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New to the Forum and TMS--my story

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by rooter, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. rooter

    rooter New Member

    Hello All,

    Firstly, I have to say I feel a bit odd posting here as this is a new approach for me and I'm not entirely comfortable with what I now realize is truth--I'm a TMS sufferer. I'm a 39 year old man, healthy as can be. I've lived an extroardinarily active and healthy lifestyle, highly educated, successful personally and professionally. Two years ago, I was faced with great changes in my life--most of them positive. I earned a big promotion at work and my partner of almost five years and I were buying a house and moving in together. About a week or two after moving into my new office, I was at the gym lifting weights and all of a sudden felt this terrible pain in both my hands. Typical of a TMS sufferer, I tend to be a bit obsessive and of course worried why my hands would work and was fearful that whatever injury this was would prevent me from being good at my job (which requires a lot of typing/deskwork), or being a strong man about the house. My partner is 12 years younger than I and I've always prided myself on being a physically very strong muscular man. Vain, I know, but it's me. Anyway, the burning aching pain would not subside and I became very concerned. Additionally, whenever I told anyone that both my hands had been hurting, they would look at me with concern, as though something more insidious must be at work. A few even commented, "I hope it's nothing systemic." The power of suggestion is very powerful indeed in my life and before long I had developed pain in both of my feet (while spending much time online googling my symptoms and while reading about such things as MS, ALS, rheumatiod arthritis, etc. etc. and seeing similarities in my condition). This led me to numerous doctors and through numerous tests. What was finally determined--and very shakily because most every test and exam indicated I was healthy, was that I had carpal tunnel in my hands and plantar fasciitis in my feet. However, the damage had been done and I was a nervous wreck and completely obsessed with my health, and had serious doubts about everything the doctors told me. I feared that I would soon become an invalid. In 3/11 I had carpal tunnel surgery, which did relieve my hand symptoms temporarily. However, the pain returned after the healing process and is still with me today. As far as my feet go, I for some reason had the werewithall to stop worrying about them and started running and within a week I was pain free. With my hands it hasn't been that simple. They ache constantly (except when I'm doing something that keeps me completely distracted, including lifting weights (which I've started doing again)) and I wake up every night with achiness and pain and worry. After several repeat visits to my orthopaedist, he finally just told me, "there's nothing wrong with you. You need to let this go." For most people, treatment like that from a doctor would've been an insult, but to me it was a relief. It's what brought me here to this forum.

    Writing this post it amazes me how silly I sound. All this worry for something that now seems a bit trivial, but it's been very real for me and a huge--HUGE--part of my life the last two years. I just finished the Mind Body Prescription yesterday and am excited on embarking on this journey of discovery and healing. While I do believe I'm a classic case of TMS, and while I couldn't tell you of any medical condition that would cause my symptoms, I still have this undercurrent of fear and doubt. For the first time in 2 years I feel like this is about to change and I feel a great sense of hope and excitement. I look forward to learning more from this forum and appreciate any responses and suggestions.
  2. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Welcome, rooter!

    FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real...even though you know it's TMS, it takes a while for this reality to sink in, at least for me. So it's not silly-- anxiety/obsession isn't real but can seem like it is so the challenge is to break the cycle of worry about symptoms.

    If you haven't read it yet, check out Alan Gordon's article "Breaking the Pain Cycle" http://tmswiki.org/ppd/Breaking_the_Pain_Cycle,_by_Alan_Gordon_LCSW

    Glad you are here and hope to see you around :)
    Ellen and tarala like this.
  3. rooter

    rooter New Member


    Thanks for the encouragement and the link to the Alan Gordon article. I see myself in every sentence he wrote. I think one of the hardest things to grapple with is that when you come to terms with the fact that the pain has psychological origins and you truly believe it (as I now do), then why doesn't the pain immediately go away? It's so easy to become doubtful when it continues. I've felt so empowered recently in realizing that I have nothing to worry about and I'm in the driver's seat when it comes to my mind and my emotions. For two years I've felt totally and completely out of control and I don't want to lose the empowerment.
  4. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Yes, that's hard. Well, for me the pain comes up (though to a much lesser extent than it did a few months ago) because:
    1) What generates the pain--lack of compassion for myself, repressing feelings--continues. As I work more on these issues, the pain lessens.
    2) Obsessing or thinking about pain is a habit that takes time to unlearn
    3) In the beginning it took a while for the truth of TMS to fully sink in--even though I consciously believed in it.

    I often have to remind myself that it's a process and it takes as long as it takes.
    Ellen and Livvygurl like this.
  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Rooter and Welcome to the Peer Network,

    Even though you accept the diagnosis, it can take time for the message to sink into your unconcsious. For your entire life you have held the believe that these pain symptoms are caused by some structural problem. It can take some time for the message to fully sink in. I do think becoming active again really helps hammer the message home. For me at least, exercising and being active again really led to significant improvements.

    I had chronic pain in my wrists for about 18 years. I learned about TMS in my mid thirties, and it really feels like I got my life back.

    From reading your first post, it sounds like there is a lot of change going on in your life. Even positive changes, such as getting a promotion or buying a house can lead to TMS symptoms. So many times we see these changes as only positive and fail to recongize the negative aspects of them and the new stresses they will create. We repress our unconscious anger and rage about these changes, and hence we develop TMS.

    Don't do this. As TMSers we tend to view writing out our emotions, life stresses, and simply thinking of our own needs as silly. What we are actually doing is thinking of a reason to continue to repress our emotions. Whatever you say or however you feel is valid. Learning to accept whatever emotions or thoughts we have is one of the ultimate goals to recovering.
    Ellen likes this.
  6. Pandamonium

    Pandamonium Well known member

    Welcome rooter, you don't sound silly at all, or if you think you are you are in good company with us. I suffered with chronic back pain for 10 years and it totally dominated my life. As you imply, worried words from people who care about you, or worried looks do a lot to feed our fears. Our personality type is what gets us into this mess, whereas other people can shrug things off or not be affected by them.
    You sound full of hope and optimism for the future, that's how I felt when I discovered TMS/ppd 4 years ago, and I have been pain free for 3 years now.
  7. rooter

    rooter New Member

    Hello everyone, I thought I would take the time to follow up on this thread from over a year ago! The reason I never followed up is because within a few weeks of reading The Mindbody Prescription, I had no more hand pain and was at the gym lifting heavy weights. None. Zero. Zilch. It's the most remarkable thing to me that I suffered so, wore braces, and even endured surgery, only to find that once I made some acceptances about myself, particularly my vulnerability, that I was cured. No one was a bigger skeptic than myself.

    Now, the downside to my story is that TMS hasn't really gone away. Now I have pain in other areas of my body, and have still made a couple of trips to the doctor for this symptom or that symptom, which have all proved to be TMS. My mind is a beast to tame. Thanks again for all the support!
  8. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    Hi Rooter, and welcome back. Being convinced that TMS can really be the cause of physical pain was the biggest obstacle for me, and you sound like that has really sunk in for you. Give yourself a big hug from all of us, treat yourself with love, and you are on your way.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Rooter, you've come a long way toward healing. You may need to do more thinking about
    past or present repressed emotions to relieve pain in other parts of your body.
    Dr. Sarno says it can move around, especially when your unconscious mind is stating
    to get the messages you're sending it, that your pain is psychological and not physical.
    That's the big one. Good luck. You're doing great.
  10. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Rooter, Great to hear your follow up! I'm new to all this stuff but have already seen some amazing victories over my 20 year battle with my TMS induced pain. Hearing stories like yours remind me that victory is possible long term....but the battles may pop up here and there.
    I know you'll come out on top of your latest symptoms. Good on you!
    Ellen likes this.

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