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Not Sure How to Proceed

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by McAllister, Feb 29, 2020.

  1. McAllister

    McAllister New Member

    It seems like this site is mostly for people who have already been diagnosed with TMS, is that right? I am not.

    I'm kind of a mess right now. I'm 40 and I feel like my whole body is getting weaker and more susceptible to injury by the day. I've always been in pretty good health, but I've also had a string of weird, inexplicable health problems that seem to defy diagnosis and are unresponsive to treatment, and they gradually go away without me ever really knowing what they were.

    For the past few months I've been having extreme discomfort/numbness/paresthesias when sitting down, no matter how soft or hard the chair is. I'm a software developer, and I sit more than I should. But now it feels like I'm sitting on rocks. I'm also having pain/discomfort in my feet when standing for more than a short time... similar paresthesias, numbness, and prickly feelings. The sensations in my behind and my feet are similar. I'm also noticing that my legs can sometimes start to go numb, or my hands, if I apply any pressure or hold them in any kind of awkward position. So I basically have the option to sit and feel nasty, or stand and feel nasty. Or lie in bed. That feels pretty good... but I haven't stopped doing any of my ordinary activities.

    I've been to the podiatrist numerous times. He has no idea. I've done a course of physical therapy, including dry needling, ultrasound, trigger point release, exercises, TENS, etc., which hasn't helped at all. I have a standing desk and a treadmill beneath it, and I can walk fine (actually, walking makes it feel better).

    My point is, I don't really know what to do. I keep thinking that I must have some systemic illness which is making my nerves ultra-sensitive to pressure. I'm super thin, and I've never been able to build muscle, so it just feels like my bones and nerves are clinking against hard surfaces, and there's no hope for fixing it. I'm considering whether I go down the road of testing for diabetes, MS, copper/Vitamin B/Vitamin D/deficiencies, cancer, blood clots in my behind, etc. etc. That seems like an expensive and discouraging route, and my confidence of finding an answer is low. I'm afraid they will just say I'm old now and that's it (actually, I'm irrationally terrified of them saying that).

    So the thing is, I would desperately like to find out it's TMS because the concept is appealing and I'm close to the end of my rope. But I've read the Sarno book, and I don't have (and have never really had) back pain or many of the "canonical" symptoms. Another thing is, I don't really feel like I have any repressed or forgotten emotions. Most of my life I've been acutely aware of my feelings. Even now, I frequently think of my childhood and specific, formative incidents and traumas. All the time. So when I've journaled, it hasn't been much of an exercise in discovering new material. I know myself and have spent hundreds of hours over decades introspecting.

    That said, I'm kind of an emotional wreck. I have same-sex attraction, but I'm also very religious and don't believe in pursuing that kind of relationship. So I've spent a lot of time in my life dealing with agonizing loneliness and feelings of abandonment, and lately I've been feeling a distinct lack of support in my life. But, I'm aware of all of this. I don't think my brain has any secrets from me.

    Also, I called Dr. Schechter's office and it's $400 for me to have a video appointment with him. I'm not sure I want to drop that kind of cash to pursue a diagnosis, but I'm the kind who will not believe it unless some authority tells me (and even then I struggle, especially when it's with someone holding a hammer, to whom everything looks like a nail).

    I recently made a chart of all the health problems I've had over the past few years. I've dealt with voice muscle problems, light sensitivity, severe almost career-ending eyestrain, heart palpitations, stomach issues, mysterious painful hearing hypersensitivity, etc. None of these have been helped (or scarcely even diagnosed) by doctors, and all of them have resolved on their own after a while (sometimes a long while), in spite of tests and useless treatments. And it seems that after one resolves, a couple months go by, and another one starts.

    So I guess I'm just looking for a little guidance? I'm afraid to go full-bore into TMS while there's still so much to test to rule out actual health problems.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Heck no, I don't think that's true at all! I assume you mean "diagnosed" as in by a health professional? Definitely not. I've been doing this since September 2011, and I am pretty sure that the vast majority of us are self-diagnosed, after being told by many many health professionals, often over many years (or decades for some of us;)) that they can't find anything wrong.

    There's absolutely no harm in going "full-bore into TMS" given the description of your health issues and experiences, along with the fact that you have been thoroughly checked out by traditional medical professionals.

    Doing this work costs virtually nothing but time and a few books (I actually downloaded my first Dr. Sarno book from my local library). It is non-invasive and can't hurt you physically. It DOES require that you are open to completely changing the way you think, and being willing to acknowledge and accept that you have emotional issues which may make you uncomfortable. Most likely will make you uncomfortable.

    To get started:
    1. Feel free to read my profile, which is followed by a long list of my favorite resources, collected over 8+ years, of many different types, some of them featuring other members. I've also separately bookmarked many outstanding threads. Too many - but they are so good!
    2. Start doing our free Structured Educational Program. There's no commitment and no signup, and if you find value in it, just keep going. Each day takes very little time (esp. compared to the time you have spent seeking cures, am I right?)
    3. Every day, read at least one (or more depending on length) posts in our Success Stories subforum. I promise you, you'll be inspired, and you will learn a LOT, not the least of which is the fact that this journey is unique to each individual.

    Good luck!

  3. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    McAllister, Jan gave you excellent answers and advice, I can only add to it.

    A software developer by the background myself with all the personality traits common to our profession, I understand the types of people who end up in this field. The need to have a great attention to details often leads to obsessiveness, and some people are born with obsessiveness to begin with! This alone tells me that you may have unresolved emotional issues even if you think you are well aware of them: "I frequently think of my childhood and specific, formative incidents and traumas. All the time." This may need some work because letting go of emotional issues may lead to letting go of physical pain.

    I cannot be an expert on the same-sex attraction, but I would not be surprised that such suppression of inner self can lead to a lot of pain, both emotional and physical.

    And, finally, to your point that your pain is not in the back. My pain was in the hands, wrists and arms - and Sarno's book set me on the path of recovery. Like you, I was not able to identify any sources of hidden rage, but I ended up taking a different route: by calming down my over-sensitized nervous system and learning how to process negative emotions. Also, journaling did not really help me either. My position is that every person is unique and each one of us has to find their own path. People who end up hanging out on this forum for a while are those who did not recover within 3-4 weeks upon reading Sarno's book. It is not the end of the world. Many of us did eventually succeed - read the Success Stories, as Jan recommended.

    I don't think you need to see Dr. Schubiner to clear yourself from physical diagnoses - you already have been to all kinds of doctors and they found no smoking gun. Your path may end up being long and difficult, but so was mine and I did succeed, after 2 years. If you are willing to spend money on the TMS specialists, I would recommend Alan Gordon's clinic. It helped me to get on the path of recovery.

    Good luck!
  4. jimmylaw9

    jimmylaw9 Peer Supporter

    If it walks like a duck quacks like a duck swims like a duck do you need a vet to tell you it’s a duck!

    You have anxiety and inner personal conflict all over your post. Change the way your mind is making you think. Immerse 100 % in TMS. Most of us recognise the “duck” without getting a vet. It’s mind body pain not mind back pain.

    Jan’s advice is spot on as usual and I have little to add other than force yourself every minute of the day to accept the pain sensation whatever. Recognise that your brain is causing it not some undiagnosed illness. By all means do the tests but you sound like you even have given up on that. Try the above what have you to lose?

    The easy part is the knowledge which you have done the hard part is the effort to stop the runaway brain. It’s ingrained in unconscious patterned behaviour over time. To reverse it you need to remind it in conscious patterned behaviour over time repeatedly that it’s wrong. It’s not easy but it seems to work for so many people.

    Good luck
  5. Looking for space

    Looking for space Peer Supporter

    Im not a TMS practitioner but, I think most of us diagnosed ourselves, some WILL then make an appointment with a TMS Dr. Everyone heals at their own pace. And you really have nothing to lose by reading one of John Sarno's books, and of course Steve Qzanich's book... which I can't remember the name.... that book is really well written! There isn't any hurry, take your time. But from what I hear in your words, you are a candidate for TMS healing!
    TG957, Lainey and JanAtheCPA like this.
  6. mugwump

    mugwump Well known member

    i dont really know what to say in this kind of situation :/
  7. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    Find god
    TG957 likes this.
  8. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    All good advice and great encouragement from your fellow TMS forum participants.
    I have nothing of note to add, except to wish you well on your quest for wholeness and a painfree body. Pain gives us clues that there is still 'work ahead' Sounds like you are up for this.
  9. McAllister

    McAllister New Member

    Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. I haven't been around here much lately to reply!

    I have started to read your profile. I also have read the Mindbody Prescription, before I posted here the first time. Haven't yet started doing the structured educational program.

    Interesting that some people have quite a different path through this. I don't know if I'm ready at this point to go through with it! I'm still really, really convinced that there's something wrong with me physically... nutritionally, maybe. I've had a lot of blood work done and there are still tests the doctor wants to run. I have to admit I'm pretty preoccupied with it. It could be that I'm low in vitamin D or K2 or something. My B6 just came back high, which can cause nerve trouble. Also have autoimmune antibodies in my blood. The point is, I don't think I'm ready to put aside all medicine, therapy, etc. in case there really is something that should be addressed.

    This is the part that stymies me. For me to be able to stick with something for more than about a week, I have to be pretty convinced that it is The Right Thing™, mostly by seeing the beginnings of some efficacy in myself. Is there any quick feedback with this, no matter how small? How does one keep trusting it if not? I tend to bounce to the next theory pretty quickly if one isn't bearing some kind of fruit that I can iterate on. Seems especially hard with TMS as there appear to be countless ways to go about it, none more correct than any other.

    Definitely have already done this. Good advice.

    TL;DR I appreciate everyone's help; I just don't know if it's time for me to pursue this fully yet. And fully seems to be the only way to pursue it.
  10. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I would like to warn you, you may end up in what I call medical ping-pong, being bounced from doctor to doctor, from test to test, with uncertainty and frustration growing with each confusing diagnosis or even lack of such. I was lucky to find Sarno when I was out of options and rapidly descending into disability: I had no other choice, because treatments that were offered to me made no sense.

    Here from the section of the book that I wrote about my recovery:

    Thinking Psychologically
    As I am writing these chapters, I re-read Mindbody Prescription. While reading this book now as an “outsider” to my past pain, I wonder why it took me so long to be convinced. Dr. Sarno is very concise, clear, and persuasive in explaining his theory. He operates with statistical data he has collected in decades of practice. Why was it so hard for me to become convinced? From my experience interacting with dozens of people who faced the same problem, I came to understand why it is so hard to think psychologically.

    Many TMS recovery stories start with how TMS sufferers first refused to read Sarno’s book or even threw it away in anger because they refused to believe that their pain was “in their heads.”

    I observed how newcomers to TMS ask the same very basic question, time and over again, phrased differently under different angles and directed at different people, but the nature of the question is the same: Can it really be that my back (neck, foot, head – or insert your own favorite here) hurts because of the emotions? Not as frequently, but for a much longer time, people stumble through a harder question: Can it really be that the spasm in my back (leg, arm, hand – or insert your favorite here) is happening because of the emotions?

    And then there are those who struggle even more to believe that swelling, changes in the skin color and texture, rash, and many other very physical manifestations can be attributed to emotions. I know - because I was one of them. All those tangible, visible changes in your body are much harder to accept as a product of your mind than an invisible pain. When everything in your body seems to rebel against you, when pain, swelling, spasms, rash, bizarre, extremely painful red blotches on your skin, and what appears to be a paralysis of your limbs attack you from all sides, you are even less likely to become convinced. It is hard to believe that this total surrender of the body to a pathology can be caused by emotions. Ironically, the only logical explanation seems to be that it must be caused by the overstressed nervous system and nothing else.

    We are conditioned by mainstream medicine that all physical symptoms should be treated by the doctors as abnormalities of the body. We are also conditioned to believe that each part of our body must have its own specialist. The unfortunate truth of our healthcare system is that the only doctor who is expected to oversee the entire patient - a general practitioner - is so tied up by insurance guidelines, 20-minute appointments, an endless stream of patients, that he/she is often reduced to being a dispatcher who refers patients out to the specialists, who, in turn, focus on their respective body parts. A podiatrist does not look above the ankle, a hand specialist is not allowed to think beyond the wrist, and a dermatologist is only prescribing ointments and creams to reduce itching or pain of the skin.

    Our healthcare system is designed to look at the individual trees but not at the entire forest of a human being. Note, that none of those hand, foot, eye specialists are expected or even trained to consider psychological factors as both a cause of a disease and as a solution to it. In this situation, it is left to the patient herself to connect the dots into a big picture of a whole, that single mindbody in which everything is connected.

    But this is what I understand now. Looking back, I can see how my mind, inflamed by severe pain, exhausted by years of persistent insomnia and recent months of even more extreme insomnia, weakened by the fear of inevitable progression of my symptoms to my other limbs, simply refused to accept a very logical conclusion.

    Even though on an intellectual level I was able to quickly grasp Dr. Sarno’s logic, it took me about a year of a long and winding path through doubt and hesitation, through frustration and despair, to get to the point. Yes, it took me a year to develop a firm, unshakeable belief that my illness was a result of my habitual subconscious suppression of emotions, which was hurting my already overstressed nervous system even more.

    It was only then that I was able to feel confident that my recovery was inevitable. It was only then that I finally overcame the fear that was rooted deeply inside me on a subconscious level. And it was only then that I finally started to heal steadily.

    By that time, guided by Dr. Sarno, I was able to picture together many manifestations of TMS that persisted throughout my life: bizarre sudden shortness of breath and spasms in my diaphragm that started in my pre-teens and then stopped completely after about 40 years; very painful shins that prevented me from exercising when I was a teenager; severe migraines that repeated three - four times per month and lasted one - three days each since I was 16 until I was in my 50s; lower back pain that hit me suddenly when I was in my early 40s; insomnia that started when I was in college and gradually became worse, leading to narcoleptic episodes, one of which nearly killed me on the road; two bad outbreaks of rosacea, one after a difficult pregnancy and childbirth, another after my mother was killed in a hit-and-run accident by a heavily drugged teenager; and then, the grand finale – neuropathic pain combined with Reynaud Syndrome and dystonia that almost disabled me completely. I was able to put each of the onsets on a timeline and match them fairly accurately to the traumatic events in my life.

    But that was much later. Back in February of 2016, I was just starting on that path, scared, confused, and hesitant. ​
    Avnita Suri, plum, JanAtheCPA and 2 others like this.
  11. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Marco, how are you? I hope you are finding your peace and relief from pain. TG
  12. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

  13. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I can’t add anything to the fabulous replies my friends here have given you. This is an inevitable learning curve that we each must go through. The modern person finds such patience incredibly challenging, for we live in a world where every whim and fancy is gratified by the click of a button or the popping of a pill. The truth is that knots can not be yanked undone, they require gentle teasing.

    The other issue that your post flags is that of Resistance. This is incredibly common and derails efforts early on unless you are aware that this is what you are dealing with. It manifests in different ways. Blind spots, indifference, boredom, irritation... there are so many ways that our defence mechanisms attempt to stymie insight. It’s incredibly important to realise that this happens to protect us, to keep us safe. Whether you favour the theories of pure Sarno or contemporary neuroscience the same explanation applies.

    As @TG957 says, grasping this intellectually is the easy part. The transmutation into wisdom is something that comes with time and deep self-understanding.

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