10 January 2024

Ruth’s Back Pain, Long COVID and Recovery. Part 3 – The Nightmare and the Recovery

In this final episode, what Ruth did to recovery, plus bookings are now open for the Meditation Teacher Trainings in June and November - details below.

At the end of 2022, Ruth was beginning to recover from 6 tough months with Long COVID. However, she was still beset by severe back pain and so, feeling somewhat generally improved, opted for surgery. Happily, the lumbar laminectomy was successful, but following the anaesthetic, her long COVID was re-ignited. It was now worse than ever. 

So in this final post: what happened, what Ruth tried to overcome the Long COVID and some speculation around the nature of this tough disease; but first

Thought for the day

   Every challenge we encounter 

   Is an opportunity to learn to stand on our own again, 

   Grounded and immoveable by any external force, 

   Unperturbed by inner grasping or turmoil. 

   This is the final truth of being human, 

   Even if we cannot see it yet.

             Cristina Moon

Ruth experienced 18 months of severe back pain that overlapped with 15 months of severe Long COVID whose symptoms began post-vaccination. Now recovered from both, here is her timeline with a short s summary of the experiences:


June: Back injury while sea kayaking. Extreme left lower back pain

August 21: First COVID vaccination – Pfizer

September 15: Second COVID vaccination – Pfizer


January 11: Third COVID vaccination – Moderna

January 18: Surge of overwhelming anxiety felt (detailed in Part 2) that was a prelude to increasing anxiety, generalised fear, insomnia, lack of appetite and weight loss.

June 15: COVID infection, coughing but relatively uneventful recovery in around 9 days.

June 29: First incident of dysautonomia with physical collapse, low blood pressure and low heart rate.

July 4: Second incident of dysautonomia with collapse, low blood pressure and low heart rate. Hospitalisation; thorough investigations all showing normal results.

July 14 and 15: Third incident of dysautonomia with collapse, low blood pressure and heart rate. More detailed investigations including specialist immunology; again all showing normal results.

July 17: The Long COVID symptoms became continuous/chronic. 

By now the dysautonomia was continuous, day and night, with marked anxiety, fluctuating abnormally fast or slow heart rate, anxiety with jaw chattering, excessive sweating, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, trouble swallowing, nausea, trembling and weight loss (From 58 to 51kg), profound insomnia, headaches and vision problems. Ghastly physical sensations resulting in extreme physical tension.

At the same time - post-COVID - my mind was severely affected with what was diagnosed as “Organic Brain Syndrome” due to inflammation of the brain. This manifested as debilitating and severely restricted lack of concentration, intolerance to bright light, having marked cognitive decline and amazingly limited ability to make decisions. Even when I did come to a decision, I would then be confused and vacillate from moment to moment.

November and December: The Long COVID symptoms began to lift, exposing the severity of the ongoing back pain. Given my health was now improving, and reasoning the chronic pain may be holding me back from full recovery, I sought out another surgeon. Upon more investigations he indicated surgery had a 50/50 prospect of success, and I then got another neurosurgical opinion which agreed. So with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I made plans to go ahead with the surgery.


January 5:  Left lumbar laminectomy

The surgery was uneventful (although a diagnostic epidural in the lead up had created its own ongoing complications) and the back pain diminished. However, post surgically, the Long COVID flared up badly and became much worse than it had been beforehand.

Over the next 6 months, the Long COVID symptoms remained extreme and continuous despite me trying many modalities and receiving help from a remarkable group of family, friends and health professionals.

June: Recovery begins

Almost one year after it started, I began to have some “good days”; days when the symptoms were markedly lessened. I called these “zombie” days because although they were an improvement, I felt like a stunned mullet. But this was better than the state of panic on the bad days. But then it would be devastating when the symptoms returned as severely as ever the next day. For months there was this remarkable alternating pattern of one good day, one bad day, followed by one good day, one bad day, and so on… and on. This rollercoaster and unexplained pattern went on for months, was quite dispiriting and led to some periods of feeling completely hopeless.

Mid September: Recovery

It is a strange and wonderful feeling after having been so sick for so long, to wake up one day and realise you really are getting better! 

It felt like a miracle, but actually was probably the result of a combination of many things finally coming together: time, and the many things I had tried and the many people who had helped me. 

My recover progressed rapidly and within 2 weeks I was dramatically improved, with a new lease on life. 

It surprised me as much as others! And I decided I would never have an mRNA vaccine again.

What Ruth did

From Ian again:

This blog has nothing to do with medical advice. Yes, Ruth is a doctor, but this is an account of how she navigated a very tough health issue in her own personal way. There is a need to understand her physical and mental condition was both extreme and persistent. As a result, she consulted many experts in their fields, investigated as much as possible on the internet and read widely and took account of advice from her medical and allied health professional friends (some of whom were suffering similar issues). 

Because so little is known of this condition, Ruth has decided to share the full range of what she tried, recognising that hers is clearly one case and does not provide the basis for anyone else’s decision making. If you are dealing with this or a similar tough health condition, it is essential to seek out the best advice you can, weigh it up, then make, and own your own decisions. 

What follows are Ruth’s words:

1.     Love and practical support

i)               From caring people 

Especially Ian and the Brahma Kumaris (the group that has been handed the Yarra Valley Living Centre following the collapse of Gawler Foundation). I had unreserved support and residential care from Morni, Caroline, Gopi, Kalvinder and Pamela. Genuine unconditional love. Sandy Clinton’s dedicated practical support and promise to see me through whatever happened.

Babysitting, cooking and driving from my sons Saul and Misha, brother David and his wife Carolyn; sister-in-law Susie and husband Ross, plus friends Naomi Travers, Vyv Mishra, Kate Grosser, Sally Browne, Loretto Hosking, Rabbi Laibl Wolfe, and Ilan Watchivka. 

I could not drive or shop or cook for over a year.

ii)              Health Professionals 

Dr Hilda Jessop, Prof Ian Brighthope, Dr Vicki Kotsirilos, Dr Rachel Darken, Dr Danielle Villiunus, Siegfried Gutbrod, Dr Kerryn Phelps, Mr David De La Harpe, Dr Peter McArdle to name the main ones.

iii)             Allowing and asking for help.

Learning to let people care for me, accepting and asking for assistance. Being more honest and open about everything.  Letting go of unnecessary inhibitions.

2)    Recognising the crucial role of my mind

There were many times when I felt so bad, so desperate, I was wishing I would get cancer and be able to die in a hospice. I had even put my name down at an Aged Care facility after a year, because I believed I would not recover and it was too much for Ian to care for me for the rest of my life. 

Having worked in Mindbody Medicine for so many years, the extreme nature of these thoughts led me into a deeper realisation of the key role my mind played in whether I would recover or not; or end my life. 

This realisation and determination to get through the illness forced me to do the practices of breathing exercises and Tibetan Buddhist prayers and visualisation. 

This was all very challenging as I had no concentration to speak of; but I did my best to meditate daily for as long as I could manage, and I did make a conscious decision to live for my family. 

I was extremely dysfunctional and needed to use various medications to get through the days and to sleep at night (although even then, my sleep was very erratic).

3)    Healthy diet and exercise

I ate, and still do, a (mostly) organic, whole food, plant-based diet with regular eggs and fish once a week. I took 2-3 vegetable juices (bottled- Biotta) daily over the first 6 months, reducing down over time. No alcohol for over a year. Made myself walk for 30 mins a day no matter what. Feet on the grass for grounding.

4)    Gut dysbiosis and constipation treatment

I tried multiple therapies for the dysbiosis that had developed early on and persisted, (now recovered) including Trimethoprim, Doxycycline and at a different time Rifaximin. Probiotics, especially Lactobacillus reuteri.

Constipation was a consistent issue so I did many things to manage that including using suppositories and enemas. All my life I have had an irritable bowel, well managed with diet and medications.

5)    Supplements

Again, I experimented with a wide range of supplements, took some for a short period, while I continue to take others. I am deliberately not detailing doses or duration of taking these, as this varied and was dependent on other factors.

In no particular order, and each person needs to make their own decisions:

High dose Vit C orally (already mentioned), High dose Vit B1 and B3, Tressos B, Vitamin D, N Acetyl Cysteine, CoQ10, Curcubrain, Flaxseed oil, Nattokinanse, Quercetin, Bromelains, Dandelion root tea, Magnesium, Essiac tea and GABA.

6)    The FLCCC Protocol for Long COVID

I experimented with some of this including Prednisone, High dose Vit C, Fluvoxamine and Ivermectin.

7)    Medications

Included at different times, in various doses: Seroquel, Temazepam, Diazepam, Lexapro, Ducolax, Movicol, Medicinal cannabis, Melatonin, low dose asprin and Mirtazepine.

8)    Additional Therapies and spiritual support

All of these seemed to help to some degree; very hard to quantify:

Hyperbaric Oxygen – I had 40 treatments of 1.5 hours duration each,

Acupuncture – conventional and by Laser, Aerobic exercise, Shiatsu, Massage, Reflexology, Reiki, Yoga with my legs up the wall daily for 10 – 20 mins to increase intra-cranial perfusion. Journaling, regular Counselling, Prayer by me and for me, Healing Circles via Allevi8 and BKs. 

What caused all this?

Ian writing again:

Clearly, there is no consensus on what causes Long COVID, but what is clear is Ruth had been chronically healthy for decades, yet immediately after her third COVID vaccine she developed a raft of debilitating symptoms. These symptoms were aggravated and heightened shortly after she went through infection with COVID. She met no one who had long COVID who was unvaccinated, contrary to what is written in articles.

My own sense is that Ruth had an initial effect from the vaccine, and that sensitised her to the COVID virus, it was as if the vaccine generated an autoimmune response that affected both her body, brain and therefore her mind.

Some are calling Long COVID “Long Spike Disease” as the spike proteins have been implicated. 

If you are interested, here is a link to a recent research paper on this: 

Theoharides TC. Could SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Be Responsible for Long-COVID Syndrome? 

Mol Neurobiol. 2022 Mar;59(3):1850-1861.

Clearly more good independent research is needed, and it is worth noting that after a slow start, this line of research is gathering momentum. 


With Ian and Ruth Gawler, supported by Murray Paterson and Sandy Clinton

Aspiring to teach meditation? Or keen to expand and deepen your skills?

Are you applying for registration with Meditation Australia and need an approved course?

Ian and Ruth Gawler have been teaching teachers of meditation for decades.

Murray Paterson is a long-term meditator and leader in corporate and adult education.

The two trainings for 2024 will both be manual based, be sound in theory and be highly experiential. There will be many practice sessions where you will be encouraged to experiment with your delivery style and to hone it. 

You will be guided and supported to develop confidence and competency.

All programs will be in-person only, fully residential, at the Yarra Valley Living Centre.

Meditation Teacher Training – Part 1: Mindfulness-based Stillness Meditation

Monday 6th to Friday 10th May, 2024

This is a basic yet thorough training in how to present a meditation course, whether in-person or online.

A comprehensive approach to meditation that covers preparation, relaxation, concentration and mindfulness plus stillness. An approach to meditation that goes to the very essence…

Theory, delivery, session structures, promotion, finances, the special challenges and needs of online courses, and more…

Developed for those new to teaching meditation, and for those wanting to go further.

Meditation Teacher Training – Part 2: Contemplation

Saturday 2nd to Wednesday 6th November, 2024 (including Melbourne Cup holiday for Victorians)

So many people in so many domains recommend the benefits of contemplation.

Yet who is teaching how to do it? Very few it seems…

This training will position you to be able to offer your community something of great value – a reliable way to practice contemplation. This training is also manual based and will enable you to deliver a much-needed program.

Of great personal value, this training is also suitable for those new to teaching meditation, and for those wanting to go further. It too will be highly experiential, as well as delving into theory, delivery, session structures, promotion, finances, the special challenges and needs of online courses, and more.

Criteria to join these Meditation Teacher Trainings

Both trainings are broad. They are both specifically designed to be accessible and valuable to beginners and the more experienced teachers. In past trainings, this mix of participants has made for a very engaging cohort.

It is recommended applicants have at least 2 years of regular meditation practice and some experience with speaking in public. All applicants will be requested to discuss the suitability of the trainings for their needs and situation with our training manager.



  1. Dawn and I are so pleased to hear of your recovery Ruth, and that you will both be resuming teaching meditation. Professionally, I have seen hundreds of people suffer adverse events from the experimental vaccine. I have also treated many, including those with long covid. I have never seen an unvaccinated person get long covid. Not one. My own sister-in-law collapsed after the 2nd vaccine and was rushed to hospital that evening with peri/myo carditis. She subsequently developed severe dysautonomia and will of course, be avoiding any boosters. The vaccine IS the main cause of long covid, and has resulted in the majority of excess deaths we have witnessed in most countries which mandated this disastrous, poorly-tested drug. Nevertheless, great to have you healthy once more.

  2. I am so sorry to read you've been so unwell Ruth, and so very pleased to hear of your improvement. Thank you so much for sharing how this impacted you and what you did to recover. What a battle you've experienced.

    I look forward to much more thorough research of the impacts of vaccinations, covid and the impacts of related policies on our health and wellbeing.

  3. Thank you so much, Ruth for sharing your recovery with us. So pleased that you are well now. Jenny P

  4. Many people in other countries have developed long Covid without ever having a vaccination. I know this by personal stories and communication through a UK based support group “Yoga and meditation for gentle covid recovery”with Suzy Bolt”. Many contracted the virus before it was even known what it was. In Australia we had the benefit of other countries’ experience and research. It is disappointing that not more work has been done on the side effects from vaccinations as this can also lead to many detrimental health outcomes that have been swept under the carpet. Many Long Covid sufferers aren’t even believed and cannot access health treatments or financial support.

  5. Thank you for your dedication and service to others. God Bless You all.

  6. I am delighted to hear you recovered. Well done for surviving all that! I am healing breast cancer and have heard many, many stories like this. Also, personally, I have a friend who had a stroke immediately following her booster. I was annoyed and disquieted to be forced to have the shots in the first place (I avoided the mRNA) and refused a booster. I was further disturbed to find that my well-researched questions around mRNA vaccines sent in to the ABC were ignored (it was when they had an ongoing blog and an “ask us anything about vaccines” section). I got an automated reply. I followed up and nobody ever answered.
    I have had many of my practitioners tell me quietly not to have a booster not only to avoid long covid but that from a cancer perspective, their experience is that the vaccines are a disaster.
    I applaud your writing up your experience. My experience has been that my integrative doctor, naturopath, acupuncturist, energy healer and my friend who is a nurse in an ER department in a major hospital have all many, many examples of vaccine damaged patients including deaths.
    The other common thread is that they cannot talk openly about it or they risk losing their jobs and having their reputations attacked. I think anyone researching this area is brilliant for doing so and brave. I know a lot of people, including the aforementioned, are keeping records on the quiet hopeful of a day when having a genuine discussion publicly will be possible. This kind of article can only help. Well done you!

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience and recovery