Using Hypnosis to Gain More Control Over Your Illness
By LESLEY ALDERMAN
KIRSTEN RITCHIE, 44, is no stranger to surgery - nearly 20 years ago, doctors removed four tumors from her brain. She remembers the operation and its aftermath as "horrific."
Dr. David Spiegel, director of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford University School of Medicine, said hypnosis can be an "effective and inexpensive way to manage medical care."
So the news that she needed brain surgery again was hardly welcome. Determined to make her second operation a better - or at least less traumatic - experience, Ms. Ritchie, an insurance marketing representative in Cleveland, turned to an unusual treatment.
At the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine, she had four hypnosis sessions in the month before her procedure, during which she addressed her fear of the coming surgery. She also practiced self-hypnosis every day. Eventually, she said, "I got to a place where I felt a sense of trust instead of fear."
In February, doctors removed a plum-sized tumor from her brain. But there the similarity to her previous experience ended. Ms. Ritchie woke up from the procedure, she said, feeling "alert and awesome." She ate a full dinner that night and went home in two days.
"My neurosurgeon was stunned at how little medication I required before and after surgery, and how quickly I bounced back," she said. Ms. Ritchie attributes her speedy recovery and calm state to her hypnosis sessions.