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Day 1 Here Goes Nothing

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by hopeful10, Jun 29, 2022.

  1. hopeful10

    hopeful10 Newcomer

    I am a 31-year-old female and have been experiencing pain beginning in November 2021. It all started with left shoulder pain while doing a push-up. I’m an active person (used to work out about 2 times a day with HIIT workouts, biking, running, etc.). Running is my main form of exercise, especially long-distance running, and it is a huge part of my identity. I was in the best shape of my life right before the pain began and had finished by fourth marathon in October 2021. It made no sense to me that I could hurt my shoulder by doing a measly push-up, something I do every day. However, I figured I just tweaked it and would give it some rest; it would be fine in a week at most. Nope. It really didn’t hurt that bad in the beginning. I could move my arm, pick up groceries, lift light weights. I just couldn’t do a push-up. When a few weeks had passed and I still couldn’t do a push-up, I watched some YouTube videos on exercises that could help fix it. Boy did this make it worse. I stretched and stretched to the point of pulling a rotator cuff muscle and basically lost all function of my left shoulder. I could not lift my arm, even without holding anything. From this point on until February 2022, I alternated between keeping my arm immobile to looking for more exercises online, trying to find the magic one to fix it. Nothing was working, and everything online said my shoulder should be healed by now, but it was worse than ever.

    At this point, I decided to see my doctor. She referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, who was exceptionally thorough and kind. He did all kinds of tests and concluded that I had a rotator cuff strain because my should is hypermobile. Feeling relieved that I had found an answer, I went ahead with the plan of 6 weeks of PT to fix the problem. My physical therapist was great and made the process so much more enjoyable. While I did have some improvement, a part of my brain kept thinking this wasn’t going to work. So many of the exercises were ones I’d already been doing, and they hadn’t worked. Why would this be any different? I kept thinking, “At least it’s only my shoulder and not my legs since I love running so much and that’s my outlet.” Guess what happened? You got it. My left leg developed this terrible pinching and pulling pain near the end of February 2022 and my right leg shortly followed with a burning sensation at the end of March 2022.

    I was beyond frustrated. Now my one form of exercise that I loved so dearly and made the shoulder pain “acceptable” because I could at least still run was taken away from me. I saw a leg specialist and a follow-up for my shoulder, both of which prescribed anti-inflammatory medicines, more PT, and an MRI. All results on the MRI were normal, which actually made me more frustrated. I didn’t want there to be anything wrong, but if there’s nothing wrong, how do you fix it? I felt no difference whether I took the medicine either, and PT felt like it was hurting me more.

    Fast-forward to May 2022, I was in a dark place. Not enjoying life anymore, wanting to rip out my shoulder, being in constant pain, and angry at the life I now have to live. Of course, I developed more pain. My right knee, right ankle, and left wrist started hurting. I thought there has to be something more going on now. Your body doesn’t just do this without a disease or illness. I got lab work done to check for things like lupus, arthritis, etc. Again, the results came up normal, which infuriated me more. What was happening to my body? I’m medically fine, so what’s the problem?

    A few days ago, I was recommended Dr. Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain. I figured I had nothing to lose after trying all of the conventional medical approaches aside from surgery. I know everyone says this, but I seriously saw myself on every page. I am 100% a perfectionist, hard-worker, determined person and had experienced so many of the same symptoms as the patients he describes in his book. At this point, I do believe TMS is what I have. As I say that though, there are of course doubts that creep in because how can it be that simple? I do believe that the mind is a very powerful structure that we have yet to fully understand, but not having a ton of traditional research to support it makes me uneasy, especially with how logically my brain tries to work at all times. It seems a little woo-woo to me. I have to keep talking myself down when those thoughts creep in because it does make sense. I have scoured the internet in the past 2 days and have found countless people who say this really works. Online book reviews, YouTube video comments, etc. I know that people typically only write reviews if they feel passionate one way or the other, so I was cautious when reading the testimonials. You would expect there to be the same number of people calling Dr. Sarno a crock as well as a saint, and I have not found this to be the case. There are of course a couple of people that say it doesn’t work, but an overwhelming majority are effusive in their gratitude towards him and his work. I have to believe that means something.

    Even though the doubts sometimes continue to invade my mind, I’m doing my best to tell them to shut up and focus on all the positive things that can come out of this. I am ready to begin.
    Booble likes this.
  2. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Well known member

    The Boulder Pain Study published fairly recently has good statistics on how well this therapy works (study was for back pain), https://www.colorado.edu/today/2021/09/29/how-therapy-not-pills-can-nix-chronic-pain-and-change-brain (How therapy, not pills, can nix chronic pain and change the brain)

    These statistics are mainly people who responded fairly quickly, for others it takes more time. Patience and dedication, and the willingness to look into your own inner world is a great starting point! As you recognize yourself more and more in Dr. Sarno’s descriptions of his TMS patients and as you begin to notice slight patterns of thought and your reactions via symptoms you will become more and more convinced.
    You can do this!
  3. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Hey @hopeful10:

    Just fyi, your experience of the problems going from the shoulder to the leg and other body parts is common I think, it definitely happened to me. I had two places where I had had legit physical problems in the past, my left hip and right shoulder, but both were basically ok when I developed TMS symptoms in my lower back. After I started obsessing about the back problem (it actually never hurt until I started obsessing about it), eventually the hip and shoulder started having problems too, a propos of no physical thing. Steve Ozanich talked about this too in his book. I think the mechanism is that the brain REALLY wants to protect you, and your subconscious knows what body parts you have worried about in the past or are really important to you. I think of it like you have this really dumb, well-meaning guy in your head who wants to ring this really loud alarm bell. And the trick being to get him to calm down, by reassuring him everything is ok and/or tuning out the ringing so that he sees it doesn't change your behavior and is pointless.

    This is all easier said than done, takes time and calm and patience, and I am a work in progress, so I hesitate to give anybody advice. But I will say that the times I feel best are when I am engaged in something else and my mind is simply not on it. For me, thinking about the problem IS the problem. Also if you can note if there are times when you feel ok in a situation where normally you would not (an "evidence sheet" as some have called it), that is great evidence a) that it is TMS, and b) it CAN get better. For example my back used to bother me when I stood for even a minute, but one time at my daughter's swim meet I stood for 40 minutes, engaged in talking to a neighbor I liked, and actually engaged in what was going on at the meet, and afterwards I realized "oh wow, my back didn't bother me for that entire 40 minutes". So I know this is a completely mental process, and that yeah it can actually get better at times, even if for only short periods. And there are thousands of success stories of people who have overcome this, so hang in there, have hope, know you are not alone.
  4. hopeful10

    hopeful10 Newcomer

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I appreciate the tip about the evidence sheet. I actually just started keeping one a couple of days ago and trying to strike a balance between symptom monitoring and not paying attention to the pain. I went for a run this morning and felt the usual pain in my left leg. I continued to tell myself that I'm strong and there's nothing wrong with my body, and the pain was very intermittent. Of course, once I realized the pain was gone and paid attention to it, it would often come back, but it showed me that I'm starting to interrupt the wiring in my brain to send pain there. I also have had problems with my right ankle from time to time, and the pain switched the right ankle near the end of the run. I'm assuming this is because my brain wasn't having much success sending pain to my left leg, so it found another area it was familiar with. While I was annoyed, it also just made me laugh at how tricky the mind can be and that it provided me with more proof that this is TMS. I just need to be patient as my mind continues to realize there's no need to send pain signals since I'm not in danger.

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