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Recovering Dental Student

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by FenderBender, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. FenderBender

    FenderBender New Member

    The Beginning:

    I'm not much of a narrator, but I have been following this forum for several months now and felt compelled to post the beginning of my recovery story from TMS. I would especially like to thank Dr. John Sarno, Forest, and Psychosomatic -- your videos really helped strengthen my conviction in TMS! Furthermore, the whole TMS community has really influenced my recovery and I am forever grateful to hear and learn from you.

    Well in July 2014 I started dental school in Texas and needless to say the stress of school began piling up on me. Around September I began to notice a warm sensation in my left forearm. I was initially a little worried and spoke to my father to ask if we had a history of high blood pressure or any other disease that may be causing this, but he convinced me that it was just stress and that it would likely go away in a week. Well it didn't get better and I decided to contact a primary care doctor who informed me that it was just minor overuse of my hands and arms. (In school, we spent the majority of our time taking notes on the computer and if we weren't in class we would most likely be doing lab work or cutting up dead bodies!) Also, I was an avid videogamer at the time and a musician so it made sense to me that I had overused the muscles in my arms. Anyways, the doctor wrote me a RX for a splint and advised me to wear it at night and just rest my arm whenever I had the chance. Well it ended up going away for a week or two, but quickly returned to animate in both of my forearms. At this point I really started getting worried, but I continued to push myself in school. The stress of knowing that I had an "injury" in a field where I would likely use my hands 8-9 hrs a day was so overwhelming. I got trapped in this vicious cycle of not knowing whether my hands would get better, whether this was causing permanent damage, and I just couldn’t understand why I was the only person in my class having these symptoms. The inflammation in my arm naturally graduated to pins and needles and throbbing of all sorts from the elbow down bilaterally. This was truly the most depressing point in my life -- I felt stuck in a dead end with an uncertain future.

    Around November, I decided to visit a hand specialist. After doing an evaluation on me he decided to send me home with a splint and told me he couldn't see anything wrong after doing physical tests on me, but if the pain didn't go away after a few weeks of wearing the splints at night he would order an EMG test for carpal tunnel. Two weeks later, I revisited his office to get an EMG done and ultimately the results came back negative. I was thrilled to hear this news, but the pain didn't subside so he said that I should look into physical therapy. I had the month of December to rest from school, and I thought that I would "heal" during that time. The pain diminished for a few weeks, but returned with a vengeance.

    When I returned to school in late January I decided to start seeing a physical therapist -- at this point I was desperate for any form of solution so I committed myself to 100% therapy. They initially thought the problem was in my hands, but after weeks of treating my hands it only seemed to elevate the pain. At this point, they decided to start focusing on my spine because of suspected Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. They performed treatment for two months but still nothing worked. I might add that I was simultaneously dealing with the pain and stresses of school which, for a first year dental student, can be overwhelming.

    After months with the physical therapist I knew that I wasn't making any progress, but the pain was steadily increasing to the point where I would wake up with sharp pains up my arms and the constant sensation of inflammation. I ultimately knew the only way that I could even survive the school year was if I stopped going to class and invested in some kind of voice recognition software. I decided to purchase Dragon Speaking Naturally which many people dealing with similar RSIs had used. In the meantime, I decided to see a massage therapist which was recommended by my girlfriend. We thought that a deep tissue massage might relieve any knots that might be causing the pain, but instead it just seemed to make my symptoms flare up worse.

    Luckily, I was able to pass the year with the support of my family, gf, and a ton of Ibuprofen LOL but I knew that I had a serious issue that I needed to take care of. As soon as I got home for the summer, I went to a family doctor who decided that I was suffering from a pinched nerve in my neck or a heart problem. He decided to order an X-ray of my neck. When we got the X-ray back he noticed that I had lost the natural curvature of my neck so he ordered an MRI to see if there was any other damage he overlooked. Still, the MRI came back inconclusive. He said that there were some minor arthritic changes in my cervical vertebrae, but nothing strong enough to produce the symptoms I was feeling. He decided to refer me to a neurologist.

    Before seeing the neurologist I decided to get acupuncture done, visit a chiropractor, and try Active Release Technique. While all of these seemed to help relieve my symptoms I could not identify the root cause and I still continued to experience pain on a daily basis, albeit slightly less because I had the entire summer to rest from the stresses of school.

    Turning Point:

    While I was still in school I would desperately scourge the internet for solutions or other stories that may be similar to what I was dealing with, but I couldn’t find anything dental related. However, I kept stumbling across references to John Sarno’s The Mindbody RX. I am naturally a skeptical person and couldn’t believe that these people had fully recovered. I am a little embarrassed to admit, but I truly thought it was a scam! And this John Sarno was just making money off people by selling his book! (Sorry Dr. Sarno if you read this – I was definitely wrong LOL and am forever in your debt) I ordered the book off Amazon and kind of glanced through it nonchalantly. What I really wanted was the solution so I just skipped to the chapter on “treatment” and gave it a quick read. (Typical impatient me) After reading it, I wasn’t convinced and thought that there was no way this could be in my head! I did recognize my personality as one of the Sarno Types, very prone to worrying, goal-oriented, hard working, and compulsive. But I did not see myself as a perfectionist. Moreover, I couldn’t see any seriously traumatic events that had occurred in my life.

    Well the week before school started I made the incredibly difficult decision of deferring a year, which basically means that I could join the next year’s DS2 second year class assuming my “injury” got better. This one absolutely one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life, but something inside told me that it was in fact the best option for me. The fear of having to use my hands in a very lab intensive year was what held me back the most from joining my class. Anyways, a month into my leave of absence I came to the realization that perhaps medical advice from a physician and (or) other healthcare modalities may not be the option for me, because I was continuing to see only limited success in the treatments provided. I was so desperate at this point that I spent almost all day, every day, searching on the internet for a feasible solution. This is when I stumbled on psychosomatic’s video recovery series. (Thank you so much for sharing your experience on youtube) Although I wasn’t suffering from back pain his ideas stuck with me and started to make sense in my head. His video along with Forest’s recovery story really compelled me to reinvest my time in John Sarno’s the Mindbody RX. After all, I was going to use this entire year to do whatever it took to get better so I could return to school next year and complete dental school. What could one month of reading hurt!

    I picked up the book again, but this time I approached it with a different attitude. I started really thinking about the psychology behind TMS and how it could be a defense strategy to shelter you from repressed emotions in your psyche. (Sorry I’m not much of a scholar so I hope I don’t misconstrue any of the academic portions of John Sarno’s text) I started journaling everyday and keeping track of my emotions and low and behold, I began to notice a correlation between the onset of my symptoms (pins and needles, inflammatory feeling, numbness, muscles spasms in my hands and arms) and my state of mind at the time. I saw that when I was frustrated or caught up in worrying about something my symptoms would indeed flare up.

    This definitely gave me some slight hope, but I still couldn’t banish the fear associated with doing normal things. For example, I made a trip to the beach after two months of recovering and even driving my truck would send my arm into huge flare ups that would take at least a week to heal from. Despite the fear, I went forward and kept journaling my emotions and events throughout my life and although I couldn’t change how I felt about certain things I definitely was able to alter my outlook on them.

    On the Road to Recovery:

    My first big turning point was going for a run one morning. Up until this day, I would continue to exercise (running is what I typically do) but I would always end the run with a flare up. Well on this day, as I was running, I argued and pleaded with my mind -- almost screaming at it. I was saying things like “I’m sick of this! Why isn’t this going away?! What am I doing wrong to feel all this chronic pain?” and then it clicked -- I was worrying too much! For some reason, it just made sense to me and I just didn’t care anymore. Regardless of the pain, I wasn’t going to let it hold me back from running. I mean, why should running hurt my arms? I was too young to be having this kind of pain. I had nothing but negative results from the doctors. And my friends in school had the same, if not worse, posture than me and had no problems at all! I’m not a doctor, but it just didn’t make sense so I just ignored the symptoms, stopped worrying/caring, and went for undoubtedly the most inspiring run of my life. After and during the run, I immediately noticed my symptoms decrease in severity. They pain wasn’t 100% gone, but I had never experienced this almost total absence of pain. This, in itself, gave me so much encouragement that I beg adamantly adhering to Dr. Sarno’s methodology. I started journaling even more than I was before and I started really reflecting on things that would bother me.

    As the week progressed, I noticed a gradual decrease in my symptoms but I had deeply internalized my fear of physical activity. I knew the only way I would truly get better is if I began to resume 100% of my normal activities. It was difficult at first, I had anxiety about even driving places because it would hurt my arms, but I persisted.

    The ultimate turning point for me was after watching a video on youtube last week. (I forget what video it was, but will post the link when I find it) It was a physician that had recovered from TMS. He mentioned that during his recovery he noticed right before he would start having pain he would notice that his mind would drift to worrying about something, but then, as if out of habit, he would just brush the issue under the rug. As he spoke those words I couldn’t help but think I was guilty of the same pattern.

    The next day I decided to make a drive to the city to visit friends and the main squeeze, and noticed the onset of my symptoms acting up. At the same time, I started thinking about if something was bothering me and as I perused the vast archives in my cranium I found the source and tackled the issue right then and there. I really thought psychologically i.e. What in specific would cause me to worry about said issue? Or why would this be enraging to the inner self? I finally had a leg up on TMS and its faulty strategy of distraction/avoidance! This sense of power in my mind was intoxicating and funny enough Dr. Sarno, along with other TMS contributors, mentioned that when your mind finally accepts the diagnosis and figures out the strategy the pain may begin to jump to different parts of your body in a desperate attempt to salvage what is left of its STUPID plan of attack on your psyche. It was hilarious – I started noticing pain in my neck, I started getting a stomach ache, I started cramping in my legs. For most people, this would be a quite painful experience but it was literally one of the funniest things to me. I knew that I was finally conquering the beast formally known as TMS.

    Reclamation and Resolution:

    Well I’m still recovering, I’d say I’m like 75-80% back to normal but am truly optimistic about the rest of the year and look forward to returning to dental school next school year. Some advice I have to people that are just learning about Dr. Sarno’s approach is to definitely use the tools available to you from these sites, but ultimately it’s up to you to manage your symptoms. Everybody has different life experiences and a different way of approaching and thinking through things so it kind of makes the process of recovery more muddled if you’re expecting a perfect recovery. DON’T GIVE UP THOUGH! Your recovery will happen just have patience, faith, and hopefully support from the people that matter most in your life!

    I’m happy to answer any specific questions that you all would like to know.

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