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My TMS success story

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by Colly, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Good day readers. I'm new to this site but have been checking in for almost a year now since discovering Dr Sarno and the term 'TMS'. I've had TMS for over twenty years and am now almost completely pain free, all thanks Dr Sarno, Steve Ozanich’s book “The Great Pain Deception” and TMS wiki forum.

    My story starts in London at the age of twenty one. I had moved from my home town of Dublin (Ireland), and unbeknownst to me was struggling with homesickness. My sisters were my best friends, but my so-called best friend at university had coaxed me away to spread my wings, and all the while I was screaming 'NO' inside. Fortunately, I found work in the music industry and was blessed working with a delightful group of fellow music-lovers who quickly became my new family. It was such a joyful and vibrant place to work. I shared an office with my boss the Accountant. He was a very clever and fun guy and we worked really well together, sharing laughs every day.

    Then things took a turn… He took me to several concerts, and while I thought nothing of it he interpreted it as me being attracted to him. Once he realised I was not interested the atmosphere in that little office became awful and I started to dread going into work. It broke my heart as I absolutely loved working there.

    During this period, I came down with shingles, which knocked me out for a few weeks. Then out of the blue, I started getting really bad foot pain, in the ball of my right foot. I had always loved walking and would commonly walk the 10k's home from work. I enjoyed tennis and badminton regularly, so this pain abruptly stopped me in my tracks. Being proactive I went to the famous Harley street (supposedly housing the best medical brains in England). My first few appointments with the podiatrist went well, as I had high hopes that a bit of prodding and ultrasound would do the job. As the weeks went by, I became more and more desperate, as my pain has not diminished. After a dozen visits I remember leaving the podiatrist after receiving a curt dismissal from him, essentially he not believing my condition had not improved. I felt hurt, helpless and frightened, as this was starting to impact greatly on my life.

    Several other Harley Street so-called specialists later and considerably poorer I was worse, as not only had my pain continued, but added to this pain was the discomfort of orthotics, which squashed my feet in my shoes and left me hobbling around. All walking journeys now required planning and kept to a minimum, any running around the tennis court left to the memory, and I my despair deepened.

    During this period I met my now husband and we toyed with the idea of moving to Australia to start a new life together. I recall a week before my first flight to Australia for a holiday to test the waters, my foot pain intensified.

    Western Australia was paradise, with the most stunning beaches and skies a deep blue day after day. I was smitten. We packed up and moved to the sun drenched country. While my foot pain continued, I was happily distracted in my new country, enjoying the outdoor lifestyle of swimming every day. Swimming gave me a new freedom and I enthusiastically embraced this new hobby. After one year I received news of my older sister's wedding, and was excited by the prospect of returning home for this wonderful occasion. For some insane reason, I thought me going home after only one year in Australia would be too unsettling so I decided not to go. This proved to be a very bad decision. I suffered deep regret and sadness over this.

    I continued on as normal in my efforts to settle into my new country, but started getting knee pain, in both knees, which I thought very odd. Off I went to a rheumatologist, and, to my shock found myself being poked and prodded in my shoulders and lower back. I was then told I had Fibromyalgia, given a pamphlet of this 'disease' and sent on my merry way, after emptying my pockets again.

    I remember reading the symptoms on my journey home and thinking they had given me an incorrect diagnosis. I hadn't (at that stage) the multitude of symptoms listed, and only pain in my knees. I promptly rang them back whereupon was informed the other symptoms would "kick in in the next few months"!

    I spent the next few months anxiously awaiting the arrival of these symptoms, and they happily obliged… Chronic headaches, intense pain in my upper back like a feeling of a lead weight on my shoulders and chronic insomnia were a few of the many symptoms which had arrived. One night while staring at the ceiling I recall feeling a numb leg, which was terrifying, as my youngest sister had not long ago been diagnosed with MS. My foot pain - the loyal companion - was ever present, but now I had all this other pain to deal with. Life became a real struggle by then, but somehow, instinctively I felt that movement was the key to dealing with this, despite feeling on some days that movement was the last thing I could do.

    I decided to join a swimming club, which forced me to commit to five nights a week in the pool swimming to the demands and barking orders of the coach. Some nights felt excruciating, but I was determined to push through. Had I not been in the club I wouldn't have pushed myself anywhere near as hard, but keeping up with the other swimmers and making the coach happy became my focus. I cannot recall when the Fibromyalgia disappeared. It wasn't sudden; more like a slow melting ice berg…

    By this stage, living in Australia I had seen several additional orthopaedic surgeons about getting my foot operated on. I recall having several MRI's and some weird scan where I had to drink dye, with each of them showing up nothing. Most of these surgeons had appalling interpersonal skills, and each visit left me feeling even more desperate and dejected.

    On one occasion one specialist - who I managed to catch on a good day – invited me to attend an information sharing session with other specialists. I was thrilled at the opportunity to have my mystery foot condition examined by several medical specialists, so off I hobbled. My hopes however, were quickly dashed as I watched the blank and head-scratching expressions from the panel of experts. I left the room completely broken. By now my foot had a permanent pinkish colour, distinctly different to the other foot, and was told it would be unlikely I would be able to go under the knife as it looked like I had Sympathetic Dystrophy in my foot.

    I did have one win however: I had beaten Fibromyalgia. The neurologist who had initially confirmed my Fibro diagnosis congratulated me saying that it was rare to beat Fibromyalgia and I was one of the lucky ones. At that point I hadn't connected the joy of swimming and my recovery. If only I had realised this I would have saved myself from another ten years of pain…

    Another win was to follow, well a win of sorts: I had found a surgeon willing to cut open my foot and remove the nerve, hoping that this would resolve the pain. Under I went and, initially happy though sore from the operation, the pain quickly returned.

    I must add that I was working in a job at the time which was very demanding, in a very competitive back-stabbing and toxic work environment. I worked in a male-dominated division, and in order to fit in I had to be “one of the boys” or received harassment. They even called me “Jimmy” as they couldn’t deal with me being female. I was constantly on edge and not myself. Guess what: goodbye Fibro; hello back pain!

    Back pain then consumed my life for several years. Many visits to physiotherapists and Chinese doctors followed. One Chinese doctor was very creative. He would apply an acupressure pen for several seconds, maybe as five or ten max, and then send his patients on their way. His waiting room was always full to the brim and he had a lovely shiny Porsche parked outside; hey nice work if you can get it. I tried this treatment desperately believing he was performing miracles. I also tried a radical physio treatment which involved me lying on what looked like a medieval torture table, while my spine got stretched. It’s almost funny now thinking back, but it was no laughing matter then. I ended up in a 'Pain Management clinic' feeling like a freak, and agreeing to nerve block treatment, which thankfully I pulled out of at the last minute.

    Apart from my swimming I developed my skills in singing and got involved in singing classical and folk regularly. The back pain came and went yet I never stopped to think about what had made it go away, only to return with a vengeance; sometimes with the most innocuous movement like reaching for a saucepan whilst cooking. I rarely had back pain when singing though… once again, I didn't draw the connection.

    Off we moved again; this time to Melbourne (Eastern Australia), and though foot pain was ever present, my back pain was under control, with - in my opinion - my new found physio wisdom and daily stretches.

    What then followed was a multitude of other ailments, some of which were: TMJ (put down to too much opera singing), crippling neck pain (put down to awkward sleeping on cold mattress whilst camping), anal pain (which felt like a golf ball had got accidentally lodged there, and not put down to anything strange I assure you)! The list goes on: Tinnitus, Reynaud’s and especially scary - Arrhythmia. I can pinpoint exactly what triggered my Arrhythmia, and this should have been my light bulb moment, but I missed it again.

    My fear of walking persisted but I decided to take on a 14k walk with some outdoorsy friends, not wanting to miss out on some fun. I became very anxious for several weeks before the walk, then attempted the walk fretting every kilometre "are we there yet", and the morning after woke up to crippling pain (Planter Fasciitis) in BOTH feet! It continued for several months until it suddenly vanished one day. Once again, I should have had that Eureka moment realising I had brought on and switched off my pain, but no, I still didn't get it.

    During my Planter Fasciitis days I had the biggest sign of TMS healing staring me in the face. My friend had been doing EFT and believed in the mindbody connection, and one day when I was venting I “couldn’t stand” a certain group I was singing with (long story), she replied “Colly, listen to yourself, you’re saying you “can’t stand blah blah, but look down at your feet – see, you can’t stand”!

    It was late November 2012, and I was involved in a hugely stressful project at work, working in a profession I was never that excited about and in a very responsible role. Critical and multiple deadlines and a relentlessly hostile environment became unbearable. I recall the moment when another bomb dropped… it was the middle of a meeting, feeling overwhelmed, when I felt unbearable pain in my shoulder. It was so debilitating I couldn't function. I took two weeks off due to stress, but told my work it was RSI to avoid the stigma of me being labelled for my stress.

    I had spent the previous few years with so many symptoms which came and went, but this one hit me like a train. I felt out of control and helpless not knowing what sort of work environment I would be returning to in such a condition.

    After an intensive week of Alexander Technique and almost a grand worse off, with no improvement, I went to a sauna one chilly day to soothe my pain. Sitting on the upper bench was a guy dripping in sweat, looking like a seasoned sauna goer. We got chatting, and, as often happens in saunas (or as I call the secular confessional box), we both opened up about our lives. I told him about my pain and he looked at me saying, "you know we only ever use about 10% of our body's ability to heal ourselves; so you can harness that other 90% if you want to". Those words sounded like Big Ben going off. I left feeling intrigued and slightly excited. Being this desperate I was so ready to hear this, and I rushed home, brewed a cuppa tea and tapped into Google" RSI success stories".

    I watched several ‘you tubes’ and each of them mentioned the Dr Sarno. I promptly ordered "The Mindbody prescription" on 'Audible', not willing to wait for the book to arrive from Amazon. While listening to the reader's voice, I started churning through all the issues in my life contributing to my pain. The constant longing to be home had never left me, and each move took me further away from those I loved most. I also realised I had unresolved issues with my father which I had not addressed. We had never developed a close bond, and I had spent my life missing and craving this.

    These were the two dominant reasons for my pain, and the stress of working in a profession I'm good at but not passionate about, contributed also. The multitude of symptoms I had over the years left me in a constant state of fear of anticipating something else hurting. Waiting for this pain was me inviting it in.

    My Dr Sarno discovery and subsequent insight came just before Christmas 2012. I quickly embraced his TMS teachings, and made some decisions about how I would manage the stress at work on my return. Not fearing my pain anymore and with my plan for recovery set in motion I flew to Western Australia to see my relatives, and two days into my holiday I suddenly realised my shoulder pain had disappeared completely.

    That's when it hit me. I had started the recovery, and I would heal myself. I promptly ordered several other books to swot up on TMS healing techniques. One of these was Steve Ozanich's 'The Great Pain Deception'. The cover looked a little scary, but having flicked through it I thought I'd give it a go, after all this was an account of another real person who had their own TMS battle and had recovered. This book was so compelling I couldn't put it down! Every page resonated with me. His unimaginable suffering and ultimate recovery was astonishing.

    By then I was walking short distances but was still very tentative. Then one day while reading Steve’s book, I turned the page to reveal the section about Steve having watched a Nike commercial "Just do it" and this motivating him, despite his disabling pain, to run around the block. This was like a bolt of lightning! With my heart pounding hard, I closed the book, and sat staring at the wall for a minute visualising myself running. His courage was contagious, and every fibre in my body was fired up and ready. I got off the couch, put on my runners and out I went. Despite having spent the previous twenty years fearful of just walking, I decided to stare down my fear and shuffled around the 2k circuit without stopping. I didn’t care who saw me doing my granny-shuffle, I just kept going. With a surge of euphoria I fell into the house laughing and crying. My recovery had taken a massive leap forward!

    I've been running almost every day since, building up distance in small increments. I've suffered pain along the way but told myself it's okay and to keep going. My fear of pain no longer consumes me, though the early set-backs did dent my confidence. I've just signed up for my first ever 5K run and my goal is to run a 10K run in Dublin with my sisters in 2015.

    Steve Ozanich has been an enormous help to me, always encouraging and motivating me to keep going. I'm forever grateful for his help and guidance, and keep his book on hand at all times.

    In summary: my back, neck, shoulder and Fibromyalgia pain is gone, TMJ and Tinnitus is gone also. My circulation has improved with exercise and I no longer have the pinkish hue to my foot. My Arrhythmia comes and goes, but no longer scares me, plus have had cardio checks and received a clean bill of health. My anal pain is gone (phew) and Planter Fasciitis too. I do get a few twinges here and there, but I talk to my pain (yes occasionally out loud), and tell it off sometimes, and it too passes. When pain arrives, I always shift my focus to what’s happening in my day, or week that could be creating this distraction. I have cherry-picked many useful tips from Steve’s book and the TMS forum, and keep a notebook of these pearls of wisdom to refer to in times of need. I also use imagery and visualisation techniques a lot, for example, an image of me running freely, growing in strength with every run. I enjoy the ache of sore muscles after my run, knowing that this is my body growing in strength. It’s so exciting to be this free, but it’s a constant work-in-progress, and I’m excited about the learning that lies ahead.

    I wanted to write this story to show that the belief in TMS healing and an unwavering determination to heal is paramount, and a joy of life and freedom of movement will quickly follow.

    If I ever meet Mr sauna man in the street I will run up to him and hug him, though it's very unlikely I would recognise him with his clothes on hahaha!

    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
  2. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle


    This is a fantastic success story. Well done you! Thank heavens you met Sauna Guy but I thought the doc who told you to wait for the fibro symptoms to show up should be struck off the medical register. That was outrageous. Still, you recovered and that's the important thing. It's heartening to read that you see this journey as a work in progress but are still enjoying your life to the full. :)
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  3. Sheree

    Sheree Well known member

    I love to hear success stories and yours is very uplifting. You approached it with such a positive attitude and I am so glad that your life has been transformed. I often think how wonderful it would be if governments were to take Dr Sarno's method on board. How much money could be saved! In the UK (where I am) the health service wouldn't have to worry about shortage of funds anymore. Sadly this seemed a long way off - instead we get sent to "pain clinics". Even the name gives off such negative vibes, what hope does it give us. Still, I am just VERY VERY grateful to have stumbled across TMS online (no sauna man for me) and hope to be as well as you in the not so distant future.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  4. sarah430

    sarah430 Peer Supporter

    Love this! I also found Steve's book very empowering. I should probably ready it again. Thank you for sharing your story. Good reminder for me that TMS healing is a work in progress.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  5. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Aw thank you all for your feedback, you’re all so kind! Yes yb44, I’m not sure where I would be now if I hadn’t met Mr Sauna man... Though all it took was one ‘Google’ search to unlock this discovery. Yes Sheree, can you imagine the backlash from the medical community if David Cameron rolled out a new medical paradigm - there’d be riots on Harley street haha! I couldn’t believe my luck too when I discovered this amazing forum, and am so grateful too for all those contributing here. America is so far ahead of UK and Australia in this field, and they even have their own TMS physicians! I looked up TMS practitioners last year and there’s only one listed in Australia, about a ten minute walk from my house by sheer luck! Yes Sarah, it’s thanks to Steve’s book that I’m running now. While Dr Sarno’s theory ignited the search for answers, it was Steve’s own recovery story that got me off the couch to challenge and overcome my fears. There’s something so powerful about getting that personal account of someone’s suffering and recovery, something that no theory book can cut through, and I’m so grateful to Steve Ozanich for the time, sweat and tears it took to write his story.
  6. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love this story Colly. The best healing story I've ever read. You know exactly everything you needed to do and you did it/ just do it.
    Thank You so much, Yes Steves Book is Awesome.
    Bless You
    G.R. likes this.
  7. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    Well done and thank you so much for sharing your story. I am slowly getting the better of my TMS, which has been around in various ways for many years and stories like yours really boost my confidence that it can be done.
    'Anticipating something else hurting' and 'waiting for this pain was me inviting it in,' has been so much my own experience and is something I'm trying very hard to overcome.
    I've been to a very successful Harley St practice too with no improvement however, I really rate the physio I saw there because after a few sessions he told me that there was actually nothing wrong with my body and that my problem stemmed from faulty beliefs about movement. He wasn't a 'Sarnoist' but I went on from that to find my way there.
    I think Sauna Man was your Guardian Angel!
  8. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you Herbie, that’s a lovely compliment! I’m so pleased that it might help others in their recovery. I’ve helped a couple of friends already by putting them onto Dr Sarno and Steve Ozanich’s books and they are now pain-free too. Their healing reinforces my healing. Yes Solange, the fear factor for me was like a constant drum beat, and even now when I get set-backs, that nagging doubt rears its head, so that’s why I say it’s work-in-progress, as it requires constant brain training. It’s no different to physical fitness, which requires daily exercise. Both areas excite me, as there’s so much more to discover, and I’m hungry to learn. I’m delighted you found a physio that was open enough to explore the minbody as one.
  9. Mermaid

    Mermaid Well known member

    Hi Colly

    What a wonderful inspirational story. Congratulations on your recovery !
  10. G.R.

    G.R. Well known member

    Thank you for taking the time to write your story; it is so inspiring!!!!
  11. nancy

    nancy Well known member

    I feel so very happy for you, job well done! Now enjoy and spoil yourself!!
  12. LindaRK

    LindaRK Well known member

    Thank you for taking the time to share your journey. Your story is truly inspirational to me!
    Colly likes this.
  13. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Colly, what an inspiring story. Thank you so much for posting your riveting account; I could relate to many aspects of it.

    Thank you for encouraging all of us! Hugs from the US
    Eric "Herbie" Watson and Colly like this.
  14. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Your story is amazing, Colly! And so inspirational to me because I am dealing with many similar TMS symptoms...neck & shoulder pain, headaches, TMJ with terrible jaw pain, Tinnitus, Raynaud's...essentially all over body pain. I know that I will one day write a success story of my own because I believe so strongly in TMS healing and I, too, have that "unwavering determination" to heal. Thank you!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  15. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Mermaid, GR, Nancy, Linda, North Star & Honeybear thank you for your lovely comments! This forum contributed significatly to my recovery last year, so I'm delighted to be part of this wonderful community now.

    Honeybear, when pain strikes, reflect on what is bothering you, and why. Tell your pain that you know why it’s trying to distract you. Be kind to yourself. Never beat yourself up. Surround yourself with fun things and people. Enjoy some fresh air, nourishing food, and early nights. I try to switch off TV, computers and phones for an hour before sleep and find a comfortable floor, a yoga mat, and good music to zone out to. Even if I don’t do too much stretching, I try to hold a few stretches and run through images of feeling refreshed and energized the following day. Sometimes even with all this your pain will hang around. There’s no magic bullet, but I recall each time I overcame my TMS it usually coincided with a settled feeling about work or relationships, and when things got painful it usually coincided with me feeling unsettled with the same two areas in my life. The aim is to find harmony with those significant people in your life and work, and harmony will free you from pain.

    Hugs from Australia North Star!
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  16. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Colly, your inspirational post gave me a great idea. I'm going to write my glowing success story. :) I'm not there yet but I'm almost giddy thinking about just writing it from my future self.

    And I love your admonishment to "never beat yourself up" because it echoes the dream I had last night. That inner bully needs to be dealt with gently…not with force and abuse.

    Hugs from Down Under received! :)
    Ellen and Eric "Herbie" Watson like this.
  17. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member


    I almost had to laugh when I read the first sentence of your post, then I felt like crying. I still have pain ALL THE TIME. I have pretty much been doing all of this for a very long time, but the key for me, I think, what is keeping me in pain, is the "feeling unsettled in relationships"...namely with my mother. More than anything, I believe it is how I "feel" about myself for the feelings I have about her (and my father) ...how I judge myself and feel shame for those feelings. I am working very hard not to do this, but the situation with her is complex and the overwhelming feeling of responsibility carried all my life for her is refusing to get out of the driver's seat. Stephen Konenna's book, Use Your Mind To Heal Your Body is crucial for me, but it is a slow process.
    G.R. and Eric "Herbie" Watson like this.
  18. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Honeybear, I’m so sorry to hear about your pain and suffering. A friend of mine after a lifetime of trauma and suffering (with a similar story to yours), had great success with an EFT therapist. She herself then went on to become one herself. She practices EFT on herself daily and this has helped her enormously. When she was training I offered to be her patient, and we explored my father issues. By the end of the session I had accepted and forgiven my Dad for his flaws, knowing deep down he loved me, though could never express this. Having avoided him for twenty years by living overseas, I flew home late last year and initiated contact with him. He was very grateful of the effort I had made, and while sitting around the family table one afternoon, just listening to him – really listening - a lifetime of tension between us melted away. Prior to this I was dismissive and resentful of him being the angry Dad all the time, but now I realize that his anger is his frustration in not being able to communicate his feelings. Once I forgave him for this, a flooding of compassion washed over me, and with harmony restored my health improved.

    There’s a famous quote: ‘There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love’. If you can’t forgive, then this could be holding you back. Also forgive yourself for any shame you have felt. We’re all flawed, but that’s what makes us human.

    North Star I look forward very much to reading your success story you giddy girl!

    Ellen and North Star like this.
  19. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is such a great reply. I have 1 question Colly. Sauna Man is DR. Sarno right. Did you make that name up for him? I think its really cool.
  20. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle


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