Three years ago, I was an aspiring writer, amateur tango dancer, yoga practitioner, and former waitress--the kind of girl who would always be flipping heavy wooden chairs over her head or lugging tubs of ice up several flights of stairs. The kind of girl who was always working right alongside the boys. Then I started having pain in my left hip that turned into pain in my lower back...and butt... and sometimes that shot up my back as well as down. I dead-ended with an MRI that said: herniated lumbar discs at L4-L5 and L5-S1. Disc dessication too. That was the beginning of the end. I was told I couldn't lift anything, carry anything, work a job on my feet, lug my own suitcase, buy milk at the grocery store unsupervised. I was told I couldn't do yoga, ride a bike, have sex in certain positions, run. And I was told I couldn't dance. After a year or so of that. Of PT and chiropractic adjustments. (All of this during an incredibly expensive graduate program I will be paying for for life). Of ice. And nights in while my boyfriend went out dancing. Everything slowed to a stop and I became the injured girl. Then I had chronic UTIs... and shooting pelvic pain. MORE physical therapy, this time of the pelvic floor. I took tri-cyclic antidepressants at low doses for the nerve pain. Then that subsided and I fell up an escalator and contused my knee cap. Then I had an emergency appendectomy in Germany on a summer trip. Then more back pain. I was finally allowed swimming, which I clung to like the only activity of a drowning person. Then I had a case of poison ivy that went viral. Cortisone shots. Then one pair of bad shoes and the cobbled stones of Oxford netted me six weeks of not being able to put weight on either heel for the edema and the shooting nerve pain. That netted me severe plantar fascitis in BOTH FEET. more physical therapy. more ice and ibuprofen and time-consuming exercises. And the walking had made my back worse. And and and... I'm not a tango dancer anymore. I don't lift or carry anything. I plan routes to the airport that include elevators and the fewest possible moments when I'll have to ask someone to carry my suitcase up a flight of stairs. I'm weak from lack of yoga. And I'm scared of every twinge. Somewhere in here, I graduated, revised my thesis, and sent it to an agent. She signed me and gave me two months to revise the draft. This is extremely good news. Once in a lifetime good news. That was a month and a half ago. I contused my OTHER kneecap on a desk corner. My neck went next, and my thoracic spine, sending shooting waves of pain up and down my spine and into my shoulder blades. A woman who massaged me compared my neck to "steel girders." And then I started having cluster headaches. Which went away as soon as I took some time off work. Now, I've read Dr. Sarno's book. I've been trying for months to tell my brain that this pain isn't coming from any real structural problem. But I'm obviously not saying it loud enough. At the start of this pristine month of leave from work, working merrily on the book day in, day out, when I was absolutely, perfectly, blissfully happy that this was all I had to do on any given day.... BOOM. Wrist pain to the point that I can't type. Wrist pain down my hands and up my arms. I went to my old physiatrist and he poked me for five minutes and told me it was tennis elbow. IN BOTH ELBOWS. And that I "just shouldn't type." or write by hand. Had I heard of dictation software? That was it. The last straw. What kind of agent would keep me now? I'm a writer who can't write. Who backs a horse that can't run? After four hours of battling with a $200 software program to dictate ONE LOUSY PARAGRAPH, my neck pain started creeping back. I made a phone call to a Dr. sympathetic to TMS diagnoses and Dr. Sarno's work. And I'm ready and I'm willing. No PT. No exercises. No restrictions. No chiropractic adjustments. Just being a normal non-injured person. And I wish that I could say that's making any difference. I took out my orthotics and my heel cups and have been sitting in the library typing for three hours. The pain comes up and I repeat the affirmations. I try not to pay attention to it. But it keeps getting worse... and I have that stupid doctor's voice stuck in my head, "you can keep typing if you insist on doing so, but you'll be permanently damaging your tendons." I believe that I have TMS. I really do. I'm just not proving to be one of the miracle cases for whom knowledge is the only necessary cure. And then there's that persistent little voice in my head... when the tingling and numbness starts. "What if the doctor who said that it was TMS missed something?" I can't get my head out of my arm.