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My slow progress...crazy pain

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by okidokisan, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. okidokisan

    okidokisan Peer Supporter

    This is my first post. I have found much comfort and wisdom reading this forum.

    I have had back pain for almost 8 months now. I am convinced I have TMS and have been following Schubner's recovery plan. I have several concerns.

    First..it seem like I got much better the first few weeks..then so much worse. It is like whatever relief I had..like child's pose, sitting, lying down..did not help. I could find little comfort. Then I have what seems like pain attacks..I have such severe pain that I feel like I am out of my mind with pain. I usually have these when I feel "trapped" ..such as in a car or in a exercise class filled with other people..or at the grocery store. What does this mean..What should I do?

    Also, I can get through a form of exercise with little pain..(like water aerobics, or a walk), but when I am done I immediately have severe pain. I went to a Tai Chi class and had pain..but continued. After the class..which was so gentle and easy..I had severe pain. I do know that I seem to worry that I will have pain in these situations now..and try to "talk" to my brain..But it just isn't working. I am so tired of all of this pain.

    And finally..I wonder about the slow progress I am making..I cannot figure out if I am any better at all.
    Yet, I have good days..had 3 good days last week..then it is bad again.

    Any wisdom anyone??

    (Just so ya know..I have had chronic pain for many years..migraine..then shoulder..then migraine again..and now back pain)
    G.R. likes this.
  2. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    Hi Okidokisan. Thanks for your post. I'm still on my own journey of TMS recovery, but one thing I've learned is that healing is not linear, it gets better, gets worse, symptoms return etc., at least that's been true in my case. Then, what I've done to make things even worse is to start worrying and obsessing about the inconsistent progress. Fear and anxiety about TMS really increase the pain and discomfort for me.
    So reducing the anxiety and fear of TMS has been extremely helpful. I've done some mindfulness meditation, being kind to myself, not being afraid of the pain, realizing the inconsistency of symptoms-- and thinking that through. If it was physical, would you really have 3 good days, then feel bad, for instance?

    One obvious question would be: have you have a physical exam that rules out physical problems?

    The fact that you can exercise and feel ok, but immediately feel intense pain afterward really sounds like TMS.

    I do identify with your frustration, I would love to be one of those that just reads a Sarno book and is cured, but on the other hand I've learned a tremendous amount about chronic pain, about the level of anxiety and muscle tension I used to consider normal, and the emotions I've been suppressing.

    Please keep posting and sharing your story. Be gentle with yourself. You will find many kind souls here, much more experienced than me, eager to help.

    All the best
    Forest, okidokisan, G.R. and 2 others like this.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Okidok,
    I sounds to me like a normal progression in TMS healing, having good days and bad.
    The pain comes and goes and moves around while your unconscious mind catches and
    processes the repressed emotions you're telling it about.

    Be patient and don't try to rush your healing. While you're healing, you'll be learning
    a lot about yourself and others.
    Forest and okidokisan like this.
  4. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Okidokisan I think Msunn's point about fear, anxiety and worry are particularly relevant for you.

    First there is the fear that comes from uneven progress. Questions like "Is this as much as I will progress?" "Am I doing this right?" "Will this work for me like it has for others or am I different somehow?" The list goes on and on. These fear-based thoughts perpetuate the cycle of pain and further engender the kind of mentality that causes TMS symptoms in the first place. So try to take some of the pressure off yourself! As you take on relaxation techniques and mindfulness practices, remember that you are doing them in order to treat yourself better, to care for yourself. You're not doing these things just to respond to the pain, but to improve your life by relieving yourself of the constant pressure to feel better and the fear that you won't improve. The pain is secondary to this and ideally you will reach the point where you are treating yourself better, putting less pressure on yourself and not caring if the pain is there or not, comfortable in the knowledge that you are still making forward progress overall if not necessarily day-to-day. My colleague Alan Gordon has written an excellent article that pertains to this dynamic which you can read about here.

    Secondly is the fear that comes from feeling like you will be in pain after you exercise. It sounds like you are aware that this p[reoccupation with the pain is detrimental, but that you are finding it difficult not to feel apprehensive about putting yourself in situations that will make you feel the pain, pain that you are very tired of subjecting yourself to. Again, I think another of Alan's articles about Breaking the Pain Cycle will be very helpful to you.

    Best of luck and keep up the good work! It can seem daunting, but if you continue to take on the advice on these forums and the wiki, you will start to see change and improvement.
    Forest, okidokisan and Msunn like this.
  5. G.R.

    G.R. Well known member

    Okidokisan, I just want to encourage you. You might not think so but you are really doing quite well.
    I think for most of us we measure how well we are doing by how the pain decreases. For me, I have
    had to stop measuring my success by how much pain I have. In fact, when the pain increases my TMS doctor
    has told me that is just excellent; that means you are making progress. He always expains to me
    the pain intensifies because it is just trying to keep you distracted from repressed emotions. It took
    me a long time to wrap my mind around this concept that when the pain intensifies and when the
    symptoms move, I actually have the TMS on the run.

    I am also doing the Schubiner's recovery program. One thing he suggests is when you feeling a pain
    attack you can determine is this happening due to a conditioning (something that triggered my pain;
    like exercise) or is something emotional right under the surface. Often, it takes some digging. Perhaps,
    the reason you get intense pain attack when you are in the car or at the grocery store or in the exercise
    class is because on an unconscious level you may fear how am I going to finish this exercise class without
    having pain or how am I going to finish my grocery shopping without having pain... I, also, think
    this may be some conditioning that these activities trigger the pain.

    In my own journey with TMS, I found that at first I felt like I was getting nowhere and I was very
    disillusioned especially because I could not do the activities I loved without pain; like going to the gym,
    walking, going to the grocery store without pain. Last December, I was in such excruciating pain, but
    I read Fred Amir's book, Rapid Recovery of Back and Shoulder Pain. Fred would set little goals, so that
    is what I would do. I would go to the supermarket and just try to do a little shopping maybe only getting
    some fruit then I would check out. Then, the next visit to the supermarket I would get my fruit and vegetables.
    I did this for several weeks and the pain did decrease significantly but I kept telling myself I can do this.
    I realized there was a lot of fear and frustration about doing the food shopping. So, I would gently talk
    to myself saying, you have nothing to fear, you can do this. This did work for me.

    I want to encourage you to continue to talk to your brain like Schubiner suggests with his scripts in his book.
    They may not seem like they are working at first but try to believe both your subconscious and your conscious
    are hearing what you are saying and it may take some time but the symptoms will subside. For me, I just have to
    be consistent.

    Also, Schubiner suggests that a few minutes a day, you tell your brain that you are physically well. I think
    this is very important. And of course, Schubiner emphasizes getting in touch with emotions.
    For me, getting in touch with my emotions has been the hardest. I now can make the connection when I have pain to my emotions or it is either a conditioned response. I highly recommend the article Alex recommended Breaking
    the Pain Cycle by Alan Gordon. Maybe, make a copy of it and read it over and over again to renew your
    mind to the truth and not the lies the symptoms are telling you.

    You are doing well and are well on the way to recovery. We are all here for each other to get us over these humps.
    Msunn likes this.
  6. okidokisan

    okidokisan Peer Supporter

  7. okidokisan

    okidokisan Peer Supporter

    Dear Musnn..

    I had a doc appointment last week. She basically said that maybe I strained the muscles (8 months ag0) and she did not recommend MRI or further evaluation. She was Ok with mind body work..and so we just left it at that.
    Since that time I have had symptoms which just continue to support a TMS diagnosis. So I feel good about that and
    it satisfies my family (always trying to please).

    Amen to healing not being linear..One day I am symptom free for most of the day..the next I am no my knees. But I am happy with the progress I am making and feel a sort of peace.
  8. okidokisan

    okidokisan Peer Supporter

  9. okidokisan

    okidokisan Peer Supporter

    Dear Alex..Thank you for your kind words of support. I have read that article several times. My husband who also has TMS read it with me. I think that the fear component is big..I just went to an exercise class and had to leave because I just could not endure the pain and felt conspicuous bending over and not participating. I think I had a fear of failure..Once out of the class I laid down on the floor, stretched and was fine..I could relax. I am fine with yoga because I am free to have pain..and then I don't have any. Crazy!

    Should I just not put myself into this situation and stick with walking and yoga for the time being. I can walk for over and hour and do yoga for over and hour too..Any orgainzed class just kills me. I barely made it through a tai chi class.
  10. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    You don't need a formal class in yoga or tai chi. You're doing great walking and doing yoga and tai chi on your own.
    At home, you also can choose your own music. For me, that's very important.
  11. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    Sounds good Okidokisan. I'm with you on the same journey! It's really helped with my perfectionist traits to see how others are progressing, and in many cases it parallels my experience. Wishing you continued healing.
  12. okidokisan

    okidokisan Peer Supporter

  13. okidokisan

    okidokisan Peer Supporter

    Hello GR..

    How interesting is it that you are getting better when you feel worse!! TMS certainly does mess with you!

    Your response to me was very encouraging. Thank you. It is a brave path I think. I am following Schubiner's book closely..but I have taken 3 weeks now to do the first week. I like it that way. I am going back and looking at previous journal entries to help me. It is easy to forget.

    The pain is so intense that it can be very discouraging. But as I look at it I think I am far less discouraged than I was a few months ago. Everything I need to do is so ...not me...like being patient and mindful. I am learning however.

    I am grateful that I am sharing this journey with my husband. He and I have become much closer and learned so much about each other. I am glad he "gets" it..He understands my pain and I understand his.

    I think I will make a copy of that article and also read a few success stories.


    This is my favorite article..I read it over and over. I think you will enjoy it too.

    Msunn likes this.
  14. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    That sounds so much like TMS - it shows the deep connection between tension and the pain. This is where reaching that internal equanimity is so important, I think. We TMSers are like tightly coiled springs sometimes. I think it works miracles to learn how to listen to our unconscious needs and soothe what needs soothing.
    Some people push through the pain and it teaches them that their bodies aren't fragile, decreasing their tension. For you, at this point, it sounds like an organized class would only increase your tension. That would definitely not be what you want!

    With that being said, you are the one who is in the best position to understand your own tension. It always starts with listening to and soothing the mind. The body then follows when it is ready.

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