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Day 10 - I'm on to you, TMS

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by TMSMatt, Nov 11, 2016.

  1. TMSMatt

    TMSMatt New Member

    Hi - apologies in advance for my lengthy post, but this is very cathartic for me and helps to rationalize my TMS self-diagnosis.

    I'm a 38 year old with a long history of back pain and other pain that I now understand to be manifestations of TMS. When I was 15, I injured my lower back playing baseball. I backed up into a metal fence and crushed my L4/L5 disc. I had pretty significant pain at first and remember going to doctors, getting tests, and back then getting an epidural steroid injection while leaning over a table given by hand WITHOUT a flouroscope (what was I thinking?!). Anyway, the pain lasted for a while and was intermittent. I had tingling in my feet, numbness, sciatic pain, you name it. I specifically remember the day I was given the diagnosis of a herniated disc as well as degenerative disc disease and was told, "you have the back of an 80 year old woman". Mind you, I'm not even able to drive at this point so that was quite a bit to digest. Just sitting here thinking of that diagnosis at that age is pretty laughable. Not many "grey hairs of the spine" at that age, right Dr. Sarno? Anyway, during that time I was going through quite a lot. Alcoholic mother, womanizing father, constant fighting and altercations, divorce, you name it. I had to physically restrain my mother from killing my father around this time, and watch her go to jail all while maintaining a near 4.0 in school (hello...perfectionist). If you saw me in school, you would never know what I was going through. I am the quintessential stoic. Now I realize that a character trait that I was proud of, not showing emotion, has really caused me a lot of physical pain in my life. Anyway, I'm able to get the pain to go away with the placebo of physical therapy and being preoccupied with school and my future.

    Things were going swimmingly for many years as I excelled in high school, then college, and even in law school. My pain was intermittent, but always resolved itself relatively quickly. In my first year of college, my Dad comes to me and tells me that he has cancer in his kidney and that he is going in to have it removed...the day before the surgery. I obviously take this very hard, and am quite hurt that this was held back from me for so long as he knew for some time. During this time I recall having very sharp pain going from my belly button straight down, excruciating pain that felt like a hot knife cutting me in two from the waist down. I also had flare-ups with my back pain...no wonder, right? I also developed tinnitus around this time which I blamed on rock concerts. He recovers and life goes on. Then later as I'm finishing law school, he gets sick again with congestive heart failure. During this time I was working a full time job, going to night school to finish my JD, and had to take care of my increasingly weak father. All the while my mother is becoming increasingly dependent upon me as she has recovered from alcoholism only to take up agoraphobia and OCD. Looking back at this time I can recall some episodes of the back pain that were very acute and painful and lasted a short while, but always eventually resolved. I suppose the stresses of life and the demands placed on me allowed me to not focus on the pain so much, and rather get busy with what was in front of me.

    Just after graduating law school I watched my father deteriorate further and eventually pass away. I held a great deal of regret with this as I was not there when he died. What made it more difficult was that he was asking for me and I found out on the way to see him that morning, only to miss his passing by minutes. A few years later, my mother died unexpectedly. This was another situation where I felt immense regret. She was completely dependent upon me, becoming a shut-in by this time. I visited weekly to get her groceries and take care of her finances. All the while, I'm in the first 6 months of my marriage and trying to build a life with my wife. I found out about her death when her landlord called me out of the blue to say she wasn't answering her door. It was from a very treatable condition, and I felt immense guilt for not being more stern with her about going to the doctor. A year or two later I had weird nerve sensations in my arms and legs, muscle twitches, you name it. I consulted Dr. Google and was convinced I either had MS or ALS. I was in and out of the doctor's office and was diagnosed with "anxiety disorder"...you think!?! Later I developed prostatitis which came back again and again, which I was pleased to see that Dr. Sarno identified as an additional TMS symptom. Funny, during the time I was getting those symptoms my wife and I were discussing having a family which I had doubts that I would be able to physically accomplish due medical issues surrounding my birth. The mindbody connection is very strong! During this time I got a CT scan of my abdomen and my lovely urologist called to say, "you have stenosis in your lower back, are you in pain?". Off to Google I went, and down the rabbit hole I fell. Now I had another medically diagnosed condition that my mind could use to place my TMS pain.

    Sure enough, very soon after I started getting back pain, leg pain, you know...all that Dr Google tells you is related to spinal stenosis. Off to PT and injections I went. I was able to get the pain to go away for over 2 years, but now I realize that was the placebo effect since at that time I was told by a neurologist that I wasn't bad enough to have surgery although I was enlightened that my DDD had gotten worse with multiple bulges all throughout my lumbar spine. I think my mind ruled out the worst case (surgery) and I was able to recover. That, and my beautiful, healthy, little boy was born during that time so I was more than distracted. This takes me to 4 months ago. I'm going along well with no pain when I suddenly bend down to put my son in his stroller at the Zoo. I feel a little pinch in my lower back...and off my mind runs. I completely obsess over my pain, and not surprisingly it gets worse. Moving from my back, to my hip, to my legs and feet. Off to PT and injections, but this time...no dice. I remember thinking about what my options were if the pain didn't go away this time. During PT I notice that I'm getting pain a bit higher in my back than usual. I was getting off the therapy table and felt a knife-like pain in my mid-back. Dr. Google enlightens me all about the magical world of thoracic disc herniations. Here I learn how surgery resembles something you see in a horror movie, you know, cut from spine to sternum, collapsing lung, moving organs...all with dismal results and the promise of a life of more pain. I read stories of people who suffered with this ailment all in constant pain with no hope of recovery. I'm now in complete meltdown mode. Anxiety nearly every waking hour, and my pain was the only thing I thought about. I was reaching a tipping point in my life when, by the grace of God, I came across Dr. Sarno and "Healing Back Pain".

    I found out about TMS 2 days after I went in for a thoracic MRI. I'm not joking, but coming out of the MRI machine the tech says, "have you ever had an MRI of your neck? Something looked out of alignment, so don't be surprised if they call you back". Reading all of this almost makes me laugh, or cry. Anyway, I get the book and completely devour it in 2 days (hello...overly responsible/perfectionist). Since then, I have poured myself into recovery (structured program, journaling, etc.). The bad thing is there are no TMS doctors in my area, so I'm relying on a self-diagnosis. Since my journey into the program, I have noticed my pain increase and move. I now have neck pain (big surprise), back pain (low, middle, high), groin pain, headaches, increased tinnitus, muscle spasms, you name it. I have read that this is a good sign, that I have TMS on the run. I am 75-80% confident in my diagnosis, but admittedly struggle with the structural diagnosis I have been given over the years. Reading the case studies in Dr. Sarno's book help quite a bit to realize documented structural issues don't necessarily lead to pain. Most recently, the neurologist called me to make an appointment to go over my thoracic MRI results. My mind immediately tells me, "they wouldn't call you in unless it was bad." I have made a stand in that I called and asked to not know the results. If I saw the MRI and the high probability of seeing some type of age-related "abnormality", I would most certainly go into my rabbit hole and would probably never resurface again. At this point, TMS is all I have. I have discontinued all therapy and accommodations for my back. I have started working out again with little to no pain while doing it BTW, and it feels wonderful. I have even ordered "The Great Pain Deception", which I'm sure I will devour over the weekend. The problem is, my pain continues and is getting worse. I notice it especially when getting out of bed first thing in the morning. This makes me doubt TMS a bit because my mind is relaxed during sleep so shouldn't we feel the best first thing in the morning?

    Since I have finally opened Pandora's box on all these repressed emotions, and there are a few of them, is this my body's way of trying to put the lid back on? I know that there are TMSers that don't heal over night, and I still have that small sliver of doubt, so maybe that's all it is. I feel my confidence in my diagnosis growing daily, so hopefully it's only a matter of time. Whew...that was a lot, and I do apologize again for my "mind-dump". Just getting my story out there, looking to connect with others who struggle with this condition. If you have any suggestions, tips, or just a welcomed word of encouragement, I appreciate it! I look forward to interacting with many of you as I step into the sheepfold of my new TMS family. God bless!
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2016
    plum likes this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, ,TMSMatt. Welcome to the TMS community. You've had a lot to deal with over the years, especially regarding your parents. You should try to forgive yourself for not being there when they died. You did all you could at that time and also while they were living. Pain often moves around as you go through the TMS healing process. Try not to let it trouble you. Mornings are often hard and bring on pain, because we may start worrying again about the pain and thinking about it. Try to be positive as you start each day, that soon you are going to be healed.

    I healed from severe back pain thanks to reading Dr. Sarno and learning about TMS. You will become well soon, I am certain. It's good that you are resisting more MRI's and physical therapy. They're not at the root of your pains, as you have discovered. I recommend reading posts from others in the SEProgram and other subforums. You will find help and comfort in them.
  3. TMSMatt

    TMSMatt New Member

    Hi Walt. Thank you for the kind words and encouragement. Success stories of TMSers have been a great source of comfort to me so far as I have started to work through the SEProgram. I understand that the key to a full recovery is to remove all doubt and really believe that my pain is TMS, and that I will soon be free of it. I'm working on it day by day. I'll admit that it is a struggle since I have been so physically-minded for so long. I look forward to seeing progress and adding my name to the long list of success stories!
    plum likes this.
  4. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Give yourself time. It can take a while to really understand what tms is and how it is manifesting in our lives but once we get it it all unfolds beautifully. My best advice is relax in every way possible and become watchful of your self. It's the endless reactivity that chews us up whereas being a tad more mindful, a touch more relaxed really helps us disconnect from the tms beast. It's raison d'ĂȘtre is distraction so when we eyeball it, its days are numbered.

    Plum x
    Ellen likes this.
  5. TMSMatt

    TMSMatt New Member

    Very well said, Plum. I'm starting to really see how quickly TMS can rear its ugly head. The triggers are becoming clearer to me day by day, as well. I have seen a lot of progress over the last week in the reduction of my anxiety, and relaxation is sure to follow. Thank you for the sage advice, as it will certainly help me to keep things in perspective as I press on.
  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Further to my previous reply, I'd add that a good many of us never get to see a TMS doctor or therapist (myself included), so we are on own and in the thick of it. It's no bad thing. You get to develop remarkable self-reliance and insight that is well-grounded and not built on the sands of stoicism, perfectionism, what-have-you. I'm grateful for it's hard-won surety and strength.

    From my humble outsiders perspective it is pretty clear you've been through hell and then some. Hello tms. The beauty of tms healing is it can do no harm and it really does cleanse those wounds from the past. You write well and courageously. I look forward to more of your posts my dear.

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