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relapse patience

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by whirlingdervish, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. whirlingdervish

    whirlingdervish New Member

    Hi all,

    I am having a relapse. I was pain free for a year and now I have leg pain which hurts walking. A dull ache walking flat or uphill, and excruciating pain walking downhill.

    I am currently on holiday with my boyfriend. We were aiming to do a big mountaineering adventure, our first big trip since my pain stopped.

    The pain started about a week before our holiday.

    Yesterday we did a small warm up walk, walking up a hill. I was determined not to let the pain get in the way, so I walked up the hill, ignoring the dull ache. It took about 2.5 hours to get up the hill. It took about 5 hours to get down - I was basically crawling because the pain was so bad. At one point my bf was carrying me. Had the weather taken a turn for the worse, the situation would have been quite dangerous. It certainly wasn't pleasant for either of us.

    So now we're sitting here not really knowing what to do. I'm rereading Sarno and doing lots of journalling. I hope if I do this for a few days I'll get better and we'll have another go at walking in the mountains. But it's a pretty miserable way to spend our holiday, and it would be much easier to just change our focus to a roadtrip and do non-walking activities. But that feels like letting the pain win. Sitting in the tent reading Sarno while bf miserably watches Game of Thrones also seems like letting pain win. Going back up into the mountains while i still have pain feels dangerous.

    I feel impatient - I am sure it's tms and am optimistic I can fix this but I don't know if I can do it in the time we have. My bf agrees it's tms but doesn't feel optimistic it can be fixed in the time we have. I know deadlines make it much harder. I don't know if I should persevere with the reading or just enjoy the holiday. It's hard to believe I could possibly be pain free in time. But if I don't believe it then it obviously won't happen!
    Many thanks!
  2. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Going on vacation earns you TMS stress points on the Rahe-Holmes stress scale. If you're not familiar with the R-H scale, it's the science behind TMS, you can "search" it here at the Wiki.

    My emergency advice would be: "LITTLE STEPS" and find some hot-springs.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, whirlingdervish. I agree with Tom that you should take "little steps" on your vacation. You are getting pain because you are pushing yourself too hard. Dr. Sarno says to return to physical activity when you can, but not to push it so you are in great pain.

    Maybe forget about mountain climbing on this vacation, and just hike. Or climb any mountains in little steps. I hope you take a walking stick with you.
    It could be a cane or just a walking stick that hikers use. A stick without a cane handle.

    Enjoy the trip, even if you can't climb mountains without pain. Enjoy the scenery and, as Tom suggests, find some hot-springs.
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Something I have learned about TMS--it won't leave if you're focused on it. Enjoy your holiday, focusing on the beauty around you and your bf. There is nothing wrong with a road trip. As you turn the focus away from your body and ease up on the pressure you're putting on yourself to have a particular type of vacation experience, you may just find that you are pain free, and you won't even be able to pinpoint the moment when the pain left. That is how it works in my experience.

    Enjoy yourself!
    SunnyinFL, Tennis Tom and Anne Walker like this.
  5. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Hi Whirlingdervish,

    I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with your relapse during your holiday - I imagine it must be very frustrating for both you and your boyfriend. I like and second the advice that the others have given to you.

    From reading your post, it sounds like you have great insights into what is going on and how TMS works. You are spot on that the pressure of a deadline doesn't help any of us heal. It also sounds like you're feeling stuck in what you see as a lose-lose trap. If, as you say, you persevere with your TMS reading and work while your boyfriend is miserable - TMS wins because you lose the enjoyment of a break together. Yet, if you change your plans and do a non-walking road trip in lieu of your initial plans - TMS wins again because you lose the plans you had for your holiday.

    I would encourage you to re-frame your situation and re-define a win as succeeding in enjoying your holiday time with your boyfriend. For example, you will win if you forget about the TMS and act indifferent toward it and, instead, find ways to focus on your boyfriend and enjoy your holiday together (even if it isn't what you originally planned). As another example, you will win if you refuse to be governed by your subconscious acting up and, instead, take back control with your conscious mind and decide to spend time enjoying your holiday with your boyfriend (again, even if it isn't what you originally planned).

    I hope this helps! Sunny
  6. levfin003

    levfin003 Peer Supporter

    Hi Whirlingdervish,

    I am an outdoor enthusiast, and went trekking for the first time a few weeks back. My symptoms actually increased the first time I trekked. Since then I have been going on short hikes regularly, and TMS is getting better. I am realizing that it takes some time to unlearn your learned behaviour. Every time I do a short hike, I unlearn that hiking does not causes any pain. This way I am disassociating pain from the activity.

    So I advice that you continue taking small steps, while being consistent. Don't pressure yourself into journalling, or by setting deadlines. The last thing you want to do is push yourself too hard, get a relapse and become a slave of fear.
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  7. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Reading your post Whirling reminded me of a relapse I had a year ago. I too had excruciating pain in my leg all the way through my first competitive run (5K). After finishing the race my pain intensified so much that I almost had to be carried to the train station. I was mortified as onlookers watched on. Once home I had to at one point crawl to the bathroom and my husband watched on horrified that I could be in such pain.

    Once I worked through this relapse I realised I had put enormous pressure on myself to live up to my (marathon-running) husband's expectations of me. He had registered me for the run after all (him thinking he was doing me a favour) but I was just not mentally ready to take on the challenge, despite being physically fit enough.

    Your pain started a week before your "adventure" holiday with your boyfriend, who sounds like he wants to do daily hikes in the mountains. It might be worth exploring whether you're doing this hike to please him? Also, him "miserably watching Game of Thrones", would be very distressing to you. All this distress and guilt is fuelling your pain.

    Don't put pressure on yourself to do ANY hiking if you feel the pain is too acute. Pushing through that level of pain can be very upsetting.

    Once pain is manageable you can work through it but I had to give myself a couple of days of rest, and I didn't beat myself up over it.

    If it's safe for you to remain in the tent (assuming there are others around), then stay put and read and be gentle on yourself, while your boyfriend does a hike or two. He may be happy to have a solo walk or join others if there are other walkers around. If this is not an option then change your plans so that you both can have time together, doing an activity that doesn't involve hiking.

    For me, my pain settled after I was able to acknowledge what had caused it and self-compassion was key in my recovery.

    Be gentle on yourself. There will be many hiking holidays ahead when you're ready.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Whirling. I like Colly's advice to you... This mountaineering trip may not work out to be an ideal one for you, but enjoy what you can from it and
    keep believing that the next one will be better. Be glad you are on a trip with your boyfriend and enjoy it as much as you can.

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