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Newbie; Read Books, but still have doubt. Please help!

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by tigerlilly, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. tigerlilly

    tigerlilly Well known member

    I just finished reading Dr. Sarno's book (Healing Back Pain) and am getting ready to start "The Divided Mind."

    MRI shows I have three herniated discs, with the most severe at L5/S1. The pain is so bad that I'm now confined to bed - when I try to walk and move around everything locks up so tight, causing crippling pain in my lower back and down my leg to where I can't walk. Once I have an attack like this I lay here with restless leg/nerve pain for 2+ hours before it calms down again.

    I also have chronic issues with my Si joint going out of alignment - it doesn't seem to hold an adjustment. I'll go months with it being okay, and then BAM, one day it will go out and will be continual chiro treatments to have it jammed back in until it finally decides to "hold" again. I have had back issues (back going out) since my teens (I'm 41 now, and otherwise generally healthy female, BTW). Of note is that I've also had issues with "nervous stomach/diarrhea" over the years, and have recently had blurred vision issues in my left eye that comes and goes (to which my optometrist and an eye specialist they sent me to can't find anything wrong). I also have frequent urination brought on by nerves/anxiety.

    We met with a surgeon last week who is waiting for me to pull the trigger to have a microdiscectomy to relieve the immediate pain (and I'm almost desperate enough to do it). After reading Dr. Sarno's book I'm trying to come to better understanding to whether I have a literal physical problem, or whether this is TMS. (It's hard to convince myself 100% that I don't have a physical problem - I'm trying VERY hard to believe, but I keep seeing the horrible MRI results, and when I stand up the gravity makes the pain worse. I am trying to explore TSM as a last resort before surgery (I'm definitely not a "doctor" person and do try to take alternative routes whenever humanly possible)

    Over the last several months I have had chiropractic treatment (adjustments, FSM (frequency specific microtherapy), acupuncture, cold laser, etc. I have also been seeing a Naprapath (fascia/tendon/ligament bodywork). Here's the kicker - a week and half ago I was doing so well with these treatments that I was walking around - was able to go to the grocery store by myself (I literally haven't been able to even sit for 2+ months and was finally making baby steps of progress with it), and even wore heels with a dress during that week. And then just an hour after my last Naprapathic treatment last Friday I was in exruciating pain (worse than ever) and have been in bed unable to walk or even stand (hardly) ever since. I am trying to employ the "speak to your brain" and "focus on emotion," but quite honestly, I don't know what I'm doing. How do I attribute the pain to one thing/emotion? How do I know if/when I'm getting it right? I can sit here and recognize my issues from childhood to now (never being good enough, regrets over choices I've made, people pleaser, fear is huge for me - I seem to fear everything though you would never know it as I come off confident and happy, etc, etc)

    I have resorted to taking Oxycontin on a couple of occasions, plus Advil/Aleve day and night, but I hate the idea of drugs and so try to tough it out laying in bed as much as I'm able.

    Please help!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  2. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hello. I had a back surgery almost 20 years ago and I very much relate and understand what you are going through. If you haven't already, i highly recommend reading David Hascom's book "Back In Control" http://www.drdavidhanscom.com/ He is a neurosurgeon and I think could really help you right now. He has discovered that going through a TMS related program prior to surgery, his patients have far better outcomes and often don't need surgery. He also posts his blogs in this forum and there is a wealth of information on him if you search here. You are in the right place and everyone here will give you all the support and direction to help you get through this.
  3. tigerlilly

    tigerlilly Well known member

    Hi Anne - thank you very much for the information. I have started exploring Dr. Hascom's website and I think it will be helpful for me.
    I just called and cancelled my pre-surgery appt that was scheduled for tomorrow. Big step, but I feel it is the right step. My husband is completely on board with me (and for himself since he has also suffered years of back pain), so we are excited to explore this new venture together and heal ourselves.
  4. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    The first question is answered by you in the following sentences after. You knew the answers subconsciously. You said how do I know the emotions right. Well its anything that bothers you emotionally past or present to the future. We often call them pressures. 1) Your childhood to now never being good enough 2)Regrets over choices 3) Fear. 4) Being a people pleasure. All of this is emotional stuff to write about. See when I removed your physical anger it exposes your psychological anger. That's how you know what to write about. Thanks
  5. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a move in the right direction. I'm happy for you -- you felt it. Welcome aboard. Just be patient and know that the answers will come and don't loose your patience. Learn to be content and use your gratitude more than ever. You will begin to heal soon so stay course. Bless You
  6. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    That was a big move to postpone your pre surgery appointment! You absolutely can afford to take some time with this. I know it is hard when you are in pain and want to find some resolution. My pain came on suddenly in my lower back and down my leg almost 20 years ago. I had severe sciatica and could barely sleep for several months I was in so much pain. I remember when the neurologist told me I might be in pain for 2-3 weeks I was shocked thinking "no one could be in pain like this for 3 weeks!" After the surgery my pain lessened but I was still in chronic pain for several years. Once the back pain faded I had occipital neuralgia and it has been one thing or another ever since. I had read Sarno's book when I first had back pain and I tried too desperately to uncover the repressed emotion or childhood trauma in order to resolve the pain. What I didn't realize at the time was that I needed a more holistic approach that could help me with my anxiety, stress, and chronic thinking patterns.
    The structural education program on this forum is a good place to start. Eric is right, with patience and persistence you and your husband will heal.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  7. tigerlilly

    tigerlilly Well known member

    Thank you Herbie and Anne -

    Yes, patience is difficult for me - I see people getting better just by reading the books, and I'm very frustrated that I'm not there yet. Do either of you know what the logic is behind why the "average" rate of cure is 4-6 weeks? Is that how long it takes for us to wrap our minds around what is going on? Or does it take that long for the pathways to redirect?

    It's helpful to hear about the sciatic pain. The hardest part for me is that I'm a prisoner in my own bed/home since when I get up to move around, my piriformus muscle locks up, and the more that I move, the more that it locks onto the nerve, thus causing horrible butt and leg pain on the right side - rendering me disabled, unable to walk, and back in bed. Trust me, I have been trying to give the pain the finger and push through it! Some days are better than others. The pain does not move elsewhere - it's always in the same places that the surgeon explained as to why and where I'm experiencing the pain from the herniated disc (L5/S1). I know - I know - I'm still working hard to wrap my mind around being 100% convinced that there is nothing physically wrong with me. I guess that is part of my homework assignment, yes? It's hard for me to wonder if I'm not one of the 10% of people that actually DO need surgery before being able to heal. I sit there and go "maybe I have two separate issues going on - TMS, plus I need to physically have surgery in order to heal." It's hard to self-diagnose when there are no TMS doctors near me in Florida that I'm aware of. I would even email/fax my MRI results to someone if they would take a look at it and tell me there is nothing wrong with me (or that there is!). I guess it's hard for me to trust my own opinion (fear of failure? Not being good enough?) and I'm afraid to hurt myself more. (Afraid - yes, fear rules over me and I'm trying to work through that, too!) Ugh!

    I've always been into holistic/alternatives, so am familiar with and readily accept that our emotions create/cause pain. My chiropractor was happy and excited for me when I said i was going to stop treatment with him and try to fix this in my mind. He offers NET (Neuro Emotional Technique). He feels that it would help me to identify and heal the pain and get me from Point A to Point B faster - he feels it would compliment what I'm doing with Dr. Sarno's work. Any thoughts/feedback? Also, my mother in law does homeopathy and wants me to go on a constitutional remedy to help me along in this journey. Do I try these things, or do I go it alone and just hit the bricks to work through the emotions/unblocking on my own? I'm open to any feedback/thoughts.

    Apologies for the long email - I'm just trying to understand as I move through this. :)
  8. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is the first I have heard of a 4-6 week average from healing. Where did that come from? I can't tell you how many times I have read or spoken to people upset and frustrated that they could not just heal from reading Sarno's book. I don't know what the percentages are but I am sure you are in the majority if you have to work a little harder at it. I have been working on it for nine months. In the beginning I had a TMS therapist and I pressed him one day and he finally admitted to me that the longest he worked with someone to heal was a year and a half. For so long I woke up every morning checking, wondering if this would be THE DAY when I was finally pain free, healed, cured, over this excruciating torment... Now I just imagine that one day I will calmly notice that my life has changed, that I haven't thought about pain for I don't really know how long. In terms of alternative treatments, I would say it has more to do with the intent. I stopped physical therapy because it had me focused on a structural problem that I was trying to fix. It feels good to stretch, animals love to stretch naturally, but if you are stretching your piriformis muscle in the hopes that it will fix something and relieve your pain, than that is just supporting the pain distraction. If it feels good and you enjoy it, massage for instance for relaxation, then that is fine. I don't know anything about NET. If it is helping you to focus on your emotions or enhance the communication between your mind and your body, I personally think that is fine. I have had tremendous benefit from Somatic Experiencing therapy. Its difficult to summarize exactly what that is but it helps me get out of my head and into my body and to sense the intimate connection between the two. I thought previously that since I was in pain all the time that perhaps I was too conscious of what was going on in my body but really the pain and anxiety had me focused only on that aspect and it was really difficult to be fully present in my body. To really enjoy being still or meditating for instance. Also, the reason I recommended Dr Hascom's work is that he still performs surgery so obviously he thinks that it is beneficial at times. But he has observed that the outcomes are better when his patients go through a program first. I struggled immensely believing there wasn't a structural cause to my latest neck and occipital pain. Shortly after starting the TMS work I got an MRI of my neck that showed multiple ruptured discs. My physical therapist whom I have worked with for over 15 years and I know is very conservative when it comes to surgery told me she thought I needed it... I was very torn and very afraid. I ultimately decided I could afford to give myself six months to give the TMS all I've got. After a few months I had enough tangible evidence, such as the pain and numbness moving around, that I no longer considered surgery as an option. Many of the specialists were unsure about my situation because of the numbness in my hands. But I haven't had that in months. Although after typing this it might reappear for a spell. I am not the best example because I realize I may taking a little longer than most, but that is just me. As far as the the homeopathy and constitutional remedy, you really need to just follow your gut and decide based on whether it causes you additional stress, or if it makes you feel good. There is often a big list of things we think we should do or could try and it is up to each of us to find our own balance. I think you will find as you do your research that along with connecting with whatever the pain is trying to distract you from emotionally, there may be a need to rediscover what makes you feel really good and happy and to spend some time there. Many of us here are very hard on ourselves(internal bully) and work very hard to do things right and to fix things. There is a ton of stuff to read and do to heal from TMS and sometimes we can work too hard at it. It is hardest in the beginning. We want to know how to stop thinking about the pain all the time because it hurts!! We are told we have to believe 100% in order to heal and yet we feel unsure. If you feel it is hard to trust your own opinion or to know exactly what to do, just know you are not alone. Trust that if you work on this you will eventually figure it out and be pain free.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
    Emre and Ellen like this.
  9. tigerlilly

    tigerlilly Well known member

    Hi Anne - thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings on the journey you've been through. So many of those thoughts have already echoed through my mind. While reading so many case studies in books and online that are helpful, I find it especially beneficial to communicate with a "real live person" who is experiencing so many things that I've gone through.

    Before I forget - the 4-6 week heal rate that I read about was from Dr. Sarno's second book - Healing Back Pain. Page 92. He says he doesn't like to discuss cure rates since everyone is different, but in general he says 2-6 weeks. My husband took the book to work with him today, but if you need me to quote exactly what it says let me know and I'll type it out for you once he gets home.

    Since yesterday, I have committed to embracing the diagnosis of TMS (though I still wish I was able to find a doctor to work with on this). I actually was able to draw my own bath and then slept pretty good last night; got up this morning and didn't have any pain right away. I was able to walk out to the mailbox (with pain that progressed as I walked) but I kept telling myself that there is nothing wrong with my body and to just breathe! So - it was a baby step for me. Better than I've been in two weeks. When I have some quiet time to meditate, I start running through issues from childhood up until now and start really thinking about them, digging deeper, asking why, and they why again until I can't dig any deeper. Then asking how it makes me feel - how does the emotion feel in my body (as opposed to just describing words). Sometimes tears will flow; sometimes it is just recognition for me. But I'm telling my brain that while I appreciate that it is trying to protect me, that I'm ready to face the pain and allow it to come up. Those are just my layman ways of running through at this point. :)

    You are very brave to face TMS head-on and not fall into the doctor/surgery trap that so many fall into - only to have more pain show up somewhere else in the body at a later date. Oh - here's something weird - last night I was feeling sad when my husband got home from work and I started sharing thoughts with him that I've come upon. While talking to him I started seeing a jagged rainbow arch in my vision field and had a blind spot and wasn't able to read very well after that. I'd had a headache coming on all afternoon due to a cold front coming in (or not because of that - TMS? Who knows!). I took some Advil for the headache and it went away, but I actually think that was a classic sign of a migraine coming on (which I think I've only had 2-3 real, true migraines in my life). I'm just wondering if my brain was trying to distract me with headache pain now that I'm focusing on emotions coming up. Trying to block those thoughts with pain in headache form? Not sure. Just something odd that happened.
  10. Tru B Leever

    Tru B Leever Peer Supporter

    Like yourself, I am new on this forum. I joined the other day to seek some help with prostatitis/urinary urgency symptoms I've been having. But.....my TMS journey started with crippling back pain. Back in the mid 1990's, I would get lower back pain and spasms so bad that I'd have to crawl around my apartment on all fours. My x-rays showed advanced degenerative disk disease. The doctor told me to stop lifting heavy weights. No squatting. No lifting weight above my head. He told me I'd have to live with the pain or face future surgery. Eventually, years later, I was introduced to the wonders of Dr. Sarno and his TMS theory. To make a long story short, after accepting that I have TMS, I became 100% cured of back pain. I squat 230 lbs at the gym. Do shoulder presses with 50 lb dumbells, etc.

    The key is believing 100% in the TMS diagnosis. Any doubt will keep you from a complete recovery. Good luck!!
  11. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Anne has given you excellent advice above. I just wanted to add that I have gotten the type of headache you describe above for many years. They are called acephalgic (no pain) migraines or visual migraines, and mine usually last around 20 minutes. I also get typical migraines, but they don't usually occur together. The first time I had a visual migraine I went to Urgent Care because it was very scary to lose parts of my vision like that. So I know how you feel. But since I've been using TMS healing techniques (10 months for me), both types of migraines have decreased in frequency and intensity. They are clearly TMS.

    Also, there was a recent post by Steve Ozanich, author of the Great Pain Deception, who said his understanding is that it takes most people 6 months to 2 years to heal from TMS. So that is another perspective on healing time. Though, of course, it's going to take each of us what it takes us, since when dealing with the unconscious and psychological issues it is very hard to quantify recovery.

    Glad you have joined us at the forum. Keep us posted on your progress.
  12. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Tgrllyct, you are making good progress! Yes, the visual migraine is clearly TMS. Recently when I wonder if some symptom is TMS I stop and ask myself
    "well, how distracting is it?" The numbness in my teeth and nose that was so unsettling a few days ago is now gone. I am actually feeling pretty good today! I need to get more sleep but other than that, its all manageable today. I really appreciate days like this and look forward to many more to come. And I think it is wonderful that your husband is working with you on this. After you have explored all the reading material and self guided programs, if you still need more support, there are some great TMS therapists that you can skype with. I did that for several months and for me it was as good as being in the same room with a therapist. The only reason I switched to a local Somatic Experiencing Therapist was I specifically wanted to work on getting out of my head. My high anxiety levels were really running the show. I learned a lot working with my TMS therapist though and he helped me tremendously. I look forward to talking to him again someday when he can see what I am like when I'm not crying! Keep going with the baby steps. I think you are doing just great!
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
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  13. tigerlilly

    tigerlilly Well known member

    Thanks for the feedback, Tru B Leever. I had read your initial post and from what I've learned so far, it definitely sounds like your brain is trying to distract you from the current TMS you are experiencing. It's encouraging that you were able to beat it before - that should give you confidence that you can do it again! :)
    How long did it take for your pain to go away once you accepted the 100% TMS diagnosis?
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  14. tigerlilly

    tigerlilly Well known member

    Phew! Thank you, Ellen - as much as I don't care to get a headache and especially not the acephalgic or migraine kind that you describe above, I'm really excited that it happened. It confirms that I'm on the right track and makes me more convinced that this is TMS. I was sharing thoughts/feelings/emotions with my husband today and feel that I'm finally starting to unpeel the onion - things that I have been aware of consciously but have suppressed and never allowed myself to actually explore deeply and feel. I'm anxious to no longer be a prisoner in my bed - though I'm trying to be patient. I've never had anything set me back and knock me out like this, so it is very humbling for me.
    Ellen and Eric "Herbie" Watson like this.
  15. tigerlilly

    tigerlilly Well known member

    Hi Anne - I like the "well, how distracting is it?" quote above. That is good to keep in mind. The headache, the acephalgic migraine that Ellen described, the hints of stuffy nose/sinus/allergies wanting to creep up ever so subtly, back pain keeping me from getting comfortable to be able to get well rested sleep, mind racing and not wanting to focus - all things that are very distracting. It's funny because the evening time is when I'm not working and have more quiet time to focus on the TMS and exploring my inner-self - and that is the time that the "tension" headaches are wanting to creep in. Which is weird because I've really never had much issue with chronic headaches. But, just another distraction to keep me from focusing. I'm more and more convinced that this is TMS and that I can beat this!
    I'm glad that your numbness in teeth and nose went away and that you're having a good day. I hope it continues to progress for you!
  16. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Tgrllyct...okay now you have to tell me how you chose your name for this forum. Did you just close your eyes and press keys on the keyboard? When I go to type it I have to look and then look again, getting the letters all mixed up. Does it mean something? I am so excited for you to get up out of your bed! I can really sense that you are getting this very quickly. The more you stay focused on your inner life and the less you think about your pain, the faster you will progress. But if you have challenges, or don't progress as quickly as you would like, try not to beat yourself up or be discouraged. You will have your life back soon and it will be better than ever! Aside from some anxiety while shopping at Costco I have had another good day.
    Emre, Ellen and Eric "Herbie" Watson like this.
  17. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Interesting thing happened--about 24 hours after writing that post about visual migraines, I got my first one in many months. Guess my sneaky unconscious thought, 'ah, yes, here is a good distraction technique I haven't used in a while'. The unconscious is so obvious in how it works once you're on to it! :shifty:
  18. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    That is interesting Ellen. It often happens to me that if I think of a symptom I haven't had for a while it seems to pop up again. There have been a few times on this forum I have mentioned something like my hands not being numb anymore and then a day or two later, numbness in my hands! I also tend to get things that are somewhat related to symptoms someone else is struggling with, if I read about it or even if I overhear someone talking about it in a grocery store. It helps me to notice the connection because then I really know not to take it seriously, but it is still uncomfortable at times. Hopefully, I will figure out a good way to diffuse this tendency.
    readytoheal and Ellen like this.
  19. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks, Anne. I just watched Dr. David Hascom's interview with Dr. Oz and it is great.
    Hascom agrees with Dr. Sarno but doesn't mention him or TMS, but says 90 percent or more
    of those with back or other pain do not need surgery. Their pain is a Mindbody thing, caused
    by anxiety, stress, anger. He goes on to say that meditation and mindfulness reduce pain by half.

    A patient who read his book, Back In Control, says she had severe back pain for 18 years
    and healed in six weeks after reading it.

    Dr. Hascom suggests writing down the issues that cause anxiety, then tear them up.
    Doing his Mindbody work, patients become pain free in 2 to 6 weeks, some in 7 days,
    some take longer.

    Maybe Hascom's steps to healing are more, and different, but he is sure on the right track
    saying the pain is from our emotions.
  20. tigerlilly

    tigerlilly Well known member

    So, remember Princess Tigerlily from Peter Pan? As a kid I thought that was a neat and fun name to have, so when I created my handle, I decided to go with tigerlilly (without any vowels), but when I saw that was taken I had to add to it, and since I like cats, I just added "cat" without vowels to the end of it - thus, tgrllyct. :)

    So - Saturday was good in that I was able to walk out to the mailbox and felt good enough to try walking a bit. I only made it a few more steps before turning around, coming home and ending up back in bed. But I was thrilled with the progress. And then Sunday was bad because I was in pain all day - feeling like I've gone backwards. Depressed and playing with the idea of just having surgery (even though I don't buy the "herniated disc" diagnosis) just to get temporary (placebo) pain relief just to have some normalcy back in our lives, even if it is short lived, if at all. I feel like I work so hard on the emotions, get exhausted from it (and have to take a mental break), and then feel since I'm still in pain, I'm not getting anywhere. I sit there and go - what have I not tapped into? What am I missing? I've embraced this TMS 100%. I've tapped into deepest of emotions, even having Freudian-like dreams that back up what I'm experiencing.

    Sorry to rant - it's hard to think that I have a day off of work (Presidents Day), it's gorgeous outside (sunny skies and mid-70's weather) and am still stuck in bed. Grrr.

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