David G. Simons M.D.: Above
David Simons, co-author of the definitive texts of myofascial
medicine, was a pre-astronaut. He was the first man to see the
curvature of the earth. He was suspended from a balloon in
what amounted to a metal can, to find out what happens to the body
and mind at that altitude over a 24-hour period. He was driven
by the urge to know and to understand; that same drive helped bring
us documented data on myofascial pain and trigger points and kept
him searching until he found the mechanisms that cause trigger
points to occur.
On August 19, 1957, Dr. Simons was able to view the earth from an
altitude of over 100,000 feet, almost 20 miles above the surface of
the earth, higher than any balloonist had ever been. He ran
experiments and recorded biomedical, astronomical, meteorological
and electromagnetic observations. One problem after another
plagued the flight, but still he chose to continue.
He saw colors that had no name and described them for the people
“Where the atmosphere merged with the colorless blackness of space,
the sky was so heavily saturated with this blue-purple color that it
was inescapable, yet its intensity was so low that it was hard to
comprehend, like a musical note which is beautifully vibrant but so
high that it lies almost beyond the ear’s ability to hear, leaving
you certain of its brilliance but unsure whether you actually heard
it or dreamed of its beauty,” he said in the taped log of Project
Craig Ryan, in “The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the
Threshold of Space”, tells the story of Dr. Simons’ flight, and the
quotes used here are from this book.
“Simons would say later that the sunset from his vantage at the top
of the stratosphere was the single most startling sight his eyes had
ever seen. For an entire hour he sat rapt, tearing his
attention away only briefly to record his impressions on a tape
“A curious reversal of night and day met my eyes,” he wrote.
“High in the atmosphere, where the sun still shot its rays, the ever
deepening blue sky was acquiring a greenish, sunset tinge. But
below it, closer to the earth, was a giant demarcation line which
looked like a faded rainbow arching from south to north across the
eastern horizon. And beneath the line was the darkness of
night covering the earth below. The daylit sky was above, the
darkened sky below. And as the sunset progressed, the rainbow
arch rose ever higher, drawing with it a curtain of blackness.
Above the slowly changing colors was a layer of blue so clear that
it was as if someone had lifted a veil from an ordinary blue sky to
leave it polished and bright and clean with no scattered light to
diffuse it.” Night fell, and he marveled, “The stars glow like
an animal’s eyes...I have ringside view of the heavens–it is
The book goes on to say, “He had prevailed over long odds, meager
funds, a deadly storm, and near-toxic carbon dioxide levels.
He was the first man to spend an entire night and day in the
stratosphere, the first man ever to float down into a thunderstorm,
the first man to ascend above 100,000 feet in a balloon. David
Simons had just completed one of the greatest feats of endurance and
perseverance in aviation history.”
Of this material are heroes made. David Simons later met Janet
Travell. He turned his descriptive talents to trigger points,
and together they founded the field of myofascial medicine and gave
us all a chance to rise above the world of chronic pain.
Excerpted from "Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain: A Survival
Manual" edition 2, by Devin J. Starlanyl.
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