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Day 1 Ready to get my life back

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by thmakled, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. thmakled

    thmakled New Member

    Hi all,

    Bear with me: sort of long post, but here's my story. Please do read and share some thoughts, if you have time.

    I'm a 26 year old man (27 in a couple days, but I've been in so much pain these past months I haven't cared about my birthday or much else), and I have been suffering. This January, I bent over to lift a case of water, and twisted, and felt an immediate twinge of pain shoot down my spine. I drove over an hour home in agony, was completely immobilized for a couple of days, and, while I eventually regained some mobility, the real pain saga started soon thereafter.

    First, some more backstory. This wasn't the first time I had a shock of back pain and months of symptoms. In autumn of 2017, just as I was starting graduate school, I was carrying a box up my steps when I felt a lightning bolt down my spine. I fell to the floor on the stairs, crawled inside, and lied in bed for a couple of days. I was on my feet and back at school quickly, but my left leg had significantly limited mobility for months, my left glute was incredibly tight, I couldn't bend forward. Putting socks and shoes on was agony. I stood through classes. Somehow, though, I pushed through, and the symptoms faded, and within a few months they were better. Funnily enough, I had an MRI ordered but never followed through. I virtually forgot about all of this by spring of 2018, and had my health and life together.

    Now, back to the present. Come February of this year, I'm dealing with the same left leg sciatica, muscular lock-up, glute pain after my back "went out" lifting that case of water. Mornings are the worst, I can only put shoes on on my back, I have to take multiple breaks getting ready for school and work. I'm also in the midst of completing my master's capstone project, which includes big presentations to my school and my project client. It's a stressful time. For the month of February, I grin and bear it. I cannot sit anymore, but I still get out in the morning to work at stand-up counters in cafes or lay on the floor at school.

    Then, one day in March, all my pain intensifies. The first week of March, I collapse. Spend a week on the floor (spring break, actually, woohoo!). I'm terrified, shuffling, my mom comes to town to clean my house and get my groceries. I break down and go to a spine specialist (I had previously treated my pain with two steroid packs and lots of ibuprofen). Spine specialist suspects disc herniation, orders MRI, and there it is, L5S1 with extrusion indenting the left sciatic nerve root. At this point, I'm convinced I have a very serious injury and my life is forever changed. I'm told that my years of heavy labor (ok, only 5 years as a landscaper and park service field technician, but still with lots of weight on my back all day) have beaten my spine into its current state of multiple bulges, a herniation, stenosis, and some degenerative changes. I think of a specific wildland fire job in early 2017, when I was wearing a full five-gallon water tank on my back (that's 42 pounds /19 kilograms before the weight of the pack itself). The sternum strap broke, and I felt severe back pain instantly. I pushed through it. How young and foolish was I! That must have been my original injury! So I was convinced.

    I start with conservative treatment, pain meds and PT, and while many days are agonizing, I keep my spirits up and my symptoms let up. I even drive my car twice near the end of March (which otherwise has been sitting unloved at the curb). I really think I'm nearing recovery. But then, a few weeks ago, I can feel my positive spirit start to crack. After an especially painful morning of walking to PT, telling myself that I'm a "warrior" and pushing through the pain (this had worked previously), I could feel my mood shifting into a deep depression. I was so tired of fighting, pushing, and still hurting. That led to the last few weeks of low spirits, many missed days of work and school, increasing guilt and anxiety. I could go on.

    This past weekend, feeling I had nothing to lose, I decided to give Dr. Sarno's book "Healing Back Pain" a try. I listen to the entire thing through one day and one night. I was up all night due to back spasms anyway, so I figured I'd make use of my time. I wasn't floored by the book right away, I'm skeptical, I still felt convinced that I had a very serious injury, but a lot of what he said resonated with me. All of my protracted symptoms happened during very stressful times, coinciding with the start and end of graduate school, breaking up with my girlfriend, living alone, feeling uncertain about what I want to do in life, feeling inadequate compared to my incredibly talented peers and colleagues, feeling enraged about the state of the environment worldwide (I'm studying natural resources). Funnily enough, that twinge during the wildlife fire job that I suspected was my injury's origin didn't devolve into months of pain. I enjoyed that job and that time in my life, and while I'm sure I hurt myself at that moment, I got over it quickly. Initially I wrote this off as, "well maybe I started the injury then, but it wasn't as bad, and the next few twinges were me pushing things over the edge, causing full herniation." My doctors and therapists concurred. They took my story and more or less said "absolutely, textbook case of a herniation, there's your root cause." Now I am not so sure about all of that.

    I fit the bill for TMS. I've been reading about it every day since this Sunday, and I'm ready to get my life back. The past three months, everything has been on hold, I've been helpless, full of medications, depressed, afraid. I thought my life was changed forever. I'm starting this TMS journey, and maybe my life will be changed forever, just in a different way than I expected. I've got nothing to lose.

  2. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Howdy Thomas...it's almost funny (almost) if you can look back and start linking symptoms to stress/repressed emotions. Here is what I found with myself:
    2006: falling out with my family = plantar fasciitis and terrible constipation
    2009: wedding stress = terrible shin splints
    2014: newborn daughter = heart palpitations
    2015: wife going back to work and life getting really hectic = terrible constipation again
    2017: troubling health news about my daughter and another falling out with my dad/brother = really bad constipation and indigestion/GERD, then mono, then chronic fatigue syndrome and a whole bunch of new symptoms

    The brain is tricky but with enough reflection, you can find the flaws in its strategy, and things start to make more sense. Good luck.
  3. thmakled

    thmakled New Member

    Thanks for sharing. There are absolutely alignments with all of my symptoms and stressful life events. Recently delving into childhood trauma as well...divorce, feelings of inadequacy, the need to "grow up quick,"...hooo boy there's a lot there.

    I wish the best for you and your family and your TMS journey.
  4. Dayton

    Dayton Newcomer

    Nothing like "Nothing To Lose" as a motivator to regain our power and our perspective. Best of luck on your path to being pain free. I have similar diagnosis and similar background. We got this

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