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2012 Wise-Anderson Clinic - One Guys Personal Review (Warning Long Post)

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  • 2012 Wise-Anderson Clinic - One Guys Personal Review (Warning Long Post)

    I mostly lurk around the forums but I’ve wanted to write this post since I got back from the 2012 Wise-Anderson Clinic I attended. I read all the posting I could find when originally considering attending the clinic and I wanted to give back to the community to help other people make their decisions.

    Who I am:
    I’m a 30 year old male in the Northeast suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction. I’ve had symptoms since my teen years. I’ve had a number of diagnoses: interstitial cystitis (cystoscopy with hydrodistention and biopsy), chronic nonbacterial prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome. Regardless of what you call it, my symptoms are usually recurring pain (rectal, penile, pelvic, and lower abdominal) and pelvic spasms. I’ve been treated in a similar way to most people on the forum: antibiotics, alpha blockers, muscle relaxers, Elmiron, tricyclic antidepressants, NSAIDS, Opiods, anticonvulsants, high-dosage antihistamines, intravesical DMSO, intravesical Lidocaine and Steroids, nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, etc.

    Being a Male with Pelvic Floor Dysfunction had its own unique challenges. I never knew physical therapy was an option until the past couple of years. Urologists didn’t mention it. A lot of the literature I found was entirely geared toward women. Of course, the Internet wasn’t as big a deal when I was growing up (AOL was it and AIM was how you chatted with your high school buddies after classes). I only started physical therapy a couple of years after college and found the Wise-Anderson book. I started finding a few specialized physical therapists that had experience. I wanted to attend the Wise-Anderson clinic but I was intimidated by the expense and worried about what to expect.

    Attending the Clinic

    The Costs, Travel to California, and Accommodations
    The cost of the clinic was $3,650 plus a $300 expense to be seen by a local Urologist prior to the clinic, which is mandatory. I elected to stay at the Flamingo, where the clinic is held, and that cost $790 for 7 nights. I also spent another $1,500 for airfare, rental car, food, and misc. expenses. I spent around $7,000 by the time I finished. I’m sure some people could find ways to cut costs. People that attend with spouses or families might spend more. I didn’t realize I had spent so much until after I returned home and reviewed all my credit card charges. I was able to get my health insurer to reimburse me around $1,000 in medical expenses.

    The clinic is held in Santa Rosa, California, the county seat in Sonoma County - the famous wine region. When planning my trip, I saw that 3 airports were close to Santa Rosa. There was the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), the Oakland International Airport (OAK), and the Charles Schulz - Sonoma County Airport (STS). I wanted to be as close to Santa Rosa as possible so I initially scheduled to fly into STS both arriving and departing. I didn’t realize how small STS was and how few flights flew in daily. Unfortunately, when flying to California my connection in Chicago was delayed so I missed my connection to STS and there were no other spaces available that day. Instead of waiting until the next day, I flew into SFO and drove the Santa Rosa. When departing from California, I missed my flight out of STS (Alaska Air really closes that gate at 30 minutes prior to the flight - sharp!) and couldn’t get a space on the remaining flights out. I had to rent a car and drive back into San Francisco to depart out of SFO. I’d recommend being more organized or lucky than me if you fly into STS or just fly into SFO.

    When you get to Santa Rosa, the clinic is held at the Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa. If you want, you can also stay at the Flamingo during the week. I think everyone that attended my clinic decided to stay at the Flamingo. The rooms were clean and fairly quiet. I had no complaints. There was an on-site restaurant that was a little expensive but Santa Rosa is a tourist area and prices are competitive with other restaurants in the area. The food was tasty. The Flamingo’s location was convenient. It is directly adjacent to a shopping plaza so guests are a short 5-minute walk to a CVS and a Safeway's grocery shop. It was no stress to go pick up my toiletries for the week and some snacks. There was no kitchenette in my hotel room so I couldn’t buy that much at the Safeway's. With a longer 15 minute walk, there was a major shopping center down the road with several restaurants (seafood, steak, etc.) and shops.

    There really isn’t much time for sightseeing. The clinic starts after breakfast and goes until dinner. Yet some people at my clinic went out after dinner, arrived in California early, or scheduled their departure for several days after the clinic ended. Santa Rosa is located near many local attractions in Sonoma County.

    Pre-Clinic: Visit to the local Urologist
    Before the clinic begins, participants have to see a local Urologist, Dr. J. Nevin Smith. Prior to coming to California, you need to log into Dr. Smith’s website and complete patient forms to help make the most of the visit. The drive from the Flamingo to Dr. Smith’s office in Sonoma was a great 40-minutes down California State Route 12 with vineyards on either side of the road. It’s what you expect Sonoma County to be.

    Dr. Smith’s office is in a small office park. He’s an older physician with a long career and we talked about his experiences treating patients and what he’s seen since being involved in the Wise clinics. While at the office, we discussed my patient history. He performed a digital pelvic exam. a bladder ultrasound, and asked for a urine sample. He explained how he tried to identify patients that might have been misdiagnosed and have a condition that wouldn’t be helped by the Wise-Anderson protocol. He also is available to write short-term prescriptions during the week if necessary. During the clinic I attended, one of the participants actually had a nasty flare and she was able to get a short-term muscle relaxant prescribed until she could get home to her primary physician.

    The Clinic
    The Clinic is held at one of the smaller conference rooms at the Flamingo. The furniture is all removed and replaced by yoga-type mats and pillows. Around the corner from the conference room, there is an adjacent hotel room where Tim Sawyer sets up a massage table and his supplies. Next door to Tim’s room, there is a separate room where another physical therapist teaches exercises that help stretch out the pelvic floor.

    There were 9 participants at my clinic plus some spouses and family. Dr. David Wise sits in the back of the room. He is a licensed psychologist and I could tell. He was very calm and understanding with all the participants. We had several people that were in-flare or were nervous and he was very supportive when talking with them. People sit on their mats and pillows around him in a circle. He alternates between lectures and paradoxical relaxation exercises. The clinic lasts from breakfast to dinner with a couple of breaks. His lectures are about the anatomy of the pelvic floor, his personal history of pelvic floor issues, trigger points and myofascial pelvic floor release, and paradoxical relaxation. There wasn’t any syllabus or agenda so you don’t know what the lectures will be that day. We did cover a lot of material. The paradoxical relaxation exercises involve all the participants lying down and letting Dr. Wise guide us in breathing, meditating, and trying to relax our bodies. On one day, he had a guest speaker, a former patient, talk to the group via Skype video conference to explain how things were going for him. During all the lectures, Dr. Wise always stopped and asked if anyone had questions or comments.

    During the clinics, everyone has a set time daily to see Tim Sawyer to do hands-on myofascial release. Dr. Wise doesn’t stop his lectures or paradoxical relaxation exercise while you are out of the room because participants are cycling in and out during the day to see Tim. I’m not sure if I missed anything important but I’m sure I could have approached Dr. Wise during the break if there was something I had missed and he would have brought me up to speed. Dr. Wise was very approachable.

    Tim Sawyer is a really kind and experienced physical therapist. We reviewed my symptoms, patient history, and what other therapists had mentioned in the past. He did his own evaluation of me. He then went to work on massaging and re-aligning different areas. It felt really good to have a professional help relax muscles and get things to release. Tim also gave me suggestions to bring back home with me and discuss with the physical therapists in my area.

    The Wand

    To be fair, nothing that Tim did was any different than what some other physical therapists have done for me. You always feel better immediately after being worked on but usually flare back up again later. The best thing about the lectures Dr. Wise gave and the hands-on sessions with Tim was the introduction of their custom Wand to use on internal trigger points. The Wand!

    I’ve tried a lot of Wands over the past 4 years since I started physical therapy. I was always looking for something that could approximate the feeling I could get from an experienced physical therapist. This Wand that Dr. Wise and his colleagues created is the best wand I’ve ever tried. First, it’s long enough to be used from almost any entry angle. Second, it’s thin enough to pass the sphincter without any friction or excessive lubing. Third, it has a sensor that tells me how much pressure I’m applying to my pelvic floor so I know that I’m being safe in how I try internal trigger point release. It’s really the best Wand I’ve ever seen. Dr. Wise told us the entire story about how he designed and prototyped the Wand - it was very interesting. They are doing patient trials now and hope to eventually offer the Wand to more people. Tim Sawyer had a private demonstration with each of us to get us comfortable using the Wand.

    Has the Wand solved all of my problems? No but that’s not the Wand’s fault. I view the Wand as a Stradivarius violin. It has the ability to make concert-caliber music as long as the musician has the talent. I’m still trying to learn how to get the Wand to hit the right spots on my pelvic floor. When I get experienced enough, I’m sure I’ll be able to recreate the full relaxation my physical therapist achieves in her office.

    When the Wand was introduced to the group of participants, it quickly became the highlight of the day. Everyone quickly started calling it “Wanda” and by the second day everyone had fallen in love. I guess at the heart of every guy, there’s a 12-year old boy looking to cause mischief!

    Other Equipment

    In addition to the Wand, Dr. Wise also gave participants other equipment to help them with the Protocol (Paradoxical Relaxation and Internal Trigger Point / Myofascial Release). First, we were all given Theracanes to help work external trigger points. These usually cost $30-40 dollars if you purchased it on your own. Second, we were all given MP5 portable media players. These are iPod type devices made for Dr. Wise by OEM’s in Asia. They store audio files of all Dr. Wise’s paradoxical relaxation sessions and some video files of Tim discussing exercises and the pelvic floor. Third, everyone got a copy of Headache in the Pelvis. I already had several copies so I didn’t take one.

    Conclusion / Takeaways

    I enjoyed my time at the Wise-Anderson clinic. Am I still in pain? Yes, I am still in pain but I learned a lot and I feel more confident that I’m on the right path. Physical Therapy has been more effective than all the other solutions I’ve tried. It was also nice to meet other people that were like me. People suffering from pelvic floor problems that were looking for their own personal solutions. I have good physical therapists in my state and I am able to share with them all the feedback I received in California.

    When I was thinking about attending the Wise-Anderson clinic the most common questions running through my mind were:

    “Wow, this is a lot of money, is it worth it?”
    No question, going to California for a week is going to be expensive for most people. It was expensive for me! Yet it’s not a rip-off. You get a lot for the money. You get all the time with Dr. Wise, the hands-on sessions with Tim, the Wand, and the other equipment. Everyone involved seems to want to give participants a good experience for the money and time people are investing. My primary care physician recommended I wait to go to California until I had most of the money saved and that I keep my expectations in check. I’d pass on the same advice to other people out there. I’d definitely say that the clinic was worth delaying other purchases in my life (vacations, new computer, dinners out, etc.)

    “I did a search on Google and found this forum post by this guy who had nothing good to say about the Clinic / Wise-Anderson”
    In some corners of the internet, there seem to be religious wars going on about different causes of pelvic floor pain and dysfunction and possible treatments. Some people feel very passionate about their opinions. Not everyone agrees with the Anderson-Wise protocol. Not everyone that participates gets relief. It’s confusing for someone not involved in the battles like me. In my opinion, nothing taught at the Clinic precludes anyone from going a different route later. If you try trigger point release and paradoxical relaxation and eventually you don’t feel you’ve gained benefit, then try a more invasive option. I looked at some invasive options myself (nerve ablation, spinal cord stimulation, etc.) I’m glad my primary care physician talked me out of it. I feel I’m getting relief through physical therapy. If things change, I can always escalate to more invasive procedures. In the end, it’s my/your/our life. You don’t have to permanently close the door on anything if you aren’t satisfied with how well your symptoms are being managed.

    Sorry for the long post. I hope someone finds this post in the future and it helps them make the right choice about their care and/or about going to the next Wise-Anderson Clinic. Best of Luck to everyone - whatever the decision is. Feel free to PM me any questions. Always willing to talk to others.
    Please see some of my forum postings about my experience

    My positive experience at the Wise Anderson Weekend

    Interesting Reads out on the Internet:

  • #2
    Thanks Zap...

    I too have attend the W-A Clinic. I had urinary retention at night (very painful), general pelvic floor pain, urinary urgency and frequency. After not much help from a local PT the W-A protocol has worked for me for the most part. Complete retention is 100% gone; I have some partial retention at night (incomplete emptying of the bladder). Pelvic pain is 90% gone; I have some trigger points around the hip that are sore and occasional mild discomfort in the pelvic floor. Urgency is 80-90% gone; I have infrequent urgency when I eat or drink the wrong kinds. My lingering symptom is frequency; during the day it is not bad, 2-3 hours, but at night i still get up 4-5 times but diet helps reduce this.

    Generally, what helps the most to get back to normal is strict attention to protocol: 1. Lots of meditation/relaxation (not watching TV but profound attention to mind relaxation. 2. Careful yoga-like stretching and internal work, and mild excercise. 3. Diet. 4. Present moment behavior and breath control--not caving into stressful activities, bracing, protective guarding, anxiety and loss of inner calm.

    Keep practicing, sincerely, every day.



    • #3
      Hi there,
      i attented the Wise-Anderson clinic now in December 2012. I wonder if you were there same time with me? or some another month?
      Im struggling of doing the protocol because of my enormous pain.
      Sherwood, i sent you a private message too, let me know if you got it.


      • #4
        I think its tough to do the protocol - either the trigger points or the relaxation - when you are really in flare. Right now, when I'm doing really bad, I need a professional to help adjust all of my muscles back into balance and loosen them up. Once they are back to a relaxed baseline, the protocol can help keep things calm for an extended period of time.

        Maybe you're in a similar situation. Did you feel any better in the days after Tim Sawyer working on you in California?
        Please see some of my forum postings about my experience

        My positive experience at the Wise Anderson Weekend

        Interesting Reads out on the Internet:


        • #5
          I think i was doing a little better when i was in Santa Rosa. When i came back home, very bad flares again...
          Now i am trying to do the protocol again and i go to physiotherapist in my own city.
          All kind of exercise makes me flare, even the streches, i feel.


          • #6
            I guess I'm not clear on what kind of flares. Frequency, urgency, pain (bladder, perineal, genital)?

            Although I had some pain before Santa Rosa, my worst pain was when Sawyer did the trigger point release internally. However, as I understand TPR, it will be painful at first.

            Do you think you still have trigger points that need worked out? The reason I ask is that stretches should not be causing pain. A good PT will find and fix these if that is the problem.

            The first local PT I had used probably a 3 on pressure, and the pain was a 3. It did not fix much. Sawyer's pressure was maybe 7, and the pain was 7. I believe that's want it took to break the tension in the muscles.

            I might ask the PT what procedures will be used and, by their experience, the effectiveness.

            Good luck,



            • #7
              Wow and Thank you

              Thank you so much for your extremely detailed post about the clinic and the accompanying photos. I haive read A Headache In The Pelvis and continue to reference it daily. By far, the best book I have ever read about this condition. My newest urologist (and Dr. Moldwin before him) doesn't think I have IC and may solely have PFD. I have a cystoscopy in 2 weeks. Since the IC diet to absolutely nothing for me after being on it for 18 long months. Elmiron was a waste of time and I took it for over a year and the fact that I never get up at night to pee makes me also think I might not have IC. That plus many other reasons....

              I am considering the clinic, but it is so cost prohibitive for me. So, I'm trying to piece it together by going to PT, studying the book and practicing paradoxical relaxation on my own. It's been so helpful to read your first hand account.

              Do you know if they sell that wand if you don't attend the clinic?

              Thanks again for taking the time to post! I loved reading it.

              My current regimen:
              Dancing, Laughing, Petting Emily and Louise - my shihtzus

              Tried and gave up on:
              Warm Baths
              Millions of supplements
              Elmiron instillations - did 5 weekly instills and did not help. Gave up.
              Oxytrol patch - no consistent relief after 3 weeks and very expensive
              Sanctura XR - tried for 6 weeks with no consistent relief
              Imipramine - tried for a week, but started to have a "hesitant" void - kind of twitchy.
              PTNS - doctor's office was disorganized, appts took hours and gave up after 4 treatments
              Vaginal valium suppositories - not as effective as taking valium orally
              Cystoprotek - ridiculously overpriced - taking same supplements from CVS
              Elmiron - 100mg in the morn, 200mg in the late afternoon - no results after 1 year
              Elavil - 25 mg at night- no consistent relief and 5 extra pounds
              IV Vitamin C - the only person with an allergic reaction to Vitamin C drips


              • #8
                yes, i still have trigger points. And not only few.
                I still flare when i do the protocol ( i get more frequency/urgency and pressure feeling). I have been talking to Dr. Wise, he thinks i should do all this more gently.
                I hope u are doing better with the protocol


                • #9
                  Sorry, guys. I was off the forum for a while. I was hoping I would get emails when people posted but I didn't realize people were posting additional replies. If you want to get in touch with me, feel free to private message me or post again.
                  Please see some of my forum postings about my experience

                  My positive experience at the Wise Anderson Weekend

                  Interesting Reads out on the Internet:


                  • #10
                    Re: 2012 Wise-Anderson Clinic - One Guys Personal Review (Warning Long Post)

                    I attended the Wise-Anderson Pelvic Pain Clinic in 2008. It was a pivotal point in my healing from over 20 years of pelvic pain symptoms. It was worth the money. However, it wasn't the complete answer for me. I worked with a mind-body coach who really helped me to learn how to feel emotions and to inhabit my body in a healthier way. Now I'm coaching other people, specializing in pelvic pain healing support. So if you feel stalled after the clinic, keep going, there is still another piece that needs to be addressed.