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Classic case of TMS has taken over my body for more than a year

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by altoid, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. altoid

    altoid Newcomer

    Hey everybody, this is my first post and actually the first time I will write about this anywhere. I guess I'll give you guys most of the full story, and this might be long because there's a lot to it and I'm not really sure how much detail is appropriate, so my apologies if I seem long-winded.

    I'm a 21 year old guy, and in the 2016-17 school year I took a semester off from University to practice music. (I had been studying jazz performance degree in school). I was practicing/playing 8+ hours a day, and there was a lot of pressure on me, both internal and external. Externally, my parents had agreed to pay my rent for my "sabbatical" and so they were expecting me to become excellent at music during my time off. Additionally, all of my friends at school knew I was taking time off specifically to practice, so I knew they had expectations of me to come back to school and be this amazing musician. Internally, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself as well, because of course I wanted to be great.

    In Nov. 2016 I started getting pain in my right forearm, which I thought was just from playing saxophone too much. At first I ignored it, but it just started getting worse and worse, to the point where I was in agonizing pain even playing for a few minutes. But I had a number of important gigs around that time, so I basically took a ton of ibuprofen and kept practicing. By the time my important stuff was done in mid-January of 2017, my right arm felt like it was destroyed. The pain became constant and agonizing, like my arm was eating itself alive from the inside or something.

    I started going to various doctors and physical therapists, who all turned out to be completely useless. I saw my GP, Ortho specialists, chiropractors, physical therapists, hand surgeons, everyone I could think of. I had X-Rays, ultrasounds, range of motion+strength tests, and everything was completely normal. There was apparently nothing wrong with my arm. I did a few soft tissue treatments like Graston & ART, and they helped to some degree but not completely. After a month or so of doing those my arm did feel significantly better, and I thought I was going to be fine! So I started playing saxophone again, after having stopped for a few months. From about March to May of 2017, everything was actually pretty great. I was playing music again, and I was not pain-free, but I could function and play for several hours a day with no huge issues.

    Then at the beginning of June, I came back home from the Summer to my parents house. I figured while I was back, I would go back to the Chiro and get some maintenance ART treatments. Couldn't hurt, right? So I went back, and after the first treatment the pain got much worse once again. It actually got almost as bad as it was back in January. I didn't understand how it was possible. Now I know it was TMS, but at that point I didn't know what to think. After that, the pain started getting worse again, even though I was playing saxophone much less than when the problem originally started. It didn't make any sense. After being frustrated with unsuccessful treatments for 6 months, I decided to stop playing saxophone completely, for 6 months. That was my last resort, and I was convinced that just giving my arm enough time to "heal" would be the only way through this "injury." So, that's what I did. But then it got worse.

    The pain in my arms spread from my forearm, to my hand and fingers of my right arm. Then it spread to my elbow. Then during the summer, typing started to bother me where it hadn't at all before. Then my LEFT arm started hurting when typing. My forearm, in the same place as my right arm. Then both of my hands started to hurt constantly, and I got sharp pains in my fingers after typing for any length of time. It didn't make any sense, once again. I thought I had hurt myself playing saxophone, why is TYPING bothering me now? For about 2 months I started avoiding the computer at all costs. I started reading books and going for walks instead, as well as use voice recognition software. I thought that if I just stopped using the computer for long enough, my hands and arms would eventually heal.

    Around that exact time, I started to get other symptoms, too. My chest started to hurt all the time. It didn't feel like heartburn, just like really bad pain. I started to not be able to eat certain foods because they would make me puke, so I avoided a lot of foods, and actually just avoided eating altogether, as much as I possibly could. After a few weeks, it still continued to get so bad that I went to the emergency room because it felt like my esophagus was literally burning, no matter what I ate, how I slept, or anything else I did. They sent me straight back home. I thought that it was most likely from taking too much ibuprofen for my arm pain, since ibuprofen has been known to cause ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues. I ended up seeing a Gastroenterologist who gave me an endoscopy & prescribed me some anti-acid medicine, and the problem seemed to go away after a couple weeks, and for the most part I could eat normally once again.

    Once I had stopped using the computer, I had started using my phone more since that didn't seem to bother me. Well, you can probably guess what happened. Yes, my thumbs began to hurt. Now this is where I began to get kind of suspicious. This was in August, and I hadn't even heard of TMS, but I knew that this didn't make any sense at all. I knew there was nothing wrong with my thumbs.

    Fast forward to mid-August, and this is where everything went to complete and total shit. I was planning on going back to school, and I actually had a lease on an apartment and I was registered for classes for September. Then one day I posted something on Facebook that caused a complete shitstorm with half of my friends at school. People who I thought were close friends were suddenly calling me a disgusting person, a racist, etc. I won't go into the details of that, but it stressed me out beyond belief. I was going to have to go back to school and interact with all these people (who all shared my major as well) who now hated me, and thought I was a trash human being. I seriously considered switching schools, because I was going to have to see these people on a daily basis. I was completely dreading going back to school from that point on and on the inside I was so worried, but I just kept it all inside.

    It was right after that falling out that the worst pain started. I was taking a walk (to avoid using the computer), and I noticed my balls began to hurt. It started to feel like someone had kicked me right in the groin. I started walking back to my car, about half a mile away. By the time I got back to my car I literally could not move. I couldn't even drive I was in so much pain. Ever since I took that walk, the testicular pain became constant, and it only got worse. I saw my GP who diagnosed me with epididymitis and gave me some antibiotics. They did nothing, and there was no confirmation of any kind of infection or inflammation. Long story short, I ended up having to cancel school and continue to stay at home. After about a week, I could not walk more than 5 minutes without excruciating testicular pain that would literally put me on the ground in tears. Right now it's January of 2018 and I've seen 4 urologists, who all have told me different things. Stop eating spicy food & alcohol, take hot baths, wear a scrotal support, go to physical therapy, etc and nothing has helped at all. I've had multiple ultrasounds, physical exams, prostate exams, and there is apparently nothing wrong with my testicles. They just hurt like hell and I can't walk. As far as medical doctors go, really the only next step is a spermatic cord denervation, which is a really extreme last resort and has the potential to go wrong and cause lifelong nerve pain in the groin and thigh. I want to avoid that at all costs, as you can imagine.

    Once this testicular pain started, the other problems got much, much worse as well. My arms and hands were barely usable. The stomach medicine I was on COMPLETELY stopped working. It started to feel like I wasn't taking any medicine at all. It was hell, and it's been hell ever since then. I've gotten depressed and have a ton of trouble falling asleep, and staying asleep. I have no motivation to do anything. What can I even do, anyway? Not much...

    In November I learned about TMS through some success stories on YouTube. I knew IMMEDIATELY this is what I have. I bought Healing Back Pain and read it in one sitting. Since November I've been more conscious of my repressed emotions, and started seeing a psychologist. But not much has changed. I did start playing saxophone again, and my arms don't hurt as much as they once did, but I am still in constant pain. My stomach pain has gotten slightly better, but I am still in constant pain once again.

    It wasn't until just this week that I started to consider that perhaps the testicular pain is just another manifestation of TMS. I couldn't bring myself to believe it. It has just been too severe to be TMS, so I thought. But now I'm convinced that the testicular pain is TMS, too. It is far too coincidental that the pain started just after I had the falling out with all my friends, and right before I was going to go back to school, and right in concurrence with these other chronic health problems. But I don't know what to do about it. I really don't.

    I know that healing is going to take a long time with a case that is this severe and with the amount of emotions that I've been repressing for basically my whole life, but I honestly don't even know how to start resuming any semblance of normal activity when I can't even walk for more than a couple minutes. I'm confident that I CAN get better, but I just don't know HOW.

    I'm trapped in this vicious cycle of the fear of the pain continuing indefinitely leading to more stress leading to more pain, and I don't know how to break that cycle. I'm convinced that my arm and stomach problems aren't going to get better unless I can fix the testicular problem, which has been causing me the most stress of all as it has essentially made me an invalid. I wake up every morning and every muscle in body is stiff and sore from not moving at all and from being stressed and anxious to the max. I have developed bad lower back pain, neck pain and buttock pain which just makes everything worse and makes my quality of life extremely poor. I have so much anxiety now about everything in my life, whereas before all this I was just a happy, carefree person. I just constantly feel on-edge and extremely tense all over my body. For the past few months I've just been in a constant downward spiral that I don't know how to escape. I'm a person who has always kept emotions bottled up inside, and now those repressed emotions are destroying my life and my future. It feels like I'm slowly being buried alive. Any advice or words of encouragement would be extremely welcomed at this point, and thank you so much for taking the time to read my story.
    Click#7 likes this.
  2. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Dear altoid, what a story! You experienced a lot in a short period of time. That would cause anxiety and desperation in everyone. Therefore, the first thing that is most important for you, is to be patient and not hard to yourself. And of course you can be healed and live a life free of chronic pain! Your read all the success stories and why shouldn't you be able to do it? What strikes me in your narration is that you seem to be a very reflective person, especially for your age. That is a big advantage, be proud of this. I wish I had your insights when I was 21!
    Although you are working with a psychologist you might follow the programs here on the website, e.g. Alan Gordon's TMS Recovery Program.
    You started your story with the pressure you felt when you practiced music (Jazz! I love it!). You are also saying that you bottled your emotions inside. Well, now is the time to have a closer look at them. And maybe really feel them for the first time. That at least happened to me, I was astonished how clear the emotion was felt in the end.
    Buttock and pelvic pain is most often TMS. I have pelvic pain with bladder pain and know definitely that it is TMS. And I have long periods where I am pain free. So, be encouraged to go this way. It is worth it. Not only for being pain free but also for being more aware of yourself and lead a better life in general.
    I think you are on the right way, just continue!
    all the best, sending you vibes!
    Ellen likes this.
  3. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    You don't 'break the cycle'. You learn about the cycle and either get off the cycle or rise above the cycle through awareness.
    Your recovery is NOT going to necessarily take a long time, though once you know the 'trick' it might be something you use for your whole life as a tool... the same way your sight and hearing are tools. TMS awareness is just another 'sensory' sensation and when I get a little tickle I know it is time to slow down and look at my life. But You can be rid of the symptoms in a relatively short amount of time...weeks, if you really intentfully and courageously go about it.

    Every time I meet a TMSer who is aware it is TMS but can't seem to get rid of the symptoms, there is usually a big elephant in their living room e.g. a bad marriage they are too scared to leave, a bad career that they feel they 'ought' to be engaged in or a terrifying situation from childhood they have become 'OK' with and conveniently ignored.

    That being said... I read your symptom list. I have had virtually all of them at some point or another, though perhaps not as long as you've suffered. Balls, check, arms, check, numbness in thumbs and fingers, check.

    I am a musician. I had that same 'emergency room visit' ...right before a HUGE showcase I had for Polygram. In fact it happened the night I found out a band member wouldn't be able to play....4 days before a showcase I had rehearsed for 4 weeks (on their dime... they paid for the rehearsals etc)....burning from the sides all the way into the center of my chest. CERTAIN I was having a heartattack. Played the show sitting down for the back pain (funny....as soon as the show was over I lugged my own amp off the stage...pain gone! Clue?)

    I had that chronic epididymitis which got unbearable right as my divorce was final... the metaphor is f-ing precious! (LOL)...

    ..and the hand and arm/pain numbness when I go to play guitar... pretty stock. TMS is there to distract us. It has to get our attention to distract us and therefor it is no coincidence where the symptoms 'break out'. In fact, There is a pretty comprehensive catalogue of symptoms and what the underlying 'issue' is that I have come to rely on... It's in the back Of Louise Hay's "You can heal your life". I would have laughed you off the planet if you had told me about it when I was 21, but at age 32 when I was a cripple I became amazingly openminded. Now that I'm 52 and still rocking the fun life I couldn't imagine what I would have been like without it.

    ...OK...all of that stuff would be pointless and academic UNLESS we get to the real underlying causes. College. Being a musician. Home life and family relationships. Girlfriends, Boyfriends, whatever.... being a musician PERIOD. The world thinks we are all bums so if you really want to join this fraternity you better look at the issue of WHat OthER peOplE thInK about me....very closely.

    If you care about that at a deep and unconscious level, your body will rebel. Most musicians and artist types pretend that they are IDGAF types, but truth be told most of us are giant LIARS in that arena (thus the astonishingly homogenous array of 'product' spewing forth from us) If you have a mother or father or GF in your ear wondering when you are going to join the 'real' world and get a real job in say...accounting? That is going to produce huge volumes of RAGE which will find it's way out of you via various symptoms.

    however...strange as this may seem...once you have done some inside work.... recognizing WHERE a lot of the silly idea's about life ...we all have inside of us ....OriginATed, you will then be free to be free.....of pain and other people's well intentioned 'advice'.

    You are lucky to have nipped this in the bud by finding TMS and Sarno so young. Use the tools, get better and then go do what you want. It's that simple.
    PM me if you like...

    Ines, Ellen, Lainey and 2 others like this.
  4. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    Baseball65, when I read about your experiences as a musician and remembering what you have said about about your mother, I was reminded of Dianna Kenny's work on performance anxiety in professional musicians. Kenny is an ISTDP therapist, ISTDP being the method used by Dr. Sarno's chief psychologist Dr. Arlene Feinblatt. The article is heavy with the quirky terminology of ISTDP, which is off-putting, but I wonder if you might find it interesting nonetheless. Below is a link to the article in case you want to take look at it. To introduce it, here is the opening sentence of the abstract of the article: "Kenny has proposed that severe music performance anxiety that is unresponsive to usual treatments such as cognitive-behaviour therapy may be one manifestation of unresolved attachment ruptures in early life."

    http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC5026982/ (Identifying attachment ruptures underlying severe music performance anxiety in a professional musician undertaking an assessment and trial therapy of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP))
  5. birder

    birder Well known member

    Altoid, I'm new here too, but not new to the experience of TMS "taking over" my body. Your post really resonated with me. I had many occasions where I would tell myself, "Well, the pain is bad here, but at least I can still do xxx" - only to have the pain move so that I couldn't do xxx! Classic TMS. I confess I laughed out loud while reading your post because it so mirrored my own experience, except for, um, certain parts of the anatomy I don't happen to have (but if I did, I'm sure they'd hurt like heck!).
    You've come to the right place. I believe you'll find the the community support and SEP exercises both enlightening and healing. You WILL get your life back!
  6. Click#7

    Click#7 Well known member

    You have EVERY reason to believe you have TMS.....so baseball65 always gives a great perspective. In the Great Pain Deception by Steve Ozanich on page 181 he says this, "Illness not only allows us to repair & regroup, but it allows us to escape a situation that we could not otherwise flee." Seems to me that you were not ready to go back to whatever you were avoiding either school, playing the Sax, your friends etc so your subconscious mind made that decision for you. You are so young with many life decisions to make. Altoid take the plunge and think about what makes YOU happy at your own pace and let go. Don't fret man you've got another 60 years ahead of you so love and be happy. I bet there is something way down deep inside you that needed to pause to sort things out that is as big as an elephant like BB65 brought up when he said he had to...."slow down and look at my life". Like an old song that comes to mind..."Don't WORRY...be HAPPY...
    Time2be likes this.

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