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Newbie, could this be TMS?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by SSG, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. SSG

    SSG Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone. I will try to make this as brief as possible. I'm currently suffering from severe anxiety, calf pain, and some muscle twitching. From what I can best tell, this all began last summer after having a very stressful school year with my fifth grade son, stressful year of work, and then being told I have basal cell cancer on my head. I have always been a health worrier. I proceeded to have what I thought were swollen lymph nodes, but were later thought to be TMJ. Later that summer I started to feel tingling in my hands and my mind went crazy with worry. I finally went back to the doctor (after going several times to various doctors and having various tests) in October and started a antidepressant. I had a severe reaction to this medicine so I went to the ER. They did a brain MRI which showed lesions that were non-specific but in the areas of possible MS. I saw a two neurologists, had spinal tap, more MRIs, nerve testing, vision test, etc. Basically one neuro said this is probably anxiety, but you have a 10% chance of this being MS...only time will tell. The other neuro said they were not impressed with brain MRI and felt sure this is not MS. Since October all of my symptoms have left, but I developed calf pain in right leg and muscle twitching (which started in Oct). I have wondered all along if my mind had something to do with this...before my MRI, when I went in for anxiety, the PC said I if this was MS...you would only have pain on your right side...immediately my right arm and leg began to hurt. Since I have explored everything from food allergies to celiac to thryoid , I 've had xrays, MRIs and ultrasounds. Everything comes back normal. I have started some new medicine for anxiety and depression, which seems to have helped at first a little, but never has my calf pain gone away. I think about it ALL the time. I wish I didn't, but I'm thinking about it every step I take. Here is the odd thing...it only hurts when I'm walking...not running, dancing around, jumping or even marching! It is a little sore after running, and my fear of it effecting my running has started to slightly effect my running. I have read Dr. Sarno's book, and I do feel some temporary (less pain) relief when thinking about it being psychology based and not physical, but it has never left me for more than 30 minutes (one night for an entire evening). I would love to know other people's thoughts and opinions!! Thank you!
     
    North Star likes this.
  2. SSG

    SSG Peer Supporter

    Oh, one more thing! Since this pain occurs only when I'm walking...I now critique and analyze every step. This has been going on for months and I've come to the point where I don't even remember how to walk correctly on my right leg. Too much pressure, not enough pressure, heal-toe. Has this happened to anyone else?
     
  3. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi SSG,

    So first of all, as of course you realize, a diagnose of MS is very serious...but it sounds like the experts you are speaking with have some serious doubts that it is what is happening. However, this lingering doubt about the source of your issues can often make it very difficult to really accept that your pain is non-structural. What I'm seeing is a lot of reactive pain. Pain in response to a stressful year from your son, tingling as soon as you are informed of the possibility of feeling it from MS.

    I think the main issue here is the worrying and obsession you are putting on it. Constantly monitoring pain is a very sure way to reinforce it and continue to create the anxious thoughts associated with symptoms. This is, after all, the purpose of the pain. To keep you preoccupied and anxious. As long as symptom flare-ups are able to create that kind of reaction for you, they will continue to appear and have a large degree of power over you.

    One thing I am unclear about, you said you were diagnosed with basal cell cancer. Is this still present or did you get it taken care of?
     
  4. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi SSG,

    So first of all, as of course you realize, a diagnose of MS is very serious...but it sounds like the experts you are speaking with have some serious doubts that it is what is happening. However, this lingering doubt about the source of your issues can often make it very difficult to really accept that your pain is non-structural. What I'm seeing is a lot of reactive pain. Pain in response to a stressful year from your son, tingling as soon as you are informed of the possibility of feeling it from MS.

    I think the main issue here is the worrying and obsession you are putting on it. Constantly monitoring pain is a very sure way to reinforce it and continue to create the anxious thoughts associated with symptoms. This is, after all, the purpose of the pain. To keep you preoccupied and anxious. As long as symptom flare-ups are able to create that kind of reaction for you, they will continue to appear and have a large degree of power over you.

    One thing I am unclear about, you said you were diagnosed with basal cell cancer. Is this still present or did you get it taken care of?
     
  5. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, SSG. I've read your posts and Alex's excellent replies and my thinking your symptoms are from TMS,
    enhanced by fear that something is structurally causing them. Try not to let fear make your pain greater, and don't let fear of pain in walking develop into a conditioned reflex. Your subconscious is using fear of walking to distract you from discovering the repressed emotions causing your pain.

    It won't be easy to stop being fearful or to discover those repressed emotions, but you can do it. Lots and lots of us have.

    You might watch the video Steve Ozanich posted about eMotion which explains all this better than I could:

    http://tmswiki.org/forum/threads/e-motion.4181/
     
  6. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have a buddy who I've known for years who told me he has MS. He is one of the fittest people I know! He runs everyday and I've never heard him complain of any ailments. He has the TMS personality and takes care of his aging father and has a girlfriend that he does not seem that happy with.

    From what I've seen of the MS dx , I think it's like many of the other dx's like lymes, CFS, fibro, etc. that docs fishing around for a structural a explanation for TMS use. Modern industrial medicine is very good at dx'ing real problems. If they can't find anything concretely medically treatable, it may well be TMS. No one comes here first.
     
  7. SSG

    SSG Peer Supporter

    Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond. I have been working through Dr. Schubiner's Unlearn Your Pain. It is helping me to discover some definite emotions that I have repressed...so far no major breakthrough with calf pain. I have an appt in Sept with John Hopkins to rule out MS. I think I have a HUGE fear of MS, and just need to hear that I am healthy. Hopefully these specialist can rule it out once and for all. I am also seeing a psychologist who practices mind/body medicine, and who has been hypnotizing me to help relieve the pain. I would love to hear thoughts on this. I can walk some with little to know pain, but as soon as my mind thinks about the pain...it comes back. It's almost like I am subconsciously tightening certain muscles, because by the end of the day, my leg aches (different from walking pain). My therapist says I have developed a mental rut of pain when walking. Walt, you mentioned a conditioned reflex...any suggestions how to break this reflex? Thanks again!
     
    North Star likes this.
  8. SSG

    SSG Peer Supporter

    Oh, by the way...had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Schubiner briefly! He was very kind and helpful to start me on this journey! Thank you!
     
    North Star likes this.
  9. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh, SSG, I feel for you! The most severe and longest lasting of my TMS has been calf pain. I could write a chapter on it. The treatments, the anxiety, the PAIN!!!
    At one time, I thought I had MS. I used to be a nurse so my medical background really fueled my fear imaginations. (My doc said it was STRESS but I still insisted on tests.)

    I actually drove 2,000 miles one way to see Dr. Schubiner last month. Even though my fibro diagnosis and long history of chronic pain convinced me it was TMS, I really felt like I needed to take such a big and costly step to sweep away any lingering doubts. Seeing him was worth it. He has assuaged my fear and reminded me I CAN NOT HURT MYSELF WALKING! (I have been afraid of rupturing my Achilles tendons because they knot up quite dramatically.)

    You are on the beginning of your healing journey and you are doing all the right things. Try to turn off the drama in your head and throw yourself into education on TMS. Speak aloud to your brain. Remind yourself of the clean medical reports. And btw…*worse* case scenario - MS comes in many flavors and even if you did have it, it can be very mild with no symptoms….BUT…stress will exacerbate it. There's that mind/body connection again!

    But for now, my friend, rest in the good reports. We're all rooting for you and know you CAN heal. We're all doing it and some have already run marathons with their post-TMS bodies.
     
    Ellen likes this.
  10. SSG

    SSG Peer Supporter

    Thank you so much North Star! It feels great to hear your words of encouragement. I would love to hear more about your appt with Dr. Schubiner! How are you doing now?
     
    North Star likes this.
  11. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    SSG- You are so welcome. The appointment with Dr. S went great. I am blown away that a doctor spends that much time with a person. (The appointment was 2 1/2 hours and it flew by.) He is a kind and compassionate healer in every way.

    The short answer to your question - I am doing well. I didn't walk away with a "Wow! I'm pain-free!" but I did get some valuable insight on some of the root causes that have held me captive by pain for the past 20 years. (But issues started with night time leg pain when I was small.) Being able to ask him follow up questions has been very helpful too.

    You can read my story under my account if you'd like -it's posted under my profile.

    I was a mess when I learned about TMS last September so this forum and TMS books have had a major presence in my daily life since then and I credit this to my growing victory over it.

    Anyhoo. I gotta hit the pool before my days kicks off but if you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them when I get home tonight.

    Hope you have a great day! And as SteveO has reminded us often…go have some fun today! Or watch a funny movie, as our favorite member here, Walt, would say. :)
     
    SSG likes this.
  12. SSG

    SSG Peer Supporter

    Thank you North Star! I really appreciate your words of wisdom and encouragement. I wonder why the calf pain was so difficult to break through? I have had this since October. It does move from my ankle, to my hamstring, and occasionally my hip, but it mostly seems to be on the outside of my upper calf (right below my knee). I'm so tired of having it effect my life. :( I often think I am "muscle guarding," but don't know why or what I'm guarding?
     
  13. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm glad I could bring some encouragement to you, SSG. I think for me, the calf pain has been my "Achilles". And then it literally spread there. haha Seriously, I've always been an active person - exercise, walking, hiking, etc. The first episode of severe pain was when I was pregnant with my firstborn. A leg cramp unlike anything I've ever felt before. I know totally believe that pregnancy leg cramps are a TMS manifestation. I had a knot there for YEARS because of that!

    Though journalling, I've come to accept that the leg pain was symbolic of a fear of moving forward. So when it hurts, I remind myself that I am safe and that things always work out. And when I'm meditating, I use visualization to picture that leg becoming stronger and working like well-oiled machinery. Or like a really strong rubber band that moves easily and with fluidity.

    Sounds like you've already got some insight with your comment on muscle guarding. Might might for a good journal topic! Or a long cup of coffee with a wise friend - sometimes a good talk with a trusted friend can be the best therapist. :)
     
    SSG likes this.
  14. SSG

    SSG Peer Supporter

    North Star, can you please explain how you first started to feel your leg pain to heal or go away? Was it something that happened slowly, or kind of all the sudden? I have been trying to go about my life, and have noticed some improvement...but by the end of the day my leg feels sore. I feel like I've been subconsciously tightening muscles (or muscle guarding) for so long. I wonder if I am getting better, but my muscles are actually sore from previous muscle guarding. Does this make sense? I guess I just wonder how it feels to overcome TMS pain? Thank you!!
     
  15. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi SSG, Sorry for the delay in replying. Our house is on the market and we've had a flurry of showings.

    The first thing I did was throw out my custom made orthotics and heel lifts. I also ditched my trek poles because even though they help you get a better cardio workout, I felt like I needed to purge myself of a "crutch".

    It's been a real up and down journey. My initial walks were FINE. NO pain. And then it would flare up again. And then the right leg would settle down and then…boom, the left achilles is swollen. Or rather…knotted with tension.

    And yes, I would wholeheartedly agree that muscle guarding is just another form of packing tension in your muscles. I think you are really rockin' it to have that sort of insight this soon in your healing journey.

    Re: Overcoming TMS pain….There will be moments where I just stop and pause and realize…NOTHING HURTS!!! I celebrate those moments. I also realize the frequency and intensity of headaches is a fraction of what they used to be. It's fabulous.

    I am also gearing myself up to start jogging again. Which means, I'll keep up my 3 mile walks and just toss in a little jogging during moments when the tendons don't feel as tight. (On a walk, I can go through a dizzying array of symptoms from knee pain to burning in my heel, to…)

    It's all a process. I've been at this coming up on one year in September. For some, it takes longer….for others, not so much. :)
     
  16. SSG

    SSG Peer Supporter

    Thanks Northstar!
     
  17. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    North Star, you're doing great.
    Selling a house and showing it to prospective buyers can be really stressful.
    But throwing out things can be therapeutic... getting rid of the old.
    And the walking and jogging is wonderful.

    All it takes is one buyer.

    I used to bake bread on days I was showing my house. The aroma is very "homey."
    Flowers on the table also is good. One friend even set the dining room table with
    dishes, wine glasses, flowers, lighted candles.
     

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