I was one of those people, (and I know that there are many out there), for whom, what started out as a disc problem went on to become something far more serious; that is to say a severely life-halting condition with no visible denouement. Those people will know all too well how the words 'back problem' and 'slipped disc', (being terms applied across a whole genre of complaints), just don't carry the weight to fully convey the profoundness of inexorable agony and despair that such a condition can bring. I use the term 'was' because I was lucky enough to find a resolution to a problem such as this, albeit after seven years of searching and suffering, and can well and truly say that my life is back on course once more. Call it luck or fate or whatever you like but life has a way, via a sequence of events, of leading us to places and people we weren't aware of, for purposes unknown, and I guess this unconscious wind was responsible for blowing me to the door of an expatriate Russian gentleman called Iouri Syromolotov, residing in a small rural satellite village of Granada in Andalucia, Southern Spain, who would prove to be the catalyst for this remarkable change in my circumstances.
The author (right) pictured with Iouri
In October 1990 I first suffered from a slipped disc, a sudden whiplash pain that shot up my spine and into my buttocks and had me instantly floored and unable to move. I had been doing something fairly unremarkable like lifting books up from the bed, but as I remember, I had a short time before been helping someone move house so this was probably the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. It wasn't diagnosed as such by the NHS but after some 6 weeks of bed rest I was told by an osteopath that that was the nature of my injury. By January it had pretty much resolved itself, but I wasn't to know at that time that my life was about to change inextricably. The problem re-appeared a year later just after I moved to my present house, this time bringing increased pain into new areas, namely my legs and neck, prolonged immobility and the onset of an oft-attendant depression, as the full implications of the restrictions this was imposing on my life began to hit me. To an active person like myself this was anathema. I had been a professional musician with a hectic schedule. I never worked again after 1991.
Some months later the whole thing happened again with far more ferocity and this time I hardly moved from the living room floor for seven months. I spent my days and nights there, eating, sleeping and mostly reading. I remember watching winter turn into spring and later into summer from the window of my lounge in Wimbledon. I was on such a cocktail of pain-killers and anti-inflammatory tablets that I could barely hold a conversation. This, together with reading the entire works of Dostoevsky among other things were probably the only reasons that I didn't go completely crazy, as I wasn't really aware of what was going on half the time. My poor long suffering girlfriend was though, and it must have been a nightmare for her. I lay there while I waited for a date for an operation to remove the offending disc (or part of it), as the problem wasn't righting itself and my GP didn't think there was any other recourse.
Looking back on it I sometimes wonder, and I'm sure some of the readers of this article will wonder too, why I let myself take all those pills and opt for the operation. All I can say is that at the time I wasn't at all well informed, indeed virtually all of my knowledge and understanding of what happened to me came later through the actual experience; apart from which I was desperate, the pain could be cruelly intense. Pain is a difficult thing to imagine vicariously, and when someone promises to relieve you of it you go for it.
I underwent the operation in October 93. It was another six months before I was fully mobile again, but my hoped-for liberation was to prove a mere chimera, as in March 95 the operation failed, heralding a slide into ever lengthening periods of immobility, (much of the following two years), continuous pain, dependence on handfuls of painkilling drugs, weight gain, depression and the complete loss of any quality of life. Further discs became displaced. My relationship fell apart.
By March 1997 I couldn't even make it to my kitchen, I couldn't sit for periods of longer than 20 minutes. Nobody, myself included could work out why it had become so chronic, and nobody could understand what I was going through. I have to say that I was scared and felt extremely alone. The thought of taking my own life was never far away. The NHS turned its other cheek to me after the operation, there was no come back, and attention was minimal and far between. I subsequently discovered that these operations have something like an 80% fail rate.
During all this time I tried osteopathy, chiropracty (50 appointments), faith healing, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, yoga, tens machines, aromatherapy, courses of pain management, massage, reflexology and even the advice of a shaman to little or no effect.
In April 1997 my current girlfriend Carmen heard about the existence of a Russian man, a Bio-energist called Iouri Syromolotov living near Granada in Southern Spain who had healed a paraplegic. We decided that it would do no harm to get in touch with him. Upon speaking to him on the phone he told us that he could help me. He said that he would start by taking away all of my pain in the first appointment! He would need to see me a total of nine times and that would be all; that the treatment would involve exercise as well his use of energy. With nothing to lose and thanks to the financial help of family and friends I made arrangements to see him in August (97).
Well Iouri fulfilled everything that he promised and more. He removed every trace of pain from my body in the first appointment and was the first and only person to diagnose the cause of the problem.
His office is situated on the first floor of a modern village house, the floors are marble and the walls simple, clean and white. The office is modestly furnished with a desk, three chairs and a bookcase containing Russian titled books; the only decoration being a landscape oil painting mounted on an easel and a crucifix on one wall. Iouri himself is an athletically built Russian gentleman, casually but smartly dressed, with no air of pretension about him, whose eyes solely betray a certain other-worldliness. He is at once friendly but firm in his manner and expects his patients to approach the treatment with an equal amount of seriousness and commitment.
In the first treatment as in those which followed, I sat and was asked to place my arm palm-upwards on his desk while he proceeded to hang an amber 'philosophical stone' over my palm. As it swayed he gazed at it and seemed to glean all of the information he needed about my physical and mental state. From now on whenever I would ask him a question he would consult this 'pendulum' before replying. He asked me if I knew what a fakirs' bed was and if I was averse to using one, I said yes and no without really thinking what this might entail.
He took me to an adjoining room furnished simply with a bed, a small cupboard and two chairs where I stripped to my boxer shorts and sat on the bed. He then placed something behind me which I couldn't see and taking me by the upper torso thrust me backwards onto a bed of thousands of small metal spikes. At first I couldn't believe the pain it was so intense. Movement was impossible because my entire back from my buttocks to my shoulders was impaled. He encouraged me to shout or scream if I needed to and told me that the pain would soon subside, and sure enough after a few minutes the pain of the needles in my back metamorphosed into a warmth and I became extremely comfortable and drifted into a semi-sleep. In subsequent sessions I would come to look forward to the bed of nails as on each occasion it became more pleasurable.
He stood over me and I could hear him moving his hands over me in the air and what sounded like noises emanating from his mouth. He then lifted me off the spikes, (my back was perforated like a colander but there was no blood). He asked me to turn over and indicate the points of pain on my spinal column. He moved his hands down my spine making some noises or mutterings and when he had finished did it again, this time though the same points were completely dead, there was not a trace of pain. We went back to the first room where he moved his hands in the air around me again. I couldn't believe it, I felt like I had been taken off the coat hanger I had been hanging on for the past seven years. I had no pain and could move freely. Subsequent sessions, (nine in total), pretty much went along the same sort of lines. He told me that now I had to work very hard to build up a new muscular structure through exercise. This constituted 90% of the treatment. I started with two sessions of 1/2 hour per day and now do up to 3 1/2 or 4 hours daily. This is hard work but if the condition has become as chronic as mine, and you really want your life back, you will do this.
I was extremely nervous at first about doing the exercise when I had been able to do so little without incurring pain, but I vowed to do what was necessary. Of course I got into problems during the course of the treatments, generating pain again through the exercise but Iouri made me work with it and never failed to remove any pain either at the next session or by telephone if it was severe.
An interesting point was that he diagnosed why I had slipped discs in the first place. Have you ever thought that all people who slip discs are just diagnosed as having simply that. No-one finds out why this has occurred. As my particular case stemmed from the softening of bones due to a lack of calcium, (hence the discs slipping), my treatment includes a diet supplemented by goat's milk, mounds of parsley (a rich source of calcium), lemon plus a lot of rice, vegetables and fish or chicken.
He told me, 'you should never have had the operation', and that the drugs I had been taking, 'were mere water with the effect of making one childish; purely addictive rubbish.' Perhaps the most incredible thing is that he made it clear to me that I can call him whenever I like if I have problems or intense pain, which I do if the need arises and he takes away any pain which I may incur through my intensive exercise regime by telephone. This is a generous gesture which means that if one gets into trouble on occasion, which inevitably happens, one feels protected.
Bio-energy is the term for the use of energy (cosmic energy, the energy flowing through the planet, call it what you will), to remove pain and bad energy which may be affecting the patient. He basically counteracts the negative energy causing the pain with positive. He told me that, 'I don't have power myself but am merely a receptor for this energy which I pass on to you.' The exercise is, in Iouris' own words '90% of the treatment' and depends entirely on the willpower of the patient. This is really the beauty of his treatment in that he treats you both on a spiritual level and as the piece of flesh and blood machinery that we all are, which is why I think it to be the consummate therapy.
November '98: I haven't taken a painkiller in a year, I have lost 24 kilos in weight, my facial features have returned to normal instead of the pain and drug-ridden grimace I have been wearing for as long as I can remember. I ride a bike, do anything I like and have applied for a place at Oxford University as a mature student. Iouri is a man of great integrity, patience and compassion, endowed with a great healing gift and many people, not just back pain sufferers, could benefit from his methods.
In the main treatment as in those which tailed, I sat and was made a request to put my arm palm-upwards around his work area while he continued to hang a golden 'philosophical stone' over my palm. As it influenced he looked at it and appeared to gather the majority of the data he required about my physical and mental state. Starting now and into the foreseeable future at whatever point I would make an inquiry to essay writers he would counsel this "pendulum" before answering.