When Pam Phillips first went to see Marjorie Fein in Brooklyn in the fall of 2012, she was experiencing migraine headaches at least once every week. She was also completely unable to be out in bright sunlight or in a room with any fluorescent light – an ordeal that had been going since 2007 when her first migraine appeared.
At first they came sporadically – one every couple of months. When they became more frequent, Pam went to a neurologist and a neuro opthamologist who did an MRI, CT scan and eye tests. There was no evidence of damage to her eyes and no brain tumors. The neuro opthamologist gave her a prescription for Nortriptyline, a daily medication to reduce the frequency of headaches, and Imitrex, a so-called abort drug that can stop a migraine. These helped a little: Nortriptyline took her headaches down from several times a week to once a week. If she took Imitrex within a half an hour of the pain starting, the headache would stop. If not, the pain would rage for four days.
Yet it wasn’t always easy to determine when a headache was happening because the cues were different. “Sometimes I would feel this flood of pain at the back of my head and then it would rush to the front, like a wave,” says Pam. “Other times it would be this microscopic seed of pain inside my head and I would think, wait is that a migraine or am I just tense. They all started with a tightening of my shoulder and neck and I would think surely I could massage out that tension.”
Pam’s sensitivity to light, which started out as a symptom of the migraines, became a constant and debilitating condition. An eye specialist created tinted glasses for her that she wore any time she was in a room with fluorescent lights. At the time, Pam was working at a music school in Manhattan and had to teach in rooms where there was enough natural light, and at the right time of day so it wasn’t too dark. Gradually she gave up all the known triggers for headaches – chocolate, cheese, alcohol – but the migraines were still there. Every doctor she went to concluded that these conditions were just something she was going to have to live with.
Pam didn’t like that message. Four years earlier, in 2008, she had taken one of Donna’s three-day classes at the Omega Institute in upstate New York and afterwards had read Donna’s book. It now occurred to her to perhaps look for an EEM practitioner in the New York area. When she saw Marjorie’s web site and her profile, something resonated with her – she knew she was the right person. During their first session, Marjorie checked Pam’s foundational energies – grounding, polarity, homolateral, Hook Up – and her “irregular energies” – those that indicate the body has gone into a high-stress coping strategy. She found Pam to be out-of-balance in all those systems.
After balancing her basic energies, Marjorie moved on to specific points related to the eyes, such as the Liver and Bladder meridians. She spent a few sessions working on those and on rebalancing Pam’s 6th and 7th chakras. After every session, Marjorie gave Pam homework assignments, which she sensed Pam would savor. “I’m a person who likes to-do lists. Having exercises I could do made me feel like I could participate,” says Pam.
At home, Pam did exercises to enhance the flow of energy in her eyes, visualize what she wanted her health to be, and bring forth more feelings of joy in her life. Very quickly, Marjorie sensed that Pam was an over-worked, stressed out, “Type A” personality who held herself up to unrealistic expectations. To address some of the emotional aspects of Pam’s life, Marjorie used energy psychology. Explains Marjorie: “Pam was someone who was not very clear on what she was feeling, so we used the physical symptoms she had to uncover the emotional aspects of her eye issues by looking at the Chinese Medicine correlations. This helped Pam to understand herself a lot better and gave me insight into her emotional make up without her having to verbally process it at all.”
Marjorie talked to Pam about ways to be gentler with herself. “Even though consciously Pam wanted to heal 100%,” says Marjorie. “Her body and energies were not on board with that drastic a change.” Marjorie got into the habit of asking Pam’s body how much shifting it was willing to do and they started off with just 5 percent, gradually inching up.
After just a few sessions there was a major breakthrough. Pam went a month without a headache, which was something that hadn’t happened in years. Her light sensitivity also changed. Using the gentle, gradual approach, Marjorie instructed Pam to go into her colleague’s fluorescent-lit office and stay there for several minutes while being very calm. Each time she stayed for a few more minutes until she could sit there for 15 minutes without any pain.
Pam continued taking Imitrex to stop her headaches until late 2013 when she experienced another breakthrough. That was the first time she was able to do what she describes as “talk down a headache.”
“I would be as joyful as I could and think about how fabulous I felt and how terrific my eyes felt. I’m so happy and my life is wonderful over and over and over, even if I didn’t really believe it, and the migraine would stop. I came up with this little book of affirmations. I thought this seems crazy, but let’s try it, what’s the worst that will happen,” says Pam.
Several months later, in the spring of 2014 and about 18 months after she first started working with Marjorie, Pam quit her stressful job, started meditating and went off her daily medication. She still has an almost full prescription of Imitrex from early 2014. When her headaches appear she is usually able to stop them by using EEM and working with her thoughts and emotions. Instead of viewing the pain as something to resist, she sees it as a message from her body that something is off and needs her attention. Inspired by her recovery, Pam has taken the first year of EEM courses, which are taught in classrooms flooded with fluorescent light. In those rooms for three days at a time, nine hours a day, Pam has yet to have a headache.