I came to NCR after a lifetime of pain and suffering, lingering on the delicate balance between being functional and living with chronic pain. Born as a tight forceps delivery (a 4th degree episiotomy for my mother), I had the cards stacked against me since day one. With developmental delays (late in learning how to crawl and walk), followed by a fall down a steep staircase at age one and a half (another blow to my structure and nervous system!), and breathing and speech difficulties (my mom called me a “marble mouth”!) due to narrow nasal passages and a high narrow palate, what chance did I have of ever leading a life of total ease in my body? Instead, I grew into an awkward child who was made fun of by her peers for an unusual sounding voice and a face that was ‘not quite yet grown into’ (as my mother would say to ease my upset!).
Next followed the ‘usual’ set of insults (in this day and age)—bangs and more falls as a kid, a series of car accidents (leading to a whiplash pattern in the neck), a blow to my upper teeth, permanent teeth coming in crooked, and full-mouth braces as a teenager (ages 12-14) to correct a class-three malocclusion. But I didn’t exactly ‘grow into my features’ as a young adult, as my mom promised I would; my protruding mouth remained a source of embarrassment into adulthood. And somewhere in there (age 9, to be exact), I took up playing the cello, which contributed to back and neck pain. In retrospect, it was not structurally in my best interest to choose an instrument that is played so asymmetrically, but I have never regretted my choice of instrument because it is one of the most beautiful instruments in the world and has brought me such an intense amount of joy in my life!
Then followed wisdom teeth removal, all four at once, at age 20 (another horror of modern dentistry). After this, all my teeth slid forward, I developed terrible TMJ clicking and pain, my speech got even worse, and I was now routinely biting my inner lip while eating and getting chancre sores that would turn into giant, painful mouth ulcers. I had developed what is called an ‘open bite’ that would need to be corrected with another round of orthodontia (oh joy!). However, due to an incorrect speech and swallowing pattern called a ‘tongue thrust’ (most certainly stemming from my birth and faulty neurological development), I had to work with a speech therapist at age 21 to retrain my speech and swallowing so that my tongue would not push my teeth back out, or orthodontia would be pointless. (Believe it or not, this tongue thrust pattern was diagnosed by a knowledgeable dental hygienist I saw at that time. Perhaps if it had been diagnosed much earlier, in my childhood, I could have made progress on my speech much sooner and avoided a second round of braces.)
My speech did improve somewhat with speech therapy and concurrent orthodontia, but it was a constant effort to place my tongue correctly in my mouth, because my palate was simply not big enough. I also still struggled to breathe through my nasal passages at night while sleeping, which minimized my speaking progress (mouth breathing leads to a lazy tongue!). (Little did I know at that time, I had scoliosis that locked up my diaphragm when I laid down, and this was a big part of the breathing problem.) I was also still having significant TMJ pain, which was now causing increased neck pain and headaches. The second round of orthodontia had also narrowed my face out even more, which I believe led to a decline in my cognitive function at that time.
Not to mention, all those years of cello-playing in college (playing in symphony, studying with a professor) as well as hand-writing notes during class, being a lefty, led me to develop a chronic left-forearm and wrist tendonitis which was extremely painful at times. Working with a Feldenkrais practitioner to retrain how I was using my body while writing and playing cello was helpful, but the damage had already been done. The last straw was a snow-boarding incident with more blows to my head and structure that led me to be in a state of even more chronic pain, fatigue, and cognitive decline. Luckily, I stumbled upon Dr. Dean Howell’s website during a search for TMJ treatments, and instantly knew that NeuroCranial Restructuring® was the all-encompassing treatment solution for ALL my structural problems. Could it be that I could actually REVERSE the debilitating effects of my birth, and all that had insulted my structure since then, and stand an even BETTER chance of thriving in my body than I did on day one?
My Journey with NCR Begins
Having reached the upper-limit of pain and debilitation I was willing to endure in this body, I began being treated by Dr. Howell in 2003, at the age of 23, at the same time I embarked on my long journey through naturopathic medical school. From the phenomenal relief of pain and unwinding that occurred in my body during my first series, I instantly knew that I was meant to become an NCR doctor myself. Dr. Howell believed that perhaps on a spiritual level, I had chosen to be born in the manner I was and have all the structural insults I did so that I could discover the very path that would heal those things, both for myself and for others.
I’ll never forget what Dr. Howell said to me during my first treatment series. He said, “I’m really amazed at how far you’ve gotten in life with the skull you have.” My skull was so lopsided, utterly imbalanced, and asymmetrical! He had also commented in the very first treatment that my sutures were not moving at all! Yes, I, too, have wondered how it came to be that I had gotten through undergrad with a double major in cello performance and nutritional science, with a high GPA, and gotten into medical school, given the condition I was in. I joked with Dr. Howell that, “There must be a decent brain inside that skull!” (Not to brag or anything, but I was always an excellent student. Perhaps it took me longer to read and process certain things than other students, but I always put effort into applying myself to succeed. I consider myself a perpetual student of life…I LOVE learning!)
During my first series, Dr. Howell also diagnosed me with a whiplash pattern and scoliosis, and he determined that the scoliosis was worse when I lied down. This explained why I wasn’t able to complete my speech therapy program and correct my breathing pattern at night. I continued NCR treatments all throughout medical school (a six year period) and beyond, and have relished in seeing all my patterns unravel. After just one series, my neck pain was significantly improved, my posture dramatically improved, and I had an increase in my energy level. After four series, my left forearm tendonitis was completely healed. (The problem was actually not just at the wrist—it had to do with the tension pattern going up all the way into the left side of my head stemming from how I was accommodating this asymmetrical instrument. I have since modified my cello with posture pegs so that this is less of an issue.) My neck pain disappeared. My TMJ dysfunction got progressively better, with no more aching or pain in the joint whatsoever (at some point during my first 6 months to a year of treatment). My scoliosis has gotten progressively better, now with an 85% or more improvement, and still improving. I now play the cello with much greater ease and fluidity than I could when my body was all contorted (I used to have difficulty reaching the tip of the bow, and now can do this effortlessly!). My singing voice has also opened up tremendously.
My speech has improved gradually over the years, and my palate has actually elongated and grown bone (and I have the dental molds to prove it), which has given my tongue more room during speaking. However, this area is still a work in progress for me, but it keeps getting better and better. In 2011, I was trained by Dr. Howell in the FaceMaxTM helmet, a tool designed to pull the maxilla forward and re-grow bone after teeth have been pulled (including wisdom teeth). I am in the early stages of using it on myself, but can already attest to its power. My speech noticeably gets clearer each time I use it! I am excited to implement this tool with patients in conjunction to NCR. It appears to augment the effects of NCR dramatically. I call it “NCR on steroids”!!!
In addition to these structural improvements, I am fascinated by the vast improvement in my mental-emotional state over the course of treatment with NCR. Having grown up in a household of family discord with a bipolar father and an ill sister, and then after the extreme stress of college and having to make a cross-country move, by the time I came to see Dr. Howell I was somewhat of a mental basket-case, with a mind that was like a merry-go-round and always in an inner state of deep unrest and anxiety. After my fifth series, I noticed a DRASTIC change to my mental-emotional state. For the first time in my entire life, I had awareness of my CENTER…and I felt grounded, and rooted into the earth. The mental chatter disappeared altogether. I realized that this was meant to be my natural state, and I had been denied this my whole life thus far by the way life had been handed to me. NCR was truly returning me to my original blueprint! I didn't have to "try" to be me....the person I was meant to be gradually started emerging on its own. After years of bondage, being stuck in a body that was too tight and contorted, I could now expand and realize my full expression.
I believe it is my destiny to practice NeuroCranial Restructuring®, and to share the gift of returning people—whomever is ready—back to their original blueprints. It is a process of unlocking, unfolding, and returning…to a version of yourself you have not yet had the opportunity to be! I honestly don’t know where I would be without NCR today, and to tell you the truth, I’d rather not know! I can’t even picture being worse than where I was, because I was already so structurally compromised. I feel fortunate to have stumbled across NCR at such a young age, and to have chosen a career path that would allow me to become trained in it. I humbly accept the path that is before me, and I walk it with ease and grace, knowing that it is such a great honor to give people back their birthright: to live in this human form with optimum stability, functionality and health, free from pain and disease. Then, and only then, can a person live out the purpose of why they came here in the first place! You are then free to know yourself on a whole new level, discover talents you did not know you had, and reach heights of self-discovery that were previously unavailable to you (when you were stuck in survival-mode, in a contracted state). NCR makes it possible to reach your highest structural potential, no matter where you started from or what insults life has handed you.
Who would you be in your most expanded state? What would that allow you to accomplish? You don’t have to know the answer now, just be willing to ask the question. We will embark on that journey of self-discovery together!
Warmly, Dr. Deanna G. Simonson, ND
The photo on the left is me before NCR, taken in 2003. The photo on the right is me after 12+ series of NCR and Atlas Profilax treatment, taken in 2010.
The photo on the left is me before NCR, in June 2003. The photo on the right was taken after 6 series of treatment with Dr. Howell, in December 2003.
The photo on the left is me before NCR, showing temporal bone mal-position (crooked ears). This is in large part why I was having TMJ pain and dysfunction. The photo on the left is after 6 series, showing better temporal bone position.