How a Crazy Old French Woman Cured my Chronic Back Pain — and Healed my Soul


Happy Friday! I’m delighted to be in Lenny today, with the story of how I healed from chronic back pain. If you want to go back and read Part 1 of the story on Longreads — all about my dance career — click here.

I’d love to hear all about your woes of pain and (hopefully) recovery.



6 thoughts on “How a Crazy Old French Woman Cured my Chronic Back Pain — and Healed my Soul

  1. cindy

    Thank you for giving me hope that there is an other side to the constant sciatic over-ruling of your life. Now to find my Noelle….

  2. sophiebwatson

    I loved this and I always really enjoy your work. I’m super looking forward to your memoir! Alice Marchand introduced me to your work when she was living in Dublin. I think the first piece I read was in the Oprah magazine about narrative medicine which was great. (I’m just starting a PhD in Creative Writing in the UK with a focus on memoir and will be looking at narrative medicine studies.) Anyways, keep up the great work!!

  3. Tarek

    This is as beautiful as you first piece on Noelle “The Parisian Yoga Witch”.

    For someone like me who has been defined by his pain and body shape every minute for more than a decade, reading onwards from “And after months of daily practice, something started to happen” brought tears. I’ve read lots of the books in English based on Aplomb but it hasn’t helped much . I’ve applied for a visa to France to start going there!

    Hope part 2 is soon.

    Beautiful picture to go with the article. Who painted it?

  4. Carolyn

    Abigail, thank you so much for this piece! It prompted me to book my first Alexander Technique sessions, which I’ve been wanting to do since university. I have severe fibromyalgia, so the chronic pain is very complex, as opposed to a condition that is injury-related and more straightforward (I know that injuries can create complexities, too). Fibro is often characterized as a nerve problem, but I know that mine is in great part alignment-based, and I’ve been trying to improve my alignment for many years, but it’s so much more complicated than just standing up straight. When I read your piece, a lightbulb went off: I went straight to a mirror, checked out my profile and realized: THAT is why I have no bum! I tuck it under! Alexander DOES have to be part of my treatment plan and I need to do it ASAP. Two months on, I am still working on a totally new posture, which has me walking very slowly, and is not comfortable, but is already more comfortable than the old posture, and becoming natural to me. It isn’t eradicating the overall widespread burning pain of this condition, but it is definitely part of the puzzle, and I’m very grateful to you for sharing your story and inspiring me to take this step. MERCI MILLE FOIS!

  5. J Muller

    Thanks for sharing your story. We can really learn a thing or two from someone and if we are lucky, that person can be a blessing to us. As for me, my family are supportive on my home treatment for back pain. It’s more of exercise, yoga and diet. I’m thankful I’ve got a better chair and bed now to make me comfortable.

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