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Day 1 this is hard

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Charliekan, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. Charliekan

    Charliekan New Member

    Hello all. For whatever reason, fear I guess of sounding stupid is probably near the top, I am finding it difficult to post on this forum. I have decided to try to uncensor myself as much as I can, since I am certain that a lifetime of self censorship has contributed greatly to why I have TMS. I am 43, father of a special needs 6y/o daughter and a 3y/o daughter, married and a psychiatrist. Although I am sure I have had minor TMS symptoms in the past, my story really started a year ago while on vacation at Disney. I developed low back pain and sciatica. Ah hah! It must have been from carrying all the luggage and kids around, right? Overall the pain was not that bad, but just there enough to make me a little more impatient and short tempered, lovely qualities to possess while on vacation. After returning, the pains continued to nag, but I pushed through and continued playing tennis and working etc, as well as being impatient and short tempered. In late October of 2013, I developed kidney stones. In the course of that excruciating pain I interestingly noticed that my back was better? I remember trying to figure out what physiological connection there could possibly be between the development of stone pain and the "cure" of back pain, but basically figured I was fortunate to not have two problems. My kidney stones eventually resolved in mid January and wouldn't you know it, I don't know what I did, but that darn sciatica came back!

    I still worked at keeping up with all of my usual activities, overall I am not that active, but I do play tennis weekly. In an effort to try to get fit, I began lifting weights, I have never been a fan of aerobic exercises, but ever since football in high school I have liked lifting weights on the rare times I exercised. In the early spring of 2014, on top of my still persistent sciatica, which I would have rated as 2 on a scale from 1-10, not bad but there, I started to have real problems with my knee in my other leg. It eventually got bad enough, that I could not move for the ball without A LOT of pain. I set up a meeting with an orthopedist, and in passing also mentioned my sciatica symptoms. MRIs revealed partial tear of the medial meniscus in my left knee and for my back; L3-4 herniation, L4-5 herniation and L5-S1 bulging discs. I was stunned, weren't herniations really bad? I have several chronic pain patients with herniations, I didn't have pain like that? The doctor told me the herniations weren't really that bad but did recommend surgery for the knee since it was really interfering with tennis. He ordered PT for my sciatica, as well as anti-inflamatories. Two weeks later I was basically crippled.

    The sciatica was so bad I could hardly walk and moved about hunched over and with my back crooked to the left, like my whole torso was shifted over. I could not lay down so therefore could not sleep in bed, spending most nights on a stiff, firm dining room chair leaning forward against the table to sleep. I could not sit on anything with a cushion. In desperation I reached out to the doctor was put on steroids, opioids and rest. Eventually I had an epidural, but nothing worked and my pain was a steady 10! Despite trying to be positive and failing miserably, I saw my life as essentially being over. I tried a chiropractor which at times made things feel worse if that was possible. I eventually attempted acupuncture.

    The acupuncturist was very positive and reassuring. He was so confident! Combined with massage and PT, my pain eventually went to a 6-7, and while I was by no means better, at least I could sleep in bed again. By the way, with regard to sleeping, I realized that my carpal tunnel symptoms had gone away and therefore did not need to use my braces at night anymore.

    Now I have to admit that I feel a little awkward complaining about my pain, because although it was intense, this whole course was really only over like 4 months and I know many others have been dealing with this for years. My last acupuncture session was August 1, 2014. In all I had been doing it for 2 months, 3 times per week, and the last couple of weeks were more of a chore. I was not getting better than 6-7, I still could not run or really engage with my kids, which I constantly beat myself up over. My torso was still quite noticeably shifted to the left and I could still not sit on anything soft. It was at that time that my father told me about a John Stossel special he had seen and told me about Dr. Sarno.

    By August 3, I had , "Healing Back Pain", on my Kindle and it completely floored me. By August 5, I was already doing better. I was so relieved! I felt that Dr. Sarno had written the book for me. Within a week or so I was able to lightly jog after my daughter and not wanting to let Dr. Sarno down, scheduled a tennis lesson which I attended with a lot of fear and some pain, but certainly did not injure myself further. I noticed that my carpal tunnel came back and I yelled at my mind that clearly this was another attempt at distraction since the sciatica was getting better. To this day, I still have not needed my braces. My back was straightening out and I finally pushed myself to get back in with my tennis group and did fine.

    September 13, 2014 I was playing tennis, quite well I might add, when suddenly I just felt something ache back in my previous sciatica spot. I went through my affirmations that this was just a distraction, and tried to figure out what possible stresses I could be having now. Unfortunately the pain got worse over the next few days and it really shook my faith in myself. One of the things that occurred to me was that we were once again headed to Disney, we actually got here yesterday. My pain has been creeping up through the week, and on our first day here, I was quite limited by the pain. One of the over arching stresses I had over the summer was whether I would be well enough to participate with my family on vacation. I was happily relieved when I was getting better, but now that I am here and the pain has been getting worse I realize that my negative wish fulfillment has come true. I am ruining everything for everybody! I keep trying to scrabble back some confidence but it seems like the more I fight I just keep slipping. Of course I realize this attitude is only making it worse, but as much as I try to give myself a break and relax it is just very hard to not beat up on myself, I am so good at it after all. I am going to throw myself at this program, and start reading Sarno again. I am going to try to push myself past the pain, because I am certain this is tms and I know that resting isn't going to fix it, but as many of you know, it is just very hard.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Charliekan. Welcome to the forums. Your symptoms sound typical, that they can come and go and can move around. You've gotten checked out
    by doctors who find symptoms that are also typical. We who believe in Dr. Sarno and TMS ignore the doctors and chiropractors and work on TMS.
    You haven't mentioned that you are working on discovering your repressed emotions or personality if it is like ours, perfectionist, and you are a "goodist" who wants everyone to like you. All that is most likely (to me) what is causing you pain.

    The Structured Education Program is a great way to discover the TMS reasons you are in pain. You're a psychiatrist, and listening to others' problems is not easy and may
    also cause TMS symtoms in you. A good friend was a psychiatrist and got burned out helping his patients. He lost his old joy of living. It took him a while, but he learned to
    do what a journalism professor told his students about reporting: "Maintain an attitude of detached studiousness." The detached helped my friend.

    TMS is an exciting journey and I love it... I learned a lot more about myself and my boyhood that caused me stresses. I learned to forgive and that relieved the back pain.

    I hope you will work on your TMS more, but not spend too much time on it each day. Spend more time enjoying life, playing tennis, relaxing, and loving your family.

    Have a wonderful day. It's Sunday, so don't forget to thank the Lord for all His blessings.
  3. Charliekan

    Charliekan New Member

    Walt, thanks so much for your kind and wise words. You are exactly right in that I am so laser focused on the TMS, that I am most likely doing myself a disservice. I am still looking into discovering more of my repressed emotions. I think anger has been a problem for me for so long, throughout much of my life no one would ever describe me as angry, but I I have found that it spills out at times inappropriately. Of course when this happens, I beat myself up over my reaction, reinforcing my conditioning that anger is bad, leading to more repression. I also do think that I am a goodist, and a people pleaser to a fault. These are things that I am working on trying to let go of, and there are times when I think I have done a good job of it. Old habits die hard though, so I guess I just need to keep working on it, and as you intimated I would be better off focusing on all the blessings I have received. Thanks again for your reply
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Charliekan, welcome to our forum, and kudos for getting over your trepidation and posting anyway! I still remember how hard it was for me to post here the very first time (actually, it was on our old platform, back in 2011) because I had never participated in an online community, never mind one devoted to very personal issues. As you can see, I'm still at it, three years later, because this community is amazing and I'm proud to be part of it.

    I recommend this thread started by Porpoise, titled "Setback on Vacation" in which we discuss how vacations themselves create stress, anxiety, and expectations. Porpoise and I end up discussing fibromyalgia and our sneaky brains - she's got some great insights into the complexity of hidden vs. surface emotional desires and fears, and I think I mention most of my favorite resources as the discussion proceeds.

    On your vacation, do a lot of deep breathing and "letting go", try visualizing yourself without pain, keep reminding yourself it's TMS, and above all don't beat yourself up! Give yourself credit for what you've already accomplished and discovered, try loving yourself (probably harder for men than women), and above all, have faith that in spite of setbacks, the ability to overcome pain will get easier with time.

    When you get back, keep reading and keep posting - we have a ton of great resources on the wiki and the forum.

  5. Charliekan

    Charliekan New Member

    Thanks for the suggestions and the reply Jan. I had already been looking into the thread you mentioned. I tried to push myself today, walking around Epcot. Boy did it hurt! But, it didn't hurt more than yesterday! Actually, it was maybe a little better than yesterday. When it was at its worst, I would recite to myself that the pain was just a distraction and that I was not going to injure myself more. I yelled at my brain to cut the crap, but when it was really bad, I took some breaks and tried to be kind to myself and cheer for the effort that I was making. It also helped that my wife and in-laws with whom I am traveling, are supportive and understanding. Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to take some positive steps, pun intended, at making more improvements.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  6. Charliekan

    Charliekan New Member

    Well, I guess this is day four. I will admit that I have not been exactly following all the directions, doing the journaling mentally as opposed to writing things down, but reading the exercises and articles daily. I do think that it has really helped! I think I have also been significantly helped by the proof that not everything has been ruined by my sciatica and that my family and even I, can still have fun together. Yesterday I got along better than the day before, and today I was almost completely straight and significantly, (85+% pain free!), which is saying a lot because we were all over the Magic Kingdom. I am going to continue to follow along with the program and maybe when I get home I might actually write some stresses down, but most importantly, I am not going to stress myself out about it. I'll let you know how it goes.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    This sounds really encouraging and exciting, Charliekan! And I'm glad you were able to have a good time :cool:

    I'll admit to something, too - I never completed the entire SEP! However, I discovered an important thing about forcing myself to put pen to paper, and that is that as I was doing the various writing exercises, I could sometimes literally hear my brain telling me "Oh, gosh, don't write THAT down, THAT'S not important!" I made a conscious decision to definitely write those things down - and while they weren't earth-shattering, they did turn out to reveal some important things about myself, early relationships, and some emotional reactions that I had been ignoring for years.

    So I'd just like to encourage you, when you have the chance, to go ahead and try really writing the writing exercises. To this day, I get out the spiral notebook when I'm feeling stuck and my symptoms are flaring. I almost always do this at night. Sometimes I free-write, other times I write unsent letters. For me, there's just something very concrete and freeing about putting it all down on paper, even if I never read it again, because doing this seems to bring significant relief by morning, much more so than just "thinking" about stuff. Perhaps it's a cathartic mechanism?

    Anyone else have thoughts about writing vs. not?

    Ellen likes this.
  8. Charliekan

    Charliekan New Member

    You know, it's funny but I was thinking about my last post and your most recent reply gave me a bit of an "ah hah" moment. After reading your reply it dawned on me that aside from the feeling of not being alone with TMS, that getting some of my thoughts down also was more helpful than I would have anticipated. I think writing about my fears of ruining the trip, as well as the statements that I was going to keep trying despite the pain and finally that I was also going to be kind to myself if I wasn't succeeding as fast as I wanted, made it more real for me. Thanks again for the advice.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  9. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

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