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My story

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by spunky, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. spunky

    spunky Peer Supporter

    (Sorry if you are reading this again but I have never posted on a blog and think I posted this in the wrong place when I first posted it.)

    I feel so fortunate to have stumbled across this website and forum. My story: I have suffered from Plantar Fasciitis for 6 or 7 years now and RSI for the last 2. Like all of you, I have seen countless doctors and specialists and neurologists for both of these, had so many blood tests that I am surprised I haven't depleted my supply, have gone to a naturopath, masseuse, acupuncturist, sports doctor, and Pilates instructor, taken dark cherry juice, turmeric, magnesium and other natural supplements to reduce inflammation, had MRIs, x-rays and nerve tests, bought books on how to cure PF, therapy balls, Foot rollers, custom and over-the-counter orthotics, new running shoes, slippers, and walking shoes, wore hand splints during the day and hand splints at night, spent countless hours soaking my hands and feet in hot and cold water, wore a walking cast for 3 months on one foot and 2 on the other, slept in rigid foot splints and/or Strasburg socks for a year on each foot, was in physical therapy on and off for a year, took countless non-steroid pills, etc.. I was told to not walk, not use my hands, not exercise, stop doing yoga and let things heal.

    In February I was forced to resign from my job because I could no longer walk great distances or type. I went on short term disability and decided to first fully focus on "curing" my feet (leaving my hands for later). I spent 3-4 hours a day doing exercises, stretches, trigger point massage, and going to PT. I had a whole white board where I would track my daily exercises. My pain got way worse. I decided that I must have overdone it and cut back on my daily regiment. But nothing seemed to work. On top of that, all the blood tests came back normal for everything they tested for, hands and feet. The hand EMG test came back negative but they said I had Carpal Tunnel and RSI. I began PT for my hands. The Leg EMG test came back saying I had something (can't remember what) that probably related to a L5 minor disc bulge in my back. This sent me to PT for my back. (I have suffered on and off from Back Pain for 17 years.) At one point I was doing PT for all 3 ailments at once.

    On numerous occasions my husband would find me weeping in frustration and despair. Was I ever going to be able to walk without pain? Go on a hike with my friends? Open a bottle of water without pain? Work again? Recover my active life style? I just couldn't get better no matter what I did. I finally asked my doctor in April if my pain was all in my head or psychosomatic. She said that no, it was real pain but they just didn't know what was causing it. That's when I just decided to take matters into my own hands and started searching the web for people like me. I stumbled on the Harvard RSI website and from there got to this site and Dr. Sarno's books. I just finished reading the Mindbody prescription and have started Healing Back Pain.

    This is my first day of reaching out for help and support, not from doctors, but from people like you who have experienced or are experiencing what I am going through. I just can't waste any more of my time and money on PT, doctors, gadgets, supplements, etc.. I want to get better and am ready to try Dr. Sarno's approach. I absolutely believe in the mindbody connection. In fact, my husband just had his 50 birthday and we wanted to celebrate that and our 20th anniversary so we took a 3 week trip with our 2 teen boys to Italy and Greece in late May and early June. I brought all my foot gadgets and a folding stool so I could continue some foot work and would have a stool to sit on when my feet got too painful. On the first day in Italy, my husband reminded me to bring my stool and I said, "I don't want to deal with my feet on vacation. I am going to forget about them and just walk through any pain and ignore it." And I did. Yes, I iced my feet every night but for 3 weeks I didn't bother doing any foot exercises and walked 5-10 miles a day. At the end of my trip my feet were better than they had been in years. This all happened before reading Dr. Sarno's book, so when I read the book, I thought, "Hmmm. This explains why my feet didn't hurt on my trip."

    My feet are not entirely cured but they are so much better. I now want to focus on my RSI (typing this is very painful for my fingers, right Elbow and right Arm). I am really hoping that I can be as successful with my hands as I was with my feet but I don't know how to start. With my feet, I hit a point where I just said. "The heck with this. You aren't going to control my life." I've tried to do that with my hands but it's not as easy. Maybe I should keep working on my feet and not my hands? Maybe it's not a matter of focusing on one area but just on the whole? Any advice from people who have experienced RSI or PF would be so appreciated.

    Well, clearly I needed to share my story because I have written a long story here! Thank you for reading it. I look forward to reading more success stories, getting advice and support from this group, and sharing my journey.
    cdub, Everly and Tennis Tom like this.
  2. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle


    You're at the right place. And, your story of vacation and walking is probably great proof that it's all TMS.

    What helps me most is to not focus on anything physical at all. It doesn't have to be feet, then hands. Just turn your focus to
    your emotions. Say, "I'm willing to believe that this is 100% psychological." And then, just start writing whatever comes to you emotionally.
    No one has to see it. You can rip it up after you're done.

    You've spent a lot of time on fixing the physical symptoms. You probably have some anger and frustration about that. Even starting by writing that stuff out may help.

    This is a good, supportive place to be.

  3. spunky

    spunky Peer Supporter

    Thank you so much Marcia.

    Yes, I definitely have anger and frustration, a lot of it. I feel like I have wasted so much time although I guess if I hadn't gone through all that, I would not have been compelled to search for an alternative and wouldn't have found this wonderful website. There is a bright side.

    I really appreciate your advice about not focusing on my feet or hands but focusing on the feelings (it's so much easier to focus on the physical!). I have started doing the 40 day plan and have found it very helpful already.

    It sounds like journaling is a really important part of the process. I like the idea of giving myself permission to rip it up. I think knowing no one will ever read it by chance will allow me to be more "raw" and honest with my emotions.

    Thanks for your support. Much appreciated.
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi spunky.

    That is great. I have even better news. You don't need to 'focus' on any particular thing to get 100% better in both area's. Obviously you have been conditioned for 6-7 years. That will come undone amazingly fast if you follow this one simple rule.

    Go about your business, pleasure, exercises etc as you used to before the TMS began. If/when any symptoms appear that's when the WORK begins. If you are typing and you notice a flare, stop and remind yourself that this is a conditioned response and that there is nothing wrong with you. If you are out walking and your feet bug, turn your thoughts to an unsavory topic, like any financial or emotional problems in your life. This reconditions the MIND that you do NOT need it's help and you are perfectly capable of dealing with your problems without their 'help', e.g. the distraction that is a defense against repressed rage!

    You need to get back to Yoga and whatever else you stopped because of the pain and recondition your mind. This is work, no doubt about it, but it is an inside job. There is no need to separate the different symptoms into folders. It is all one big Humbug. Squash it!

    Quietly evaluate all of the area's of your life. That job you left? Maybe you really hated it. If you didn't, then go back to it. Even if you did, go back to it, but know that YOU don't have to change.... it's your mind that does.

    We all still have problems in personal relationships, frustrating clients, bosses and underlings, economic challenges and personal demons. We who are 100% cured are just like you...the only difference is we know without reservation, beyond a doubt that our pain is psychosomatic (it has sunk in) so it quits. It gives up, the pain stops...it doesn't work anymore because we know it is only there to distract us.

    Cheers. You seem unusually well attuned to this. I expect you'll heal fast

    Tennis Tom, Ellen and MWsunin12 like this.
  5. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    Welcome, @spunky!. I am a relative newcomer to the site. My TMS symptoms are different than yours (started with shoulder/chest muscle pain, migrated downward to back, hips and legs, along with various other ailments that I have since learned are TMS), but I understand about getting fed up with doctors, physical therapists and all the other people we go to searching for relief "before Sarno". I've just read The MindBody Prescription and am waiting for Healing Back Pain to come from Amazon. The Great Pain Deception by Steve Ozanich is a good one, too. I'm partway through it. So many great insights. He's a member of this forum.
  6. spunky

    spunky Peer Supporter

    Thank you so much for your very supportive and helpful reply. I am happy to report that I started Yoga and exercising again when I got back from our vacation because I had decided that I didn't want my feet to rule my life. It feels great and I feel like my life is achieving some balance again. When my mind shifts to my feet, I remind myself that it is psychological and I tell my mind that I don't need it's help, that I am working on my stress and I don't need any pain distractions. I have definitely noticed improvements in my feet and am so happy. I don't let them stop me from leading a normal life anymore.

    However, I am struggling more with my hands. I KNOW I shouldn't compartmentalize my pain, but I can feel my mind go to my hands more often even though I know it shouldn't. (It must know it's losing the foot battle!) I KNOW the pain (wherever it ends up) is from stress/rage from my job and personal life over the last couple of years and probably some of the deep seeded rage that Sarno talks about from years of accumulated stress. I am definitely type A, do everything 100%, take on more than I need to, emotionally support a lot of people, and still have feelings of inadequacy even though I know I am smart and good at what I do. I worry too much about what people think about me and there is a lot of embarrassment around that because I know it's foolish to worry about that. It's so interesting to me that we can intellectually know all this stuff about ourselves and still feel paralysis on how to move forward in some circumstances. It's like a giant, sticky ferris wheel feedback loop.

    Anyway, a year and a half ago, I got a new awful boss after working with a wonderful boss for 15 years. The new boss was an micro-manager, poor communicator, had no background in my area, made life terrible for my whole team, and eventually unravelled 15 years of amazing, award winning, nationally recognized work. (I was the Director of Faculty Development at a large University.) She ultimately pushed us all out into different jobs which is when I resigned. I also had other stressors. My dear friend died very quickly of pancreatic cancer around this time; my younger brother (46) was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, and my husband (who is fitter than anyone I know) had congestive heart failure in the fall. All of this while trying to raise our 2 healthy, happy high school boys. To say the least, 2016 and 2017 were enormously stressful and grief filled years. I KNOW that I didn't deal with all my sadness and anger because I felt like I had to keep it together for everyone around me: my husband and boys, my mother, my brother's family, my team members at work. Quitting my job was what I needed to do to start saving myself. My wonderful former boss has told me that she will always have a position there for me which I am so grateful for. How lucky I am!

    So for now, I am taking the time to focus on me and to try to work through some of the emotional baggage I have been carting around and as you so simply said, to "recondition my mind". I do feel like I am making headway and a large part of that is due to all the success stories I have read here. I think I just need to be patient and stay the course. (As I was typing this, I took your advice and would stop when my fingers hurt and tell my mind that I do NOT need it's help and I am perfectly capable of dealing with your problems without its help.) Thank you again for your support.
  7. spunky

    spunky Peer Supporter

    Thank you Cricket313. I so appreciate the support and the recommendation of other books. I, too, ordered Healing Back Pain and it should arrive tomorrow. I am looking forward to reading it and hope it helps us both!
  8. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    This is a great response to TMS pain: "I tell my mind that I do NOT need it's help and I am perfectly capable of dealing with your problems without its help."

    It has taken me a little time to remember to do this, rather than go straight to fear and anger over the pain. The calm response is much more effective.
  9. spunky

    spunky Peer Supporter

    I can't entirely take credit for that calm response. Those are Baseball65's wise words that he shared with me. :)
    Celayne likes this.
  10. Cat Lady 13

    Cat Lady 13 New Member

    You absolutely were under a tremendous amount of stress the past two years. You would score very on the Holmes Rahe stress level scale. You are in the right place and should do very well with healing your TMS. The more we read about the syndrome and the more we understand ourselves the better equipped we become to heal ourselves.

    In the past I have had carpal tunnel syndrome and plantar fasciitis which I now know were more examples of TMS. They both happened during stressful times at work. And eventually went away. I didn't recognize it for what it was back then. And it was way before the internet and blogs and forums.

    We are so fortunate to have this forum and all of this education to help us.
  11. spunky

    spunky Peer Supporter

    Thank you Cat Lady 13. I had never heard of the Holmes Rahe stress level scale but I took a look at it and you are right. Wow! Really interesting. I did score very high.

    I am really, really good at "grinning and bearing it" during stressful times so I am positive that I have mountains of stress built up internally. I am trying to stay patient and positive. Getting support from this forum is really helpful. Thank you.
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  12. healingfromchronicpain

    healingfromchronicpain Well known member

    I've been off line for a little while so sorry if I'm coming to this thread late, but I just want to say, your posts remind me so much of me. I haven't dealt with PF or RSD (I ruptured a disc in my neck; had surgery; and developed myofascial pain syndrome in my neck, upper back and head regions), but as so many of us here, I went through years of trying a million things before discovering and accepting the Mindbody Connection. I just want to say, keep going, it sounds like you're doing great!

    I also know about needing to share, and as such, I created a website describing my journey (if you're interested: www.healingfromchronicpain.com). I may not be a typical/strict Sarno method patient because I ended up tapping into the deepest of my emotional stuff through mindbody myofascial release therapy (bodywork), but I know my pain is psychologically based (TMS).

    I gained huge relief when I initially understood that past trauma and emotions were feeding my pain, but I'm still working on letting go of the rest of my lingering pain. My mantra is never give up!

    And as for books, some of my favorites are the Mindbody Connection, the Divided Mind, the Great Pain Deception, Waking the Tiger (by Peter Levine), Healing Ancient Wounds (by John Barnes), and The Body Keeps the Score (by Bessel van der Kolk). And for journaling support, I liked Nicole Sachs' book and website. I list all these and others that have helped me in my journey on my website (under the resources tab).

    Keep up the good work and good luck!
    MWsunin12 likes this.
  13. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    I have found myofascial release therapy helpful -- to a point. After doing it for a while, I started to get worse. I wasn't tapping into the deepest emotional stuff with it at the time but I can understand how it would work. Thanks for sharing. I will read your website.
  14. healingfromchronicpain

    healingfromchronicpain Well known member

    Yeah, everyone is different. At first I read Sarno (in 2006) and had relief for a couple days but when my pain came back, I figured that wasn't going to work for me. I thought if my pain didn't go away by reading the book over and over (like it does for some), then it wasn't going to help me because I didn't have any psychological issues (HAHAHA!!!!!!! Now I can laugh hysterically at that!!!--but that's what I genuinely believed at the time).

    After reading Sarno, I believed the whole mindbody connection thing, but just thought I needed to try something else since "Sarno didn't work for me" (in hindsight, I'd say it was more likely subconscious denial and avoidance, but apparently this was the path I had to take to finally get to the true sources of my pain).

    Anyway, I then tried traditional MFR for about 3 months. Didn't help. Then I tried mindbody--based MFR (jfb-mfr) for 4 months and had some relief, but I plateaued. It wasn't until I did an intensive protocol of the jfb-mfr for 2 weeks of 3 sessions per day that my body finally allowed me to remember a repressed trauma that was sitting in my subconscious memory. Once I addressed that emotional trauma (and others that came up, too), then I significantly reduced my pain. I feel like I had so deeply repressed my trauma, that it took tapping into my body's muscle memory to get to the underlying truth so I could finally start to heal. I think that's why the mindbody--based jfb-mfr was so helpful to me. And now I'm back to trying to employ all the good Sarno stuff to get at the lingering pain I still have. It's been a long journey, but I continue to be hopeful that I can let go of the emotions and thoughts that work their evil in my mind and body.

    I just like to share my crooked path through mindbody healing in case it resonates with someone. We all have our own paths. Some people are lucky enough to be able to address and face their emotional burdens and be relieved of physical pain relatively quickly or on their own (by reading, journaling, and/or talking to a therapist). But sometimes, we have to find other ways to dig deep when those other methods aren't working for us. That's just been my personal experience, and I like to share it in case it can help someone else out there struggling.
    Celayne likes this.
  15. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    I had some pretty good MFR sessions. Once, the therapist was working around my tailbone and I 'randomly' remembered a time I had fallen on an icy driveway several years before. I didn't think the pain or trauma had stayed with me, but apparently it had. I went straight down when I lost my balance because I was holding my infant niece in my arms and I had to protect the baby. It was probably for the best, as flailing about with the hands can make a fall much worse.

    I have some tightness that is not improving and I have been considering finding a MFR therapist (I've moved two hours away from the one I went to before) but want to give it a chance to resolve with the Sarno methods as I've finally realized one must pick a path and follow it. I spent much of the last 8 or 9 years bouncing from bodyworker to medical professional to shrink...
  16. healingfromchronicpain

    healingfromchronicpain Well known member

    @Cricket313, I can completely relate!! I've been bouncing for almost 12 years now. I'm currently in a no therapy (talk, mindbody, or bodywork) zone and trying to do all the Sarno thinking I can.

    After my first MFR intensive, I improved dramatically. But after a car accident and two more intensives later, I still have pain. With each MFR intensive, I had diminishing returns (less pain reduction). So I've tried other things, too (talk therapy, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing). But at the moment I'm in an "if I don't try so hard, maybe I'll just get better" mode. That hasn't necessarily worked in the past, but who's to say it can't now? :)

    Good luck as you continue to forge your path toward freedom :)

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