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GeorgieO How long did it take you to recover

Discussion in 'Mindbody Blogs (was Practitioner's Corner)' started by Forest, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Practitioner Georgie Oldfield has a fantastic survey that she sent to a bunch of TMSers collecting information on their recoveries and what helped them. The survey has been on the wiki for some time at Recovery from TMS/PPD, by Georgie Oldfield, but I just looked over it again and thought I would share some of the results.

    It seems like a lot of people wonder how long recovery should take, and this is a very natural question to ask. We start out with this approach because we are in a lot of pain and want to get our lives back. But I think a lot of you know that recovery is different for everyone and there is not set time table. As this survey shows recovery time really just depends on the person and it varies a lot. Some people recover pretty rapidly while for others it takes time. The important thing to keep in mind is that this approach works and you will eventually get there.

  2. Ollin

    Ollin Peer Supporter

    Confidence that I'm in charge of my symptoms? 15 months and I'm still not there. Actually I didn't even think that this was my objective. I'm not in charge - how can I be? My subconscious is. Perhaps that's my roadblock to recovery, i.e. becoming symptom-free. But the symptoms are not in charge of my life any more either, I just do what I want and let the pain do the same: tag along or not. For some reason I have a resistance to telling my pain to go away. I wonder how some of you do it successfully? It has to be done with confidence and belief that it will happen, so would you say it's a form of self-hypnosis?
  3. Jesse MacKinnon

    Jesse MacKinnon Peer Supporter

    Ollin- I guess the key is faking it til you make it and of course the subconscious will put up a fight. After 34 years of living with this back pain it's become a deep ahbit for me. Honestly saying good bye to it is hard. I've discovered I have secondary benefits ie: people feel sorry for me, don't ask me to lift or help with hard work- get pain meds that actually lift my mood (have to be careful with that one)
    Beach-Girl likes this.
  4. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    I have noticed improvement, after 3 months of working this in some form everyday. But I still have some roadblocks/fear.

    Have you heard of EMDR? Perhaps this would give your subconscious the boost it needs?

  5. Ollin

    Ollin Peer Supporter

    Jesse: I've searched deep into my life for any secondary benefits from my pain. Can't find. Mine was only there for a couple of years and all I can see that my mood declines when the pain strikes. I never take time off work or avoid other responsibilities, if anything I had to make embarassing apologies for not being able to sit down.
    But in your case - I guess it's good that you're aware of these paybacks, therefore they (the benefits and pain) are no longer seen by your subconscious as necessarily connected. The fact that you're here means that you've probably made the choice.

    BG: I never tried EMDR, will have to read about it. My problem with talking to my pain is that it just seems weird and awkward and I have no reasons to believe that it will do what I ask. I tried but without success. All I know that whenever I figure out some way to relieve my pain, it stops working after a couple of trials, or moves to another area for a moment, just to return to the first one very soon. I think the more I try to 'be in control' the worse it gets. Maybe that's because I have an issue with control in general - something to explore I guess. Sometimes my anxiety is so great that I know the pain won't go until I really calm down. So I wonder, if anxiety is a TMS equivalent, why do I have it and pain at the same time.
  6. sewmuch

    sewmuch Member

    I began to see improvements within 3 weeks and after about 2 months was virtually pain free. It has been 5 months now and I feel really good and am doing activities I had not done for a couple of years, including a lot of computer work and other wrist/arm intensive activities.

    However, I believe that for some people, TMS is something of which to keep aware. IE maybe is is not eradicated forever, but one must be aware it can revisit. Sometimes, those "A" personality traits, past experiences, and future worries can creep back in silently, and it is important to use the practice and techniques to identify them, address them, and avoid setbacks. I am glad I saw the recent post about affirmations - a good reminder.
    Forest likes this.
  7. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm so happy to hear that you are doing well, sewmuch. Thanks for dropping by. :)
  8. Georgie

    Georgie Physiotherapist

    Gosh this has brought up a lot of queries, suggestions etc. I'll try and give you my ideas on some of them. Firstly, although we know the subconscious is in control, we can retrain our brains (the medical term for this is neuroplasticity). In order to do this though we do need to be persistent and unfortunately, often just telling the pain to go away doesn't always work, especially longterm. If you think of the pain as your inner child (or whatever you want to call it) saying "enough's enough, back off", then it can help. Just as any child needs boundaries (i.e. telling the pain to go away), they also need nurturing. In other words, if you tell the pain to go away, but continue as you always have (e.g. being self critical/a perfectionist etc or not taking any time out for self care), then the chances are the symptoms will remain or recur. That's not to say that you can't tell the pain to go away (e.g. when in the middle of something), but the nurturing part is that you will take time out from distractions, do something you love, or stop ruminating over something etc etc.

    The other thing is that if you get frustrated and annoyed when you tell the pain to go away, then this in itself is creating resistance and inner turmoil which 'fuels' the symptoms. Being 'allowing' and 'accepting' of the situation being as it is, of the symptoms and even of yourself and your own limitations, can really help people move forward. Reminding yourself of any achievements, that you are on the road to recovery, plus of any inconsistencies that show it can't be a physical problem, all helps in retraining the brain and the deep acceptance within you.

    Although secondary gain can be a barrier to success, this isn't always the case. Often the symptoms are protecting you somehow as a result of the fight and flight response, even though it does seem odd at times that it should cause you to be unable to do something you love. One recent patient of mine had an insight during his in depth assessment that the last time he had written anything without his arm weakness/deadness stopping him within moments, was when he had collapsed and ended up with urgent heart surgery. His brain had linked writing with the collapse and was preventing him from being able to write in case it happened again. Another patient realised that she had back pain in the car because if she ever argues with her husband it is there, away from the kids, so an association developed. Making these connections, then beginning to challenge them (maybe in a fun way when possible), positive self talk, visualisation etc can all help in beginning to retrain the brain to break the associations that have developed.

    Finally, if we do have the type of personality that causes us to create our own stress (as I do), then we do have to make some changes. In other words, if you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Learning to watch how you speak to yourself, let go, reframe your thoughts etc can all help here. Yes you might be triggered in the future if you don't look after yourself properly, or if you suddenly have a major trauma, but you will get better at resolving/preventing any recurrence, especially as you learn to respond rather than automatically react to whatever happens in your life. They say that stress is only 10% what happens to us, but 90% how we deal with it.
    tarala, Beach-Girl, Marla and 5 others like this.
  9. Marla

    Marla Peer Supporter

    Your advice is really great. Accepting pain seems so hard, everything within me wants to fight to make it go away….
  10. Georgie

    Georgie Physiotherapist

    You're not alone in that Marla, but time and again I have seen people suddenly move forward as they finally realise that their resistance to the pain is actually stoking it. Everyone follows their own individual journey, but I have attached one of the exercises that some of my own patients find helpful. Watch your thoughts as well because these can create a lot of internal stress.

    Attached Files:

    Forest likes this.
  11. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a great exercise! Thanks for posting it. One of my favorite parts was

    I really like this exercise because it seems like the entire key is to practice being comfortable with whatever thought or emotion pops into our head and let it pass through. So much of TMS involves pushing our emotions/thoughts away and ignoring what our body is trying to tell us. It can be really hard to learn to accept these emotions, and I think this exercise is a great technique to practice accepting our emotions and our present situation. This is of course the key to recovery.
  12. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Or as my Chinese medicine man acupuncturist once put it: "If you resist, it persists".
    Beach-Girl and Forest like this.
  13. Georgie

    Georgie Physiotherapist

    Thanks Forest and MorComm I use that statement too and it's so true. It can be really hard though, if the pain is intense, to even think about relaxing into the pain and allowing it to be there without resistance. If you can though, even if the pain increases for a brief moment, if you 'welcome' it, it will then wash over you and gradually fade. When I used to get severe headaches I would often end up having to go to bed and when I finally 'gave in to it' by relaxing completely, it would invariably ease off. Now I know why and I also know what they were telling me!
    Beach-Girl and Forest like this.
  14. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    I recovered from being bedbound with back pain quickly (few weeks)--once I fully embraced what Dr. Sarno told me and worked on the program; reading daily and journaling.

    However, I did hold onto some fear, in particular about doing certain exercises that involved leaning on the tailbone area. Background: Years ago the doc who delivered my son heard my tailbone pop while pushing him out and told me it would NEVER heal. Yikes. Of course that part stuck in my brain! (I had back pain for some time after he was born--of course now I have a totally different perspective on WHY that was--emotions of a new mother). I mentioned the tailbone issue to Dr. Sarno and he said to me, this was great, I'll never forget it, "NONSENSE--the body heals." So for years up until that time I was afraid to do anything that involved leaning on the tailbone. One day I decided it was time to move on; I said $%^& this and did the rowing exercise while leaning back. NO PAIN. And I've had none in the tailbone area since. YAY!

    So I see how fear can hold our full recovery back ! :)
    veronica73, Forest and Beach-Girl like this.
  15. Georgie

    Georgie Physiotherapist

    Well done Lori, that's great to hear.
  16. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm far from bed-bound, but I do know what that is like, at least 10 years ago when I had a so-called "herniated disk" about 6 months after my mother's death. Now, because I had a relapse after a fall I took out running 3 years ago, I'm still afraid any time I elect to go out to the nature preserve to walk or try a little running. At each stage of the recovery process, I've found, there's another fear barrier to confront. You just have to keep pushing and pushing to achieve another break through, but getting up out of bed is certainly a big one! Like Sarno says, don't give up, just keeping trying to advance one more stage at a time. But addressing the underlying emotional issues is really critical at each stage of the recovery game. Even today as I sit here typing on my iMac keyboard, I still have a dull pain in my sciatic nerve, but it's not enough to interfere with driving down to UPS and shipping books or most anything else I have to do today. But it reminds me there's still more work to do to achieve a total recovery. My goal? Run 8 miles this summer pain-free. Maybe climb the West Ridge of Mt Conness in Tuolumne Meadows? If I can do that, I'll really be back to normal.
  17. Georgie

    Georgie Physiotherapist

    I have no doubt you will do it too MorComm. A positive attitude is really important in recovery from TMS/PPD because it helps us overcome any old learned beliefs and behaviours that have become unhelpful. Being mindful or using the mindful technique mentioned above helps us to sit with a fear (or any emotion) and allow it to be there, without giving it fuel by thinking about it or the opposite, yet just as problematic, ignoring it. In other words, acknowledge the emotion, but not the destructive thoughts which just prolong and increase the intensity of the emotion. Take each step at a time and be kind to yourself.

    One other thing on that note. Be 'allowing' of yourself, others and situations and it's amazing how you can reduce the internal resistance (stress!) we produce all on our own! Have a great day. :)
    veronica73 likes this.
  18. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Like some Chinese philosopher says, "The Great Way is wide open for those who have no preferences". However, you need to always remember that what you're really doing is changing the biochemistry of your brain by shifting your center of attention to the neocortex and away from the areas that perpetuate the programmed pain syndrome. Any method that does that is appropriate, but being optimistic and positive are good places to start from that's for sure!
  19. Georgie

    Georgie Physiotherapist

    Absolutely MorComm and I like the proverb. :) There are so many ways to use the conscious part of our brains to reprogramme the brain to more healthy programming. Persistance and commitment in using these approaches improve the chances of success, which is where the positive mentality can help, but like you say, that is just the start.
  20. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Georgie ~ Just wanted to thank you for posting the exercise. Yesterday I was having such bad pain...headache, neck, shoulder, & arm pain...and didn't want to resort to any medication. I wrote down the affirmations on a sticky note and relaxed on the couch to do the exercise. I really did feel a little better afterwards. The rest of the day, whenever I noticed the pain, I said to myself, "I lovingly allow this discomfort to be present and I let go of my need to change it."

    I also wrote the acupuncturist's quote on a sticky note at my desk..."If you resist, it persists."

    Again, thank you! :)

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