One quiet night in 1997 a gunshot ripped through the Shady Oaks Trailer park just outside Chicago. In the confined space of Elvis Winterbottoms trailer the explosion from the .45 was deafening. As the bullet slammed into his hip, the force of the impact spun him around and he fell to the floor in agony.
The youngster who had just shot him was a boy Elvis had been mentoring. From a broken home, and just starting to dabble with gangs, he was headed for a life of crime and misery. Elvis had been working hard to change all that.
I had been negligent leaving the gun out and loaded after a scary incident with gang-bangers the night before, explains Elvis. It was an accident.
The EMT crew arrived in minutes and rushed Elvis off to the Emergency Room. The bullet had smashed into his hip at close range and was lodged next to the bone. He was in severe pain, but because of the possibility that he may go into a coma, he was not given any painkillers. Several doctors came to examine him and finally they decided how to operate and remove the bullet.
The doctors were amazed that the bullet had not done more damage, says Elvis. At such close range a .45 should have blown half my butt off.
The surgery was successful and the bullet was removed by cutting from behind creating a 9-inch scar in his buttock muscle. Elvis was discharged with no physical rehab as his insurance did not cover that. He left the hospital in a wheelchair unable to walk at all.
I recovered slowly at home, says Elvis. My parents were great and helped me a lot. After a while I was getting around on two crutches but the pain was intense. Life for Elvis was difficult, simple actions like taking a shower were almost impossible on his own.
Elvis recovered enough to go back to his job as a pit boss in a Casino. He had a permanent limp and was always in pain. Then one night he took a bad fall on the icy sidewalk and fell right on the hip.
This time the doctors sent him to physical therapy and Elvis went for a few sessions. But he felt the therapists were not really supervising his exercises and as his insurance was not paying for it, he decided to go to a gym and exercise on his own.
During this period he met and married his wife, Pam. For several years he suffered through the pain, just went on working and studying acting the big passion of his life.
Sometimes a life threatening experience like this wakes you up, comments Elvis. I had always wanted to be an actor. I had been studying and acting part time for years and was working at the Casino just to make a living.
In 2001 Elvis decided life was too short and uncertain to live with regrets and he moved to Hollywood to pursue his dream.
He was still experiencing chronic pain all the time a condition shared by 86 million Americans. Chronic pain is a condition that affects the quality of life and economic security not only of the person with pain, but also his or her family.
It also has high economic costs. It is estimated that US business and industry loses about $90 billion annually to sick time, reduced productivity, and direct medical and other benefit costs due to chronic pain among employees.
One day Elvis attended a seminar on success in the acting industry at Celebrity Center on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. Young stars that had made it in the industry were talking about courses at the Center that could help actors achieve their dreams.
A couple of weeks later Elvis went into the Center to inquire about their courses and learned about the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, the best-selling self-help book by author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard. Elvis signed up for the course.
During the course he received Dianetics Therapy where one looks at incidents in the past that are causing physical and emotional pain in the present. The session was interesting, says Elvis. I spoke about the shooting and went through the incident with my counselor. I came home and told my wife about it but I did not think it was any big deal.
The next morning was a Saturday and as usual Elvis and Pam set out to the Mall to do their weekly shopping. Any time they went out it was Pams job to make sure they had painkillers Elvis could not make it through the morning without them.
After an hour Pam said to me, Slow down says Elvis. I was amazed, its usually me telling her to slow down! And then it hit me Oh my God! I have no pain. I am not limping and I have no pain.
Thinking this was too good to be true, he waited all day for the pain to come back. It didnt. The next day Elvis decided he would put this result through a test of fire. He headed off to Universal Studios where there is one of the longest sets of stairs in the world.
He walked all the way down the stairs. No pain! He turned round and walked all the way up again. No limping no pain in his hip.
My calves were burning and I was totally out of breath but I was not limping and I had no pain in my hip, said Elvis.
That was 9 months ago and he is still completely pain free. Its a complete miracle to me, says Elvis. Dianetics gave me back my life.
Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health is available in most bookstores, or direct from the publishers: Bridge Publications scncatalog.scientology.net