Brandy Gillmore: Could This Be The Missing Link to Your Health? at TEDxSantaBarbara (Transcript)

Brandy Gillmore – Mind/Body & Energy Expert

It’s early spring in March of 2005. I am lying awake in bed, I have been awake most of the night. Finally it’s morning, and I can see through a gap in the drapes that it’s dark gray overcast out. So, it must be around 7:30 because I can hear the sound of the gardeners outside unloading their equipment to cut the grass which also means that it must be Thursday because that’s when the gardeners come on Thursdays.

Years prior this would have been the time when I would have headed out the door off to start my workday, I did network engineering operations at the time, and I loved it. But in this day, going to work is the least of my concerns. Instead I struggle to make my way to the edge of my bed to get to my wheelchair because it’s time for me to take my morning medication. And even as I do this I’m still in disbelief that this is my life.

I mean I never thought I would be someone, who is injured or in a wheelchair, or using a cane or a walker to get around. Yet, it’s been like this for years. In and out of hospitals seeing teams of doctors, and yet one doctor after another says there is nothing else they can do for me. I’ve been given a whole list of illness including CRPS which is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome along with nerve lesions, spinal endplate fractures, spondylosis and a few other things that are painful and not fun to have.

They say that CRPS is one of the most painful chronic conditions that a person can have, and I can see why. Many times I’m in so much pain that I don’t want to move, or even breathe. It feels like there are razors and burning coals stuck throughout my body despite the fact that I’m on morphine every day. Since there is no cure for my condition, desperately I just started to look for anything. I start looking at chronic illness in general to see that there is something that others have done that I could possibly use to help my situation.

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But instead, I find the exact opposite, that about half of the US population currently lives with one or more medical condition, and worldwide about 1.5 billion people live with chronic pain. And I thought to myself, I felt bad for them, but I also thought if they can’t get out of that how am I ever going to get out of this. And that’s when it became very clear to me if I really wanted to get better, I needed to do something different.

On this particular Thursday morning I got my opportunity to do exactly that. One of the hospitals that I’ve been going to notifies me that they are doing a research study on a brand new procedure, and that I get to be a part of it. And I cannot believe it, I mean this is exactly that I always hoped and dreamed that it would happen that somebody would find some new cure, and that I would get my life back.

So, I’m just counting down the days up until this study. Just elated. And of course I’m also thinking, Please don’t get the placebo. Please don’t get the placebo. I want the real treatment. And so finally the day comes for me to go in. I wheel into the hospital. As soon as I get there the nurse, she wheels me back, and she starts giving me prep for this procedure. She gets me in the bed and starts hooking me up to machines to monitor my vitals. I’m just lying there so excited. I can’t wait to meet this doctor start this procedure, and get my life back.

And so finally the doctor, he walks in, but he’s not smiling. And he looks at me and says: “Ms Gilmore, I’ve reviewed your file, and I’d really, really love to be able to help you. But I’m sorry, you can’t be the part of this study. We don’t expect you to get better.” I don’t remember leaving the hospital that day, and I don’t remember what happened the next few days.

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The next memory I do have is I’m lying awake in my bed, my same bed, and I don’t even wan to open my eyes. I mean what’s the point. I can’t escape this pain, and I’ve tried everything. Every procedure, every nerve ablation every infusion, every injection every prescription medication and every, everything that I can find and yet still nothing is working. The thoughts that are going through my head are really dark, and I remember thinking I’m pretty sure this is what it feels like to lose your mind. And I just needed some type of hope that I could get better.

I’ve started thinking about everything that I’ve tried over the past couple of years, and the research experiment. And that’s when I started to realize: in any study there is a certain amount of people that can actually get better from just the placebo. And I realized that if I could figure out what exactly it was that made the placebo work, then there’s actually still a chance that I could possibly get better.

So I began to dig up everything I could find on the placebo, how it worked. And I began to study it. But then I came across something called “spontaneous remission,” where people would go into remission and heal for no particular reason at all. That made me start studying the mind and what made this happen. For years I spent researching the mind day and night, trying to figure out, trying different things. Through trial and error, I’ve eventually began to figure out key things that I could do with my mind that would affect my pain.

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