral came. My brother John bravely made a speech. I told him beforehand that if he couldn’t do it then I would step in. In the event he did it very well and I knew then I couldn’t have – I was too upset. When a family of five loses someone it leaves such an enormous hole. With time we all got over it and settled down. It was soon after that that I had my life-changing spiritual experience in Brazil (see next chapter). I sometimes wonder if that huge loss helped me in some way to get to the point of that experience. The spiritual transformation certainly helped me get over the loss of my father. 


*


When it comes to health and disease, there are some things that defy explanation. Here’s an example of one of them:

In 2004, I went to a very remote part of Brazil to see a healer who incidentally describes himself as a non-denominational Christian. It wasn’t that I needed any healing myself, I have mostly been blessed with very good health, which I am very grateful for. I read about this healer who saw up to 2,000 patients a day and I couldn’t understand how anyone could do that. My research unearthed both positive and negative stories and I resolved that the only way to know for sure was to go and see for myself. I took a plane to São Paolo, then another to Brasilia, then a bus to the middle of nowhere and then a cab even further to my destination. This place truly was in the middle of nowhere. 

One thing I found amusing about the place was that most of the deliveries were by horse and cart but they had a newly installed speed camera in the High Street. The healer’s name was João de Deus. While I was waiting to go in on the first day, an American said “Hello’” to me and then apologised as he thought I was someone else. The same thing happened with two more Americans. It seemed I had a striking resemblance to one of their party. Finally, the wife of the man approached me and said,” I can’t believe it, you look just like my husband.” To which I replied, “You’re a very fortunate woman”. When I finally met my doppelganger, it turned out that he was also a chiropractor. He had come for treatment for polyps in his nose. When he reached the front of the queue, the healer put a pair of scissors up the nose of the chiropractor and ripped out the whole bunch of polyps, which had the appearance of a string of peas. A profuse amount of blood poured out of his nose, the healer pinched his nose and put his head back. When we came out of the healing place I asked him about the pain that must have caused. He told me there was no pain whatsoever, merely the taste of blood at the back of this throat. I asked him repeatedly over the next few days how the healing was proceeding and each time he told me that he felt no pain at any time. 

The healer performed many other such operations and none of the patients had any anaesthesia yet didn’t feel any pain. I didn’t expect – nor did I find out how the healer did his work. I just needed to know if he was genuine, as it seems there are a great many healers who are not. I concluded that he was the real thing and had a gift that is, at the present time, entirely inexplicable in scientific terms. 

Looking back on my time in the music business it seems to me that when I desperately tried to create a hit record I invariably failed. When I was simply concentrating on making the best music I could, I usually succeeded. It now occurs to me that this applies in life generally, not just in the music business. If a doctor spends all his time and energy in trying to get people better he will tend to have a successful practice, whereas if making money is uppermost in his mind, he will tend to struggle. This brings us to the need to have a moral compass in life. If you are wondering why I seem to survive all these near-death experiences and why I seem to meet just the right people at the right time, you may find some clues in the next chapter.

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