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Day 1: excited but hesitant

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Dutch_girl, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. Dutch_girl

    Dutch_girl New Member


    Let me introduce myself. I'm Nicola, live in The Netherlands, and I'm 37 years old. Sorry for the long story, but I feel like I need to write it all down to be able to share the entire picture.

    My journey started last year October, when I began having strange symptoms. It started with an itchy ear, then my vision became blurry, I felt dizzy. Then the left side of my face started to become numb. Uh-oh!! Doctor Google told me the most awful things of course, and my own doctor tried to calm me down. But all I could imagine was doom and disaster.

    Slowly the left side of my arm went numb, then my leg. I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat. I sat there sobbing at the drs office. Finally after weeks of begging her for some tests, she sent me to have an MRI. MRI came back completely clear. My symptoms all faded within a month. Diagnosis? Stress! I didn't even think I felt particularly stressed out, but I accepted the diagnosis and all the fear ebbed away. My doctor urged me to see someone, a pshycho therapist, someone who deals with psychosomatic symptoms. But you know what? I didn't feel like it. My symptoms had vanished! What's the point of talking to someone if I feel fine, right? Oh how wrong I was.

    Forward six months. It's the beginning of May. The Covid-crisis meant homeschooling kids, working from home, you know the deal. Again, I didn't feel particularly stressed. But I remember waking up with a racing heart every now and then. And those dreadful itchy ears returned. Then my nana died mid-May. I hadn't been able to visit her because she lives in a different country, which also meant we couldn't attend the funeral.

    The day after my nana died, I wake up with a stiff neck. It really hurt to rotate my head to the right. This went on for two weeks, then I decided to go to the doctor. She took one look and said: physical therapy. I've been going to physical therapy for a month now - no change. Neck still hurts day and night. No change, nothing. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got another symptom: stomach pains. Again, all day and night. Doctor: take some Omeprazol. I didn't, because I hate taking medication.

    Because I knew it was all psychosomatic last year, I really want to accept that this is all due to stress. So I started looking for ways to cure myself naturally. I'm so happy I found this site, and really think there's a lot of sense in all of it. My only concern is: my neck pain and my stomach pain doesn't shift. It's there all day, no matter what I do. Then the doubt starts creeping in. Should I go for tests? In the Netherlands, and escpecially since my doctor thinks all my symptoms are stress-related, they don't just send you to have tests.

    Should I try and believe this program to see what happens? I've started journaling, meditation, and breathing. And plan on following the SEP. Any thoughts are welcome. Thanks for reading this far!
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Dutch_girl,

    Welcome to the Forum and Wiki,

    I think you're in the right place. You have many indicators supporting TMS, and an important step for you might be to "add up" all the reasons why this is a 'stress caused' problem for you. Make a short list and review it everyday to reassure yourself, and add to it if you can.

    You've mentioned some supporting evidence and there may be more:

    --onset with increased responsibility
    --onset with emotional upset re death in family
    --history in the fall of other "stress related" stuff
    --Drs. support "stress caused" condition diagnosis

    How about life history of other "psychosomatic" conditions?
    What kind of personality do you have?
    Are you hard on yourself?

    Don't discount symptoms as not stress related because they are

    As you work through the SEP, you'll find more and more support/understanding. I hope you post questions, and progress reports, etc.

    Part of the SEP and your journaling and so on is that you will be able to know your psychology better. You may develop more kindness to yourself, more knowledge about how you treat yourself. Most people learn and grow a lot through this process. Try to enjoy the learning, take confidence in the process, and have faith that you'll get better.

    Good luck in your journey!!!

    Dutch_girl likes this.
  3. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Welcome Dutch_girl. As Andy said, I think you are certainly in the right place. A few other thoughts I had...

    I don't think you have to worry about this. I would argue that your pain did "shift," in that it moved from your face to your arm to your neck and stomach. It's very common for a new symptom to appear once you lose your fear of an old one (such as when you stopped worrying about your numbness and itching). Any symptom that is being effective in distracting or scaring you likely will not shift or move until you truly lose your fear of it.

    I know what you mean. I too thought I was not very stressed, but it turns out I was just burying it all and not letting myself think about it. I thought my issues were all work related, as I hated my old job. However, what I learned from the program is that I had built a wall in my brain that completely blocked out negative thoughts towards my family. I had a very simple view of my life (work = bad, home life = good). I never allowed myself feelings that contradicted this. The program helped me uncover a lot of buried anger, fear, and frustration directed at my family. It was a scary process, but ultimately necessary to help me heal as it was those difficult emotions that were causing my symptoms. My family and I are all better for it now.

    Good luck and be sure to reach out with any questions or concerns you have!
    Dutch_girl likes this.
  4. Dutch_girl

    Dutch_girl New Member

    Thank you so much for your replies. I suppose I do have some reason to believe my symptoms are tms-related.

    I was actually doing quite well for the first week of the program. Pain was consist, but the Journaling and meditation felt great. Sadly since then my stomach pain got worse. It's this 24/7 nagging pain in my upper left abdoman, radiating towards my back. I have no appetite. My neck pain hasn't shifted. Enter panic mode. I've been given ppis (pantoprazole 40 twice a day), not working. I also don't have h pylori. I feel like the only thing that will ease my mind is a gastroscopy or scan, and the doctor won't give me one (for at least a month). So I've decided to go private. Health anxiety is the worst! Sorry about my pity post, but I've really had enough. I want proof I don't have anything serious so I can 100% believe it's TMS.
  5. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Hello...no worries about posting rants, worries, or such things. That's why people like us hang around the forum. That said, a few recommendations based on my experience...

    The increased pain after about a week of feeling better is very common (it's called an extinction burst). Alan Gordon has a great post about it that I highly suggest you read (see the link below). While these flare ups are difficult and scary at first, they are actually a sign of progress and that your condition is truly TMS. Pain caused by structural problems is more consistent, and follows rational patterns. For example, if your stomach bothers you for half a day because you ate an oversized fatty and spicy meal, that makes sense. But having your stomach feel better for a week just because you read TMS material, then having it get so much worse for no apparent reason is not logical. It's a sure sign of TMS. Alan explains it very well...

    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/day-19-extinction-bursts.16651/ (New Program - Day 19: Extinction Bursts)

    Regarding getting scopes and other tests, I understand they help put your mind at ease. I had sixteen months of tests before I learned about TMS, so I was ready to accept that I had no significant physical problems with my body. Have you had any scopes or other medical tests/labs for your digestive issues yet? Ruling out nasty physical problems is definitely part of the TMS program, but you don't want to fall in the trap of feeling like you have to continually seek tests and treatment if you have already done a bunch.

    Lastly, I would advise you strongly consider stopping the Pantoprazole if you didn't already. There is a lot of evidence showing acid reducers do more harm than good, and they are VERY HARD to get off once you start. I used a PPI for only two months, then weaned off. Even then it caused me several days of extreme agony. Stomach pains and indigestion etc. are a difficult symptom to deal with. That was one of my common symptoms while I was sick. However, in my experience, drugs and dietary restrictions did nothing to help them. The TMS treatment did.

    Keep up the good work and keep reaching out with any frustrations, worries, or questions!
  6. Dutch_girl

    Dutch_girl New Member

    A quick update from me. Not doing well at all. Since my last post I continued the PPIs, and I actually felt better after a couple of weeks. All my symptoms disappeared for about a month and a half, when I started to taper the PPI to once every two days. Since then, all my symptoms are back:

    - heartburn all day, no matter what I eat. Starting first thing in the morning.
    - pain in my left upper quadant, radiating to the side of my ribs and back.
    - I've been tested for H Pylori which came out negative, so an ulcer or gastritis isn't likely.

    I'm really hoping this is just TMS, but all Google tells me with my symptoms is that it's pancreatic cancer. I'm absolutely scared to death and I don't know how I'll ever feel better. I've finally got an endoscopy planned next Monday.

    I've been trying to journal daily, but feel like I'm doing it for nothing and something is already slowly killing me :( I'm only 37.
  7. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Sorry to hear about your troubles. A few thoughts:

    When a fear of really bad illness pops up, sometimes you just have to go to the doctor to be sure. Hopefully, your scope gives you some relief there. Otherwise, most general practitioners can run a quick blood lab that will rule that stuff out.

    When you Google symptoms, almost everything leads to cancer, so I would try not to worry about what the internet says. It's like the the list of COVID symptoms...it just keeps growing.

    Tapering off PPIs is hard. You need stomach acid, so when you start taking one, your body reacts by trying to produce more it. So, once you start tapering, your body is now producing more acid than it did before you even started all of this. So, the heartburn and indigestion will probably be the worst you have ever had. I thought I was dying when I got off mine. If your PPI pill is like mine, you can get a pill slicer (pharmacies have them) and divide your pills in half. That is a way to ease the tapering. One pill a day to a half pill one day and a full another, then eventually just a half pill every day and so on.

    Good luck and feel free to reach out if you have concerns about your endoscopy results!
    Dutch_girl likes this.
  8. Dutch_girl

    Dutch_girl New Member

    Thanks again for your kind words. The endoscopy came out clean. No hernia, nothing. I suppose this is good news, but if this was functional, then why did the high dose of PPI help me initially? I thought drugs didn't work al all if it's tms?
  9. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Drugs can work with TMS, but it is usually only temporary. With indigestion, you do actually have too much acid in your stomach, but it is your brain that is causing that to happen. So, if you take a drug, it will decrease the amount of acid your stomach produces, and therefore temporarily help the issue. Plus, there is always the possibility of a placebo effect too. But either way, your brain will find ways to keep you feeling sick. Plus, PPIs have nasty long-term side effects.

    Looking at other examples...if your TMS is back pain, a hot bath, ice packs, etc. may make it temporarily feel better. Constipation used to be a huge issue for me. Sometimes, if I would run a lot or switch my cereal to raisin bran, things would move better. But the solution never lasted and the constipation returned, so I had to keep finding different ways to try to "fix" it.

    In all of these cases, the "treatments" are just masking the symptoms, but not addressing the cause. TMS treatment can address the cause. I know this is really hard...keep trying, and don't feel bad if you have ups and downs. Recovery is not a straight line.
    TrustIt and Dutch_girl like this.

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