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My TMS Success Story (crippling foot pain - plantar fasciitis, wrist pain, eye pain)

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by AnitaV, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. AnitaV

    AnitaV Well known member

    Since discovering the work of Dr. John Sarno 8 months ago, my life has undergone a transformation that I had never dreamed was possible.

    My journey of chronic pain began when I was 15 years old. I developed chronic, crippling pain in my left foot that was diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. After many different treatments it finally went away after a year, but returned when I was 18 years old. The pain continued, and after a year, I was completely unable to walk, and took a year off of college and had a surgery to straighten my left heel bone, which had become crooked because I walked incorrectly for so long due to the pain. After the surgery, I was able to walk without pain wearing shoes with orthotics, but I was unable to take a single step barefoot without terrible pain in my left foot that would then take days of rest to resolve. I had thought that I would never walk again prior to the surgery, so I was just grateful that I could walk without pain at all.

    At the age of 22, I had my first attack of severe eye pain. After seeing many doctors, it was diagnosed as severe eye strain due to convergence insufficiency. The pain gradually went away over several months, but smaller attacks would occasionally recur.

    At the age of 27, during a particularly stressful time in my life, the eye pain returned in full force. I was in constant, severe pain, and had to take disability leave from work (I am a software developer). I went to one doctor after another, but no one gave me any answers, and the pain only got worse. Several months later, terrible pain suddenly started in my right foot. I was completely unable to walk and unable to use my eyes, and I fell into a deep depression. I tried one treatment after another, but absolutely nothing helped.

    Several months later, my eye pain had improved to the point where I was able to return to work, but I still could not walk, and was in a wheelchair. I continued trying one treatment after another for my foot, but nothing helped. My left foot started hurting as well. A year later, I suddenly developed severe pain in my wrists. The pain went up and down, but 6 months later, my wrists hurt so much that I was unable to eat without pain, and I started preparing to take disability leave from work. I also started having back pain, and pain in my right achilles tendon. I was unable to do anything, and I was in pain from head to toe.

    I will never forget the day I discovered the work of Dr. Sarno. In November of 2013, I was searching desperately for solutions for my wrist pain on the internet, using voice recognition software, when I came across the Harvard RSI website (http://www.rsi.deas.harvard.edu/). I read all sorts of depressing advice about using plastic utensils and an electric toothbrush and voice recogition, when I came across a page describing a mind-body approach to RSI (http://www.rsi.deas.harvard.edu/mb_what_is.html). This page contains a link to a handout describing Dr. Sarno's theories in several pages. I downloaded it, and by the time I finished reading it, tears were streaming down my face. I knew that this was the first day of the rest of my life. I knew that this was the answer I had so desperately been searching for for years. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my wrist pain was caused entirely by TMS, and I understood deep down that all of the chronic foot pain and eye pain that had plagued my for years was also caused by TMS, as well as all the new pain symptoms I had developed recently (back, achilles tendon).

    I immediately ordered The Mindbody Prescription (audiobook and Kindle edition), after spending hours reading the book's reviews on Amazon. I started with the audiobook, because my eye pain prevented me from reading, but halfway through I switched to the Kindle edition and finished it without any eye problems. I read every day and followed Dr. Sarno's directions in the book to a tee. I did not take disability leave, but continued to work, and my wrist pain started improving rapidly. One week after first discovering Dr. Sarno, I trimmed green beans for Thanksgiving dinner. A week earlier, this would have been unthinkable with my level of pain and fear.

    I continued reading The Mindbody Prescription every day. I also started reading The Divided Mind, and Dr. Marc Sopher's To Be or Not To Be... Pain-Free. I worked hard to understand TMS, and to discover my own repressed feelings. I also contacted Dr. Frank Padrone, a psychologist who worked with Dr. Sarno at NYU for 30 years. He has a private practice in Long Island, where I lived at the time, and I started seeing him every week for psychotherapy.

    My wrist pain continued to improve rapidly, as did my eye pain, back pain, and achilles tendon pain. My foot pain, which had consumed so much of my life for the past 14 years, was much harder to tackle. It was very difficult for me to fully accept that this pain was TMS, and to let go of my paralyzing fear of walking. This was in part due to MRI and ultrasound imaging that showed significant inflammation in the plantar fascia of my right foot. Dr. Sarno never discusses TMS causing inflammation in his books, so it was difficult for me to fit this into his theories. However, I read about other people whose TMS caused inflammation as part of their pain symptoms, and this gave me more confidence.

    Gradually, I became more and more confident that my foot pain was due to TMS, and finally, I had enough confidence to let go of my fear and begin to increase my walking. Once I fully accepted the TMS diagnosis and let go of my fear, my foot pain started improving rapidly.

    Without about 3 months of discovering Dr. Sarno's work (and while continuing to read and reflect every day), my wrist pain, eye pain, back pain, and achilles tendon pain were gone almost entirely. I was using my hands normally, and rarely experiencing any pain. My foot pain took longer, in part because I had terrible muscle atrophy after 2 years of not walking or barely walking, and experienced all sorts of awful pains once I started using my foot again. With many ups and downs, my foot pain continued to improve, and I continued to grow stronger and increase my activity level.

    I had been unable to stand or take a single step barefoot or without orthotics since I was 19 years old. I will never forget the day I took a shower barefoot, in January of 2014, just two months after first discovering Dr. Sarno. My foot was still in a great deal of pain, but I knew that I would not hurt it my standing on it barefoot. I knew that I was strong and resilient, not broken and fragile. I let go of the fear of my body that had controlled so much of my life since I was 15 years old, and I understood that my future held endless possibilites.

    With ups and down, my pain continued to improve, and I continued to increase my walking more and more. In March, I started taking yoga classes. In May, I started taking adult beginner ballet classes, something I had dreamed of doing, but had never thought was possible. In June, I started walking around my house barefoot, something I had not been able to do since I was a teenager. I also started seeing a personal trainer, to get strong, and to discover what my body is capable of.

    During all this time, I continued seeing Dr. Frank Padrone for psychotherapy. I discovered how and why and when I repress emotions. I discovered how important our inner emotional life is, and how often we ignore it and repress it. Dr. Padrone has changed the way I experience my life, and I continue to learn something new every time I see him.

    It is now July of 2014, and I am pain-free from head to toe, and stronger than I have ever been. I still experience pangs of pain, especially in my feet, but when I do, I shift my focus to my emotions, and the pain eventually goes away. I owe an eternal debt of gratitude to Dr. Sarno and to his colleagues for giving me back my life, and giving me a new life that I had not dreamed was possible.

    If anyone would like me to share more details about any part of my story, especially my recovery, please let me know. I could go into great detail about my recovery, and I would like to do anything possible to help anyone else with their own recovery. Reading success stories on the internet was an enormous part of my recovery, and I hope that my story helps other people as well. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

  2. Sheree

    Sheree Well known member

    What a wonderful story Anita!! To go through so much pain and now be pain-free. You have worked hard at it, so well done and enjoy every moment. I am sure you will.
  3. blake

    blake Well known member

    I am so grateful for your story, Anita. Absolutely incredible and inspiring. So many things spoke to me in your message. I especially appreciated the part where you say it took you 8 months. I tend to get a little impatient, but am starting to understand that this is a journey.

    Thank you for sharing and enjoy all your new fun activities.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Wonderful and well written story! It is so inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. This is what keeps us going.
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Anita, your success story is wonderful and a great inspiration to everyone.

    I think we would all like to know more about how you recovered.
    That's of great interest to everyone still struggling with pain of any kind.

    It's very kind of you to offer to write more about your recovery.
  6. Sissy

    Sissy New Member


    Thanks so much for sharing and if you don't mind I would appreciate hearing any insights you may have specifically addressing foot tendon issues. You mentioned that these foot problems were harder to overcome and I have read this before. I was able to completely eradicate my original ankle/ foot pain after months and months - where I tried everything including prolotherapy - upon realizing it was TMS and doing the necessary reading etc. However now I cannot rid myself of a brand new pain on the other side of the same foot "coincidentally" around an area where my MRIs show issues but where I never had pain before despite my decades of intense exercise routine and constant high heel wearing. I'm struggling to believe it's just another symptom imperative but it's been hanging on for weeks which is weeks longer than my other previous imperatives. I continue to work out intensely and am not backing off activity but I'm losing confidence that this too is TMS even though I also know it is- if that makes sense. So if you could address why you say and understand feet are harder to tackle and perhaps any hints as to how you tackled it I would be very grateful.

    Thank you

  7. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    AnitaV, This is an awesome recovery story, congratulations.
  8. AnitaV

    AnitaV Well known member

    Thank you all so much for your support! It means a lot to me.

    Walt - what would you like to know more about? I can write in more detail about any aspect of my recovery that you are interested in!

    Sissy - I also experienced all sorts of crazy symptoms during my recovery as part of the symptom imperative, from chest pain to pain under my chin to knee pain. Sometimes they were so sudden, so random, and so obviously TMS, that is seemed like my brain was going haywire, desperately trying to create a physical symptom for me to focus on. Some went away very fast, some stuck around for longer. Dr. Padrone told me that Dr. Sarno would say that when the pain starts jumping around, you know you've got it on the run.

    It definitely sounds like your new foot pain is TMS. From my understanding and experience, there are two components to getting rid of this pain. The first is to understand TMS, accept that your pain is TMS, and let go of your fear.
    It sounds like you have done this. The other is to focus on your emotions, and to dig deep down inside yourself and figure out what it is that you are repressing, and allow yourself to feel those emotions. It is very difficult to continually probe painful memories and focus on negative emotions, but this is the other half of the key to overcoming TMS. Dr. Padrone gave me a very simple instruction for this: whenever your pain is bothering you, you must think "OTHER than this pain, what ELSE is bothering me?" This is really crucial. I continue to always do this whenever I have pain. It is emotionally painful, unpleasant, and annoying, but it works. In my experience, it is also the path to maturing emotionally, because it forces you to confront and to deal with difficult and painful things in your life.

    Additionally, I found the following note very helpful in dealing with new symptoms popping up due to the symptom imperative: http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/a-word-about-outcome-independence.562/. It is simple but very important.

    You also asked why I think feet are harder to tackle. In my own life, I think this was largely because my foot pain had dominated so many years of my life, and my fear had been so deeply ingrained over the course of many years. Also, Dr. Sarno writes very little about foot pain. Dr. Sopher writes more about it in his book and on his website. There are also far fewer succcess stories available online from people who overcame foot pain through TMS than there are about back pain or wrist pain. Foot pain seems to often be accompanied by findings on MRI, which of course reinforces the belief that the cause of the pain is structural. Even when I had pain in my achilles tendon, ultrasound showed inflammation there. In The Mindbody Prescription, Dr. Sarno writes that TMS does not cause inflammation, but I can tell you for a fact that it absolutely can, and it did for me, all over the place. The inflammation was a stumbling block for me to accepting the TMS diagnosis, and I was able to overcome it thanks to success stories from others who also had inflammation as part of their pain.

    I hope this is helpful! If I can help any more, ask away!
  9. AnitaV

    AnitaV Well known member

    Just to clarify - when I wrote that there are fewer TMS success stories about foot pain than about back or wrist pain, I don't mean to say that foot pain is less likely to be TMS than back or wrist pain. I'm convinced that almost all chronic foot pain people experience is due to TMS. I just meant to say that reading success stories is such an important part of accepting the TMS diagnosis, and so because there are so many fewer foot success stories available, this makes accepting the diagnosis harder. I was very lucky to have had dramatic success with my wrist pain first, for which there were countless success stories helping me through, before I tackled my foot pain.
  10. Sissy

    Sissy New Member


    Thank you so much for your thoughtful well written reply. I love that you also took the trouble to clarify! Very thoughtful. It's very frustrating as you know to think you have this beat and then all of a sudden realize you don't or worse- you are unique from everyone else with TMS and now you are the only one that truly has a structural problem because you overdid it. I think I got lazy with my reading and introspection once I was feeling better- that'll teach me huh?! Ive been doing a lot of entertaining - even more than usual-which although I love, truth be told, is a source of great anxiety for me. I'm going to start again from the beginning, as though I just rediscovered Sarno. Journaling etc. I thank you very much and cant tell all of you on here how much I appreciate this forum. Sorry if I'm on the wrong sub forum btw.

    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  11. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Sissy. Entertaining... preparation and doing it... can be stressful. You want everything
    to go just right. Besides having enough food and drink, I think the best way to entertain
    is to open the door and let the guests come in and entertain themselves. But watch the
    volume of the music. I hate parties where everyone has to yell to be heard over the music.

    Maybe take deep breathing breaks at various stages of the entertaining.
    And tell yourself "This is going to be easy. This is going to be fun."

    It's always a good idea to start TMS healing again from the beginning...
    Reading Dr. Sarno and his 12 steps to healing. And journaling.

    I'll be posting a new thread on journaling and the emotions in a day or two.
    How to do it, how it works, how important journaling is. Quoting some experts.
    Sissy likes this.
  12. AnitaV

    AnitaV Well known member

    Hi Sissy,

    I find myself getting lazy too. Once you've beat TMS once, and you get a new symptom, it's pretty easy to understand and accept that it's TMS. But, discovering and facing your emotions is as hard as ever. When I get lazy, I try doing the first part without the second, but for me, the symptoms don't go away until I figure out what's bothering me, and face up to it.

    I recommend taking time for introspection every day. Don't judge yourself for whatever emotions you have. They are yours and they are always legitimate. We have notions about how we should and shouldn't feel, and this leads to us judging ourselves and repressing emotions that we deem unacceptable. Also, sometimes we get so busy that we never stop to think about how we are feeling. If entertaining is something you love, but it also a source of anxiety, accept those negative emotions, and really analyze why and when it's a source of anxiety.

  13. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great advice, Anita. We all need to accept who we are... who God made us to be. He loves and accepts us,
    warts and all, so we need to accept ourselves. It helps to focus on how good we really are and feel that inside ourselves,
    letting the things we may not like about ourselves float away like a dark cloud, so the sunshine comes through.

    When I've hosted a big party and am exhausted afterward, I enjoy slowly cleaning up before going to bed,
    thinking back on how I enjoyed everyone.
    Enrique and Eric "Herbie" Watson like this.
  14. psychosomatic

    psychosomatic Peer Supporter

    Anita - your story was a joy to read. You are such an excellent writer and your story will inspire many other's on their road to recovery. Thank you for sharing :)
  15. AnitaV

    AnitaV Well known member

    Thank you all again for all the support!

    Walt, I have taken a different approach than you. I agree with you completely that we need to accept ourselves. We can spend so much emotional energy fighting who we are, and this only makes us miserable. Of course there are things about ourselves that we can try to change, but we have to accept them first, and then work on change. However, in my experience, it's important to focus on and delve into our negative and painful emotions that we try to ignore or push away. These are the repressed emotions that are the cause of our pain. This has been the approach I have taken. If something is bugging me, I force myself to think about it. It sounds strange that focusing on the negative can improve your life, but not only have I gotten rid of my pain, I feel like I've become a calmer, more positive person as well. Maybe it's because by recognizing and feeling my painful emotions, I have accepted them and have accepted myself.
  16. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    AnitaV, you're doing it right. The TMS healing techniques are great but some work better for some than for others.
    I think acceptance as you do it is great.

    I was watching a rerun last night of an episode of MR. SELFRIDGE, an excellent Masterpiece Theater series,
    and his mother told him, "The past haunts us if we don't confront us." Sounds like pure TMS knowledge, doesn't it!

    He was troubled about his father having left them when he was a boy, and she told him to just accept that so he could find peace
    with him and himself.
  17. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I misquoted or misspelled but the quote was
    "The past haunts us if we don't confront it.
  18. AnitaV

    AnitaV Well known member

    I think the first thing he needs to do is tap into the emotions he felt as a boy, and allow himself to fully feel them. Until he allows himself to fully feel the hurt, betrayal, fear, etc.. that arose when his father left him, these buried feelings will continue to haunt him. Once he allows himself to them, they will eventually pass.

    I'm currently reading a remarkable book called Take Off Your Glasses And See, by Jacob Liberman, about understanding and improving eyesight through a mindbody approach. This book hits many of the same notes as Dr. Sarno's work. I am reminded of the following passage of this book, which I agree with completely:

    "Since we typically spend many years avoiding these difficult feelings, it can be quite a challenge at first to acknowledge them. However, when we begin to feel them fully, painful, self-defeating emotional patterns actually do begin to shift. Emotional healing seems to take place as we allow ourselves to feel our deepest pain. You could say that this process is like allowing a fever to run its course rather than suppressing it with aspirin."

    The analogy to fever rings very true to me.
  19. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Anita, Liberman's advice is pure TMS advice from Sarno, Ozanich, and others. We need to really feel the emotions that causes our pain.
    The feelings as you mention, of hurt, betrayal, fear and others. I too like the analogy to a fever.

    The other night I was watching a re-run of an episode of "MR. SELFRIDGE" on Masterpiece Theater and he was having emotional
    problems. His mother told him, "The past haunts us, if we don't confront it." She referred to his boyhood, when his father left them.
    Selfridge had to make his own peace with that loss and rejection.
  20. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    Anita thx so much for sharing, I to suffer from foot pain but not as bad as you but never the less would love to hear more.

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