This is a long story but felt all information was important for someone. NO PAIN NOW!! My name is Donnie Luper and I want to share my success story on the forum. I am now 60 years old and a dentist in NC. About 18 years ago I started having severe back pain in the lower back. I tried massage therapy and chiropractor for about 6 months and never had any relief from my pain. I thought a lot of it was from bending over patients and from my postural position of my job. I went out to Yellowstone with my wife for our 20th anniversary and wanted to do a lot of hiking but could only do about a mile at a time because of the pain in my back. This was very discouraging for me as I had always been athletic and played many sports my whole life. I was a runner and had run 2 marathons up to this point and was fairly depressed with my state of pain. We were on the way back from Yellowstone when I ran into a friend from college in the airport. I found out she had become a physical therapist and so I told her about my back. She asked if there was any stress in my life and I told her definitely. I told her how I had been thrust into a role at church with our youth pastor leaving and I had to be the interim youth pastor along with running my dental practice. 3 days into this interim position I got a call from one of the girls in the youth group and she said that she was thinking about suicide. Well I have no training with handling that type of situation and had to get my pastor involved. There were many other stresses with the kids with many of the kids coming from dysfunctional homes. I felt totally out of my element at that point. So my friend asked me if I had ever read a book by Dr. John Sarno about healing your back pain. She told me he described how certain personality types manifest stress by having pain. I went straight to the book store when I got home. As I read about the personality type who gets this type of pain I realized I was a perfectionist, goodist, and most of the other characteristics of someone from TMS. After reading this book my pain went away for a very long time. So long that I totally forgot about having a bad back. 6 months later I had a friend visiting me who was about to move overseas with his family and he was in such back pain he could not sit in a chair. I gave him the book and he read it in one day and woke up the next day with no pain and so he ran for the first time in 6 months. Fast forward to 4 years ago. We had just had our house raised due to flooding in the past and had 6 large pine trees taken down. They ground the stumps which left huge piles of wood in the yard. Being a perfectionist I love a nice yard. I tried to find someone to come dig out the wood but could not find anyone. So I decided to do it myself. I dug for about 3 hours a day for 2 weeks and at the end of this I could hardly stand up. I was having major back pain and sciatica. I had to be out of work for a couple of days and went to see my regular MD. He warned me not to pick up anything because I may get cauda equina and be paralyzed from the waist down. He sent me to my orthopedist who is a friend of mine. He ordered an MRI and found that I had spinal stenosis with several bulging discs in L4 L5 area with protrusion of the disk material. He said it was putting pressure on my nerves so this is why I was in so much pain. He suggested physical therapy but I also saw the chiropractor because I figured 2 was better than one to cover my bases. My orthopedist also referred me to a back surgeon to see about having a microdiscectomy. He showed me my MRI and I saw what they were talking about. As a dentist I look at x-ray radiographs every day. I sent my MRI to a friend who is a back surgeon out at UCLA and he looked at my MRI and said he felt like just physical therapy would take care of it and to have no fear about cauda equina. So I started down the physical therapy road and I would spend at least an hour a day doing McKenzie exercises on the floor and planks like crazy trying to strengthen my core. After about 5 months of this my back pain went away. As I look back now I am not sure the physical therapy worked as I made several life decisions involved with my work to slow my life down and to reduce some of the stress in my life. It never occurred to me during this time that it could be TMS as Dr. Sarno’s book sat on the shelf. So fast forward to May of 2016. I had to have a minor shoulder surgery to remove a bone spur which was slowly shredding a shoulder muscle. I saw the shoulder orthopedic surgeon one week later and got the green light to go back to work. I did PT for my shoulder and one month later at the end of June saw the orthopedist and he was amazed at how fast I healed. He told me to go ahead and do what I wanted but not at full speed as “you may do something to totally ruin your shoulder.” He was wanting me to be cautious but this brought up a lot of fear just like the time I was told I may get cauda equina. So I drove the 5 hours home from his office and when I got home I could not get out of my car. My back was in major spasm and I had piriformis muscle pain on the left side so bad I felt like my butt was on fire. I also had pain radiating down my left leg and sciatica on the outside of the leg to my ankle. It hurt to walk and I could barely make it up my stairs as with each step my piriformis would just cramp. I called my chiropractor and went to see him that day but with little relief. I just figured I did something to my back sitting in the car for 5 hours although I travel a lot and have never had pain in the piriformis muscle ever before. I googled Piriformis syndrome (not a good idea) and read of all the people who had it and how with a lot of them it never went away. I just kind of lived with it for a while figuring it would go away. I could not walk very far without it seizing up. And funny thing was that when I got out of the shower in the morning and put my leg on the closed toilet seat to dry my left leg it would cramp up and I would just have to straighten up with minimal relief. And walking up and down stairs caused it to seize and cramp like crazy. I would have numbness and pain on the outside of my leg from the knee to the ankle and it would burn on the outside of my ankle. One of the interesting things that happened during this time in June was when I was sitting in church and my awesome pastor was talking about emotional healing. I got to thinking about things in my life and just had the sense that I was supposed to see a counselor. At 60 years of age I felt like I needed to see a counselor but had no idea why. I got in touch with a friend who does counseling for a living and went to see him. He asked me why I was there and I told him I did not know but then he asked one leading question and I word vomited for 50 minutes. I realized I hate my job, and was wounded by my dad by something that happened when I was 8 years old. I had struggles with abandonment and feeling I had to be perfect so I would be loved by my wife, kids and everyone. I had incredibly low self-esteem and was full of anxiety and was basically burned out. I did not discover all of this the first day but over a 5 month process. I started physical therapy for the piriformis in September after seeing my orthopedist. He told me that there is no real explanation for why people develop piriformis pain. I did exercises for an hour every day. The physical therapist did all kind of stretching and I got dry needled 5 separate times. Dry needling is where they stick 5 long acupuncture needles deep into your piriformis muscle and hook you up to a TENS unit and it shocks the muscle. Your whole butt goes into spasm as you sit on the table for 10 minutes. I also had deep tissue massage by the physical therapist and it would feel better for about an hour and then start hurting again. None of this was helping my pain on the outside of my leg. It was affecting my sleep, my work, and every aspect of my life. So I asked the physical therapist why he thought I was not getting better and he said he did not know. He felt like piriformis was one of the least understood things in medicine and no one knew why it occurred. So you can imagine how I felt. So I was on the ground rolling around on the tennis ball and it occurred to me to get out Dr. Sarnos book. I reread it and realized maybe this was all TMS. I was hoping for the book cure again but that did not happen. So I found tmswiki.org and started reading all of the information on the website. I got Dr. Sarno’s other books, Steve O’s book and David Hanscom’s book and a book about posture. I looked into the piriformis syndrome success stories and somehow came across Dr. Alicia Batson’s story. Man did that give me hope. I got in touch with her by email and she suggested I do Howard Schubner’s online course. So I paid my $100 and did that course. It had excellent information in it and I did all of it. I journaled, I did affirmations, I wrote like David Hanscom’s book said to do and tried my hardest to do everything everyone said. (Sounds like a TMS perfectionist ) I got Forgive for Good by Luskin and that helped a lot with moving past some things I needed to forgive people for. In fact this is one of the best books I have ever read. I knew a lot of my pain was conditioned responses and was about 95% sure it was all TMS. But as a dentist I look at xrays all day where pain almost always correlates to an inflamed or infected pulp and I just could not get past what I saw on my MRI. AND MY PAIN NEVER GOT ANY BETTER. I was starting to get depressed and felt hopeless. Finally in mid-November I went back to my orthopedist and asked him to take an X-ray of my back and tell me if I had a tumor, or an infection, or a fracture and nothing else. (this was suggested in a book but I cannot even remember which one since I read so many). So he said OK and walked in after reviewing the x-ray and said I had none of those things but I did have spondolythedosis. I was so pissed at him for telling me that. But I had watched the youtube videos from Nicole Sachs and knew she had this and was pain free. I asked my orthopedist if he thought piriformis pain could be from stress and anxiety and he said yes. I walked out of the room and was now about 98% sure it was TMS. BUT STILL WAS NOT FULLY CONVINCED. SO I came home and stopped all exercises, chiropractic, and physical therapy. With my personality type of being a people pleaser this was difficult as I had to explain to everyone why I was stopping and that I was going a different route. I got back in touch with Alicia Batson and we talked again and she told me I had to accept that it was TMS 100% or I would not get better in all likelihood. I told her I just wish someone who understood TMS near me could do a physical exam. She recommended that I go have an exam by Howard Schubiner and start talking with the people at the Pain Psychology Center in LA. She said that she had to go that route before she started getting better. So I made an appointment to see Dr. Schubiner in early December and sent an email to the Pain Psychology Center in Los Angeles. I got a call from Alan Gordon the next day and he told me to call back when after I had seen Howard. I went to Detroit and had an exam from Dr. Schubiner. He is undoubtably one of the nicest people I have ever met. He spent 3.5 hours with me going over my whole history and did an exam and said he saw nothing physically wrong with me. We did have a couple of ah-hah moments when going over my family history. I FINALLY had the 100% belief that it was TMS and not something structural. So I flew back home and got in touch with Alan Gordon the next day. He assigned me to Daniel Lyman to talk to and start therapy. I filled out some paperwork for Daniel and started talking to him 2 weeks before Christmas. We have done therapy for every week for 2 months and now I am speaking with him every 2 weeks. I find Daniel to be an awesome therapist. Daniel has TMS. There is just something about talking with someone who has TMS just like you do and understands what you are dealing with. I have learned that all of my pain was caused by my anxiety and my not feeling safe in many ways. I have learned how to self soothe myself and take care of myself and to be kind to myself in my self- talk. I have also learned that is important that I feel my feelings and know what they feel like physically. I worked on saying to my self all day long about every 20 seconds “Everything is Ok Donnie, you are going to be OK.” And “You are safe, this situation is safe.” This has helped me lay down new neural pathways (neuroplasticity). Within 2 weeks of therapy the pain began to lesson and after 3 weeks I had no pain at all. The work I am doing is trying to not be outcome dependent but to do things that are kind to myself and understand all is OK and I am safe. An affirmation that Dr. Alisha Batson uses has helped me a lot also at work especially: “99% of the time it is going to be OK and the other 1% of the time I will deal with it.” I have even taken it farther with “99,999 times out of 100,000 it is going to be OK. The other 1 time I will deal with it.” And when I was walking up the stairs I said to myself that if I started to feel something that it was just a conditioned response. Same thing when I would dry my leg after getting out of the shower. I would say it is just a conditioned response. And also would say there is nothing to be fearful of just walking up stairs or drying your leg. I realized many times in my head I would play out every possible bad scenario that could take place when the chances of those happening are very, very slim. But that is what many of us TMSer’s will do. We focus on the one bad thing out of all the good things. That is what perfectionists do. I am learning that I do not have to be perfect just do things complete and that has brought me much comfort in my job. I mean you want your dentist to be perfect when he works on you right? But if I thinking about doing the procedure and am complete that it will be done awesomely. That is a freeing way to think about things. I have occasional twinges that last for just a couple of seconds but not pain. I try to slow down and think about what I am anxious about and what emotion I need to feel. And self soothe myself with the above things. I realize how much anxiety tries to speed me up. I also now know that I may not ever get rid of all anxiety which I thought had to happen. But I am learning how to deal with it when it comes in an appropriate manner. I realized that in the fight or flight reaction I have stayed to fight all the time and this has just increased my cortisol levels and my stress. I am so thankful to Daniel Lyman and the Pain Psychology Center in Los Angeles. And to Howard Schubiner, and Alisha Batton, for their kindness and work with me. And to Dr. Sarno, David Hanscom, Nicole Sachs and Steve O. for the books they have written and their pioneering work in this important area. I want to encourage anyone who thinks you have TMS that your healing will be different from someone else and if you are looking for a formula it may not happen. It puts too much pressure on you. For some of you it will be just reading a book. Some of you it will be doing journaling and some of you affirmations and some of you counseling. For me it took an exam from Dr. Schubiner and counseling with Daniel Lyman. I needed someone who understood and had TMS to help me.