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My fight against leg pain

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Sheva, Jul 21, 2021.

  1. Sheva

    Sheva New Member

    Hi everybody!

    My name is Filip and I'm from Croatia so sorry in advance for my bad English. I'm almost 28 years old and for last 2 years I'm dealing with sciatica. I signed up here to express my feelings, make a summary of my experience with pain and ask you guys for opinion and your experiences.

    I'll start with my background, so if you don't want to read it all, just skip to the last part.

    I grew up relatively normally and I was always a kid you'd wish for. I was great in school and really good in general. Since I lived in a small village, there was always something to do around the house and my dad is workaholic kind of guy who knows how to fix many things by himself. Since he's very nervous while he's working on something (ironically :D ), he never had patience to show me how to do things myself. I always served as a helper and he'd just send me to bring him tools. Partially due to that and partially due to my lack of interest for doing these things, he'd very often be really mad at me and yell at me, even slap me if he gave me some task which I couldn't solve. For example, he'd often send me to garage to bring him some tools which I didn't even know what it looks like, but I couldn't admit that because he'd yell at me. Then, I'd go to garage and try to find something, usually without success, so he'd come and yell at me that I'm not interested at all and I don't help him at all. So, even though I was really good at school, I felt unworthy because I had to listen about me not knowing anything that really matters. Maybe even that created more pressure on me to achieve success in school, where I felt "as home". Another example... When I took tests for my driving license, I failed two times and I had to listen about me not being interested into it, me being a jerk because I don't care it's expensive since my dad is paying for it, etc. Of course it wasn't true, I had some of my worst days when I failed and I really cared a lot. Later on, when I graduated in college and started working, our relationship became more normal because now we see each other few days a month and I make my own money so he knows I don't owe him anything anymore.

    In 2017, just after graduation, I applied for a job of an air traffic controller. There were many exams and it was really stressful, but I was mostly good at it so it was fine. In final phase, when I really worked and had few more exams to pass, it became really stressful. There are really big expectations and whenever I made a mistake, I felt like shit because they expect you to be close to perfect. During that phase in May 2019 I went to Moscow for a soccer tournament with guys from the job. Few days before that I felt some kind of pain while doing squats in gym, but nothing hurt later on. In Moscow I felt first symptoms in my right leg. While sitting, I'd feel pressure in my calf.

    In upcoming months I felt pain in my lower back, hamstring and calf while sitting and while trying to extend my right leg. I went to doctors and of course I have L4-L5 and L5-S1 disc hernia. I even tested my nerves and they were a bit harmed. I spent a lot of money on different physical treatments, but as everyone else, I felt better at that moment and pain would come back in few hours.

    Summer of 2019 was really hard because I felt a lot of pain and I couldn't get days off because I had to finish my course that summer. I also started making a lot of mistakes and becoming an air traffic controller became a problem for me. Then I began thinking a lot about that, what if I fail, I can't let myself fail, etc. Finally, in the end of the summer i finished all of my exams and finally became an ATC. I also went to gym regularly and my symptoms were under control. I felt pain in my hamstring and calf, but nothing so strong that I couldn't live with it. Interesting, whenever I had days off and when I was on vacation, my symptoms were almost gone.

    In February 2020 I met my girlfriend and hopefully my future wife, who helps me a lot with my symptoms and she is full of understanding. Then corona pandemic happened and my symptoms were almost ok. Probably because lack of stress at work (no planes in the air), good relationship with my girlfriend and living non-stressful life. Still, I thought it could be better and I kept looking for solutions.

    In November 2020 I found out about TMS and completely found myself in characteristics. I read Healing back pain by dr. Sarno and it was an eye opener for me. I tried to play soccer, squash, walk more and live normally, but I still felt pain and it was hard for me to just live on. It's pretty hard to pretend everything is normal when you can't bend over with your legs straight. Then I found myself a counselor who helped me with realizing I'm perfectionist and trying to get rid of it. She convinced me to try meditations and I'm helpful for it.

    In February I had another flare-up after gym workout (on that same day I had some bad situation at work), so I decided to find another PT. This time, this guy told me about importance of workout and sleeping, reducing stress etc. It was good for some time, but then I had another flare-up and now I'm sick of it. I bought myself dr. Schubiner's Unlearn your pain and I decided to start with the 28-days-program. To be honest, I actually expected literally "1) do this, 2) do that, 3)... " but I'll try to sort something out for myself.

    To conclude: I was raised by really strict dad (mom was really nice) and I always felt pressure coming from him. My symptoms started while taking exams for becoming air traffic controller. I feel pain in my right calf, hamstring, butt and lower back, but rarely everywhere at once. It's usually in one or two parts. I decided to start with Unlearn your pain 28 day program.

    Thanks for listening and thanks in advance for all your advices :) I'm open for all kind of questions.
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome to the Forum! Your English is very good.

    You've done a good job of linking the psychological to your symptoms. And Unlearn Your Pain is the program I used when I first recovered, so I know that it is a very good one. You're in the right place and on the right path. Just keep at it. Feel free to ask any questions along the way.
  3. Sheva

    Sheva New Member

    Thanks a lot Ellen!

    Right now I see I could do writing and meditations easily, but it's kinda hard to do ISTDP with my girlfriend acting as a counselor. Do you have any advice about that?
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm not an expert on ISTDP, but in my experience it isn't necessary to do it to recover. I never did it and recovered fully. It's one of many tools, and one tool, I believe, that is best left in the hands of people with training.
    TG957 likes this.
  5. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    hi Filip:

    First, let me say your English is great! And you've done a great job describing how your issue has evolved. To me, it sounds absolutely like TMS: pain moving around to various places, pain reducing in low-stress periods or vacation, perfectionist personality, doctors and specialist treatments not helping, etc.

    I am just another guy trying to feel better, and different things help different people, but to me, some of the things you can do that definitely will help are a) consistently being able to get good sleep and b) trying to keep your exercise as "normal" as possible (or at least moving in that direction), not letting yourself be afraid of "hurting yourself". I am personally trying to slowly increase my exercise to get back to where I was before I developed my condition, and it is definitely a confidence-booster to feel like I am moving in the direction of being "normal" again, even if the discomfort hasn't really changed (so far).

    And while some people have miracle quick cures from reading Dr Sarno's book, for most people it takes time. I have become a big fan of David Hanscom's book "Back in Control" because what he describes was happening with him seems so similar to me. (he is an orthopedic surgeon who cured himself - and later many of his patients - of pain by working through some simple daily habits). His biggest recommendations are a) daily journaling (write down whatever your thoughts are longhand on paper, then tear up the paper and throw it away), b) consistently getting good night's sleep, c) what he calls "active meditation" - just spending 30 seconds or a minute several times per day really focusing on some sensory input: what you see, what you can hear, etc. He says it helped him to refocus his mind outside of himself. But anything you can do to reduce anxiety and obsessively thinking about your problem is a good thing.

    Hope it helps. There are a lot of great people on here.

    with empathy! You are not alone
  6. Sheva

    Sheva New Member

    Hi guys! Thank you so much for your support!

    I’ll definitely start with journaling and active meditations. Since I wrote here and did few exercises I don’t feel that much of reduction in pain, but I feel it less often because my mind is not obsessed with pain that much. For example today I spent with friends I didn’t see for 5 years and whole day was almost painless.

    Thanks once again!
    hawaii_five0 likes this.
  7. Sheva

    Sheva New Member

    2 months later, I'd like to share my experience.

    I started with Unlearn your pain program, but I somehow felt lazy whenever I tried to start doing it, like my brain is finding excuses to postpone it. And when I finally started, I needed 2 weeks to finish first week of program. I did writing exercises and meditations afterwards. Also I tried to reprogram my brain and kept telling myself I'm fine and there is no reason for pain.

    Sometime in the end of the first week I remember doing one writing exercise and meditation after which I bent with my hands touching the floor for the first time in almost 2 years. It felt amazing and I wanted to do more and more.

    Summer season was at its peak and there was a lot of airplanes in the air, which means I worked really hard, but despite it my pain reduced significantly. As my days off were coming closer, pain was reducing. When I finally went on a vacation, I felt only a little bit of tightness in the morning, but that was nothing comparing to situation before.

    Coming back to work my simptoms increased, but only a little bit and for a short while. Brain reprogramming was successful and now I only feel a little bit of pain in the morning and later on it's all good.

    Life is great :)
    BloodMoon and hawaii_five0 like this.
  8. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Fantastic! - really happy for you! Thanks so much for reporting back, it is so encouraging to hear success stories

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