I’m putting a short version for those who just want the basics of my story, and then the full version for those that want to read the details that led to my recovery. The success stories on the TMS Wiki were instrumental in my healing. I would read a different one each day and they helped me build even more confidence that others that had the same diagnosis and symptoms I had overcame their pain using the techniques of Dr. Sarno Short version: · 6 months of lower back pain that progressively got worse and also spread to sciatica · Saw an orthopedic physician, got an MRI, and was diagnosed with a L5-S1 herniated disc · The day before my cortisone injection I started reading about Dr. Sarno online and became convinced I had TMS; canceled injection appointment · I read Healing Back Pain and the next day I was pain free! But it only lasted for three days and then the pain returned, but this told me my pain couldn’t be structural · I continued to read Sarno but my pain intensified, until one day I ended up on the floor unable to get up, and I had to call an ambulance to come and get me · Was instructed by my specialist to take it very easy for two weeks, so I went to stay at my parent’s house where I could do Sarno’s treatment in a supportive environment · I did just as Sarno prescribes (write down list of pressures and spend time going over it every day, re-read certain sections of his books, try to keep my focus on emotional issues when the pain would come), and as the weeks went by my pain steadily decreased and I became more and more mobile · I got the DVD of Sarno’s lecture which I feel really helped accelerate my healing · At the end of four weeks, I was 85% pain free and was able to get back to my normal life (yoga, hiking with my dog, school, work) · It has been six months since then and I am 95% pain free, with only some occasional minor flare ups that never get beyond a 2 on the pain scale. This whole experience has been mind blowing and I desperately hope that mainstream medicine will accept this paradigm fully, as it could then open up so many more people to it. · What helped me the most? o Writing down “exceptions” that refuted my pain being structural: Such as when my pain went away completely for three days after I read HBP, or I took a 2 hour long exam and I noticed halfway through I had no pain even though sitting for long periods was usually very painful. Reviewing these every day to combat your mind’s doubts. o Watching the DVD, as I found watching his lecture more effective than reading the books alone o Meditation. This helped me to be present with my uncomfortable feelings and to focus on them when the pain came. I think any practice that helps you stay present is a powerful tool against TMS. o And the absolute, #1, no-doubt thing that helped me get rid of my pain: DO DR. SARNO’S TREATMENT!!!! You may be one of the lucky ones who can read the book once and be cured, which I originally thought I was, but if not, you must write down your list of pressures and spend time thinking about them every day, and then use these pressures as a tool when the pain comes by thinking about them and not the pain. It is not easy, I know, but trying to live with terrible chronic pain is much harder. Also, re-read the psychology and treatment sections once per day to really get the information to sink into your subconscious. It takes longer for your subconscious to get the message, so be patient. You have to do the entire daily routine every single day until your pain goes away, no matter how long it takes. Long version: A bit of background: I am 39 years old, single with no kids (but I have the world’s best dog, Joe!), and am currently attending pharmacy school. I awoke one morning in late May of 2014 feeling a sharp soreness in my lower back. Thinking I had just pulled a muscle, I didn’t think too much of it. (Although I couldn’t remember doing anything the day before that would have caused such a muscle pull or strain.) As the summer went along, my back stayed about the same. Upon getting up in the morning my back would progressively grow more painful, and I wasn’t able to sit for very long without the pain increasing. I was concerned it was taking so long to heal, but since it wasn’t getting much worse, I never went in to see a physician and just did yoga when I could and continued walking Joe every day for 45 minutes, which helped lower the pain. Once school started up again in the fall, my back pain began to get worse, as it became hard for me to sit still in class. I needed to stand in the back of the room or else I would need to periodically go for a short walk around campus to loosen it up. I grew more and more worried that my pain would get worse and that my ability to work, be active, and just plain enjoy life would be affected. Eventually it got to the point where I had to see a physician, who referred me to an orthopedic specialist. On my first visit to the orthopedist in September, they made me sit and watch a 30 minute video. The video showed three different back pain patients, each one of them used a different method to treat their back pain: surgery, physical therapy, and a treatment program created by some doctor at NYU which claimed that back pain was caused by repressed emotions. This was the first time I had ever even heard of Dr. Sarno, and I immediately thought, “I could totally see my back pain being caused by emotional factors”. I had a history of anxiety and depression and was completely stressed out by pharmacy school, so I knew I had a lot of emotional turmoil going on, but I couldn’t fully accept it was the cause of my back pain, so I only considered that my pain was caused by a physical abnormality. The orthopedic specialist examined me and sent me to get an MRI. The MRI showed a disc herniation at L5-S1, and I was told this was the cause of my pain. I was given hydrocodone and was referred to their SpineX physical therapy program. The physical therapy program had a very rigid schedule that did not fit with my school schedule, so I planned to just power through the semester before trying PT over xmas break. The pain continued to get worse and started to travel down my right leg. Now I was really scared. As I read about sciatica I became terrified as I found out how debilitating it could become. I went back to the specialist and he suggested I try a cortisone injection, and if that didn’t work, then surgery. I was in terrible pain and was stressed out beyond belief, so I was willing to do whatever would heal me. I made the injection appointment and was reading online about people’s experiences with the injections. As I was searching, I came across an article about the success of Dr. Sarno’s treatment. I remembered him from the video and all the comments and articles about him were glowing, so I started reading a free PDF of Healing Back Pain. Needless to say, I was dumbstruck reading it. The perfectionist and people-pleasing characteristics of a TMS sufferer described me perfectly, and the authority and logic with which Dr. Sarno wrote resonated with me 100%. I cancelled my cortisone injection and resolved to give Dr. Sarno a try before committing myself to any expensive and risky procedures. It was a miracle. The next day my pain was completely gone! I was one of the lucky ones who were healed by just reading the book, and in a state of near delirium and told all of my friends and family about Dr. Sarno and his medical miracle. For three days, I couldn’t stop smiling and tried to comprehend how the rest of the medical establishment could ignore Dr. Sarno’s treatment. But then the pain came back. I was heartbroken, not just because the pain returned to its original intensity, but also because everyone I had told about Dr. Sarno would have their doubts validated and they would likely never give his treatment a chance for their own TMS. Even though my pain returned, I still knew Dr. Sarno was absolutely correct, and that I just needed to do the work and stick with his treatment regimen. I had just begun doing the daily practices when my back pain ramped up even more. I was limping around the backyard letting Joe do his morning business when my back tightened up worse than ever. I was worried I might not make it back into the house if I waited much longer, so I hobbled up the steps in a hurry and when I got to the top I felt the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. Something in my lower back felt as though it had either snapped or froze solid. My eyes bugged out of my head as I literally stumbled the final 20 feet to my apartment door and fell to the floor once inside. I couldn’t get up. All I could do was pull myself along the floor, being extremely careful not to move my lower back. I pulled myself into my room and thankfully my phone was on a lower shelf in my bookcase, so I was able to grab it. There I laid on the floor of my room, unable to do anything except just lay there and think about calling an ambulance. I called my sister and she came over to check on me. I had decided to see if my back would calm down before calling an ambulance, so I had her give me some water, some snacks, and a bottle to pee in, as I planned on waiting it out for a while. I was terrified that I would have to go #2. My sister had to go to work, so I assured her that I would call an ambulance if it didn’t improve or if it got worse. She left and there I was, still trapped on my floor, praying that the pain would decrease enough for me to get up. Joe laid next to me, licking my hand or face periodically as he knew something was wrong. His tenderness and concern brought tears to my eyes. (Dogs are the best!) And then something happened to me that I hadn’t experienced before or since. I began to cry so hard that I’m sure it looked as if I was having convulsions. I shook all over and my chest heaved. The sounds I made were like croaking moans that lasted so long that my body had to take deep breaths in between. I didn’t even know what I was crying about; it was just a tremendous emotional release in which after a while I felt more like an observer than a participant. Despite the intensity of the experience, I knew it was a good thing and it did feel better when each wave subsided. After about an hour the crying fits passed, but I was still unable to get off the floor; sharp pains would shoot from my lower back whenever I tried to turnover. So after a total of six hours of being immobile, I finally called an ambulance. They pumped fentanyl into me and I was eventually able to gingerly get up enough so I could sit on the special chair they had to use to get me down the steps and into the ambulance. I went to the ER, was given more painkillers, and all the physician could tell me was, “Welcome to the world of back pain”. I laid in an ER bed for about two hours and I was eventually able to walk a little, but I noticed the pain was still pretty intense. They gave me a shot of morphine and sent me on my way. As I waited for my brother to pick me up, I noticed that even the morphine didn’t take away much of the pain. At this point there were two weeks left in the semester, but I couldn’t walk very far and I for sure couldn’t sit in a seat in a classroom for very long. I pretty much could only lay on a couch in a certain position to be pain free. I had to take a break from school until I could get my back feeling better. With what I had just been through, all I was focused on was healing and thus I wasn’t too concerned with missing school. . The specialist advised I rest and take it easy for two weeks before trying to get back to doing school stuff. I went to stay at my parents’ house 70 miles away so that I could have some support while I got better, and I resolved to stick with Dr. Sarno’s treatment until I did. (Note: I had been thoroughly examined by my primary care physician and the specialist, so all potential more serious conditions had been ruled out.) My mom is an RN and my dad is a pharmacist, so when I told them I had TMS and would therefore stop taking painkillers and only be doing emotional therapy, they were understandably concerned. I told them they just needed to trust me and that if after a few weeks I wasn’t feeling better, then I would go the more traditional route of cortisone and/or surgery, methods which they had used themselves many times in the past. I knew the TMS treatment would help me, I just didn’t know how long it would take. I had read all of Dr. Sarno’s books and I did his recommended regimen: write out a list of pressures and spend 20 minutes each day going through it, re-read the psychology and treatment parts of his books, and focus on emotional issues when I felt the pain. The first week was difficult, as even though I did improve, the improvements were slight and I was still very limited in my movements. I had to have my Mom take Joe out for me twice each day, and I wasn’t able to shower because If I was on my feet for more than a minute or two, my back would tighten and I would have to hurry and get back to the couch to lay down. But things accelerated in the second week. I was able to shower by intermittently standing and then squatting, each time I was able to stand for a longer period of time. I have never been so grateful to be able to bathe myself. I was then able to take Joe out just long enough for him to do his business, squatting down to relieve my back pain when it would tighten. Soon I was walking him around the yard for 15-20 minutes at a time. I cried when it hit me that I would be able to take care of my buddy again.(Did I mention dogs are the best?) During this entire time, my anxiety increased. I had a history of anxiety, but I took up daily meditation and a yoga practice about 8 years ago, which decreased my anxiety to the point where it was essentially gone. When I started pharmacy school, I was so busy that I hardly ever did my meditation and yoga practice, because I had the hubris to believe that I was too “present” to be susceptible to anxiety anymore. (I couldn’t have been more wrong.) Luckily my years of meditation practice gave me the tools to sit with anxiety and just feel the physical feeling of it inside of my body, and not let it get up into my mind and turn into negative thinking. (Thank you, Eckhart Tolle!) It wasn’t fun to feel the pressure and discomfort in my chest and solar plexus, but I knew as I felt it that I was processing it. A real epiphany came for me when I noticed that when my anxiety increased, my back pain decreased. As another poster on the TMS wiki mentioned, it was like a see-saw. When the pain would come, I would focus on the areas where my anxiety would normally be, and after a few minutes, sure enough the physical feeling of anxiety would go up and the back pain would go down. I had read this was a common phenomenon in healing from TMS, but now that I had experienced it for myself, my belief in my pain being caused by TMS really solidified and the doubts my mind produced decreased significantly and even when they did come up I just reminded myself about how I could make the pain go away by focusing on emotional turbulence. After two weeks, I really turned the corner when I received the Dr. Sarno DVD. I was surprised at how few people talked about it and how hard it was to find. I credit the DVD for accelerating my healing and I would recommend anyone to get it. Dr. Sarno mentioned in one of his books that his lectures seemed more effective than the books and that “the spoken word is more powerful than the written word”. I feel this was the case for me. I watched it all the way through several times, and I re-watched either the psychology or treatment parts each day along with going through my list of pressures and focusing on emotions when I felt pain. Soon I could tell my anxiety levels and pain levels were decreasing more each day. At the end of one month since starting treatment I was able to return to my apartment and I was able to make up my missed classwork and exams before spring semester started, so I stayed right on track. So it has now been six months for me since I returned home and I am 95% pain free. When I do feel some pain now, I know it is just TMS and that there is nothing wrong with me, so the pain never gets above a 2. I have resumed my daily meditation practice and I do yoga a few times per week; I now know I need to keep on top of my stress. I made it through spring semester with relative ease and haven’t had significant pain since. I take long hikes and neighborhood walks with Joe, something which I am profoundly grateful for. To my surprise, there was a Sarno-trained physician who treats TMS near where I live in Duluth, MN. My pain was already gone but I decided to see him anyway to get his thoughts. He said that I almost certainly had/have TMS and basically said keep doing what I’m doing. We spent most of the time talking about how hard it is to get people to be open to TMS. He told me about how a few years ago the local newspaper did a big story on him after he used TMS treatment to cure someone of their chronic pain, and he thought the story could help open more people to a TMS diagnosis. But he was soon invited to speak at a fibromyalgia patient conference and when he began to explain TMS, many people in the audience became very angry when it was suggested their pain was caused by emotions. I think this experience was really discouraging for him and he said that he rarely sees patients for TMS now, which made me sad. If only this paradigm could break through into the mainstream…I hope it will soon. Also, another thing that helped my during my healing is that I was able to see a “story” of my pain that supported it being TMS. It went like this: 1. My pain started right after spring finals, which were insanely stressful. Dr. Sarno mentions that it is common for symptoms to start after a stressful period has passed. 2. During the relatively lower-stress summertime, my pain was manageable and didn’t get worse. 3. My pain increased when school started again in the fall. 4. My pain got significantly worse when I received my MRI diagnosis of a herniated disk. Also, there was other evidence of my pain not being physical, and reminding myself of these was also helpful in refuting doubts my mind created: 1. I did not have any injury and couldn’t think of anything that would have caused my back to hurt. If it was truly physical, shouldn’t I have felt something when it happened? 2. It would go away by walking. My back would hurt the first 10-15 minutes of my walk, so if the pain was caused by a nerve being compressed, why would it go away while walking? 3. I had to take a big midterm exam, and I was concerned that I would have a hard time sitting for the two hours it would take to complete it. I began the exam and was in discomfort, but halfway through the exam I noticed my pain was completely gone. I had been sitting the whole time, so if it was structural, why would the pain go away? (This one was hugely helpful for me in accepting TMS) 4. Even morphine didn’t really help the pain much. This helped me believe in Dr. Sarno’s vasoconstriction theory, as it made sense that if the pain was caused by vasoconstriction, then an opioid painkiller wouldn’t be effective in stopping the pain. This is where my pharmacy education helped, as chest pain caused by ischemia can be relieved by nitroglycerin, which is a vasodilator, not a painkiller. This whole experience has changed me forever. I now run into people everywhere who obviously have TMS (uncles with years of back pain “caused” by herniated discs, a 20 year old co-worker with RSI supposedly caused by computer use, a 24 year old co-worker who had surgery for a herniate disc, still has back pain, and now has RSI). I feel for these people when I hear their stories and I try to gently suggest that there is a treatment that could rid them of their pain. Of course they usually just humor me and say they will look into it, but their pain is “real”. It’s at the point now where I just write down Dr. Sarno’s name, some search terms for the YouTube 20/20 video and the “All the Rage” documentary trailer, and I let it go at that, hoping that they may look into it and begin to believe for themselves. That’s my long story. I am deeply grateful for the TMS Wiki and all the success stories that helped give me confidence as I went through the healing process. I wanted to wait for a while before I posted just to make sure the pain really was gone, and it is. Thank you to everyone on here who support others and tell their stories. One day mind-body disorders WILL be completely mainstream medicine and so many people will be spared unnecessary suffering. Until then, keep up all your great efforts in spreading the word. Oh, and THANK YOU, DR. SARNO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!