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Crohn's Disease & TMS - Inflammation vs. Oxygen Deprivation

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by eightball776, May 3, 2017.

  1. eightball776

    eightball776 Peer Supporter

    I’ve posted bits and pieces of my ongoing saga on these forums before, but I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a wall with the treatment of my lower back pain and am hoping for some guidance or shared experiences that might help. I’m entering my 11th year of this struggle, and am having some of the darkest days I’ve ever seen. It takes everything I’ve got just to get through the day. Every aspect of my life has been crippled by this – social, financial, professional, physical fitness.

    · Happy/normal childhood, supportive family – diagnosed with Crohn’s age 6
    · Intermittent joint problems throughout adolescence, including a few bouts with low-back pain in my early teens. Periodic need for Prednisone to control IBD, which unfortunately combined with malnutrition from Crohn’s to severely stunt my growth.
    · Age 23, low back pain becomes persistent/debilitating, lasting about a year. Discover Dr. Sarno, become a patient, banish pain 100% shortly thereafter.
    · Quickly develop severe panic disorder, textbook case of the ‘Symptom Imperative’ - 2 years before I can conquer it.

    Fast forward to my early 30s, and the back pain returns – with a vengeance. None of the techniques that helped me win the battle a decade earlier seemed to have any effect. My brain is screaming out for a solution and punishing my body in the process.

    Eventually I begin to listen to the doctors that are telling me my back pain is the result of inflammation related to the Crohn’s Disease. I still can’t fully accept this since my gastrointestinal symptoms do not coincide with the back pain. That is until

    my gastroenterologist recently informed me that out of the approximately 30% of Crohn’s patients that deal with chronic low back pain, just about 100% of them experience that pain independent from gastrointestinal symptoms. So I had it completely wrong. I feel like that way of thinking was helping me to accept that 100% of the cause is psychological. It kept me convinced that it was a separate issue, though that approach hadn’t worked, I was still clinging to the concept.

    Prednisone, for all of its evils, remains the only ‘treatment’ that has a truly significant impact on my pain. It is magical – the first few doses wipe out 95% of my pain. My doc believes that the TMS exacerbates the existing inflammation.

    Dr. Sarno maintains that Crohn’s itself is a manifestation of TMS. He also told me that my TMJ was TMS as well. I have trouble buying these two assertions because I was grinding my teeth as a toddler, and was diagnosed with the Crohn’s at age 6. I just don’t see a lot of repressed rage developed at that age. However, I have most definitely noticed that the Crohn’s is exacerbated by emotional trauma. As a matter of fact, on several occasions, a stay in the hospital has followed major emotional events in my life.

    Here’s the bottom line – does it really matter if it’s the inflammation from the Crohn’s or oxygen deprivation or vice-versa? Just to have the experience of a man in a white coat agreeing that this is all TMS, I went to see Dr. Sarno’s disciple, Dr. Ira Rashbaum. He agreed that it was likely TMS. Yet for all of my intellectualizing, self-awareness, and constant reminders that the pain is within my power to eliminate – I remain in constant agony. I can list 30 reasons why my brain might want to create a distraction in the form of back pain. Acknowledging these things is not working. I am actually sick of reading about folks that have cured their chronic pain after a 40 minute conversation, like the ones in Adam Heller’s book, “Zero Pain Now”. I know it is supposed to be helpful but at this stage it is just annoying. I’ve done the psychotherapy, but it’s not helpful for me.

    I have tried everything I can think of. What else can I do? Is this pain persisting because there is still a lingering doubt somewhere in the back of my brain that is unsure that this time around is 100% TMS? I don’t think so, but if that is the case, I just don’t know any other way to shut this mechanism down before it kills me.

    Anyone have any ideas? IF you read this far, you must have an opinion! Thanks.
  2. Steve Ozanich

    Steve Ozanich TMS Consultant

    Interesting post, you sound like 90% of the people who contact me. There's several incongruent things but all in all typical. You don't see yourself through a clear lens but you certainly have some great insight on other things. You also write well, and express yourself goodly.

    The mechanism doesn't matter, inflammation, oxygen deprivation, etc. that's all true but who cares? You are too locked into body consciousness. There's great anxiety there but the good news is you can feel much better. The symptoms are not uncommon but you're stuck in the same spot that most are.

    You definitely have doubts on whether it's TMS, but who doesn't? The doubt persists for a reason, which is because you need to doubt.

    Deeper understanding (light) heals everything, but wherein doth thy looketh? "A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest," and you can never find what you don't want to find, however in your case you're looking, which is a good sign. You'll find your way, you just need to know what's really going on. In searching for answers you are TMSing. So what are you seeking? Answers or peace?

    Kira and Ines like this.
  3. eightball776

    eightball776 Peer Supporter

    Interesting question. I think I've given up on finding peace for the time being, because there's none to be had while the pain persists. I seem to be overflowing with 'answers', but none seem to get me closer to eliminating the underlying mechanism that fuels the TMS. Yet I still can't seem to dedicate myself to certain daily habits that I know will be beneficial, i.e. meditation, careful & diligent stretching, improved posture, etc. The same personality traits that brought on the TMS are working against me, and in many ways have been magnified. For example, the more time I spend on my back and out of commission, the harder I try to 'catch up' the moment I feel a little better. This seemingly unbreakable pattern is obviously a losing strategy, because I wind up further down the rabbit hole after I overdo it. Inexplicably, my 'to do list' can still often take priority over activities like the ones mentioned above. The real addiction is not steroids or pain killers - it's productivity.

    As you mentioned, I have some pretty good insight about what's going on and have no problem identifying potential causes for the pain. When I successfully banished the pain before, acknowledgement was enough. This time around, it's not even making a dent. I think that is what's producing the doubt - if consciously I believe it is rooted in the psychological, and that belief has done nothing to reduce my pain, then perhaps there is an element in there that's beyond my control. I consistently evangelize Dr. Sarno's teachings to everyone I encounter that suffers from chronic pain, yet have no good answer when someone asks why I've been unable to cure myself with the same methods.

    The only choice I have is to heal myself; there is no doctor that is going to get me through this. Yet I feel like I don't have any weapons left. It's a very helpless feeling.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I had my first migraine headache when I was 4 years old. Over 50 years later and much suffering from frequent migraines, I discovered the concept of TMS. I have completely eliminated migraines using a TMS treatment approach. It took me about a year. So I believe I started having TMS at 4 years old. As I began to journal about it all, it made perfect sense. I was taught to repress emotions at a very early age. So I wouldn't let your age at the time of symptoms lead you to believe it couldn't be TMS.
  5. eightball776

    eightball776 Peer Supporter

    It's a tough sell. It feels like a long way from oxygen-deprived muscles to severe malnourishment or blocked intestines requiring emergency surgery. I get that many mind-body disorders are the result of our basic survival instincts going haywire (i.e. panic attacks & fight or flight), but I have to think that my unconscious mind would stop short of killing me over repressed stress. At the end of the day it is a question I'll never know the answer to, so it makes little sense to obsess over the distinction. What's important is that I do everything within my power to make sure I don't exacerbate the condition with dumb lifestyle choices.

    When I mentioned that I’d found myself in the hospital after emotionally traumatic events, there were other factors involved as well. Also, these events were most definitely in my conscious mind, which at least in my case appears to be completely separate from unconscious stress. Over the last decade I’ve noticed no discernible difference in the quality of my pain when I experience what most people classify as stress - bad day at work, relationship troubles, etc. When I successfully banished the back pain the 1st time around, recognizing that my personality was on every page of Dr. Sarno’s book & simply accepting the concept was enough. Since then I’ve gained a much greater understanding of the reasons behind the repressed stress.

    This is what frightens me the most - I don’t think there is anything left to figure out. I have a tough time eliminating the self-talk that fuels parts of the process, but I’ve learned to let them go. I’ve accepted the diagnosis - the doubt creeping in recently is just a product of my complete failure at treating it as TMS up until this point. I’ve done the journaling & psychotherapy. The ‘distraction’ that is supposed to be the main goal of the pain doesn’t really work, and honestly at this point I struggle to understand the purpose of the TMS. What else does my unconscious mind think it can accomplish by maintaining this state of chronic pain? The original response mentioned that I was too consumed with body consciousness. He is right, but what other tools are there to battle a mind-body disorder that refuses to respond to anything?
  6. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Years ago I attended a group meeting by a TMS doctor, prior to the meeting I sat in a waiting room with a fellow who was very busy cramming as much work in on his cell-phone with his briefcase open on his lap, prior to the meeting. At the start of the group session, during our intros, he mentioned his issue was Chrons. I had no doubt seeing that his T-personality, played a big role in it. Since you saw Dr. Sarno and Dr. Rashbaum, I assume you live or work in NYC, do you ever consider that your environment could be fueling your symptoms?
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
  7. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    Have you read Dr. Gabor Maté's When the Body Says No? If not, I recommend it. He discusses the role of stress in a wide array of physical health problems including in chapter 11 Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, but you should read the whole book.
  8. eightball776

    eightball776 Peer Supporter

    I left NY 25 years ago to head out west. Partially because I realized even back then that the lifestyle & built-in stress that goes along with surviving in NY wasn't for me. I'm not that guy you describe, but I used to be. My current environment is about as stress-free as possible. Aside from the stress and anguish that results FROM the TMS, there's nothing in my present-day life that contributes to it. Am I depressed because I am no longer able to participate in activities I enjoy? Of course. But that's the chicken after the egg....if my back pain vanished and I could resume an active lifestyle and feel well enough to re-engage with the world socially, that depression would disappear instantly.

  9. eightball776

    eightball776 Peer Supporter

    I'll give that a look; thanks. Although I have to admit that lately I have a very hard time with reading. It is as if my ADD has gotten steadily worse, and I have trouble concentrating on anything for more than a few minutes. Add that to my rapidly declining vision (3 new prescriptions in the last year), and reading is just unpleasant. I spend so much time at the computer that when I'm finished for the day my eyes need a break. That's no excuse though, I have much reading to do.
  10. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    I was unaware of your ADD. I hope you can stick with When the Body Says No long enough to get to the final chapter on "The Seven A's of Healing." It is excellent.

    If you like When the Body Says No, you might also be interested in Gabor Maté's Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What you Can Do About It. He writes from the perspective not only of a physician who treats ADD but also as a person who is ADD himself. Part Six of the book is titled "The ADD Adult." I have not read that part because my interest in ADD is only because I have two young grandchildren with it, but I would expect that part to be of the same quality as the earlier parts of the book. It seems to me there are commonalities (both genetic and experiential) between the origination of ADD and the origination of stress-caused physical health problems.
  11. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

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