When meeting Anna Tostrup Worsley, you would never believe she has overcome severe chronic pain and is living with a fractured spine, rheumatoid arthritis, and whiplash. Deemed by her doctors to be a hopeless case after two traffic accidents and three failed spinal surgeries, she was excluded from working life and placed on disability. She was 29 years old. When the doctors told her there was nothing they could do for her, Anna decided to try any means to activate her body’s own healing system.
While hospitalized in her home country Norway, with severe pain and complications from wrong medication, Anna was so weak that she could not walk or even lift a glass of water. All other systems had failed her, and she finally managed to turn within to find the answers to her healing process. In meditation, she discovered a vibrant rythmic energy that seemed to dance through her body, and she realized this energy was capable of healing her from within if she only let it.
”It was like coming out of a coma. The intense pain that had been governing my life for 12 years was gone, I could see, hear and feel again. Just being able to be present in my body without pain was a strong spiritual experience.” explains Anna.
After only three days of working with this energy, Anna was able to stand, walk with a powerful stride, and even dance! Dancing seemed to be the ultimate way to let the energy work, and systematically combining dance, meditation and deep breathing techniques, the young woman quickly regained strength. With graceful movements, Anna showed the baffled physiotherapist a body that seemed transformed from within in only a few days.
She stopped taking medication and tried to explain what she was experiencing to the doctors at the research department where she was hospitalized, but they responded with scepticism. Her doctors said that her profound and rapid transformation was proof that her pain and weakness were purely psychological, and had Anna committed to a psychiatric ward with the explanation that she could be a hazard to herself.
After two days locked up under very difficult conditions, Anna’s parents helped her escape from the psychiatric ward, and Anna moved to Sweden, where she lived as a recluse while gradually rebuilding her strength through meditation and dance. She broke all contact with the established medical community while rehabilitating herself, and 18 months later, she completed a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella, walking 800 kilometers on foot. After being mostly horizontal and wheelchair based since her early twenties, this was the greatest vctory in her healing process.
”My story shows that anything is possible!” says Anna. ”There are so many people suffering from chronic pain who could be helped tremendously, and there is a huge job to be done.”
Today Anna is mostly pain-free and needs no medication. She paints, writes and gives motivational talks, while functioning in a demanding full time job in the Swedish Non Profit Galaxen in Arvika, where she is responsible for leading a one year project management course for youth who want to change the world.
She also dances and trains in Chinese martial arts and yoga in her spare time. Her first book will be published in Norway this fall, at the academic publishing house Unipub, with support from the free speech foundation Fritt Ord. The book is called Chronic and is causing public debate about the current health paradigm and the way the health care system in Norway functions.
Anna runs a blog called 365 pain-free days, where she every day through 2010 is posting daily tips and inspiration for people dealing with chronic pain. It was through research for her blog that she first heard about the Dancing with Pain® method and got in touch with Loolwa Khazzoom.
”When I connected with Loolwa , it was amazing. She was the first person who could explain how dance works in a therapeutic way. I used to feel a lot of shame, fear and guilt about my profound healing experience in the hospital, and the doctors’ reaction had made me doubt my own experience. When I realized that I was not alone, and that Loolwa had created a whole pain treatment program based on the exact same experiences that I had, it felt like coming home!”
Visiting the US for her brother’s wedding this Summer, Anna will be dancing and lecturing with Loolwa in California for two weeks.