I will try anything – and I did!

I will try anything – and I did!

By Kerry Smith.

Several weeks ago, I described what was facing me in terms of a significant surgery that was sure to change my life. This article is a response to my decision at that time.

Your thoughts, prayers, advice, all of it, every bit of it, I thank this community for sharing with me. It has helped beyond words can say. The thoughts of another fusion surgery, this one even bigger than before, caused me to seek some second opinions on such an extensive surgery that I was facing. The evidence of a positive outcome to this kind of surgery was not positive. So, with this in mind, I cancelled the neurosurgeon appointment. Yep, thank you but no thank you. The long fusion, which was what was being proposed to me, would take 14 to 16 hours to do. I guess me being extra-long meant that my surgery would be extra-long! I talked to enough people who had experienced this kind of surgery and I put the brakes on it. Now understand that nothing in the physiology of my back has changed. You ought to see my discs above my cervical and lumbar fusions; they are a mess! Herniated, bulging, pushing, whatever you want to name it, they ain’t right!!! All of them, in one area or another, are pressing on nerves creating mind-blowing pain and I was willing to try anything, anything to help me survive other than another surgery. Seems I have tried most everything accept what a number of doctors are now suggesting for managing our pain.

Kerry Smith

I am already seeing a counselor that has helped me with my depression. He is also a hypnotherapist. I have been meditating for some time now even before going to this counselor and it has become beneficial. As my counselor was watching me limp in to his office, he said, “why don’t we try hypnosis to help you?” My initial thoughts were highly skeptical. Highly! But if I was not choosing the hack saw method to pain management and I was not getting more pain medicine, so what else was I going to do, right? So, I gave it a shot.

He gave me headphones that hat he had tuned to elevator music and I laid down on his couch with pillows under my knees. He then asked me to begin to breathe deeply and to count in my mind to 10 along with him and he would lead me to a place of a deeper consciousness. With each number, I could see myself walk down a flight of steps. 10, 9, 8, going ever so deeper, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and finally at my deepest point, 1. I was soon way relaxed, and having to work on allowing thoughts that would come flooding into one ear to go out the other ear. He then asked me to envision a way to keep the pain away from me, a barrier, something where I could push the pain away. For me, I saw a beach house that had a back deck overlooking the ocean. I could see the skies, grey and violent with rain and the waves of the ocean violently pounding the beach and the deck where I was sitting. I then constructed a dam, a barrier to the pounding waves which I associated with pain and placed the wall out in the ocean. Low and behold it stopped the waves. I then crawled back up on the deck and watched the waves stop at the wall, crashing and pounding, but not penetrating the wall. And now, as the pain was crashing, trying to come through, I envisioned the pain stopping at the wall.

Then slowly he led me back up the flight of mental stairs to a place where I slowly opened my eyes. When I was finished, I stood up and my pain level had dropped from a 7 or 8 to a 2 or 3. That is surely manageable, right? But wait I said, how in the world does that work? We talked about the significance of the mind in managing pain and that studies show people who are able to block out pain and live a relatively normal life. He recorded the session and I have it to listen to each day as I feel the pain trying to crash over or around the wall I built to keep the pain out and the results are so good, so far.

If you have not googled Hypnotherapy and Chronic Pain Management, I encourage you to do so. The Hypnotherapist session has been several weeks now and my pain levels are significantly lower. An author by the name of Dr. Herbert Benson was one of the first clinicians to discover the role of the mind in managing chronic pain. Many others have followed. He taught at Harvard Medical School and when he first proposed the power of the mind in healing, Most Harvard doctors practically ran him out on a rail.

My friends, doctors are not going to give us more pain medicine to help us manage our pain. In Shelby County Tennessee, there were over 15 pain clinics caring for pain patients. The DEA has closed 12 of them leaving 3 to manage a territory of over 3 million people. Many of those clinics are being investigated now for over prescription and using pain patients as cash cows for unnecessary procedures. My pain doctor said that licenses were being taken away left and right from pain management doctors and he was not going to lose his by what he described as over prescribing pain medicine.

I am not sure if Hypnosis is right for everyone. You all have buoyed me with your kind words and thoughts and prayers and that is quite significant and supportive in my pain management and I am grateful. I wanted to share something that has worked as I walk this path with you. My MRI shows a spine with significant stuff that is happening. I am not physically fixed by any means. Yet I have another tool in my pain managing tool box. I encourage you to explore the use of mindfulness, meditation, and even hypnosis as you and I live in this hell hole we have found ourselves in.

Editor’s Note: Kerry Smith is a former minister, a professional artist, and has suffered with chronic pain for over 15 years. He has lectured and written on the topic of chronic pain for several years. He is a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report.

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Authored by: Kerry Smith

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Anthony Moresi

Hi Kerry. I just came across your blog. I’m wondering if at any point you considered or are considering artificial disc replacement instead of more fusions. I had a lumbar fusion at L5-S1 in 2015 after to decompressions for herniated discs. I already had DDD at L4-L5 at the time of my fusion, but it was mild and asymptomatic. As you’ve described and experienced, my fusion has accelerated the degeneration at the level above my fusion. Not wanting a multi-level fusion I have consulted surgeons both in the US and in Europe about having an ADR instead of fusion. not sure but I suspect scoliosis is a contraindication for ADR surgery.

Kathleen Kaiser

I really don’t see how this is hypnotherapy. It sounds more like guided relaxation or guided meditation. It’s very similar to what I did years ago when i participated in biofeedback sessions. I got so good at it I was able to actually raise my body temperature. I am guessing if you can change body temperature then why not be able to reduce pain. I really need to get back into it.



Kerry, I am so glad you decided not to have the surgery. Research says it is a major CAUSE of chronic pain, and doctors are not trained on how backs work ie as one biokinetic system: ones posture and alignment from feet to top of head has to be in balance as all our muscles, fascia soft tissues work together as one system to hold us upright. However injuries, bad postural habits etc cause spasms and imbalances leading to pain, as can trauma of any kind. Think of it as your body will put muscles into spasm to try and protect your spinal cord by holding your spine as upright as it can because your spinal cord has to stay intact, it is part of your brain and keeps you alive.I would suggest to everyone with musculoskeletal pain to check they are wearing proper flat supportive shoes and their feet are aligned. An shoe cheaper than $100 probably won’t be good enough and ladies: ballerina shoes and high heels are the worst they cause injury and pain, I saw a new orthotist recently,and yes it cost £300 for a full assessment and diagnosis, a pair of custom made orthotics, and another 1 hour session to fit them to all my shoes. Unsuitable shoes she told me to bin. Within weeks the pain in my thoracic spine is down from an 8 to usually zero and sometimes up to 4. A great result!
Secondly in the UK There is a new paradigm in medicine which is that our central nervous systems cannot tell the difference between the mind/ emotional and the body. They are one and the same. That is why psychological stress makes pain worse and various techniques including Hypnosis can work well to reduce pain. In the UK psych techniques are,taught usually before any procedures are tried. Meditation, visualisation, trauma therapy which includes body work, and just building as much psycho social support into your lives gives a better outcome for chronic pain than any other modality. FINALLY SCANS X-RAYS Etc have been shown by many many studies to bear no relationship to pain experienced. There will be people with scans like yours Kerry that feel no pain.The genesis of pain states is so complex: chronic pain is a neurological condition and nerves and what’s happening in them don’t show on scans. They can be unnecessarily alarmist and misleading,

Sandy Miller

Alex, I’m so happy to hear you have found some relief, and I wish you all the best. My problem is that I had a hemorrhagic stroke in the right thalamus part of the brain in 2001 at age 53. As a result I have been fighting pain for almost 19 years because I suffer from a pain condition called Thalamic Pain Syndrome because of the hemorrhage being in that part of the brain. The thalamus is quite amazing in what all it does, it sends pain signal sensations, from the brain to the spine all day long. It works with the motor cortex sending messages and it’s difficult for me to explain . However, I was Blessed and fortunate in that I was diagnosed by a Neurologist at St. Louis University. He diagnosed me immediately and told me there was no cure for this condition, but medications might help keep the pain levels down. We experimented with many medications, and thru trial and error, I found some, Neurontin helped my face, my entire left side is affected, I tried several muscle relaxers for spasicity and Zanaflex does prevent me from throwing the remote across the room, I was put on and still take an antidepressant. I didn’t want an opioid even though I was told it would only be a break thru type, not 100% relief, but would help. A year later I tried it. I had Scoliosis that was progressing so fast in 2012, and I was bent over to my right side, and along with my Thalamic Pain, I also was in terrible pain in my spine. The Spine Surgeon said I would need surgery, or I was going to either be in a wheelchair the rest of my life or perhaps even paralyzed. My back was deformed. After turning him down 3 times, I decided I had to do something. During the testing for the spine surgery, they found I had a 90% blockage in my right coronary artery, so we had to put off the spine surgery and have stent surgery. I also have congestive heart failure, my mom had it also; In 2013 I had a posterior Spinal Fusion from T3 to L5-S1/Ilium with Decompression, Instrumentation, with rods and many 4″screws, they did a Transforaminal Lumber Interbody Fusion at my L4-5 and L5-S1 and multiple osteotomies, along with the grafts and Bone Morphengentic Protein. I am not bent over anymore, my back felt better for awhile, but I cannot walk now without horrific pain. I’ve had some falls since they cut the one pain pill, (2) 4 mg 3 times a day down to only 4 pills a day. I am 70 years old now, worked for 35 years as a legal secretary, my husband helps me so much. Cuts in pain meds is killing us.

Barbara Snow

I would love to try hypnotize therapy. However I’d it try to live in $700 a month. Right now I’m living with my in-laws and taking care of them, to avoid moving to a nursing home. In the past I have tried many eastern thing’s. I’m Minnesota they will pay for those. I’m in florida. If I loose my pain meds. I will have to depart from this planet. Good thing’s to all of us. 🙏


David Cole, hypnosis can cost around $100-150 a session, maybe higher depending on the area you live. Some hypnotherapists may charge you less per session if you agree to a set number. If you go 4 times a month that could quickly add up. If the person hypnotizing you is a psychiatrist or LCSW, insurance should cover the cost. I know of offices where a hypnotherapist works with a licensed practitioner and it may be covered that way. Try to find one where you will be taught self hypnosis. I just never was able to self hypnotize, usually became so relaxed I fell asleep, which isn’t a bad thing either.

We were taught to avoid clients that were in essence hypno junkies and this was in the 1990’s before drugs were the central topic. Funny thing is, I liked being hypnotized, it’s so relaxing I could have become a hypno junkie myself. You feel so relaxed and alert after the session. Personally saw nothing wrong with that. Please research anyone you see for hypnosis, especially for treating pain.


I completed a one year, pretty extensive hypnotherapy program. Agree hypnosis can be a valuable tool. Make sure the hypnotherapist is knowledgeable in medical hypnosis. Correct terminology, using phrases and words to bring the client (yes client, unless the therapist or physician is licensed to diagnose and treat the person, one is a client) down to a safe level, and in a place the client can visualiz.

I am also a pain patient. I can hypnotize, or used to, other people, however doing self hypnosis is something I could never accomplish on my own, required being hypnotized in person or via video or tape. As my pain increased and meds eventually stopped, hypnosis became a lost cause for me. Being hypnotized requires focus and concentration. A person does not go into a hypnotic state with the snap of your fingers or watching something being waved in your face telling you, you are getting sleepy. You don’t really sleep but delve into your subconscious by relaxing your whole body and yes, mind. That requires effort, something my pain will not let me achieve.

Hypnosis can indeed be a valuable tool in your pain tool kit. Think if I had kept it up over the years by doing self hypnosis it would probably work.


My pain started over 27 years ago in 199 and I tried hypnosis about 6 months after the accident and then again in 2001. For whatever reason, I didn’t get any relief. But it’s great to hear somebody has experienced success. Maybe there will be others who have success, as well! I sure hope so.

Lesly Pompy

Health insurance typically do not cover hypnotherapy.


To Kelly




Good Job


Bravo Kelly!!! It takes guts to say NO to a surgeon who’d proposed a procedure that was probably going to pay next years yaht club dues.
I too have made use of the hypnotic arts. To the point where I now use self hypnosis almost daily. Using one’s mind to battle one’s physical demons is as old as the Orient itself. The marshall arts teach above all control of the body through the mind. My attitude was that if it worked for Mr. Miagi and was thousands of years old that there might be something to it. Compartmentalizing pain is a great way to maintain mobility. Maintaining mobility itself helps alleiviate pain. Amazing stuff, this.

Amy Mosley

I am with you. I have tried I think everything possible
Pain meds
Nerve stimulator
Muscle stimulator
I will never try street drugs
But the only thing that works even a little is the pain meds together with all the rest
Except pot I hate that.
I wish someone would talk to me and get my story.


This entire pain management racket is a governmental ploy to deny care to chronic pain sufferers. Then why not just let the patients suicide? This life if spent in pain is not something I would want. As for addiction, give them the damned pain meds and shut up!


This technique may work for some people but it hasn’t worked for me. Like many people I’ve tried many procedures and medications over the years without success. In desperation I let a doctor implant a morphine pump in me and it was 5 years of pure hell! I had numerous complications. They couldn’t turn it up high enough to help my pain because I would get urinary retention. Then it would not deliver evenly. It would stop and start on its own, which put me into some degree of withdrawal everyday for 5 long years. I nearly went insane. I promised myself that I would never go through that again. I would die first. Then I found a really good kind doctor at a reputable pain clinic who removed the pump and put me on oral meds. I felt like I had my life back. I could function again. Nothing helps 100% but it was like night and day. What works for one person may be a disaster for another. Always be open to trying new things. Give them a chance. But we must still continue to fight for our rights to take medication that works. Make people take urine tests and pill counts. Keep track of us in a data base. Follow your doctor’s instructions. Abide by all the rules. Take your meds as directed. And never stop defending your right to have your pain managed and under control. All these tools can be used together to have the best life possible. God Bless you all.


Thank you for sharing Kerry. Seems we have a similar problem. My Neurosurgeon also said fusion was my last alternative. I think I’ll try hypnotic therapy. Especially since other forms of pain management is not working. I pray you find relief. Take care.


I tried “mind blocking pain therapy” 20 years ago. Just……could not get any relief. I will never be able to get past the hypocrites telling me how to “manage” 7.8 and above level continuous pain. I am a prisoner in my own shelter. What works for one patient does not work for all patients in regard to pain blocking “with the mind, thoughts”. The same with medication. What dosage of any type medication may not work well for another. Dot/gov paid ZERO attention to any patients success with medication and any personal therapy conceived by the patient to help manage insufferable pain. 90 mme SET for one and all moves us one step closer to tighter “crowd control” and control in EVERY aspect of life in this “free” country.


Bio-feedback, hypnosis, imagery, all help with pain if you are able to be open to it. Preacher I hear you. It worked for you.

But it won’t work for everyone nor will it work every time. There are times when you need prescription relief.

Perhaps things are changing a bit but I really doubt it. I wish I knew (OR anyone KNEW) why there is this witch hunt to outlaw the pain relief that works best but it is not what they say.

I hope this continues to work for you.

David Cole

Thanks for the info Kerry, your mind can do many wonderful things, even without hypnosis. I played around with several different mind techniques, and have been somewhat successful with some, however never reaching constant pain reduction. This really sounds interesting, I haven’t heard of hypnosis for pain in about 14 years of dealing with it. I’m going to see if there’s somebody in my area that does this on a regular basis. I can sure tell you fighting for pain prescriptions is really becoming a pain in the butt. It stresses me out so bad it makes my pain worse. There’s nothing I like better than telling my pain doctor he’s fired, this guy’s just been a real ass to me at times. I just wonder what the cost of hypnosis would be, I do not believe insurance is going to cover this, they haven’t covered anything else.
Best wishes