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lingering pain (while standing) - could use some feedback

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by knight, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. knight

    knight Peer Supporter

    As briefly as I can be on the background, I am a 43 year old male and I have suffered with intermittent bouts of lower back pain that started when I was 18 but went away for many, many years and then came back about 6 years ago. I am very active/athletic and in very good shape and for most of the last 6 years believed that I had a structural issue and tried everything one could try (short of surgery) to "fix" my problem. I have a bilateral pars defect (probably since adolescence) and now spodylolisthesis (slippage of one vertebrae over the other). Until about 6 months ago I was afraid and was obsessed with "solving my problem", fully believing that I have something very "wrong" with my back. The image of a loose vertebrae slipping back and forth over the other was very scary to me. My pain was still pretty manageable though, and with the exception of a couple of weeks here or there when I would "injure" my back and be out of commission, I would say I still lead a pretty normal life. I was still able to work and I lifted weights and played ice hockey.

    Then I realized about 6 months ago that my pain did not make sense and discovered Dr. Sarno's books, TMS, this community, etc. I actually went to see Dr. Rashbaum in NYC and he diagnosed me with TMS. I feel much better now, am no longer afraid that I have a fragile back, am much less obsessed with the pain when I do have it (which is not that often...more on that in a minute). Again, I wasn't in tremendous pain on a daily basis to begin with, so the "recovery" feels more psychological than physical to me, but it's still a huge difference. I don't really live in fear anymore, I lift weights and feel great, play ice hockey without fear and without a back brace (which never made me feel better and only reinforced the feeling that there was something structurally wrong with me). 6 months ago I was in tears, believing that I would have to give up being active in general and stop playing ice hockey (which is one of the things that brings me the most joy in my life) and now I play more or less without fear of injury and even get knocked down directly on my back or get tripped and go slamming into the boards and full speed and get right back up and feel fine. No pain. Nothing.

    I have been wanting to post a success story because when I was just learning about TMS there was only one success story that I could find about a person with spodylolisthesis and it helped me a lot to see that a person could live a normal, active life with such a scary-sounding "condition." But I still have some lingering pain and somehow it doesn't really feel like a success to me yet, in part because there are some aspects to what I am dealing with that make me question TMS. So that is the reason for this post and I am hoping that I can get some feedback from anyone who has experienced something similar or has some insight to share.

    I believe that TMS is at least mostly the cause of what I was dealing with in the past and am open to the idea that it is 100% of the cause of all my back pain (plus some other things I deal with like skipped beats). But I have some lingering doubts that stem mostly from the pain that I get when standing. At this point I pretty much don't get pain from anything else (again this includes lifting pretty heavy weights, sitting for long periods, playing competitive ice hockey, etc.). But when I stand for long periods of time, the pain pretty predictably starts to set in. It's not debilitating....it's probably a 2 or 3 out of 10. And it doesn't come right away - I would say after standing for more than 30 minutes it sets in and when I sit down for a few minutes or even squat down on the floor for a minute it feels better almost right away. It happens mostly on the weekends when I am at home, in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning and taking care of my 3 young kids, and sometimes on my feet for a couple of hours at at time throughout the day. Just thinking about the way that that sounds, I am sure the obvious reaction will be that it MUST be TMS! I am sure there is a part of me that is resentful for having to care for others, etc.

    But whereas some of the other pain I dealt with didn't make much sense, the pain I get while standing is slightly harder to write off as TMS. I mean, I'd imagine that for many people, standing for a long time makes their back hurt (although when I ask my wife she says hers does not!). And for this kind of pain, it's very hard to convince myself that it's not structural at all - after all, the pain is not there at first but as I stay on my feet for longer and longer the pain starts to appear and gradually intensify, and then it just subsides when I sit for a few moments. So it just feels like what I am doing physically is directly tied to the pain. And looking back on my life, standing for long periods has often made my back ache a little. Maybe that too was TMS, but the history there just adds to my sense of doubt. There is more detail I could add here but this post is long enough already!!!

    I guess I will just add that, again, because the pain is not debilitating, it's not so negatively impacting my life. I am able to ignore it for most of the time, but it bothers me and, perhaps more importantly, keeps me a little bit focused on trying to "figure it out" or "understand it." The part of me that believes it's TMS sees that as the very reason that I have the pain - to keep me obsessed with the pain and to distract me from other things. But I guess the fact that I am aware of that, that I try to see the pain for for what it probably is (as distraction), and that I still experience the pain is what keeps me doubting it. I will say that I have really tried to change my relationship to the pain (a lot of this stuff on this site, including some of the stuff from Alan Gordon, has helped me with that) and I try to welcome it, be present with it, accept it and not push it away, etc. But the truth obviously is that I don't want the pain, so it's a very delicate balancing act - I try to welcome the pain and not resist or fear it, but the very reason I am doing that is to get rid of it!!! Man, this stuff is difficult, lol! So yeah, in the end I am not always successful at welcoming the pain and being present with it, so maybe that is part of the reason it persists? Whatever we resist, persists? I want to believe that, but the fact that the pain still lingers despite understanding all of that and understanding everything I do about TMS, and the fact that pretty much all of the other instances of my pain have abated gives me cause for doubt.

    I am sorry for the very long post! Any advice or insight would be appreciated. I kind of expect that any responses I get will reassure me that this is TMS, but if anyone thinks that it's not unreasonable to just have some dull back pain when standing for a long time and that I could/should just accept that, I would welcome that too. I am open to anything! Thanks in advance!
  2. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    The inner conflict of the id, ego and superego causes internal rage. When we put ourselves under pressure or neglect appropriate self care the inner child rages and the conflict grows.

    I think in your case some of this may be going on. Are you prioritising self care, even on the weekends? Your kids will appreciate a happy relaxed dad! Do you want to be on your feet for hours at a time?, why not break it up by listening to your inner voice and taking care of yourself too.

    Don't be drawn into the preoccupation of the pain, you already know all of this having had great success with it already. It is all the same thing.
    whitewatersmetta likes this.
  3. knight

    knight Peer Supporter

    Thank you so much for your response!

    I try to have time to take care of myself, but I have 3 young kids (including a baby) who seem to always want to be with me or always need something! Part of me wants to be with them and be there for them and I am very conscious of how lucky I am to have healthy, beautiful children and how fleeting this moment in my life is, but I definitely feel frustration from not having enough time to do things for myself on the weekends. And I definitely don't want to be standing so much! But I don't know if that is because standing causes me pain or because I really just don't want to be doing things for others as much as I am. It's probably both.

    Since you mentioned pressure, I am definitely also under pressure to make enough money to support my family. I am doing ok there, but I definitely feel burdened in many ways.

    The thing is that I don't know how much of this I can change in the moment. I am sure I could be better about making time for myself, but it's very hard with all that my family depends on me for. And I am also aware that, as per Sarno and some of the other TMS cognoscenti that I have read, it's not really about changing our external circumstances, but being more aware of the internal conflict. That is what's frustrating - I think I am aware of the internal conflict and yet my pain persists. Maybe there is more conflict internally than I realize or more emotions lurking deep down than I am aware of? Or maybe I actually do need to change my external circumstances more in order to make more time for self care?
    whitewatersmetta and birdsetfree like this.
  4. jimmylaw9

    jimmylaw9 Peer Supporter

    Hi. You have just written most of my symptoms, in the last year I had lower back pain poss piriformis or glutes and when standing I get the exact same symptoms as you.
    My lumbar aches after about 1 hour. I have burning feet too. These symptoms arose after a very high period of stress. I have two young kids and can’t afford to rest much and it kills me that I can’t be active with them as much as I wish.
    I completely believe it’s TMS as when I gather evidence there are brief tines when it doesn’t happen n usually when I’m distracted. That should not be so. Therefore I need to keep doing the work and fully accept the fact it will go. I believe it will go in time and I am definitely being much kinder to myself even although it seems lazy.
    Symptoms I did have like shaky legs and parenthesia in my back have gone.

    I’m sure you will be the same and it will go. Just give t time
    birdsetfree likes this.
  5. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    In order to enjoy your beautiful family, self care is absolutely necessary. It is ok to organise things so that you can look after you too, especially since you are going through this emotional breakdown. This is showing up as pain in your body. Meditation would be great for you, spending ten minutes or so following your breath in a quiet place. This will help to reinforce your parasympathetic nervous system which will calm you down.

    Standing is benign. You are getting pain when standing because at some point you have been told or read somewhere that it is dangerous for you. You have now developed a conditioned response to it. The way out of it is to accept that for now standing is painful, but you have tools to deal with it. You can reassure yourself that the pain is harmless, simply caused by slight oxygen deprivation, activated by your mind to distract you. Try your best to not be disappointed when the pain comes, the goal is to cultivate indifference to it. By paying no attention to the pain it will fade away.

    Have you done the Structured Educational programme free here on tmswiki? This will help you get in touch with any deeper emotional issues. This journey is very individual, only you know where your limits and stresses are. Self care is getting to know yourself well so that you can treat yourself appropriately and take the steps you need to take to have balance in your life.
  6. knight

    knight Peer Supporter

    Thanks BirdSetFree for your responses. This is very helpful. I have been practicing meditation and I think meditation is just so important for life in general (I have been trying to do it with my kids as well, for my and their benefit)! However, it probably won't be a surprise when I write that I sometimes find it hard to fit in, especially on the weekends, lol. But it's been helpful to get the reinforcement that I just need to care for myself a little more and maybe go deeper emotionally and just understand myself better so that I can have better balance in my life.

    I have not tried the SEP yet. I must say I have been a little lost and all over the place in terms of what to "do" to help myself. I have read and reread a few of Dr. Sarno's books and have been reading Oz's book too. The diet of reading just helps me stay focused on a psychological explanation and helps keep me from slipping back to a structural one. I also started journaling on my own, but sometimes I feel like I am too focused on "figuring out" what is going on and not just letting the journaling be an emotional catharsis. I also read and more or less did The Presence Process and have considered sort of redoing it. The book and process are a little crazy to me, but some of it really resonated and probably most of all helped me to stay in the emotional/feeling realm and away from the "thinking" realm, which you can probably tell by my posts is part of my problem - I am a very logical, analytical, problem-solver type, so it has been helpful to learn how to understand how limiting that can be. 6 month ago I never would have said that - I thought every problem in this world could be solved by thoughts alone!

    So maybe I will give the SEP a try. I glanced at it in the past but have not actually done any of the days/steps. The guidance/structure will probably help me stay on track. I am eager to write my "success story" so I hope it helps. It may be that I am just pressuring myself too much to be 100% pain free. But I think part of it is that I just wasn't totally convinced that the pain I get while standing really is TMS and that is part of why I wrote this post in the first place. For sure if it is TMS, the fact that I am not 100% convinced is I'm sure part of the reason it persists. And your responses have given me renewed faith that it is. But overall it would probably benefit me to not care too much either way, to stop trying to figure it out, to accept the presence of pain when it is there without really judging it, and to view my situation as a something of a success regardless of whether I am 100% pain free or not.
    whitewatersmetta and birdsetfree like this.
  7. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    Yes to all of this! You have got it, and this is your success. So write your story when you are ready, which I would encourage you to do.

    The pain when standing is absolutely TMS. There is no physical reason for you to have it chronically. This is a conditioned response. Pay it no attention and it will go.

    Keep up the great work!
    whitewatersmetta likes this.
  8. knight

    knight Peer Supporter

    Thanks again for your kind words and support. When I write my success story I will ping you so that you can share in the triumph. :happy:
    whitewatersmetta and birdsetfree like this.
  9. knight

    knight Peer Supporter

    Hi BirdSetFree. I just wanted you to know I posted my success story. Thank you for your support - it really helped push me across the finish line in my mind. But a warning...my success story is REALLY long so be prepared to either have some time on your hands or skim a lot!!!
    birdsetfree likes this.
  10. whitewatersmetta

    whitewatersmetta Peer Supporter

    I just want to add more encouragement to not give up and definitely try the SEP and continue with the journaling.

    Being aware of the internal conflict is awesome, but it isn't quite the same as expressing it. I read somewhere that just thinking your internal conflicts through isn't as effective as actually expressing yourself. Talking to someone is great, but not always an option. So journaling might be a really great step and I also sometimes talk out loud in the car. Even if there is no one to hear me, I feel like my brain might appreciate hearing my actual outer voice say the things that need to be said, instead of just rolling it over and over inside my head :)

    Good luck!
  11. Rainstorm B

    Rainstorm B Peer Supporter

    Hi knight

    Have you come across Nicole Sachs? I mention her because, like you, she was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis and she healed completely using the TMS approach. She went on to be on Dr Sarno’s patient panel and now helps other people recover from chronic pain. In her book, The Meaning of Truth, she talks a lot about how honestly getting in touch with her frustrations around parenthood helped get rid of her pain. That might resonate for you...? She also has a podcast which I have found immensely helpful.

    Anyway, could be worth checking her out in your final push with the standing pain.

    All the best.
    whitewatersmetta likes this.
  12. knight

    knight Peer Supporter

    Thanks for your suggestions @Rainstorm B

    Between the time that I read your post and found the time to reply, I purchased the book and downloaded the podcast!!! I am an avid podcast listener, so I am excited about that. And I already read the 1st couple chapters of the book...I have not yet gotten to where she talks about the frustrations around parenthood, but yes, I think that is one of the main causes of my frustration. As an example, I was very excited to get up this morning really early and meditate and possibly exercise and I was woken at least 3 times throughout the night by my kids and spent 30mins trying to get the baby back to sleep (and then could not fall back asleep for a good 45mins after that), so in the end I had to set my alarm to wake me later in order to just get enough sleep to function today and was not able to have the morning I had hoped for! So YES, I am sure it will resonate with me, lol!

    Thanks again!!!
    whitewatersmetta and Rainstorm B like this.
  13. Rainstorm B

    Rainstorm B Peer Supporter

    Ah fantastic! You’re very welcome and hope you find them helpful.

    It certainly sounds like you’ve got your hands full at the moment. Be kind to yourself and recognise you are doing the best you can, and that that is enough.
    All the best,
  14. knight

    knight Peer Supporter

    Thanks @Rainstorm B

    I am trying to sort of look out for myself more and practice better self-care. It's hard with kids (I have 3, including a baby), but it's probably more about just having the self-care mindset than it is about always being successful in doing what I want to do for myself, which sometimes is just not possible).

    Just a quick update on the book/podcast. I am not that far in the book yet and I read a review from someone complaining that there is a lot of fluff in the beginning that could probably be cut out and I have to say I agree. I am sure the real "meat" is yet to come.

    But I listened to the first episode of her podcast yesterday and, WOW, it was VERY helpful. I think, first of all, that there may just be an additional power in hearing someone talk about things vs reading their writing (it just feels so much more authentic and real to hear someone talk about their experience, and with TMS that is obviously so important because it just helps elevate one's faith in truth of TMS when you hear people's experiences straight from their mouth).

    And her story DID resonate with me in a lot of ways and she clearly understands TMS very well. Some of her comments really had an impact on me (so much so that I wrote some of them down). Like the way she describes how the brain and nervous system "lovingly and protectively" choose physical pain over reckoning with difficult repressed emotions - I know I have read stuff like that before (on this site and in Sarno's books I am sure) but hearing her talk about it made me realize for the first time how that mechanism is really not so crazy or perverse....for the first time it really felt like it is a very sensible adaptation. Again I am sure Sarno says that ad nauseam in his books, but I don't know if I ever saw it quite the way she framed it.

    Anyway, I am VERY excited to have a mind-body/TMS podcast to listen to (all the others I listen to are totally unrelated to this). In fact if you have any other podcast recommendation for when I finish hers, let me know!

    Thanks again!!!
    JanAtheCPA and Rainstorm B like this.
  15. jimmylaw9

    jimmylaw9 Peer Supporter

    rainstorm can you post a link to that podcast i cant find it
  16. Rainstorm B

    Rainstorm B Peer Supporter

    Ah knight. So glad you’re finding some gold in Nicole’s work. I agree with you - the podcast is much more immediate and accessible. Particularly, as you say, in helping normalise some of the concepts around TMS. She’s been a godsend for me.

    And yeah, the way she explains that the brain is acting lovingly and protectively in creating symptoms felt like a huge relief to me too. I guess I had been walking around thinking my unconscious was some sort of basket case for inflicting this pain on me. Which just made me feel worse. I found the Sarno idea of yelling at my unconscious pretty limited before it started feeling like some sort of self harm that was actually adding fuel to the fire. Nicole’s approach feels much kinder, makes sense to me and definitely helps calm me down.

    I don’t know any other podcasts but there are others around. @JanAtheCPA is our resident podcast guru - well, she put me on to Nicole in any case (thank you!) - so maybe she can jump in and suggest others? I’d be interested to hear them too. Or you could try doing a search.

    Anyway, wishing you growing peace, acceptance and insight on your TMS travels and hope your pain continues to resolve for you, as mine does for me. Rx
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  17. Rainstorm B

    Rainstorm B Peer Supporter

    Hi jimmy

    Her podcast is called The Cure for Chronic Pain and you should be able to find it by searching in Apple podcasts or whichever app you use for podcasts. I’m going to post a link at the bottom of this too, but not sure if it will work...
    Hope you can find it. Best wishes, R

    https://audioboom.com/channels/4976835 (The Cure for Chronic Pain with Nicole Sachs, LCSW)
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  18. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    @jimmylaw9, I agree that you could probably do a search to find others, but along with Nicole, the only other one I listen to every week is by our own Eddy Lindenstein (@LindenSwole) who started a podcast called The Mind & Fitness Podcast. Search on your podcast app for this title, or use this audioboom link: https://audioboom.com/channels/4937410 (The Mind and Fitness Podcast) (as an Android user, I use Google Podcasts).

    To get started, I have a list of resources on my profile, at the bottom of My Story, one section of which has a list of some of my favorite episodes from Eddy, including #65, his interview with @Andy Bayliss. Eddy and Nicole both have had some amazing and well-known TMS guests on their shows. Eddy's most recent episode from two days ago is with Dr. Daniel Ratner, and they cover parenthood - along with mentioning that Dr Sarno himself said that having children is a major factor for TMS.

    Many of the guests on both podcasts mention that they have their own podcasts, books, websites, FB groups, or YouTube videos, any of which can quickly expand your personal list of resources.

    Over and over again, we hear that repetition (haha) is incredibly beneficial to the process of recovery. Experiencing repetition in a different form, such as audio, and from different individuals, makes it more likely that the brain will re-engage in the concepts. Certainly each new episode, and each new guest, brings something brand-new to the discussion in addition to reinforcing the well-known techniques. You never know when you're going to hear something which triggers a new revelation and a new level of recovery.
    whitewatersmetta and Rainstorm B like this.
  19. Rainstorm B

    Rainstorm B Peer Supporter

    Thanks @JanAtheCPA
    (smiley emoji didn’t work, so please insert imaginary one!) x
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  20. jimmylaw9

    jimmylaw9 Peer Supporter

    @JanAtheCPA @Rainstorm B
    Thank you. I’m a 50% parent of two young girls and find it very tiring between parenting and working.

    Off to listen to these podcasts as I truly believe the stress of parenting and not only that always trying to be the best at it is not helping my recovery.

    Thanks for the links it’s much easier to find

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