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Day 8 Emotions and pain (sorry this is long! I had some catching up to do!)

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Cara, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. Cara

    Cara Peer Supporter

    Are you having success at recognizing the emotions connected to your pain? If you have, how do these emotions make you feel? If not, what do you think is preventing you from doing this? If you feel comfortable sharing, then post your response in a thread in the Structured Educational Program section of the PTPN's discussion forum. We would love to hear from you.

    Funny this should be the question for this day because that's something I am amazed/frustrated by.

    I took a break from posting while I was on vacation with my family (I kept reading Sarno and practicing "thinking" psychological). For the first week of vacation, I was starting to have doubts. I don't have an appointment with a TMS doctor until September 13, and I was hoping to be able to make some progress on my own. It had been three weeks since I first started reading about TMS, and it seems like so many people see relief immediately. There was a day when I thought maybe my pain was a little better, but since it's inconsistent anyway, I couldn't be sure. Then we went to the Tetons. At the end our of our stay there, my son wanted to kayak in Lake Jackson, and my daughter wanted to go horseback riding. My husband said it was my call if I/we did these activities, and I said we should try them, particularly if I'm not really "hurting" myself worse, only making pain. The kayaking was surprisingly OK. I was a little stiff afterwards, but I can't say that wouldn't have been before my back pain started. I don't kayak much. So I we booked a trail ride for the next day. It was beautiful. Partway up to the ridge that was our destination, I checked in with myself and felt not just physically OK but also like the weight of the world was, for a change, not resting in the pit of my stomach. I realized that the entire country could be in uproar--something like 9/11 could be going on--and I would not know. I was surrounded by trees and wildflowers and my family. I was on a big, strong horse and had nowhere to go and nothing to do other than follow our guide until he brought he us back to our car. I had been away from real life for ten days already and had a few more ahead of me. Perfect. We kept riding up. Up and up and up to the ridge, then up and up on the ridge. The views were of the sort that make me want to abandon my whole life here in the midwest and go live like a pauper in Wyoming. A storm swept up on the next ridge and sharpened the contrasts. So beautiful.

    Then it was time to descend.

    I have always been a little afraid of horses. I have always been a little afraid of heights. I have for several years and particularly in the last week become afraid of descents, having slipped on loose stones while going downhill and sent spasms of up pain through my back from heel to skull. Going steeply downhill on a horse was, therefore, a terrible experience. It hurt. It hurt all of me--my back and knees in particular. I was holding on for dear life. I was gasping and moaning with the pain. My daughter (8) turned around on her saddle and said, "Is going down really hard for you, Mommy?" She was worried. I managed to gasp that it was. Then I reasoned with myself. The horse was slipping and stumbling, yes, but seemed to have 2-3 feet on the ground at a time, even if one was slipping. They aren't like me. And the guide takes 2-3 groups per day on that route--no way he'd do it if horses kept falling down mountains! Then I reminded myself that I was fine, that I was scared but that the pain was worse because I was so scared, that maybe I wasn't even any more hurt going down than up, in fact, and that I was going to not be injured when we got to the bottom. I reminded myself that my brain was restricting oxygen flow to my muscles and that that hurts but isn't really dangerous. I wasn't in danger. I just had to live through the next 40 minutes of my life. So I tried to relax a bit and keep saying those things. And then it happened! The thing people write about that I had home to believe was not going to happen to me! The pain changed! It lessened. It left, really. My knees were still sore from their awkward position on a huge horse, but my back felt fine. It stayed fine for the rest of the ride!

    So that seemed to me evidence that it is TMS and not structural. If it is structural, then yes, it makes sense that impact like going downhill would hurt. It makes sense that sitting might hurt. It makes perfect sense that putting the two together would hurt. It does NOT make sense that I would hard for part of the experience and then the pain would lessen. It should get worse the longer I do the activity. It didn't. It got better. And it got better in response to a particular kind of thinking. I got off the horse elated! Two days later we went on an all-day white-water rafting trip. My husband had been hesitant to book the trip, and I felt a little hesitant when I sat down on the edge of the raft and wedged my feet where they needed to be and bend way over to dig into the water. I reminded myself of the horseback ride. I looked around at the beauty of the canyon, and I rode the white water all day long without pain. I thought maybe I was cured.

    But then we came home. We arrived home on a Sunday night and by Monday night I was unable to stand up from sitting on the couch. By Tuesday night I had to crawl from my kids' room to my own when I told them goodnight because it hurt too much to stand and walk. I couldn't do for myself what I had done out west.

    I had one more summer fun plan with a friend on the east coast and I texted her to warn her that I was in bad, bad shape. She said that all I needed to do was get well enough to fly to her and then I didn't have to do a single thing for the rest of the weekend. On Friday, I felt OK to fly. I hurt a little getting off the plane, but really not that bad! I was hesitant about going into rough surf on Friday afternoon and Saturday, but then I regretted being near the ocean but not going all the way in. So Sunday I went out into the waves. I felt great! No pain. Later in the day, as I was going in from the waves, I was picked up and knocked down by one. I stood myself up, laughed, and only afterwards thought about the fact that it didn't hurt. It didn't hurt at all. My friend and I walked on the sand for two hours. At the end, her back was tired and mine was fine. She's a fitness instructor. I checked in with my emotions. I had spent the weekend emptying my soul so someone who I trust loves me unconditionally. I was back to feeling optimistic. I felt lighter inside than I have felt in years--maybe since having kids. I told myself to remember this and keep it alive when I came home.

    The back pain returned the next day when I stepped into a hole in the sand. It got worse on the plane ride home. By the time I got out of the car after getting picked up at the airport, I was in terrible pain and barely able to stand myself up and get out of the car. I couldn't make the Jedi mind tricks work at all. I was angry and sad.

    It is really encouraging that the pain is psychogenic because of these recent experiences. But it doesn't really help if, to be OK, I have to give up all responsibility and live either on a mountain or a beach. I have to prepare for the school year that starts in a few days. I have kids. I have a husband and a messy house. Why can't I make the thinking psychologically work when I'm here?
    readytoheal and plum like this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Cara. You've taken some wonderful trips and should congratulate yourself. You have a lot on your plate with the new school year and the family other things. You could try some meditation to relax your mind. I like the Relaxation Response technique
    of meditation:

    Meditation is a time-honored way of relaxing the mind and relieving anxiety, mental stress, headaches, and even physical pain. There are many ways to practice meditation, but many consider the most successful to be a technique called the Relaxation Response (RR). It is a wonderful way to practice TMS Mindbody Healing because it changes harmful thinking in the subconscious mind which Dr. John Sarno says causes pain that is not caused by anything structural.

    The RR, practiced once or twice a day for 10, 15, or 20 minutes has a profound positive effect on the subconscious mind, relieving or curing everything from anxiety, hypertension, headaches, fatigue, nervousness, dizziness, high blood pressure, insomnia, stomach problems, all forms of pain including backaches, abdominal pain, muscle pain, neck, arm, and leg pain, and relieves side affects from cancer and AIDS.

    RR is like Transcendental Meditation which is taught by TM specialists who charge hundreds or thousands of dollars. But the RR is free and you can do it yourself.

    It is practiced, before a meal, and works best if not practiced within two hours after a meal. I do it in bed before arising in the morning and again in bed before falling sleep. Often, I only do it 5 or 10 minutes and it works to calm me and put me to sleep.

    Just sit in a chair (or lie in bed in the morning or at bedtime), close your eyes, don’t listen to any music, and try to avoid outside noises. Let your mind think of a word such as

    "One " which has no real meaning or association. Or say a calming word such as “Calm” or “Peace,” or add the faith or spiritual element by saying a favorite religious word or prayer. Breathe naturally or incorporate Deep Breathing by breathing in through the mouth to inflate the stomach, suck in the stomach while holding the breath for a few seconds, then say the word when you exhale through the mouth.

    Say the word silently over and over. At the end of the 10 to 20 minutes, picture and feel yourself as you were when you felt your best, and in a place where you felt that way.

    When distracting thoughts arise during the RR, as they will, just tell yourself, “Oh, well,” and go back to repeating your chosen word.

    My "word" is a prayer: "God loves me and is protecting me." I say it a few times and go right to sleep. If my mind wanders onto other things, I tell myself"Oh, well," and repeat my mantra silently while deep breathing.

    There are several free videos on Youtube about the Relaxation Response. I especially recommend these two by Dr. Benson:

    and this one which can put you to sleep:


  3. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Cara, this is a beautiful post and I really enjoyed reading it. I completely understand all you say and I offer you the reassurance that you can bring the same magic to bear in your normal day-to-day life. Draw deeply on the experiences you have enjoyed on your holiday, recall the sights, the aromas, the colours and sounds and remember how they felt. These can become actual touchstones, literal neural pathways that you can enliven at will simply by closing your eyes and calling the memories back. It is one small step in reclaiming neural real estate from the pain circuits. Given the happy post-holiday glow it will be a joy to do this in itself but knowing that it encourages healing makes it quite special. This technique comes from neuropsychologist and mindfulness teacher Rick Hansen and is elegant in its simplicity and effectiveness.

    The main element of your words that stands out for me is how better you were for your immersion in nature. I am forever opining on our disintegrating relationship with nature. We are less for it. I smiled when you mentioned having a husband and a messy house (I have a messy hubby and an insanely, creatively untidy home) and I totally appreciate those frustrations. How lovely it would be to establish a retreat where we could repair to rest and heal...

    But we can't and so we must do our best to embrace our inner wildness whilst shunning a little of our domestication. Is there somewhere like a forest or a lake near to you? A place you can visit fairly regularly? It does sound as if nature soothes you and a big part of tms healing is calming the sympathetic nervous system. While I love the various methods we can employ I've yet to find anything as powerful as nature. If I can't escape the flat I will simply stand on the balcony and soak up the dancing green trees and birdsong. It helps. One day I hope to have a garden or to live by the sea but for now this small place is beauty enough.

    We are sensuous creatures. We are meant to move and touch and play. Being outside reminds us of this. Being on holiday is a way of being outside of ourselves and our normal lives and it can yield great boons. My own healing really started on holiday by the coast. I looked into the mirror one day and for the first time I recognised the woman smiling back at me.

    Take heart and have faith Cara.
    You will heal.


    Plum x
    Cara and Gigi like this.

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