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Healing Within The NHS

Expansion of Healing/Reiki within the NHS
By Angie Buxton-King

The terms 'Healing' and 'Reiki' are used as having trained with the National Federation of Spiritual Healers and in the Usui Reiki System, we noted blocks to both labels within the multi-faith society of the patients in a hospital setting. We avoid labels, talking much about energy rather than using holistic phrases mumbo jumbo to the lay-person.

In the dictionary, to heal is to restore to health or to cure, or become sound and therapy is described as curative medical treatment. Not much between the two, but people are more comfortable with the word therapy. Experience indicates that patients are comfortable with the word Healing or Reiki as long as the therapist is comfortable with her or himself.

Nothing proves better than a patients experience and the following is that of Susan Hyde, diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2004., who with her husband wrote: Before Susans illness we knew nothing about Reiki healing. I have a colleague, a martial arts expert, who has mentioned the points where the chi runs through the pressure points he sues with his art, but the rest is/was mumbo jumbo to us both.

Her first experience of healing was when a Reiki healer come to visit her prior to her admission into UCLH. He held his hands above her head and she said that her spine got hot from her bottom up to the base of her skull. When he put his hands wither side of her shoulders she had the same experience across her shoulders. Over the first few months of her illness I noted her mood changes and would call the healer, who would send remote healing and she would become positive once again.

At the end of August, 2004 we went to a restaging meeting to discuss her option and were told she had one option only a bone marrow transplant. We were told the procedure carried a high risk factor and was terminal in one in four attempts. Without the transplant her future was guaranteed just three years at best and that the disease could still return after the transplant.

We were informed that the transplant unit at UCHL had a complementary medicine team headed by a Reiki master. I cannot explain what this meant to us both because Reiki healing had been keeping g Susan motivated for the last few months and now she could have one-to-one healing from a master not an apprentice, but in fairness, the healer we had been using at home had served us well.

For the 6 weeks she was an in-patient the hospital staff though she was, a super star because of the way she responded to the chemotherapy and three days of total body radiotherapy with little or no side effects apart from loss of her hair. It was a waiting game to see if the 8.2 billion stems cells provided by her brother has started producing the needed blood cells. After seven days of flat line readings we saw a few new cells showing. Three days later the count was off the scale.

After the transplant various drugs to dampen down the graft versus host syndrome were administered. These have an extreme effect on mucus membranes and, as a result Susan felt poorly, her mouth an throat were sore and she was sick for days but she was up and about every day and her consultant said I know that you are feeling very bad but I cannot believe how much better you are than the other patients at the same stage. Some of them have not been out of bed in weeks.

We know exactly why this was the case: healing. We knew the power of Reiki healing before we cam to the hospital and to fall into the hands of an expert with years of experience was more than we could possibly have hoped for. It was at this time that I first met Graham, Angies husband. An accomplished Reiki master, he offered to give me healing.

This was to be my first experience of it and to be honest I was stiff with apprehension, my mind full of conflicting thoughts. I lay on the bed with fists clenched as he started the healing. As his hands moved I started to relax and felt warmth from as his hands moved down my body. This was the first time that my mind had emptied of thoughts in months, I felt sage, relaxed and positive again.

When Susan was discharged to finish her recovery at home we were concerned as we had come to rely on the healing. I asked Angie how e could find a healer once at home. She said that we lived near enough to visit her at home, an offer for which we will always be grateful. We have been a number of times now and, if asked to describe Reiki healing, I would say it would be difficult as each session is different, but that total relaxation and a sense of warmth and well-being is consistent with each treatment, as is clearing the mind of al thoughts.

Sometimes I sense bright light at the point when I am so relaxed that I am on the point of sleep. We cannot recall a single negative thing about healing and will continue to use it as preventative medicine which will give us an extra tool in the fight against Susans disease.

In summary, we are a complementary therapy team, fortunate to be funded by 60% from the NHS budget and 40% from the hospitals soft money funds. We have a policy for the teams work and individual treatment policies for the different therapies. As we move into a new hospital in central London in 2005 we hope to expand to include cancer services in general so that more patients can benefit this, in line with the 1995 Calmaine/Hine report, which states that appropriate complementary therapies should be available to all cancer patients. We also hope to run a pilot research project in the therapy of healing.

The following was written by clinical lead/head nurse Stephen Rowley, who provided the foreword for my book, The NHS Healer. University College London Hospitals haematology unit treats patient with leukaemia and other life threatening disease. Treatments are highly intensive and carry risks of morbidity and mortality in themselves.

For the last six years the unit has developed a complementary therapy team, initially providing conventional therapies such as reflexology and aromatherapy to patients. Introducing a spiritual healer into this pressure cooker environment was considered to be a risk.

I am pleased to say that over the last five years that Angela Buxton has been in the team the therapy of healing has become not only accepted but imperative to many of our patients. Although clinically healing remains little understood, the clinical effects are most evident, and certainly tangible enough to satisfy the sceptical minds of doctors and nurses.

We have seen patient with uncontrolled pain find more relief from healing than from intramuscularly opiates. We have seen patients in psychological states of utter desperation find huge comfort and coping abilities through healing. We have seen patients report significant reductions in chemotherapy related side effects.

We have seen the positive effect healing can have on the troubled dying patient. Working in this field is demanding and many staff have felt the need for healing themselves and have found significant benefit from doing so. Healing is the most popular and well-received complementary therapy we provide on the unit.

All of the healing is provided on the unit by Angela Buxton, who is now an integral member of the medical and nursing team. Her drive and personality alone has had a positive effect on the unit. Stephen Rowley, Clinical Nurse/ Manager.

Obviously Stephen's approval has come from clinical experience of seeing how healing can be a valuable, supportive tool for his patients and staff on the unit. Graham and I are currently working to create a course to pass on our experience to others who wish to work in the hospital setting.

This article was written by Angie Buxton-King and published in Healing Today, issue 101. For more information email  or visit www.angie.buxton-king.com and www.nfsh.org.uk