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Day 1 Day 1

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by George, May 2, 2013.

  1. George

    George New Member

    I was in good physical shape. I ran 10-15 miles, and biked 30-50 miles a week. My diet was great. I was very close to my ideal goal weight.

    Then, about 1 year ago I started having intense left-side shoulder and upper arm pain. It persisted for a couple of months. I couldn't lift the arm over the shoulder without excruciating pain, so I went to see a doctor for the first time in years. He said that I had a torn rotator cuff and sent me for an MRI. The MRI was negative, but showed some mild arthritis. My doctor said this was normal for my age (40) take some Tylenol and get over it. I thought "Oh great, so I'm getting old." In the back of my head I suspected that this pain was caused by holding my phone set with my shoulder while I typed at my office job. I was kind of miserable about my job.

    My wife lost her job a month later. I came down with pneumonia within days of her being fired. A doctor told me it might be a lung tumor, and couldn't say until after I went through an antibiotic regimen. I became very anxious. When I finished with the meds, I got the all clear from the doc. And then I had a gurgling in my stomach that stuck around. Whenever I breathed out, my gut gurgled. I thought for sure the doctors must have missed something. I was basically freaking out every day. So I scheduled another x-ray. The day I went in for the x-ray, the mystery gurgling disappeared.

    I was out of town for a wedding in September of last year. I woke up in the middle of the night in my hotel room, and I felt as if both of my legs stopped working and I had an intense pain in my mid back. My legs felt dramatically weak. I considered going to the ER. But before I had gone to sleep, I had been on the phone with my son who was having car problems back home. I had felt miserable that I couldn't help him as I was hundreds of miles away. I had been doing some squats just before talking to him. So as my legs weren't working well in the hotel, I attributed it to having over exerted myself unknowingly. My panic subsided, and I got better the next morning. This weak-leg phenomenon would recur now and then over the next few months.

    The day after the wedding, on the drive home, I noticed a tightness in my upper right abdomen. I figured it was something left over from the pneumonia. A couple weeks later, the tightness returned while I was biking and my wife and I were having a disagreement. I went back to my doctor. He said he was certain it was my gallbladder, and that I would need surgery.
    He sent me to get an Ultrasound, which came back negative. Then I had a very expensive nuclear medicine study to check the functionality of my gallbladder. This came back negative too -- my gallbladder and liver were doing great. BUT I felt miserable. My abdomen was so knotted upon my right side, and around my back too. And then there was the constipation... omg. And I never had a classic gallbladder attack, but God knows I tried a bunch of crazy diets to improve my gallbladder health.

    As my symptoms got worse, I thought I must have cancer. Pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer. Something horrible. My doctor sent me to have a CT scan done- the definitive scan to rule out cancer he said. By the time the insurance company approved the procedure, another two months had passed. I choked down a radioactive milkshake and got in the tube. The radiologists found that I had deterioration in my facets and a single small gallstone in my gallbladder, the other exams had missed it, but no sign of inflamation or infection. My doctor seemed to feel redeemed and signed me up for gallbladder removal surgey. Fortunately, the radiologist told me I should get a second opinion from a specialist before having surgery. My doctor refused to give me a referral to a specialist, so I got a new doctor.

    During the months between diagnostic exams, I noticed that when I went on business trips (alone) and I was out of town, I felt . . . better. My digestive system miraculously started working correctly again. This made me think that maybe stress had something to do with the pain I had been experiencing. Also, the pain moved around my abdomen and back.

    After my CT exam, and my diagnosis of gallbladder disease and facet syndrome, my pain increased 10 fold. My abdomen started burning like crazy and my back was so tight I couldn't sleep. It was nearly impossible to make it through a day at work. I was sure that I was dying. The anxiety was horrible. My new doctor put me on omeprazole and zoloft. I stayed with the omeprazole and ditched the zoloft. More tests were ordered. Everything was normal. No infection, no parasite, no gallbladder problems, no liver problems, no anything. But every day was a nightmare. I started seeing a psychologist.

    I had spent so many days looking for answers online, and it was almost always making things worse. But then one day last week, I saw a story about Howard Stern. And I remembered reading in one of his very funny books that he saw some radical doctor that cured his back pain. I had forgotten the details, but I wondered if a back problem could be causing all of my issues. It was just a few googles before I found that the doctor's name was/is Dr. Sarno.

    I found a basic outline of Sarno's ideas and treatment. I ordered the book Healing Back Pain and read about half of it that night. I realized that I had some serious emotional problems with repressed anger, self-expectations, and stress. And the pages spoke to me. I realized I had a number of these painful episodes throughout my body, since childhood: the behind the eye migraines, sciatica, hip pain, groin pain, several isolated unexplained asthma attacks. The next morning, for the first time in forever, I woke up PAIN FREE. I spent an entire day PAIN FREE! The next morning, I woke up feeling even better. And it was as if an aliveness was returning to my mind.

    The pain and tightness came back to my back, abdomen, and returned to my shoulder(!), and the leg weakness returned, although it is all quite reduced, when I have since put myself back into emotionally difficult situations. I now believe that my pain has been caused by emotional issues. I believe that I have TMS and TMS- equivalent issues with my digestive system. I don't have a doctor's diagnosis of TMS-- everything else has been ruled out-- but I hope to find a doc nearby who can help me learn to work with this problem. In the meanwhile, I want to work to re-program my circuitry to accept the reality that my bodily pain is caused by my unconscious mind.
  2. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    George, wow, what a story! I'm glad that you have found some relief. I, too, experienced severe anxiety last year when a pain in my foot didn't seem to have a cause and wouldn't go away. I think the anxiety made my pain worse and worse. I am still trying to loosen its grip--I guess it will be a lifelong process.

    Good luck to you on your journey!
  3. George

    George New Member

    Thanks Gail. I appreciate your response. I've suffered with anxiety on and off for many years. I'm now thinking that the anxiety is part of the same anger-stress displacement phenomenon as my back pain, headaches and digestive issues.

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