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Excruciating Back Pain Following a Family Death: Seeking Advice

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Northwood, May 19, 2020.

  1. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Hi, All, I’ve posted a few times. Briefly, I learned about TMS in January. I’ve read the literature accept the diagnosis, and have been doing my best to apply TMS recovery strategies to my own life. If you’ve read any books about TMS, you already know a lot about who I am. To date, I have had some success alleviating my long history of recurrent low back and butt pain.

    Since starting the TMS work, I have come to see pretty clearly that my physical pain connects deeply with my parents—very early traumatic separation from my mom and, more profoundly (it seems) years of rejection and silence from my dad. I stopped calling my parents “mom” and “dad” years ago as a way of distancing myself from them. Interesting to experiment with reapplying those titles and noticing how doing so affects me. I see I’m a little past rage and into weariness and grief. Anyway, my father died this past Friday. I was able to travel to the hospice, sit with him during his final hours, say what I could (while he was unresponsive) and then later after he died sit with his body while waiting for the funeral home to pick him up.

    When I returned to my home city, I experienced a gradual onset of low back pain that started on Sunday evening and became crippling by Monday morning, just before I was going to go into work. It was so painful, I had to call in. Spent most of yesterday in bed with periodic walks to keep moving. Today, early Tuesday, it’s a tiny bit better. But the pain is considerable. The whole rest of my body feels fine.

    I am trying to understand the nature or message of this pain and what I need to do to get through it. I’m pretty sure it'1s TMS, though there is a possibility I may have strained my low back by recruiting it as I’ve been doing leg lifts to strengthen an extremely weak right calf which is still recovering from a surgery last fall. Perhaps the TMS is using that as its opportunity. I don’ t know. I do know that my father’s death is huge in my life, a final statement of his rejection and silence, and that via this TMS work I’m in the midst of daylighting my own buried rage and conflicted feelings on the long road toward healing, letting go, forgiving.

    My question for the community is: what are resources to look at or advice you have regarding real-time strategies for recovering from a flare-up of physical pain? I don’t seem to be the “book cure” type. I don’t believe I have physical damage, so how best to proceed with this great pain? My hope is to be done with it, of course, to not linger in pain for weeks. I am applying techniques taught here, checking self-criticism, pressure, fear. Self-soothing. Feeling feelings, which is not easy, I’m finding—and trying not pressure myself to feel, that crazy balancing act. I'm bummed about the new delay in all the exercise I'd been doing, finally making progress. When should I resume "vigorous activity?" I guess I’d just like any leads or advice on things to do when the pain is severe and it’s a challenge to avoid obsessing or feeling overwhelmed, fearful. I really want to do what I need to do to put these encounters with chronic pain behind me so that I can live the active, pain-free life that I believe is possible.
    Baseball65 and plum like this.
  2. Mr Hip Guy

    Mr Hip Guy Well known member

    Certainly better members here to offer advice than me, but if you're not already journaling then that is great place to start. Doesn't sound like you are based on your post and last paragraph. I find just writing down things I'm angry (or sad or even just don't understand) about and then that's all that's needed. Nicole Sachs calls that "dipping the ladle into the reservoir and emptying it" and slowly over time that ladle will lower the level enough that symptoms recede. I like that visualization myself, maybe it will help you. Good luck. I just lost my father in the last 2 months as well.
    plum likes this.
  3. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I’m truly to sorry to hear about your loss and of the nest of emotional pain it rests upon. You have a good insight into this and a great grasp on how this manifests as TMS. On this front I say keep gently teasing the knots and trust the process.

    There are quite a few posts on flare-ups so it’s worth searching through the wiki for those. I always find I need to soothe and rest when pain bites. I use hot bottles and am very gentle with myself. During these periods the spirit can be immensely generous in its healing especially where we can cultivate self-compassion and forgiveness for our vulnerability. Go to the practices that nurture safety within you.

    We’re here for you sweetheart.
    TG957 likes this.
  4. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Good reminders. My default is to push too hard and my really dysfunctional default is to self-criticize. (You are SUCH a failure at being nice to yourself.) :) Being gentle on myself is more of a learned response. I have to be conscious about using it. We have all these parts to ourselves--Inner Bully, Inner Child, Id, Superego--however you want to classify them, and they all require different kinds of responses depending on what's happening at the moment. Just recognizing what the energy is, is significant. I get better at this by learning some of the tms fundamentals and then cutting myself some slack and paying attention. Thanks.
  5. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    We’re essentially learning to re-reparent ourselves hence the focus on soothing and safety. Self-care is more of an excellent mind~body habit. Generally we’re good at brushing our teeth twice a day but reluctant to spend the same amount of time simply being...consciously breathing, practicing mindfulness, attuning to our tension levels, allowing our emotions to bubble up, out and away.

    As you say, recognising the various states, the energy of the moment is the vital element. So much of TMS healing rests on these blink-and-you-miss-it moments. It does get easier though.
  6. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    I like that you put a tilde (~) between "mind" and "body." It's like a sort of half-visible infinity sign which seems to me closer to the truth of the relationship than a straightforward dash. I suppose, then, the compound mindbody might be an expression of tms enlightenment. lol

    I attended Andy B's posted Zoom last night on handling difficult emotions. It was helpful, ties into some of the insights here into our current exchange.
  7. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Thanks for responding. I liked your posts in another recent thread as well. Actually, I journal quite a bit. Journaling has turned out to be a critical tool in my working with TMS, that and reading, and engaging with this wonderful TMS community. As far as journaling goes, I've found myself starting to type into word documents, a kind of surprising tact, because for decades I wrote in lab notebooks. I have scores of them going back to the 1970s (a liability of being an older writer). But I find fast typing helps me get my thoughts down well as the deep mind kicks up its surprising metaphors. So a little bit of Jung and Kerouac rolled into my TMS recovery.

    My sincere condolences regarding the passing of your father. Glad you found this site. Glad to share with you.
    Mr Hip Guy likes this.

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