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Hello - this is me (now with back pain)

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Bradd, Apr 22, 2023.

  1. Bradd

    Bradd New Member


    My exposure to TMS actually first started back in 2018. After a seemingly insignificant "squeeze" of my right testicle I developed epididymitis. I lived in pure hell for about a year, but now consider myself fully healed from that condition. Was it TMS? Perhaps. The doctors were never able to find any logical / structural reason for the pain. I really have to commend the urologist at the hospital who said "We do not know what this is. The only thing we know is that it will pass".

    Now chronic pain has returned in my life. It really feels completely surreal to be back here after already having been through a long recovery process. I have to say that the suffering is intense and taking a toll on my psyche. It started right before Christmas as I was lifting the Christmas-tree a bit too far from my body. I didn't feel anything at the time, but the next day I woke up with a lot of pain on the left side of my lower back. Really felt like a strong inflammation. Over the next days sciatic-type pain developed as well in my left leg as well. Went to a chiropractor after a few weeks. He did several tests and basically concluded that I did not have a disc prolapse since I did not have any loss of strength in my feet. Later also went to a physical therapist who basically made the same conclusion, however he was still open to a nerve being pinched in the spine. I am finally getting an MRI next week.

    The pain seems to be coming and going. These are some observations:

    • Sitting on hard surfaces seems to really make it worse.
    • Standing may or may not make it worse.
    • Walking sometimes makes it worse. But not during the activity itself. It comes afterwards. Only logical reason for something like this would be that the activity increases the level of inflammation I guess (?)
    • Yesterday I had two cancelled flights at the airport. As I got really angry / furious inside it seemed like the physical pain subsided. Then I went into more of a victim state and the pain increased again.
    • The muscular / inflammatory pain in lower back and the nerve pain in leg seems to be correlated (come at the same time). I am no doctor but this seems slightly strange to me if the basic idea is that this is a pinched nerve / bulging disc.
    • Sometimes I have tingling in both feet.
    I have Nicole Sach's course from when I was struggling with my epididymits. Will start working on that again. Also ordered Sarno's book (Healing back pain).

    And I really have the TMS personality. Perfectionism, self criticism, anxiety, mild OCD tendencies, hypochondria.

    That's it for now I guess. Would appreciate any comments on my condition. Thanks.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi there @Bradd and welcome to the forum! I think you've found the right course of action - get into Nicole's course again and read Dr. Sarno! You know what's going on - you just need to revisit the concepts and receive a little reassurance from the greater TMS community that you're on the right path. I certainly think that you are!

    Recovery followed by a setback is not just common, it's the norm, especially amongst those of us with
    You just described me - 100%.

    Anxiety and TMS go hand-in-hand. And I experience setbacks frequently - and relatively briefly (some last less than 24 hours, in fact).

    The OCD is really interesting to me, and it comes up frequently here. I never in a million years considered that I had OCD, but since discovering this work in 2011 (at age 60) I've had to acknowledge that I do, although as an adult it mostly just looks like perfectionism. But I've noticed when it is on the edge of spilling over into obsessiveness. When I was doing the SEP back in 2011, one of the long-lost childhood memories I uncovered was of a couple of rather weird OCD behaviors I engaged in - once during 1st grade and then another in 4th grade. Both of them were noticed by teachers, who in each case contacted my parents - and as soon as I had a little bit of extra attention, the behaviors completely disappeared. Well... the other thing I discovered when doing the SEP is that I felt rather isolated between the ages of 4 and about 8 - or maybe 9, I guess - undoubtedly because I was the oldest, and I'd had the undivided attention and adoration of my parents for a full two years before they proceeded to have three more kids. I suppose it wasn't too bad until kid #3 came along, after which I suspect that family life was quite chaotic for a while, so I was left to myself a fair amount. I also revived memories of how my parents made it up to me later with special attention. Such a mild and short-lived experience of childhood adversity - yet it still affected me! It did not help that I was probably born with anxiety - the result of being the first child of an older mother who'd been married for three years and had had a miscarriage. She lost her anxiety and became an expert mom, but I have no doubt I got it "from" her before I was born.

    As Nicole Sachs says: "no one escapes childhood unscathed". I had forgotten that until she said it again in one of her recent podcast episodes. Which, if you've never heard them, I highly recommend. I am a HUGE fan of Nicole and her work and her podcast. There are so many, it's hard to know where to start, but given your recent setback, read my recommendation in this post for the episode to listen to first, from last month - then keep going forward until you catch up. Then you can go back and listen to her from the beginning if you like, or jump in somewhere else (like during the pandemic - a lot of our suffering today includes anxiety over existential world dysfunction). At the end of my personal profile story I list favorite resources, and there is a sub-list there of of some of Nicole's early episodes with TMS luminaries as guests.

    By the way, I, and probably a number of other folks, would be really interested in hearing your progress through Nicole's program, if you're willing to post updates similar to how people do when they are working the SEP. No pressure, though! The SEP makes it fairly easy by suggesting "questions to ponder" which people often use to start their updates.

    (For those who don't know all of the things Nicole Sachs offers, just go to her website The Cure for Chronic Pain Links to her programs are on the home page. Click on the Resources tab for all of her resources, including a list of her podcasts and links to the audioboom recordings).
  3. Bradd

    Bradd New Member

    Thank you for your reply @JanAtheCPA. Funny that you linked to Nicole's episode regarding the symptom imperative. I did in fact listen to that episode two days ago and I liked it a lot. It had a soothing effect on me.

    I guess my main question at the moment is the same as most people new to persistent pain have: "Is this TMS?". It can be challenging when doctors, chiropractors, physio therapist etc. all approach it from the structural angle. And since I haven't had my MRI yet there is still something unresolved there. Although I do realize that no matter what the MRI will show it may not be a proof of anything either way regarding the pain. I can see that this could very well be TMS based on my personality, history of other unexplained long term pain, and the somewhat moving nature of the pain (sometimes in the lower back, sometimes in the buttocks, sometimes in the legs etc.). But there is still that doubt that likes to creep into the mind.

    Another thing which I guess is quite common is my fear of the pain. When the pain isn't too bad it's easier to think that this is just TMS, but when it gets intense and the rubber meets the road so to speak I find that the fear of the pain can be somewhat paralyzing and it can be difficult to maintain a greater level of awareness. I'm curious as to how people approach this? When I feel the intensity of the panic-despair-"I am permanently broken" feeling I find it very difficult to snap out of.

    I do intend to post updates here, and ask questions as I go along.

  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is all so normal, and so common. Just today I listened to Nicole's recent episode about "Ascension", comparing two messages from one of her participants - one recent, and one from the past when the participant discovered and first "did the work". The point being that the path to recovery is not linear, but is more like a twisty climb up a mountain. It's hard, and sometimes you feel like you can't go on, you're never going to make it, you feel horrible and like a failure - which is when you have to turn around and look back at where you started, and at how far you've come.

    But look, I feel like you're just flailing all over the place:
    - The very first thing you said was that you had TMS knowledge. Great - we need to know that!
    - You received a diagnosis of a condition with classic TMS written all over it: "We do not know what this is. The only thing we know is that it will pass". This is an excellent and honest diagnosis, and of course it should be seen as good news, right? But then you questioned whether or not it was TMS. Okay, that makes sense for someone with little or no TMS knowledge, but...
    - Then you started listing all of your physical symptoms in detail. And almost hidden right in the middle of that list of purely physical descriptions, was an incident that clearly shows the impact of emotions on your symptoms.
    - Then after listing all these symptoms, you finally state that you did Nicole Sach's program when you had the epididymitis - yet you did not say anything at all about what the program did for you, whether you experienced improvements or even any changes in your symptoms while doing it - it was kind of like a throwaway remark - and even when you said you would start working on it again, there was no context, no indication of why you would want to do so. Plus there's that remark about the epididymitis only "perhaps" being TMS.

    In other words - your TMS brain has you right where it wants you - you're all riled up and running around in fear while your thoughts spin off in all kinds of directions. Even when you make the effort to focus on the TMS aspects, your brain doesn't allow you to take them seriously, and they end up being, as I said, more like throwaways - hardly worth mentioning.

    But you're here, and that's the good news, right? And your second post has added your acknowledgement that the way the pain moves around makes no sense physiologically.

    The answer to your second set of questions is: don't let your fearful brain run the show. You have GOT to take control and learn to talk back to it with self compassion and a resolve to be firm. You also need to let go of the physical descriptions. Just call them "my pain symptoms" or some other generic phrase (not more than three words, please!) and leave it at that. Think psychologically, not physically - that's your byword from now on.

    The #1 resource that is often recommended for anxiety is a little book called Hope & Help For Your Nerves, by Claire Weekes. Written in 1969 (and she is long gone after a very long and hugely impactful life) it's a bit quaint, but she is still saving lives all over the world decades after her death. It's a perfect companion to TMS work, and it's the second book that saved my life after The Divided Mind.
    Cactusflower likes this.
  5. Bradd

    Bradd New Member

    Thanks again @JanAtheCPA. You are probably right that I am flailing all over the place.

    As for the epididymitis I had a few years back: I cannot say that doing Nicole's course at that time was alleviating the pain. But then again I was struggling with accepting it as TMS initially. I was helped by pain medication for a while, but what I think ultimately was the thing that started the real recovery was when I was able to resume physical activity. After about half a year I was able to jog 50 meters and that was a turning point. Also the pain started moving a bit and at that time I think I fully accepted that there wasn't anything physically wrong.

    As for my current condition I have to admit that I am still a bit back and forth on my conviction being TMS. Yes, I:

    • Do see that the pain is moving.
    • Do see that when I had strong emotions of anger that the pain subsided.
    • Do have days where there is very little pain at all, and then when I wake up the next day it is there.

    Here are some of my "counter arguments" that makes me think it could be structural after all (I am not saying they are all necessarily good counter arguments, but they do pass through my mind):

    • My doctor thinks that it may be structural (bulging disc, pinched nerve etc.)
    • Sitting / applying pressure on the lower back increases the pain
    • Applying heat to the painful area alleviates the pain
    • Using painkillers such as paracetamol or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen alleviates the pain
    Thanks for the TMS recovery program link. A lot of things to ponder there. I will read it many times. I realize that I am definitely a person who is abusing myself with fear. This struck me in particular:

    "To emphasize, your TMS symptoms themselves aren’t serving as a distraction from painful unconscious emotions, it’s the fear and preoccupation around the pain that is serving as this distraction. That’s the purpose of the pain in most cases, to generate fear."

  6. Bradd

    Bradd New Member

    Hello all,

    Just wanted to give a bit of an update.

    After my previous post I did read Healing Back Pain by John Sarno. Wow - what a great book and what convincing arguments he presented in that book. I have to say that it did become a turning point for my back pain. I did loose my belief that I was structurally damaged. Even though my MRI came back and said that I had an S5 disc generation which could very well just be "normal wear and tear" from what I understood. My doctor said the disc generation is probably the reason for the pain, but I was like "No .. I don't think so man".

    Anyways, things got better once I lost my fear of the pain. I still have it to a certain degree some time, but it is not limiting me and I am running as normally and lifting my son without restrictions or worsening of the pain.

    I have been cycling through other symptoms though:

    • Frequent migraines / stiff muscles in the upper neck and shoulders
    • Prostatitis
    • Dry / sore eyes
    Usually only these symptoms cycle somewhat and one will be clearly in the "forefront".

    The dry / sore eyes have been bothering me much more lately. I never thought about this as a possible TMS symptom until a few days ago. The reason is that there is a plausible structural reason for it (I got it after lasik eye surgery 10 years ago). But now that I think about it is really comes and goes, and it will usually change between the left eye and the right eye. So I got it on my radar as possible TMS now, and I wonder if someone else here has experienced the same.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  7. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I read your story from the top... I had a Very similar set of issues. Primarily back pain, Epididymitis , headaches, OCD...etc. Never had the Dry eyes or Prostatitis , but i have learned with TMS it is not the particular symptom as much as how much DISTRACTION the symptom causes. A few of those fooled me and I treated them physically until I realized they were doing the same thing back pain did...really mad I had surgery for epididymitis.. The only positive is that when My son came down with it, I coached him through it. All TMS.

    I did have LASIK about 25 years ago. It never bugged until I started playing baseball again... then I had dry eyes, halo's etc... screwed around with glasses and now contacts. (The lasik wore off after about 15-20 years)

    It was interesting reading WHAT you were doing ...Xmas tree? The time of year is way more relevant than the activity! Holidays, Moving , Having kids, being a good parent are all way more likely to provoke TMS then Moving a refrigerator or lifting weights

    Far and away the most effective transformative instructions Sarno gave (to me) was on Page 66 of "Healing Back Pain" ?

    paraphrased: "I tell patients when they find their attention focused on the symptoms to forcefully turn their attention to a recurrent source of irritation like a financial problem or a bad relationship... this sends a message to the unconscious that you know what is going on..."

    That meant for me, turning off a radio, stopping what i might be doing and immediately doing THAT with focus and intent....I found it handy to decide WHAT I was gonna think of ahead of time (a guy who burned me for money) and every time I caught the obsession kicking in, doing Just what Sarno said. That with the 'daily reminders', a morning review of any resentments and general positive vibe about recovery got me better in weeks and I also used it to chase out the last little cobwebs of symptoms.

    It is against our nature to intentionally think about something that is a bummer...but it is a temporary measure for a longer term gain (recovery)

    I have been 99.5% pain free over the last 25 years doing this technique. It has even worked on LOTS of other stuff...most recently a mystery foot pain after hard running. The Hardest part is usually recognizing it as TMS... it gets really weird and creative sometimes, so this forum and reviewing the texts are great tools.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.

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