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Myriad of Symptoms; currently ankle pain, insomnia and finger swelling

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Darcy, Dec 17, 2021.

  1. Darcy

    Darcy New Member


    This is my first time posting so apologies if it is in the wrong place. And my very apologies for the long post. I am a 24-year-old male, athlete, and PhD student. Over the last couple of years, I have been suffering a myriad of symptoms, that started after a particularly traumatic period of my life.

    I hope it is fine if I share some details: I am a closeted gay who has been suffering reconciling my identity with my religion and (relatively) conservative upbringing in the Middle East. Just for clarification, I am not a homophobe or anything and I have lots of gay friends, it is just a problem when it comes to me. I have lately realized that this has been causing me a variety of emotions, from anger (ex. why did God create me like this if homosexuality is not 'allowed'), to extreme guilt, and fear of the future. Normally, I just distract myself by overindulging in achieving in school and in sports. A couple of years, out of anger/ loneliness, I indulged in some form of sexual activity with a guy. Without going into details, the whole process was slightly traumatic (not everything was consensual), but more importantly, I felt an immense amount of guilt, as well as fear of catching STDs that could ruin my life (I have tested for months after and nothing was there). Shortly after, I started experiencing horrible pain in my lower right abdomen, urethrisis, horrible gastrointestinal symptoms, weird rashes, and sausage swelling of my fingers that were really painful, along with pain in some other joints. I attributed this to a germ that I must have caught from the guy or an autoimmune disorder, and I started an endless journey of testing for months (went to every possible doctor) while I was in one of the most stressful college semesters. Long story short, there was nothing, except for a a swollen lymph node in my abdomen, and a 'parasite' in my stool when I went to a functional medicine doctor that the other doctors told me is just bogus. Apart from occasional high inflammatory markers, all blood tests were normal. The colonoscopy was normal and the bacterial/viral tests were negative.

    It was extremely stressful dealing with those symptoms while not dealing the event and associated guilt, and a stressful semester (I was in undergrad back then). Then, during a basketball game, I developed a severe back pain, and I kept pushing through. The next day I woke up with immense pain. I had sciatica, my left leg strength was practically non-existent, and over the months I couldn't do any sports or sit for more than 10 minutes, so I required a standing desk for my final exams and my internship. I started seeing chiropractors and physical therapists, and one of the back doctors requested an MRI which revealed 3 disc herniations in the lower discs compressing the sciatic nerve and some other stuff I could not remember. Sports was (is) a big part of my life so I kept asking when will I get back to sports and I remember the answer from the chiropractor: you will be lucky if you get back on the elliptical machine. This was absolutely frustrating. The doctor I saw home was the same doctor who operated on my twin brother (which in retrospect I am confident he had TMS) and said he would rather not operate on me. One of the other doctors that my brother saw in the US gave my brother Sarno's book (which my brother did not bother to read and proceeded with the surgery). The book was lying there and my mother gave it to me, which caused my immense anger (hello, didn't you hear the doctor discuss all the wrong things in my back)? I asked the doctors whether or not it is a coincidence that my back and my joints (especially my fingers) flared up around the same time, to which they said yes it probably was. By then was doing whatever sports I was 'allowed' to do that didn't jar or bend the spine by then, like swimming.

    I took a cortisone shot in my back, which really relieved the pain, before it came back again when one of the other physical therapists specializing in spinal realignment (yes I had a whole team) made me do a move that retriggered the muscle spasms. When I went to a massage session (I can't remember the type, but it was one of those slow non-aggressive ones), I remember when he was working on my lower back I just started crying, and some of the feelings of guilt and shame and fear came out. I went back to my dorm, my eyes landed Sarno's book, and as everyone here says ( but was actually very true for me), I found myself on every page. I gradually started going back to the sports I love (mainly basketball and yoga). The back pain did not completely disappear but was so so much better. The sciatica leg weakness never came back. After intense basketball games, my back would spasm for a few days, but I could not care. I have to say I did not (am not consistently doing) the journaling exercises, which is a shortcoming of my own. The fingers returned to their normal size(ish), except one finger on my left hand that is swelling and painful up to this day (I also have a very cold hand on that side of the finger).

    I still had bouts of gastrointestinal symptoms and pain in the next year, especially during stressful moments, and as I was dealing with sources of conflict that I did not address, but it wasn't as interfering with my life as before.

    This year, I was still trying to face issues of identity and sexuality. I had to do a sinus/septum deviation surgery (my first ever surgery) due to troubles breathing, shortly after which I got Covid (along with my father), and also got my heart-broken my the first guy I have ever dated. This was a very stressful period for me, and I had to take care of my father and grandmother and I had to take multiple antibiotic doses (which I know mess up the gut) due to severe sinus infections. The following months were absolutely horrible, characterized my extreme gastrointestinal symptoms (mostly resolved now) and extreme insomnia (not resolved), all while I was in my first year of my (virtual) PhD.

    I was playing basketball with the university team (I moved from the US to the UK where graduate students are allowed to play). I developed this pain in my right ankle after one of the games. The day after I had an ingrown nail surgery scheduled (not TMS but because of me wearing very tight shoes), and the recovery and complications were not easy. All during that time, the issue of facing my sexual identity was coming up stronger and stronger (I was 23, was very lonely, and wondered till how long can I keep up with this). I returned to basketball after month of the surgery, and during friendly games my ankle would hurt a lot. There was no sprain or fracture (although I have to say I have sprained and fractured my ankles, especially this one, more than I can remember in the past). I would play an intense game then rest for 3 weeks. I was told I have a weak/strained tendon.

    When the big game came, as I was warming up, a jumped for a dunk, landed on my right foot, felt my ankle could not hold my weight, so I twisted my right knee and then bumped it on the ground. After multiple doctor speculations (a torn meniscus and contusion), when I finally did the MRI back home, it revealed a torn ACL, LCL , a couple of small fractures and other stuff. This was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. Luckily, one of the last doctors I saw (the best in the region they say), said the knee is quite very swollen and inflamed, and sometimes the MRI looks worse than it actually is. He said apparently there is a heavy bone contusion visible, and I should limit weight bearing on that leg and repeat the MRI 2-3 months later. I was also having a horrible ankle pain (though the XRAY and MRI looked absolutely normal apart from a 'bony island' that has been there years ago from a previous bone fracture). I started swimming a lot per the doctor's orders, when I saw him again he said I should start lifting weights on my leg (I did lose a lot of muscle), and when I mentioned my ankle he took a look and said I should start wearing foot inserts due to the drop in the arch or something.

    Luckily, when I redid the MRI, all the knee ligaments were fine, there was something in the report called (Ostochondritis Dessicans of the lateral femoral condyle), but when the doctor saw it he said it residual bone bruising and I should start(gradually) getting back to normal physical activity (ex. start running in straight lines, and gradually add intensity and other movements).

    The knee pain (and cracking) was still there but it started getting better with motion. The physical therapist I saw also said the knee is fine(ish) and I should start getting back to sports. Yet my ankle still hurts. The sole insoles kind of helped the pain the right ankle and wearing them caused pain in the left ankle. Till now I have been dealing (not dealing), or more like be in conflict with a lot of stuff, including my virtual PhD programme and topic (which I really really don't like, it feels like it is sucking my soul recently), my screwed up family relationships, as well as my identity and sexuality as a gay man. My pain in my pinky finger (the only swollen finger now) has resurfaced after I started seeing this guy (could or could not be a coincidence), and my ankle pain is still present. I could notice a marked difference in the strength between the pain-free and painful ankle (ex. if I try to do a single leg heel test), and I have read online that such pain and weakness and drop in the arch is caused by posterior tibial tendinopathy, which is a progressive condition and requires insoles.

    I guess my question is, given that I have experienced (and overcome some) TMS symptoms, could there be something wrong with my ankle (as well as my swollen finger) and my horrible recent insomnia, or is it just TMS; I really want to get back to sports, which is occasionally anxiety-causing but very enjoyable for me), but I am afraid that if I ignore the ankle pain the condition will only get worse. Will journalling really help? I am recently aware I carry a lot of emotions but as I said I haven't really embarked on consistent journalling as I don't like the idea of revisiting/over-analyzing stuff; but if it really helps it could be something I want to try.

    My extreme apologies for the divergence and the long post, I was just writing things as they occurred to my mind.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2021
  2. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Al the symptoms you describe (foot drop, swelling, muscle weakness, pain) can be TMS, and many people on this forum healed from those symptoms, although may be not from exactly the same set of symptoms in exactly same location, which is not important from the TMS viewpoint. What matters is that your emotional rollercoaster clearly can predispose you for TMS.
  3. fridaynotes

    fridaynotes Well known member

    indeed, most of the symptoms you describe have been healed through TMS work. start thinking psychologically~ soothe your nervous system~ take a long hard look at your life. you can do it! you can be pain free. but it’s not always so quick and easy. you’ve got to commit to the hard work. there is light at the end of the tunnel!
    TG957 likes this.

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