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Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Calum, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi all,

    I'm new and this is my first post. I first experienced TMS pain as RSI wrist pain in the summer of 2011, whilst writing up my dissertation for my MSc. I simply thought that I had been typing too much (12 hours a day for a month) and after I finished and handed in the dissertation it went away.

    Then in October 2011 I got my first grad job, and moved out of home properly at work we got this talk about RSI from the health and safety representative which caused me to worry about getting RSI. Sure enough about 2 weeks later I got severe shooting pains up the outer wrist of my mouse hand. These pains quickly spread to my left wrist and began to worsen rapidly, until I usually had a dull ache for most of the day with shooting pains whilst using a computer. I got an ergonomic mouse from work, which made it worse. So I then went to a doctor who told me I had RSI and needed to rest my wrists. Due to some career complications and what the doctor said and because I'd always wanted too I decided to go travelling for 4 months. 16 weeks of relatively no computer usage. During my time off I hurt my back quite badly during a bunji jump (more on this later)

    However then I started on a different grad scheme and the RSI came back just as bad as it had ever been. This caused me to panic. I saw 3 physiotherapists and a chiropractor between August 2012 and February 2013. NOTHING they tried helped at all. I also tired all sorts of iceing, massage, acupuncture etc. I read the mindbody prescription by John Sarno in December 2012 and initially dismissed it, the pain felt so real how could it be emotionally induced? By early 2013 the symptoms had worsened to including shooting pains on both sides of both wrists, dull aching in my hands, numbness of my mouse hand, aches in my upper shoulder muscles and occasionally my triceps. On top of this I had a recurring lower back ache from where I had hurt myself during the bunji jump, despite the injury happening 9 months earlier.

    I re-read the mindbody prescription in February and then the divided mind. And this time round I saw a lot of the personality traits Sarno was talking about in me. I am a super competitive perfectionist. My childhood wasn't exactly great either. So I started journalling in March. I also stopped all stretching exercises for back and wrists and try to ignore my posture. I've also seen a TMS speciallist (Georgie Oldfield) in the UK who has told me there is nothing structurally wrong with me.

    Some of the results have been good. I am much less scared of the pain and of doing myself permanent damage than I was. My back pain is on the retreat and the RSI pain now I only occurs in my wrists and forearms. However there are definitely some obstacles that I think are preventing me from making a better recovery, which is the main reason I decided to start posting on here.

    Firstly through all this from August 2013-Now I have stayed at my computer intensive job. Every time I sit down and use a computer it hurts (it hurts typing this). Sometimes it hurts a lot and can hurt later at home away from the computer. And that brings back the fear and whilst I'm on the computer I worry about hurting myself and I expect the pain to come and I can't seem to get myself out of that cycle.

    Secondly I have some lingering doubts about TMS. I tell myself I have TMS not RSI I try hard to accept it, some days I do believe 100%, but I still sometimes get that little voice in my head that comes completely unbidden, you know the one that tells you to stop or slow down when your on a run the one that tells you to give up when something is tough, and it says "you have RSI, TMS is a load of crap". Does anyone else get this/ had this? Some of what I think feeds this doubt is that I can be a very angry person, my anger if often not unconscious at all, but very concious indeed.

    This was longer than expected, but I think it is best to get everything down. Any comments, advice or feedback would be very much appreciated.



    P.S. a special thanks to Forest For Trees if I hadn't seen your youtube videos I would have never found out about this site.
  2. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    Welcome to the forum Calum

    Conditioning takes time to un-do, as in the case of the pain you realize when typing. Previous experience has taught you to expect pain during that activity and when you expect pain your ever dutiful subconscious delivers. Just keep at the baby steps to break the conditioning. As silly as it will probably seem (and it might be completely ineffective at first), try the positive self talk and visualization. Do you best to visualize yourself at the computer completely pain-free typing 150 words a minute with a big smile on your face, and do this every time you can remember. When you're about to actually use the computer tell yourself, out loud if feasible, that there is nothing wrong for you and that you will not have any pain while using, or resulting from using the computer. Some times small changes are all it takes to break conditioning too, can you move the computer into another room or even another location in the same room? Might sound silly but it actually has worked for some.

    You'll probably find a lot of people can relate to that little voice. I have it, it's conditioning too. It's the product of all the structural/physical stuff you've been fed your entire life. It's human nature to resist change, and TMS is change. It goes against the grain and it's always easier to follow the crowd and swim with the current. Just remember where that current leads and ask yourself if you really want to go back there or if it might be worth the effort to resist it. I find that little voice gets louder the more focused on results I am. Measuring results is counter-productive to TMS healing. When it starts chattering away I find it is most helpful to get a new voice in the conversation. I call someone supportive, I put a post out on the forum, and very soon I have several more voices countering the negative one in my head.
  3. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    Hi Calum,

    I'm new too - also just posted in this forum for the first time today. My story sounds a bit like yours. I get pain when using the computer straight away and it lingers afterwards quite often too.

    I'm really struggling with this right now too! I think it's what's holding me back and meaning I'm actually in more pain than before, I'm just hoping I can get through it and out the other side...
  4. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi Leslie and Moose,

    Thanks for replying to my post.

    Moose I know it is hard, very hard, but I think we have to just keep pushing that voice away and telling ourselves that TMS is real. From what I have experienced getting angry with it doesn't work, especially at work where I still haven't found a method to safely vent, it just causes more stress and pain. My symptoms sound exactly the same as yours, and (critically!) the same as many people with TMS who have recovered, this gives me hope.

    Leslie, thank you for the advice, unfortunately I spend most of my time on the computer at work and can't move it, but I am definitely going to follow your advice on the visualisation. I think I will get someone to take a picture of me using a computer with a smile and print it out as a visual aid, do such visual aids work with TMS? And about that little voice, drowning it out in positive voices seems like a great idea, thank you for being one of them, I think being more active on this forum is going to help alot =).
  5. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    Yup! It'll be interesting to see how we both progress, my symptoms do sound very similar to yours Calum.

    I'm really keen for reassurance from people who have got better from TMS who had pain even when away from the computer, as when I've been typing all day my pain tends to linger for several days (although it does fluctuate). This has made me doubt whether it's TMS, but I guess that's probably the point - my unconscious is really desperately trying to make me think I'm harming myself, as in 'look, you've done so much damage typing that you'll be in pain for days!' Bloomin' sneaky unconscious. The other day, I was getting not just hand/arm pain but back, neck and shoulder pain, and at one point I started feeling dizzy. I though 'ooh I feel really dizzy, I should probably go home - WAIT, NO! BAD UNCONSCIOUS! I SEE WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO DO!'. The dizziness evaporated instantly! A good sign that it's TMS I think (I figure the hand pain doesn't evaporate so quickly because I've been conditioned for that for so long, but the dizziness was new, and hence easily dismissable as TMS). We'll get there :)
  6. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    Somewhere I have read on this site about poor countries where people sit at computers many many hours each day. None have RSI. They have never heard of it.

    RSI is one of many of my pains: scoliosis, neck pain, low back pain, TMJ, asthma, allergies, tailbone pain, IT band pain. knee pain, foot pain, restless leg, abdominal pain... hard to believe there is more but yes. Plus depression all my life. It moves around all the time...all over my body. Especially when you are new to the program it will move all over the place.

    I am almost completely pain free. What is left is just a nuisance but a alarm bell telling me to pay attention to my thoughts.
    You will both do just great.
  7. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    My symptoms pretty much mirror Stells'a description of her own at this point, on average I would say I'm 80-90% better and truthfully, from where I started if this is as good as it ever gets, I'll take it! I had a computer job, spent 60-70 hours a week in front of it with minimal breaks. I was in a "production" setting. All the work came through the computer and your pay and bonuses were determined by the volume of work you did. If you were not at the computer you were not working, and if you were not working it was going to cost you. Symptoms started on the right several years ago and pretty much ignored them as long as I could, then I learned how to work the mouse with my left hand. Symptoms on the right faded and the ones on the left started. Well meaning medical people told me I had rotator cuff tears as a result of spending too much time at the computer. I thought it sounded completely ridiculous but what do I know, I hadn't been to medical school, so I bought it. Tried all the "accommodations" the company would offer, the ergonomics people were actually working directly with the doctor. Little surprise that the stuff the doctor told them to do helped more than the stuff they did that went against her direction...gotta love placebo effect. Next came the hour restrictions, got limited to 37.5 hrs a week....symptoms actually got worse (no surprise there either - I was in a really busy area with lots of OT & I was letting my co-workers down). Ended up with a medical leave, and the symptoms continued to get worse....and there was no computer involved. At that point the only time I even went near the computer at home was to pay the bills. Anyway, it cost me the job. I wasn't getting better and I was convinced the computer was the problem. The medical leave was expiring so I thought I had to resign and I did. The problem was not the computer. I can work on any computer anywhere for any period of time now. The problem was stress, fear, anger, and pressure. If anything, the job itself (a high stress job dealing with very angry people about finances) was part of the problem. People sat at typewriters many hours a day long before we had computers. They didn't have RSI and those old 100 lb manual typewriters were far more strenuous on the body than the soft-touch keyboards of today. Besides, it's completely unreasonable to think that our bodies, as a society, have deteriorated to the point that we are far more fragile than our great-grandmothers were!

    Calum I think the visual aids are a great idea. I know they are very helpful to me. I'm still working on focus and visualization, my mind likes to jump around and wander and I generally have a hard time getting a clear picture in my head just sitting with my eyes closed. If I have a photo to focus on I find it far more effective. Since you can't change the location of the computer itself, maybe there are other things you could change that would change up the messages to your subconscious and create new pathways. Can you move things around at your workstation? Maybe change the position of your chair, even the desktop and screensaver on the computer? Different photos on your desk, or if you're allowed to listen to music while you work can you change the music you listen to? You can get some great relaxation and meditation stuff that your subconscious would actually listen to while your conscious is busy working? If none of that is possible maybe you can change the way you enter the building and get to your workstation every day, go in a different door or something? Or even change the route you take to go to work or the order you do things when you're getting ready to go to work? I know it sounds sort of silly, you're logical analytical side probably jumped in 1/2 way through my suggestions and said "really? but I'm still going to know I'm going to work". That's pretty common. Yes, present conscious adult you is going to know you're going to work but it only takes little changes to throw off the programmed pathways of the subconscious. I remember a post fairly recently where BruceMc wrote about completely eliminating some leg symptoms by changing the position of his bicycle seat. The symptoms left even when he wasn't on the bike and he hadn't even made the change trying to get rid of symptoms.
  8. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi guys, thanks for the supportive posts!

    I hear what you are saying about the type-writers and less developed countries and the non-existence of RSI. This is a point that the logical part of my brain is on side about. People simply did not get RSI back then so why doing something similar with better working conditions do people get it now? One doctor tired to tell me that this was because a type writer requires more movement. Which is plainly bull**** I tired typing with 1 finger to increase movement, and merely got worse. Also why don't the 40+ year olds in my office who are much older than me and have been using computers for way longer (I am 24) not have RSI, the only answer I've ever had from a physio about this is that "people are just different". I say this is completely illogical.

    Actually Lesley that is a great idea, I listen to metal most of the time at work which is a fairly angry music genre, switching to something chilled could really help matters thanks for the suggestion:). Also I can relate to the job stress. My job is also stressful, but so interesting! I really don't want to give it up.
    It is a real problem, part of me thinks give it up its making the TMS worse, but part of me enjoys the job and doesn't want to give it up!

    Thank you for sharing your stories with me they really do give me hope that I can beat this, before TMS all I ever read about were stories of people with RSI who never got better which was really depressing and scary. Just knowing that there are people out there who have recovered from exactly the same sort of pain that I have helps me face the fear. Again thank you.
    Leslie likes this.
  9. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Calum- I am glad that my video was helpful to you. As someone who had RSI for a long time, I know how frustrating it is to have pain prevent you from doing something you love to do. Let me add this though, I now type all day long, using horrible posture, and have absolutely no pain typing. Why is RSI so prevalent these days? Because so many tech companies warn programmers about the seriousness of having RSI. This creates a culture of hypervigiliance that makes us susceptible to getting it. Logically, though, RSI just does not hold up. Like so many other TMS conditions, there is simply no real reason as to why these conditions would develop and be so severe. This actually was something that troubled me a lot when I had my symptoms. Being told my doctors that people are just different always made me feel like they were missing something and not truly understanding my own condition. The only thing that really made sense to me both in terms of providing an answer to why I have symptoms and a logical reason behind the pain was TMS. This is because TMS is the only approach that understands and treats the actually cause of our symptoms.

    Reaching a point where you can type without having fear of your symptoms does take some time, so it is okay to be nervous in the beginning. One thing that helped me was thinking logically about my symptoms. By this I mean, reminding myself of some of the points you brought up, i.e. RSI is not a problem in developing countries, and people never developed RSI by typing on typewriters. Understanding that you do not have a structural problem is a major part of recovering from TMS, and having these reminders will be helpful in achieving this.

    Especially at the beginning, having doubts about TMS and thinking that it is a load of crap is natural. I myself had the same doubts for a while. You need to realize though, that these thoughts are the TMS distraction in action. Having thoughts like these are what distract you from your emotions. It is okay to have doubts, but when you do, try to ask yourself what emotions you have presently. What are you feeling emotionally at these times? The goal is to use this as a signal to examine your emotions. This is what Think Psychologically is all about.

    Having a demanding job can open the door to TMS, but once you have this knowledge the effects of the position will go away. If you don't like working in a high stress environment then, you may enjoy a different job. But if you truly love your job, then there is no need to leave it. Remember, your job is not the cause of your symptoms. The cause of your symptoms are repressed emotions. Changing jobs will not make you stop repressing your emotions. Only you can do that.
  10. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    I completely agree with Forest in terms of the doubts and also about the job. I left my high stress job before I knew anything about TMS, before I had any idea about emotional connections to physical symptoms. I had been pretty unhappy in that job anyway and even so, my symptoms got worse without it. They got worse when I went on the medical leave, and worsened further when I resigned....my guess here was worry about the future and financial concerns, the medical leave was unpaid and life has changed dramatically on one income.

    I strongly urge you to change music, especially while you're working. You've already got enough stress at work, you sure don't need angry music added to the mix. Nattycakes actually has a really interesting post on the forum recently about 528 hz. It's called the good or healing frequency, among other things. I checked it out today and not only did I discover that it had a very tangible effect on my mind and body for the better; I also checked out what would likely be deemed it's opposite, which is 741 hz. According to the research I was reading, almost all western world (across most genres) is actually at 741 hz, which is called the bad or evil frequency. I wanted to experiment so I found some youtube stuff done at 741 hz to see if I could notice anything in my body. The changes were very unpleasant and happened in less than 5 seconds of listening. A friend had similar results from the experiment. The 528 hz produced pleasant, calming effects physiologically while the 741 hz resulted in increased agitation, irritability, and chest pains for my friend. I noticed similar changes to my mood and I also noticed an incredible tension spread throughout most of my body. These changes hung on a lot longer than the pleasant ones, and we both went back to the 528 hz afterwards trying to reverse the effects. It still had a calming effect but it took a lot longer and didn't return either of us to the same degree of calm we had experienced from listening to it before the 741 hz.
  11. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi Forest and Lesley thanks for your posts.
    Like you say above, my second and much more severe attack of RSI (the one I’m still struggling with) came on after being warned about the dangers of RSI by a lady in the company I worked for, who gave all the new starts a full on horror story about how she got RSI and had to leave work for months on end. My RSI started a few weeks later.
    I'd descibe my job as high stress, but highly interesting. I also think alot of the stress comes from the fact I am relatively new to the field and spend a lot of the time not knowing or teaching myself how to do the job. I've spoken to other people on the grad scheme and they are all in the same position and we think it will get less stressful the more we learn and the more in control we feel and I do get those awesome moments of elation when a concept finally clicks into place or when I solve a problem. Also like you say Lesley if I left the job it would be replaced by other stresses such as financial. I'm going to stay with the job and focus on emotions instead.
    I’m a bit confused about the repressed emotions. I’ve read a fair bit on forums about people facing and finding out what their repressed emotions are and then getting better, but according to Sarno and others its nigh on impossible to get those emotions and thoughts out of the unconscious and face them. Basically I need to know if it is possible to get at the emotions and thoughts in my unconscious? When you say stop repressing your emotions do you mean stop adding to the emotions that are already repressed by repressing current emotions or stop repressing the emotions that are already locked up in my unconscious? When I read Sarno I remember him saying emotions are repressed without my knowledge, if this is occurring how to I prevent it? This is something else I find frustrating about TMS I have no idea how to control it (a product of my perfectionism and need to feel in control?).
    I'll try the 528 Hz music Lesley thanks for the info and sharing your experience I think one of the good things about TMS is learning about all the different things that affect your body that you would normally not think of, can you reccomend any artists on youtube who use this frequency?
    Also something weird happened the other night when I was trying Mindful Meditation for the first time and before I began I was advised to identify acknowledge and welcome any current pain I had to prevent it from distracting me. When I focussed on a pain spot acknowledged it welcomed it “because I know you can not harm me” the pain would dissipate and literally jump to another part of my forearm. It was like playing Whack-a-mole. Has anyone else experienced this?
  12. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    As you said Calum, you can't stop doing something on your own that you have no idea you're doing to begin with. Whatever emotions you are repressing, you've likely been doing so for a very long time, it's an automatic, completely unconscious process. Once repressed, you're completely at the mercy of your subconscious as to when or if you will or can get at them. It's important to remember here that your subconscious is keeping them from your conscious to protect you, to save you. Whatever they are, they've been identified as "deadly" due to some past experience with the emotion itself. Your subconscious is not going to reveal something "deadly" to you until you've proven to it that it will not actually harm you - that kind of trust takes time. Yes, it is possible to actually get at them - to what degree differs from person to person, and whether or not you can do it alone also varies between people. The bottom line is that it's hard to find something when you don't know what you're looking for. Rather than concern yourself with what it already stored up in there focus on trying to identify what you might be adding. I've found it really helpful to observe the responses and actions of others and then think about my own "typical" responses and actions in the same situation. For instance, a couple years ago our mortgage company decided that we had to have flood insurance and gave us 45 days to get it or they were going to get it for us - all over a very small creek with a dike wall that is dry 360 days a year, just beyond the back boundary of our property. My husband was furious (because the cost was insane) and he vocalized his anger to just about anyone who would listen for about 10 days. I read the letter from the mortgage company, remember feeling irritated - not because of what the letter said but because I knew it was going to fall in my lap to take care of it, folded it back up and put it back in the envelope. I didn't know it then, but I was definitely repressing anger. I realized it this year when the invoice came from the insurance company, and the way I realized it was from an increase in symptoms as soon as I saw the envelope.

    Don't worry about preventing it just yet (that will actually happen all on it's own in it's own good time), first just focus on trying to learn to identify it. When you realize your symptoms have your attention, stop right then and go over the recent events, including whatever thought was going through your mind when your attention turned to your symptoms. Patterns will start appearing. As for controlling the TMS, I strongly urge you to reframe your thinking here because as long as you have the thought of controlling it, it will be around. Alleviation of symptoms won't come from a power struggle, the symptoms are not the enemy requiring conquering. Focus on making peace with it, as difficult as it is to view something unpleasant as positive, please make the effort. Just remember it's trying to protect and help you, thank it, be grateful for it and trust that one day you will understand the reasoning behind it.

    I've just been searching 528 hz on youtube and listening to what I find. I've only done it a couple times so I can't really recommend anything in particular yet. Also, celebrate your game of whack a mole (I love the analogy - you started my day off with a laugh so thank you for that)! That is progress at it's best, jumping symptoms - especially jumping that quickly certainly would not happen from a physical injury!!!
  13. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Sorry for the late post I’ve had a weekend away on the Isle of Skye (beautiful by the way I’d recommend it). I’ve been trying to do what you have suggested and try and go over recent events/ what I have been thinking when my symptoms occur. This has been working at home, I can sometimes identify the issue that I think has brought on the symptoms, but I find it almost impossible to apply at work because I am conditioned for a symptom increase as soon as I touch the mouse/keyboard regardless of what I am feeling at the time. Do you have any tips for this? Should I stop worrying about it and just focussed on what is causing the symptoms when away from my desk?
    The symptoms have been getting worse recently, and they have also started to occur when rock climbing a past time I really enjoy and started up again partially to convince myself there was nothing physically wrong with my wrists. I’ve been told to expect this as I start to focus more and more on the psychological, but the symptom increase is causing me to worry more and focus on the physical again. Its like taking 1 step forward 2 steps back! Should I cut back on the climbing and computer work or ignore it and try and push through whilst telling myself the damage/pain will not be permanent?
  14. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    Hi Calum, I can't tell you what to do, but I know that for me, my pain really went up a LOT for about a week and a half, until about a week ago when it dropped and has since stayed at a reassuringly lower level (like, I *know* I have TMS now because of this - yay!). So it may well be that you're experiencing an 'extinction burst'. I had to keep reassuring myself that's what it was, and there were a couple of days where I felt really beaten by it and the fear came back, but I just kept repeating my affirmations and just kept working, refusing to let it stop me. Most days even though it hurt a lot, I managed to stay positive. One thing I found was that even when the pain was really bad, if I was able to stay positive throughout it, it faded a lot quicker than on past occasions when I'd have gotten really stressed and anxious about it. Have you noticed anything similar? Anyway, if you stick with it, hopefully you'll see similar results!

    p.s. totally jealous of you going to Skye! I'm desperate to get away but no holiday in sight :(
  15. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    Yes, as hard as it's going to be to actually do, the key here is to stop worrying about it. You're conditioned for a symptom increase which means you're expecting it - the thoughts of expecting symptoms (fear) are probably the ones you're having trouble identifying at work. Anyway, if you are expecting symptoms that tricky little subconscious is going to deliver, believe it or not it actually thinks you "want" symptoms when you're expecting them. Conditioning takes time to break. My suggestion would be to tell yourself (as often as you remember and out loud anytime the opportunity presents itself) you are healthy and symptom-free and there are no symptoms at work. Visualize yourself at your desk smiling and without symptoms - little by little your subconscious will begin to recognize this as your new "will" and it will deliver on it instead. In the meantime, when you do recognize a symptom increase just remind yourself that it is nothing more than programming and it too will pass.

    It's not surprising the symptoms would show up during an activity you enjoy, especially one you've recently resumed to prove to yourself there's nothing wrong with you. They certainly would not be an effective distraction if they only showed up when you were doing something you detested. If you are feeling well enough to continue with the physical activity, by all means go for it, just don't forget that "soreness" is something everyone experiences when beginning any type of physical activity that hasn't been done in a while. One step forward two steps back is a feeling we can all relate to, only 2 steps back was "good progress" for me for quite a while as my back steps tended to feel more like 10-15 for every step forward. Be patient and kind to yourself and take heart that this sequence will eventually end.
  16. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi Moose, yeah this happens with me too, the more I fear the pain the more I worry the longer it lasts. I've been reading through the recovery program and I didn't realise until now that its not the pain that is the "main" distraction, but the fear and preocupation with it. This week I've been telling myself the pain is irrelevant and I think it is helping a little, it definitely lasts for less time when it comes on, although the intensity is the same. I glad that your through your extinction burst, very happy for you that you are getting somewhere with the TMS:).

    Skye was great, you could do it in 3 or 4 days a long weekend is all it needs you don't need to take a full on holiday to go :).

    Hi Lesley, I'm trying with the visualisation and as often as I remember I tell myself before I start that the computer cannot hurt me. I'v been finding that accepting the pain and telling myself its irrelavent, it can't actually harm me has been helping alot at least phycologically. I am feeling much more positive than when I last posted. Also thanks for the common sense note about the climbing, of cause its sore I'm new (again) to it and I keep pushing my limits when I go, it is nothing to worry about. :)
  17. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    I've definitely had a bit more pain the last couple of days again, but I'm a bit stressed and not very happy and I think that's why. But it's still an improvement over a few weeks ago!

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