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Recovered from crippling RSI and disabling knee 'injury'

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by Lighthouse, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. Lighthouse

    Lighthouse New Member

    I’ve been meaning to add my TMS success story, because for me some of the changes took years, rather than weeks or months. I want to tell people who find things aren’t changing quickly that that doesn’t mean they won’t change!

    Back in 2008, I was in a bad way. I had RSI, with pain primarily in my right wrist, elbow and shoulder. I’m a writer and a freelance editor, so having to limit my time at the keyboard affected me drastically. When it was at its worst, I ended up having to subcontract out an editing job I couldn’t finish. I think I then took a short break from editing, hoping the rest would help my arms. I was pretty much at my wits’ end. My doctor drew up a treatment plan for RSI. I saw physios, a Feldenkrais person, some kind of posture consultant … can’t remember who/what else now.

    During this time, I was walking down a hill one day when my knee suddenly hurt. Later, back at home, I was walking upstairs when it suddenly hurt badly, and the whole knee puffed up. It hurt to bend it. I hobbled to see a nearby doctor, and that was the first of many, many appointments: physiotherapists (many), osteopaths, energy healing … you name it, I tried it.

    It’s not putting things too strongly to say I was desperate, on both fronts. The inability to use a keyboard was devastating for me as a writer, and financially terrifying as a freelance editor – how was I going to earn my living? I had a permanent limp, and could not lift my lower leg to the horizontal while sitting. You’d be surprised how often in life you need to make that movement, e.g. I could drive, but I had to first manually lift my foot onto the accelerator. Because I continually avoided that movement (which was painful), my right thigh atrophied. I began to feel that I was at the beginning of old age (I was 45 at the time), and that my life would simply continue to be more and more restricted. I felt hopeless and despairing, and like my life was closing in on me.

    About a year after the initial ‘injury’, I came across a mention of Sarno and TMS online, and was instantly interested. I recognised my perfectionism, in particular, in the descriptions of the personalities of people who are prone to TMS. (Show me an editor who isn’t a perfectionist.) I came across a long list of TMS symptoms and TMS equivalents, and realised I’d had about 80 per cent of them (e.g. in addition to severe recurrent back pain and neck pain, eczema, asthma, hives, hayfever and other allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, supraspinatus tendinitis, sensitive teeth, not to mention anxiety, depression, panic disorder, bulimia, etc., etc., etc.). I had also been aware for a while of a kind of free-floating anger within myself, with no clear cause.

    I’d also realised that I’d ‘injured’ my knee on the way to my parents’ house to pick up a car I’d just bought. I knew that my father was going to want to drive me around in the car, and I absolutely knew that I didn’t want him to (for a whole range of reasons – with a whole raft of unresolved emotional stuff attached to them). So it seemed there might indeed be an emotional cause for this physical symptom.

    About two weeks after I first read about TMS I wrote in my journal, ‘This TMS thing has opened up my life again … It’s an antidote to a crippling sense of closing down I was feeling.’ I stuck onto my computer a quote from one of the RSI success stories I read on this Wiki (sorry I can’t attribute it): ‘I decided not to limit myself in any physical endeavour and purposefully engaged in whatever I wanted.’

    I ordered two Sarno books – Healing Back Pain and I think the other was The Mindbody Prescription – and about a month later I’d set up a daily TMS program that included morning writing (about possible sources of unconscious rage), reading (and taking in fully) the psychology chapter or the treatment chapter of Healing Back Pain, reading Sarno’s daily reminders, and generally when I noticed a symptom reminding myself it was TMS and harmless, and switching my attention to the psychological, including thinking about things I knew were bugging me. I resumed all physical activity, in as far as I was able.

    The RSI resolved fairly quickly – within months, I think. I just resumed doing everything I normally did on the computer, reassured myself there was nothing structurally wrong with my arms and ignored the pain. I don’t know how long it was before I didn’t have the pain anymore.

    The knee was trickier, and took longer, which I think was partly because the swelling around my kneecap and the wasting of my thigh made it look much more like a physical problem. Eventually I realised I needed to do some leg exercises – not to combat an ‘injury’, but to build the muscle back up in my right thigh. I still couldn’t lift that leg up to the horizontal – it was like there was a painful sticking point halfway up. So I did exercises to lift my leg to that point, and worked out a way of doing the exercises sitting on the arm of my sofa so that my leg started moving from the sticking point and went up. One day, as I’d hoped it might, I lifted my leg from the floor, doing the exercise, and it went all the way up!

    Note that this was nearly three years after I came across the concept of TMS and started applying it, so it had taken quite a bit of sustained effort. It was at least another year before the muscle in my thigh was pretty much restored.

    My leg is now completely normal. I walk and jump and kick and dance, and I never think about my knee. I can run for the train (I do it sometimes just because I enjoy that I can, after those years of limping). Recently I finally got rid of a pair of glasses I’d bought hastily and never really liked, but couldn’t replace because I didn’t have the money. I bore those glasses a grudge and I stomped them to death. It was only later I realised I’d done it with my right leg – the one with the former knee ‘injury’.

    Some specific things that helped me were:

    • Reading the Sarno books, all of them, over and over. I found The Mindbody Prescription and Healing Back Pain the most useful, and also liked The Divided Mind. I also got some ideas from Rapid Recovery from Back and Neck Pain by Fred Amir.

    • Reading the TMS Wiki success stories, and the success stories in the reviews of Sarno’s books on Amazon.

    • I had a very good friend who thought the TMS stuff might apply to her. I ordered her one of the books and we talked about it at length. Talking about it with someone who was open to it and interested was really useful.

    • Basically, anything that helped me feel more fearless and confident.

    • I was helped by one physio, but not through the physiotherapy itself. Purely through the strength and magnetism of her personality she got me to walk up and then down a long set of stairs when I honestly believed I wasn’t physically capable of it. It showed me that conquering the fear was going to be the biggest part of it.

    • Some specific mind tricks that helped me with my knee:

    - Going down stairs (my most feared thing) I used to make a point of thinking about something very interesting to me, to distract me from worrying about the knee.

    - When I was going up stairs I used to pretend that my left knee was the one I had trouble with, and favour it.

    - When my knee hurt, I’d spank it or pinch it (I think I got this idea from Fred Amir), and say to it, ‘You think you can hurt me? I’ll show you what pain is!’ It made me less afraid of the pain. ‘Pain? I’ll show you pain!’ And the pain would go away.

    - When my knee hurt I used to say to myself, ‘knee-M-S’ – to remind myself it was TMS and not a structural problem. (When I had toe pain recently which I think is TMS, I called it ‘toe-M-S’.)

    An added bonus is that, since I first started reading the Sarno books, I’ve never had my old back or neck problems. Occasionally my arms will hurt, seemingly out of the blue, and my response is ‘Seriously? You’re still trying this?’ I ignore it and it goes away. I do what the quote says and ‘purposefully engage in whatever I want’. I still get stuff that I assume is probably TMS (e.g. post-nasal drip, tinnitus), but nothing that is as debilitating as the knee and the RSI – and I’m still working on it.
  2. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    Thank you for posting this. It's a keeper.
    Lighthouse likes this.
  3. Lighthouse

    Lighthouse New Member

    Thanks, Eileen! It's been on my mind to post it for ages. The change – from feeling like I was becoming more and more limited and the world was closing in on me to the sense of freedom I felt when I started thinking about things the TMS way – was extraordinary. And so useful. And here I am with a healthy, working knee and arms.
  4. PainNoMore

    PainNoMore Peer Supporter

    awesome Lighthouse. very happy for you. i'm recovering from so called RSI now. getting better all the time and i think i'm almost there. the thing you said about being fearless and confident - that had been a sticking point for me and i feel like i've just now turned a corner there.
    Lighthouse likes this.
  5. Lighthouse

    Lighthouse New Member

    Thanks, PainNoMore! Congrats on turning that corner, too. Anything that made me less afraid of the whole thing helped me. Occasionally (when I'm under some kind of stress, usually) my arms will suddenly hurt again out of the blue. I say to them/my brain, 'Seriously? You're really trying this on again?', go about my business, and it goes away.

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