1. Our TMS drop-in chat is today (Saturday) from 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Eastern U.S.(New York) Daylight Time. It's a great way to get quick and interactive peer support. Celayne is today's host. Click here for more info or just look for the red flag on the menu bar at 3pm Eastern (now US Daylight Time).
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

Introduction (LBP)

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by CaptivaLady, Feb 24, 2023.

  1. CaptivaLady

    CaptivaLady Newcomer

    Hi everyone! My name is Lauren and I am happy to join this forum. My goal is to be helpful and continue to learn about TMS.

    My background as it relates to TMS

    On 3/24/2022, I drove into the office for the first time in many months, having been remote since March of 2020. I had notified my manager that I was entertaining a job offer from a different division within our company. She took me to lunch to discuss the situation and was very cordial and supportive. I remember feeling really tense and nervous. When we returned to the office, I was sitting across from her desk and leaned forward to show her something on a computer screen, when a stabbing pain shot through my very low back area. I stood up immediately with a yelp. I actually wasn't super alarmed by it. I was able to sit back down (carefully) and continue the conversation. On the drive home, the pain continued. That evening, I went straight to google and assumed I had injured myself that morning while lifting weights. My memory is vague but in the coming days, I had diagnosed myself with "SIJ dysfunction". I stopped working out and began what soon turned out to be a really bizarre set of rituals that included ice, salonpas, heat, pillows, braces, belts, sleep positions, epsom salt baths, etc.

    I accepted the new job and things at work became very uncomfortable as the offer was viewed by the current division as "poaching" by the new division. I was caught in the middle of that, while training my replacement over the next 6 weeks. This required me to suddenly begin commuting 45 minutes one-way again, along with a whole new morning routine. During that timeframe, I got to the point where I could no longer sit. I would cry on my commute to and from. I stood to eat dinner, I stood until time for bed. Even bed time became shrouded in rituals that did not work. The pain increased. I found that I could sit on the floor for a little while, but even that came to an end.

    My husband and I arranged a vacation to Florida the week before I was to begin my new role (2nd week of May 2022). We had not been on a vacation since our honeymoon back in 2005! I was very excited and had been "working" (more on that later) hard to get my pain under control and "heal". We began the 9 hour drive and about 2 hours in, the pain hit me with a stab. We had to pull over so I could lay in the backseat the rest of the way. I was so embarrassed and he was so worried. I refused to give up because we had wanted this trip for so long. We arrived at the hotel and (he) unpacked. He suggested we walk along the beach to a restaurant for dinner. By the time we reached the restaurant, the pain was down from an 8 to a 1.

    From an EIGHT to a ONE. (making sure you read that)

    The pain stayed 0-1 for the remainder of the trip. I was so happy and felt so free! I just assumed that something had finally "healed". On the drive back, I was able to stay seated and the pain stayed fairly low.

    The next week I began my new job remotely - easy week/low pain. The next week, I traveled back to Florida for on-site work training. I had to sit all week in conference rooms. I had little flares of pain, but overall it was tolerable and I still considered myself to be "healing".

    Back home to begin a regular schedule of full remote work. Within a few days, the pain returned with a vengeance. I caved and went to an orthopedic surgeon. X-rays revealed the spine of a 20 year old ( I was 39). He sent me home with Rx Aleve and told me to return in two weeks. The Aleve caused some serious nausea, so I stopped it. The next two weeks were a nightmare. I was barely functioning. Not sleeping. Crying all day and night. It got so bad that I could not walk more than a few steps. I couldn't sit at all. I stood or laid in the bed. That's it. I began to contemplate the notion that death would be relief. I was so confused and embarrassed.

    Then on July 4th, my cat was rushed to an emergency vet. He was in sudden, acute kidney failure. They found that he only had one kidney. By the end of the week, he left me. I was, and still am, devastated by this loss. I was in a state of grief that I still don't understand. I want you all to understand how deeply I loved him. But, I also want to insert here that, the week he was in the ICU, my pain dropped to nearly nothing. Looking back, I know I was sufficiently distracted by my concern for him. There was no time to obsess over my own discomfort. This week was another important piece of evidence, as I would later discover.

    Again, something about me + google creates hazy memories... it's as if I black out. Next thing I knew, I was certain I had Ankylosing Spondylitis. I paid for my own bloodwork to test ESR, ANA and HLA-B27. I snuck out of my house to do it! I also tested for hsCRP. Much like my X-ray, I was the model of health. I am HLA-B27 negative, with perfect hsCRP, no ESR, ANA negative as well. I told the ortho and he was a mix of impressed and disturbed, based on his facial expression and the word "wow". So, I let that go and things got a tiny bit better. Meanwhile, he ordered an MRI. This was August of '22.

    I went back down the rabbit hole of SIJ dysfunction while I waited for the MRI to be scheduled. I was certain that they would discover I had sacroiliitis. I felt that I was resigned to entering the world of injections, prolo, etc. It was only a matter of time. Well, the MRI was declined. I was super offended by the reason offered. "no evidence of disease". YOU DON'T KNOW ME.

    I'd like to step back a bit and say that during the summer, I thought I might try to track my pain. The blessing and curse of my personality is that I am deeply fixated on data. It is great for my career, but not-so-great for my general wellbeing. Anywho, I tried to find an app for tracking pain symptoms. An app called Curable was in the results. I do not recall why, but I downloaded it. To be honest, I think it was attractive and I love teal and turquoise. I remember being mildly intrigued and brought up the notion of neuroplastic pain to my husband. He was VERY enthusiastic about it. He later admitted that he has suspected this all along. Somehow between early Summer and August, I stopped using Curable and dove back into self-diagnosing.

    Let's jump back to August and the MRI coverage declination. While this was happening, I had dipped my toe into the Stu McGill/Back Mechanic world. I have a long history of fascination with bodybuilding and nutrition. I have a respect for that space and pay attention to Layne Norton, among others. I knew he had experienced a back injury (I now contend this was 100% TMS and if we were friends, I would tell him that). So, I reviewed his approach, which was Back Mechanic and the McGill Big 3. I ordered the book and began the exercises. I filmed myself to check my form. I was making zero progress and the pain was going up. Of course, I felt that I must be doing something wrong. I pulled up some videos on youtube regarding Big 3 form and saw a video from Charlie Johnson. He is a physical therapist. The title spoke to "why the McGill big 3 aren't helping". I immediately watched the video. He hinted at some psychology and I stopped the video. I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to know that something external would fix this.

    By then, the seed had been planted by both Curable and Charlie Johnson. When I got the MRI declination letter, I knew I had to move in a different direction. I watched Charlie's video again and booked a coaching call with him. On Friday, August 26th 2pm, I had my call with Charlie. Mind you, I had been living with pain on a scale of 5-8 for months. I joined his coaching program during the call. By the end of our conversation, my pain was quite low. I was shocked! I knew I was heading in the right direction. I voraciously consumed the information he provided over the next week. He requires reading "The Way Out", so I read it in 2 days. My pain went to a 3 range and stayed low. Another week passed and I was down to a 2. We had a long (21 hour drive time) road trip the next week and I was really nervous, as sitting was my worst trigger. Day 1 was tolerable. Most of day 2 was as well. The pain crept up as we ended the drive, but I trusted that I was anxious, tired, excited, nervous. I spent that week around a 2-3, but didn't worry. I knew I was out of my routine, not in my home, etc. The return drive home went pretty well and I was happy to get back home. I was ready to pair my newly learned methods with a normal routine.

    I began to sit on a wobble stool for short periods of time. I began to sit on the couch for a little while. I began to do housework again. I immersed myself in all things Schubiner, Gordon, Schechter, Sarno. The pain continued to ease. The other symptoms I had "picked up" along the way also began to ease. These include:

    Muscle twitches
    Dry mouth
    Lateral hip pain (severe)
    Thoracic spine pain and tingling
    Scapular/rhomboid pain (severe)
    Brain fog

    Throughout the Fall, I progressed slowly but was living my life again. I ordered a cute chair for my home office. I was walking daily with my husband and our dog. I was still afraid to lift weights, but I knew I would get there.

    I discovered Dan Buglio on YouTube and his approach REALLY resonated with me. His morning videos are still a mainstay in my life.

    From December until now, I have been relatively pain-free. I would say that the worst symptom is the lateral hip sensation and it is best described as "intermittent soreness". Nothing sharp or stabbing anywhere on my body. I have fully resumed weight lifting and indoor rowing.

    I have experienced a setback, however. That is what prompted me to join the forum. I want to be sure to share my full experience in case it could be helpful. As I shared earlier, I have a penchant for diet & nutrition. It sounds strange, but dieting is a hobby. If I could only consume one type of information, it would be diet related. I have been on every diet from vegan to carnivore and for long periods of time. I am willing to experiment for curiosity and to find what works best for me. This January, I began to dabble in XXXXXXXX again.

    *sidebar: I ate this way from 2017-2019 with no issues and enjoyed it. So, this is not an indictment on ANY particular diet*

    There are many people who have experienced remission of autoimmunity from dietary changes, including veganism, AIP, carnivore. Well, once you are consuming the internet information of a particular diet, you are bound to hear these stories. I was inundated with stories of autoimmune healing and my mind just "went there". I started to think that I NEEDED to be strict. More Strict. Even MORE strict. I backed myself in a dietary corner and then BAM! Level 8 shoulder pain. Shooting pain in my groin. Tingling. Twitches! oh my!

    To further complicate things, my general practitioner has a very low carb lean. I had my annual wellness check with him and shared that I was trying this very strict diet and he reinforced it and casually threw out the term "reactive arthritis". I was like a dog with a bone. I ran away with that and decided that I was some special hybrid person. Yes, I had neuroplastic pain, but I ALSO had reactive arthritis, right? RIGHT? So, I NEED this diet. I tried even harder, assuming that perfect adherence would lead me to ZERO discomfort of any kind EVER! And, wait- do some people without the HLA gene develop AS? (google google google) Why yes! Yes they do! Is that me? OMG! (sigh)

    I started reading a book about how caffeine is killing us - REMOVED!

    I found studies (y'all, stay off PubMed trust me) that said I was low in magnesium - ADDED!

    Then came the meltdown. I was staring down a tunnel of increased loneliness. You see, I do not have children. I live in a rural area. I work fully remote. My husband works long days about 45 minutes away. I started to think that I now couldn't even have lunch with my Mom, or enjoy special treats at family events or on vacations. My husband came home to a basketcase and gently suggested that the perfectionism of this very special diet might be driving up anxiety and increasing my symptoms again. It took a couple hours of discussion, but I processed that and ultimately agreed with him. I do wish to protect my health and I do believe that nutrition is important... but there are like 8 billion people on this hunk of dirt. All eating allllll different diets and many do quite well. I maintain a lean physique on any diet I try, so why do I continue to torture myself? Ugh!

    The next morning, I went right back to my normal diet. I drank my coffee and had some tea. Y'all... I even drank tap water. I turned off YouTube and turned on the Office from episode 1. Instead of reading my stack of alarming nutrition books, I picked up Matthew Perry's new book. It's fantastic by the way.

    By the end of the day - zero pain or discomfort. I'm not embarrassed this time. My brain is this way. I see patterns very easily. I have an impressive memory. I am smart. I am highly adaptable. All of these features can be wonderful for work, but detrimental if let loose. I work in a role that requires complicated legal research. I also interface with many people in various other functions. I am socially skilled as well, though it does tire me quicker than just doing my work. My job requires STRICT adherence to corporate and government policy. It is stressful and challenging but I am good at it. The trick is turning off at the end of my day. I'll get there!

    Another thing I've noticed about myself the past year - I have always been very good at impressions. I can sing and have danced competitively. I was a high level gymnast. I have been into bodybuilding for 25 years. This reinforces that I do have a strong mind-to-body connection. It makes absolute sense to me that this feature of my brain could easily slip off the tracks and cause trouble. Just yesterday, my manager referred to me as "The Chameleon" because I can shift gears so easily in a meeting and speak to a vast array of different people - and understand every detail. This struck me as a compliment...

    ...but also a warning.

    That's where I am today. I have zero pain. No known health problems. Just an active mind. I had to admit that loneliness was getting to me. So, I made plans to have lunch with my Mother today. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and asked some former colleagues (same company, former division) to meet for dinner and drinks tonight. They snapped up the offer straight away! (see? people DO like you)

    So please continue to learn yourself. Learn if certain tendencies need to be monitored to keep you from tricking yourself. Don't be embarrassed. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. There's nothing wrong with you. Go live your life!

    ***edited to remove specific diet reference so as not to alarm or trigger anyone. diets are personal and I understand that!***
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    O. M. G.

    Lauren, @CaptivaLady - welcome and THANK YOU for this incredible story. I confess that I often skip lengthy stories because they contain so much tedious detail about symptoms, but yours had me on the edge of my seat with the self-discovery and the setbacks and the successes.

    It was, in fact, captivating.

    Your husband is a hero.

    YOU ultimately know how to love yourself.

    And I think this is kind of my favorite thing:
    Overall, just awesome. I hope you can stick around welcomea

  3. CaptivaLady

    CaptivaLady Newcomer

    Thanks Jan! I appreciate your kind welcome and words. It felt great to write all of that out. I have considered starting a blog at some point, but have worried if it was a good idea. I am still pondering it... Have a great day!
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    You're a really good writer! BUT... one thing at a time, eh? Don't put pressure on yourself. My therapist loves to remind me that Pressure leads to Judgement leads to Repression leads to Symptoms.
  5. CaptivaLady

    CaptivaLady Newcomer

    Amen! I will keep letting that "simmer gently" on the back burner! LOL! Thank you!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.

Share This Page