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I Forgot What It Was Like to Walk Without Pain

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by jart_jart, Jul 13, 2016.

  1. jart_jart

    jart_jart New Member

    Age: 32
    Pain first started: Oct 2015
    Prior Symptoms: Sciatic nerve pain/piriformis left butt to left ankle/ lower back pain
    First Read about TMS:
    March 2016
    Rock Bottom: Unable to sit or stand w/out pain, could only walk hunched over
    Current Condition: minor irritation, have full range of motion

    In many of the Success Stories people post that they're 90% or 99% better. I always wondered why they didn't wait until they got to 100%, but now I understand–because being 90% better is AMAZING compared to how bad it was. I'm not completely without pain, but yesterday my symptoms were barely noticeable.

    I was in pain daily. I'd wake up and have trouble rolling out of bed because my hips were on fire. Then the rest of the day my mind was obsessed with the pain I was in, monitoring the level of pain, the location of the pain, whether the pain would be better or worse at work, whether I'll ever feel normal, etc.

    At my worst I was unable to help around the house, I couldn't play with my kid, and having sex with my wife was causing me anxiety.

    I broke my foot at the end of August 2015. Prior to that I had TMS symptoms that I wasn't even aware of such as runner's knee, sore ankles, and headaches. But I've always lived a very active life. I ran 5K's regularly, biked everyday, and even competed in a triathlon.

    I got divorced in 2014. I moved in with my girlfriend in June of 2015. I broke my foot in August, was on crutches for 6 weeks, and in a orthopedic boot for 8 more weeks. The first hip pain started while using the orthopedic boot. I assumed it was from unbalanced walking. The boot was heavy and uncomfortable.

    After I stopped using the boot I had terrible sciatic nerve pain. That's when all those odd treatments started – physical therapy, ice, heat, stretches, yoga, supplements, etc. I tried a lot of stuff to try to get relief: like massaging my butt with a tennis ball, doing "neural stretches," trying to hang upside down, going to a chiropractor, my doctor, etc.

    However, even with the pain I returned to an active lifestyle. In winter of 2015 I proposed to my girlfriend and signed up to run a half-marathon in May 2016. I had motivation to get better. I started running through the pain. I discovered that after about 10 minutes of running the sciatic pain disappeared. There were times when the pain was too much to run and forced me to stop, but 4/5 times I was able to run through it.

    The fact that I could run led me to believe that my problem might be psychological and not physical. That's when how I discovered Dr. Sarno.

    I read "Healing Back Pain" in March 2016 and completely identified with the personality type and symptoms. I felt immediately better after reading that book, but that initial relief did not last long. I started pushing myself to run farther to prepare for the half-marathon and would be crippled hours following the run. That made me doubt that it was mental and I spiraled back to being hunched over in pain most of the time.

    Then I found out my fiancee was pregnant. The anxiety caused me more pain.

    Slowly, my symptoms became only intolerable in the evenings. This caused me to believe that I was repressing emotions about my divorce, getting remarried, and having a baby. I started journaling. I tried to get in touch with my feelings, but it was hard to do. I was never good at expressing my feelings.

    But I realized that when I was distracted the pain didn't exist. I tried to ignore it.
    I ran the half-marathon pain free. I was very sore the next 3 days, and then my symptoms got worse up until our wedding in June. The wedding day itself I was fine. I made the connection that stressful situations were causing my pain.

    I was in pain on our honeymoon which sucked. I again doubted that it was mental and started doing stretches–a lot of toe touches. I kept up with the stretching but it was only making it worse. I would stand up hunched over, stretch, feel a little better, sit back down. When I stood back up, I was hunched over even worse. I'd stretch again. The cycle continued.

    I'd go to parties/movies/ballgames feeling okay and walk out hunched over in pain.

    But I realized that the pain was almost always in the evenings. The mornings (after getting out of bed) were actually tolerable.

    So I eased into the evenings. When I felt like the time was coming for the hunching-over pain to show up I faced it like a man. I stood up in the middle of dinner and willed the pain to go away. I stood up as straight as I could, often I'd have to go slowly and I told myself I wasn't going to sit back down until the pain went away.

    The pain went away. I sat back down. I now had pain from sitting. I willed myself to not change my position. I told myself that I wasn't going to stand up until the pain went away. The pain went away.

    It didn't go away before. Before it would just move, or hide, or dull. It never just went away.

    It does comes back. All the time it comes back. But I will it away. Sometimes it comes back stronger. One time getting out of bed to use the bathroom I had forgotten about the pain and it struck my hip like a lightning bolt and nearly brought me to the floor. I gritted my teeth and stood up through the pain telling myself that it's all in my head.

    I got this. I'm in control now.

    Do I have pain because I'm regressing emotions and/or internal stressors? I'm not sure. Maybe. Getting remarried and having a baby does bring emotions. I've accepted that and I've been talking to my wife about my feelings everyday. It's helping. I'm getting better mentally as well as physically.

    Some people ignore the pain, some people embrace the pain, some people curse the pain, some people thank the pain for trying to help them avoid unhappy emotions. Me? I will the pain away.

    But I'm not cured. I'm better. I feel better. But I still have TMS. I think once a day goes by where I don't think about the pain (or even the absence of pain), then I'll be cured. I don't know when that day will come. The pain is still a distraction—except now I'm thinking about how little pain I'm in and how great it is to stand up straight and walk around.

    Good luck on your journey to recovery. I can't imagine living like this for years and my heart breaks for those of you in that situation. Just know that doctors and scientists know very little about the human brain and that TMS is still a mysterious condition and that every person is unique.
    Aimee88, intense50 and tgirl like this.
  2. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    Awesome story man, it sounds a lot like what I went through (I still won't post myself as a success because I've relapsed pretty hard recently). But I know exactly what you mean about waiting for that day when you don't have pain or think about having or not having pain. I remember saying that if I could get hit in the head or something and forget I had pain I would be okay (this was before discovering Dr Sarno and TMS, I just knew I was obsessing on pain and trying to physically fix it)

    It's actually funny that you talked about ruining your honeymoon with your TMS, I "hurt" myself the day before we left for our honeymoon to the Bahamas..

    I love hearing success stories that sound like what I went through, thank you for sharing
  3. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Congratulations on your recovery so far, Jart! I've had two severe bouts of TMS; the most recent was horrible foot pain that I recovered from about three years ago. I'm STILL tempted to bend over and kiss the ground some days--i'm that grateful to be walking. And this summer I've been doing Zumba 3-4 times/ week! Life is good.
  4. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    still have my constant foot pain...I have not found any relief yet inthe TMS approach , but I am not quitting some weeks are better than others..still cant get by the BAD WEATHER TRIGGER it causes my feet and hands to have awful nerve pain...I run everyday with no or little pain ..but shortley after I am paying for it in SPADES.

    I am so happy for the people who find relief or get better....but I believe these people do still to have some pain know and then...but good that would be great.
  5. jart_jart

    jart_jart New Member

    you say you haven't found any relief, but some weeks are better than others. I'm better, but I'm still in pain. I've learned to live with the pain. Or will the pain away. The pain comes everyday and everyday I have to fight it down. And when the pain is away, I'm just thinking about when it will come back, or why hasn't it come back, or this feels good now, but it won't later...

    The pain is a lot like "The Matrix" — it feels so real, but it's all an illusion.

    Now that I can live with the pain, I have to learn to ignore it. I have to trick myself. I think,

    "What would I be thinking about if I wasn't thinking about the pain?"
    intense50 likes this.
  6. intense50

    intense50 Well known member

  7. brendan537

    brendan537 Peer Supporter

    how are you doing now jart jart?
  8. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Jart,
    I just read this!!! What spirit you have, and what clarity, and patience...! I hope you are well.
    Andy B
  9. jart_jart

    jart_jart New Member

    Well, I'm back. My son was born and my life has changed. And no surprise, my butt/back pain has returned.

    I can't push the pain away anymore. It lives with me. It goes with me wherever I go. It is always top of mind.

    Somehow it's worse than it was before. At Thanksgiving, I was so hunched over I couldn't even lift my head high enough to say goodbye to my family.

    With a newborn, I haven't been able to sleep through the night. The back pain doesn't reset like it used to. I don't wake up in the morning knowing that I'll be good until evening. I wake up in the morning in agony, but it tapers off after 20 minutes or so. But it never goes away completely. I can't ignore it anymore.

    Now I'm always hunched over slightly. I'm terrified that i'll be permanently out of alignment and develop a hump or something.

    I can stretch my back out. I can use a foam roller or a exercise ball. I'm even able to stand up straight for up to 10 minutes! I'm so happy when that happens! I lie down and stretch my back for 30 minutes so I can carry my son around the house for 10 minutes. It's wonderful. As a result, I stretch it as often as possible going against Sarno's advice of avoiding treatments.

    I can't stand in social situations. Literally, the standing is what bothers me. Going to parties scares me because I'll know people will want to stand and talk. I can't stand without pain. Sadly there are times where I can't sit without pain either.

    My wife says she's "over my back." It's been over a year and I don't blame her. I would get tired for hearing about my back, too.

    I ran a half marathon last May. I tried running once since then. I was able to do it by stopping to stretch every 20 seconds. I lasted almost 10 minutes. It wasn't like before where the pain would subside from running.

    I can still ride my bike. Bike riding has never given me any pain. However, winter is upon us and shoveling snow has already crippled me once.

    This too shall pass. I'm overwhelmed with having a new baby and adjusting to a new sleep schedule. The holidays also stress me out. My work situation is going through transitions.

    Wanna know what else is stressing me out? My back. Specifically the attention from people I care about watching me walk around hunched over and then asking me, "Are you okay?" or "Dude! You need to get that CHECKED out!" or "Why you walking like you have to poop?" or "Have you gone to see somebody about that?" All those questions bother me. The irony is that if I could stand up straight I wouldn't be stressed about about it. And then telling people that my back hurst because of stress.. .well, that's hard to do.

    I've already made the mistake of denying TMS. I've gone back to thinking it's Piriformis, or sciatica, or a bulging disc. I've been stretching and changing my diet and applying ice/heat. I've been trying to do exercises to strengthen my back.

    I need to believe that my pain will go away.
  10. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi jart_jart,

    I am sorry the pain has returned. I am glad you're back, discussing your situation, and seeing how you get caught in "physical thinking."

    Remember that the pain is "conditioned" to certain activities, or patterns. Here are some I see, reading your post.

    I hope you stay engaged in Dr. Sarno's work in whatever way you are guided. Read success stories, journal about emotions, read Dr. Sarno's books, or use audio tape, or DVD lectures... The TMS Recovery Program at the Wiki. I hope you stay in the game with this, and I am sorry about your discouragement right now.

    Andy B
  11. jart_jart

    jart_jart New Member

    Thanks, Andy!

    I'm back on the road to success. The pain is subsiding, however I'm still walking crooked. Usually it's too painful to stand up straight.

    Is it possible that my TMS symptoms of being hunched over in pain and favoring my left side for about a year could lead to real misalignment of my hips or spine?

    I'd like to think that I can consciously stand up straight, but when sitting on my desk I find my back leading to one side.
  12. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    In my personal experience this will work itself out over time. I limped for years. In a few months I was climbing mountains. There is much in "physical thinking" by physios and body workers that is a mis-interpretation of real TMS in my opinion. "Out of alignment, weak muscles here or there needing strengthening and therapies" etc. Most, if not all is completely false in my opinion, regarding normalization of your body functionality as the pain is reduced. Resuming normal activity addresses it all, given some time. I would observe the fear about this as another TMS symptom, trying to distract you from feeling ===what?
  13. jart_jart

    jart_jart New Member

    hello again -- wow, my last post was Dec 2016. I recovered nearly completely a couple of months after that. Like other success stories, I started a new job in Jan 2017 and in a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two, my pain subsided. I began seeing a therapist sometime in spring 2017 when I had a relapse. Explaining my situation to the therapist helped and I was pain free after only a handful of sessions. Also, a friend of mine had a traumatic brain injury overseas and for a couple of weeks I was so preoccupied helping out her family and worrying about her I actually forgot about my own pain.

    This is great news, because I was 100% pain free from mid-2017 until summer 2019. Nearly 2 years! It was wonderful, but I admit I took it for granted. I had forgotten how horrible the pain was. I regret not reminding myself of all the work I did to recover.

    Sadly, I relapsed in the beginning of July. It came as a new symptom while driving across country to visit family. It came as lower back pain. It crept on slowly, with horrible pain in the car. My new symptom was debilitating back spasms. I would be paralyzed in place until the spasm was over. I continued to have back pain at work when I got back from the vacation. I had spasms at work, but managed to avoid anyone noticing.

    If you've read this thread, I mentioned that biking was painless for me. I continued biking. A couple of times I did spasm on the bike and was forced to get off. However, I kept it up, telling myself there was nothing wrong with my back. I did it! Maybe two weeks went by and the back spasms and lower back pain was gone!

    Perfect timing, too, since I has signed up for a duathlon. I completed the duathlon pain free and actually felt great afterwards.

    Then, I had a vasectomy the following week. I had some minor sciatic pain about that, but nothing too bad. The vasectomy itself went fine, there was discomfort for about a week and I felt better.

    But then, school started up again and my wife went back to work teaching full time. Oh, and did I mention she's 27 weeks pregnant? So, summer ends, my wife is stressed about work again, we're scrambling on childcare, and I have anxiety about the new baby - BAM! Full sciatica returns, worse than it did 2 years ago when I was in the middle of buying a house, getting married, having a baby, and changing jobs.

    This bout is the worst. The pain doesn't leave. Ever. I haven't slept in about a week. I can't find a comfortable position. About 4 or 5 times per day the pain is so bad I can't move and it makes me cry. My 2 year old has seen these attacks and asks me if I'm feeling better which breaks my heart.

    My pregnant wife is concerned, supportive, but ultimately the sense I get is that she's annoyed we have to go through this again. We both thought this was beat.

    Earlier in her pregnancy she had such bad nausea that we couldn't cook in the house and for about a month I handled everything. No pain then.

    So, as a TMS expert, I've accepted that this is psychological. I've been journaling, meditating, talking about my feelings. I even admitted to having repressed rage about not wanting another baby, including thinking some horrible things that I'd rather not declare here.

    But my brain is clever. The pain flares up when I sit for too long, or sit on the ground. In the last week and a half, I've only had 1 minute pain free. It was this morning. I woke up and walked to the bathroom completely upright and noticed the pain was gone. Which of course, only made the pain return. But that pain free minute gave me the courage to help out around the house. I cleaned the bathroom (hunched over) and vacuumed (also hunched over in pain).

    Evenings are the worst. It's so hard trying to fall asleep, but I'm so tired from lack of sleep. When I start to fall asleep the pain steps up and I shoot up on my elbow until it goes away. I literally lie there, writhing in pain, tracking it as it moves from my foot to my ankle, to my under-thigh.

    It's frustrating because I'm doing the work. I'm thinking psychologically. I'm tying increased moments of pain to emotions tied to that moment. And yet, my brain just makes the pain worse. As if it's so determined to not deal with my emotions that it's willing to ruin me through unending pain.

    While writing this it died down, but when I noticed that the pain died down, guess what happened? Yeah, that inner child in my brain stepped it up.

    It's exhausting trying not to spiral into depression. It's hard to find anything positive when all you can think about is the pain. I even question whether or not my brain is healthy. If it's possible that the part of my brain responsible for interpreting pain signals is damaged. And why isn't it responding to me talking to it? It's my brain, why can't I control it?

    I'll keep you all posted. Thank you all for your previous support.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  14. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Oh Jart I’m so sorry. Relapse SUCKS.
    Good for you for recognizing the patterns and knowing what you need to do.
    One foot in front of the other. You know Sarno's plan works.
  15. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi jart,

    I am sorry about your latest symptom increases! I do think you're doing what you should be doing, as you suggest, and I don't agree with your fears about an 'unhealthy' brain. I know you're suffering and you're frustrated, and struggling, but I think you're getting more worried than you need to be. Patience, and outside support are recommended at this stage.

    And, don't forget your successes! This means you're fine.

    Andy B
  16. jart_jart

    jart_jart New Member

    thank you for your support, Andy.

    i'm really struggling with this relapse. i'm now months into being hunched over and in constant sciatic pain. i can barely make it from my desk job to my car after work some days.

    the pain has won a couple of battles (making me get pain prescription, trying physical therapy, etc.) but the war is not over.

    i'm finding hope in the days where i manage to enjoy myself in spite of the pain. days where the pain fights dirty and i can laugh it off. days where i can pretend like it's not a problem. days where i still have hope that i'm getting better.

    and i am getting better - the acute attacks are gone, mornings are getting better, i have days where i can forget about it for a couple of minutes.

    i saw a chiropractor who practices Neuro Emotional Technique (NET) and i'm in psychotherapy. Both of those professionals feel i may have some childhood trauma from the age of 2 or 3 and that's triggering my pain because my son is at the same age. I have no idea what that trauma might be; my therapist is going put me in touch with a trauma expert to see if we can unlock it. i'm hoping for that "moment" where i overcome the pain.

    i read the success stories and the thank you project to Sarno and I'm just so frustrated -- why has my pain returned? i was a success story! i beat this before! why is it so much worse now?!

    it's the desperation thats ruining me. i'm feeling so desperate. if the devil showed up and offered to take my pain away if i sold him my soul, i would do it. every week goes by where i told my self a month ago that i would be better by now.

    Sarno says only a small percentage of his patients required psychotherapy -- well, i'm in psychotherapy. i've got my stress and anxiety under control. i can meditate and journal like a pro. i'm in touch with my emotions. i'm there. i'm done. i've done it. i think the next step is to stop it all. stop even thinking about my recovery. stop journaling - at this point i'm just repeating myself anyway. maybe if i stop trying so hard to get better i'll get better... ?
    Aimee88 likes this.
  17. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, this is a good path... In so many ways we end up invoking the same anxiety and perfectionist and "efforting" personality propensities trying to get "cured" ----which are the same propensities which get us into TMS to begin with.

    I hope you can see this, forgive yourself, know there is "nothing to fix." It is ultimately awareness and knowledge which gets you through. Awareness of patterns without having to change to get better.
    "Just A plus B equals C. I have these stressors, history and personality, therefore I have symptoms (I'm not screwing up), therefore there is nothing physically to fear, therefore there is nothing to do."

    This is the crux of it. That and your good skills of less fear and less caring about it.

    I also suggest you emphasize your learning and self-knowledge over time with a therapist---the bare-bones benefits of expanding your understanding and being less identified with personality patterns ---whatever growth you're finding, rather than needing a TMS outcome. If you can simply connect your learning in life and psychotherapy with Dr. Sarno's theories, this is enough, and it will come naturally enough with your studies, with what you already know.

    I know the pain is grabbing your attention, but there is nothing to fix. Yes, care less, enjoy life in whatever ways you can, find pleasure in small things... This life is precious!


    nowa likes this.
  18. jart_jart

    jart_jart New Member

    thank you, Andy. i got goose bumps reading your reply :happy: -- i hope to have good things to report in a couple of weeks
    nowa likes this.
  19. jart_jart

    jart_jart New Member

    i have to tell this story because I imagine it's something many TMS believers have had to deal with given our personality types. So, I'm walking hunched over at work. it's clear I'm in pain. And my co-workers are clearly concerned and super nice to me.

    My boss went so far as to order me a desk riser so i could stand at my work station. this was a very kind gesture, however, given my current bout with sciatica I can't really stand and work comfortably. (i can't really sit and work comfortably either, but sitting is preferred)

    After a week or so, my boss sees that I'm still hunched over and comes and sits down to discuss my back. I tell him that it's getting better, which is true. every day i can stand a little straighter, i gain a couple more minutes pain free, i can ignore the pain better, progress is being made (even with setbacks).

    i explain to him that i've been to my PCP and that my back should get better on it's own in a couple of weeks (or months). i tell him that i carry my stress in my back and that it probably looks worse than it is (it doesn't -- it hurts worse than i looks)

    well, my boss decides to make me an appointment to see his doctor (an orthopedic surgeon). see, he's had 2 back surgeries and still manages to play hundreds of rounds of golf a year.

    what would you do?

    i said that was very nice and i appreciate it.

    he says he'll get me in tomorrow and i should expect a call from the office.

    the office calls me and i get an appointment set for 3 weeks, and i'm actually relieved b/c i think "maybe i'll be better by then"

    well, my boss texts me asking if got the appointment and i tell him it's for the end of the month and he ends up calling them again!

    he manages to get me an appointment from a cancellation and i have an appointment to see his doctor in 2 days.

    wouldn't you know it, the stress of thinking about seeing a back surgeon sends me into a relapse (within my relapse). i'm up all night with acute attacks and i can't relax. it's awful. my brain is taking that opportunity to push that something is wrong with me enough to validate seeing a specialist. i'm repressing rage that another parental figure doesn't think i can take care of myself and i'm clearly in fear that something might actually be wrong with me.

    it sucks because i really was on the mend and i feel like i'm back where i started.

    anyway, i'm in the waiting room for the appointment and i'm just psyching myself up to tell the doctor exactly what i've been doing.

    turns out the doctor is a really nice guy, but he says what we all know he's going to say. "you probably have bulging or herniated disc and you're hunched over like that to take the pressure off of the nerve. depending on the severity of the bulge, a microdiscetomy may be necessary."

    so, i start asking questions to validate my own belief that a bad disc isn't causing my pain.

    "why is the pain so infrequent?" --- "that's just the way it is."
    "what caused this pain to start? i didn't injure myself" --- "bad luck, i guess"
    "this went away on it's own before. will it go away again?" --- "maybe"

    i gave my history about the same symptoms occurring the last time my wife was pregnant and it didn't seem to register. he wants me to get an MRI, which i probably will knowing that there's going to be degeneration. but it is important to rule out a tumor or something i guess.

    my boss hasn't asked me yet how it went -- i suppose i'll just thank him again and tell him that i'll be getting better soon.
  20. Trellis

    Trellis New Member

    A slightly different approach which I’ve been finding helpful is discussed in Eddie Lindenstein’s podcast: https://audioboom.com/posts/7378477-090-chana-studley (The Mind and Fitness Podcast / 090 - Chana Studley)
    He talks to a Three Principles practitioner who found that her chronic and extreme pain had lifted after being introduced to it.
    Nicola Bird’s podcast has a conversation with a former cfs/chronic pain sufferer. I hope you find something.
    https://alittlepeaceofmind.co.uk/podcast/episode-5-health-anxiety-with-john-el-mokadem/ (Episode 5: Health Anxiety with John El-Mokadem - A Little Peace of Mind)
    BloodMoon likes this.

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