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Review of Progress

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Gary SYD, Nov 18, 2020.

  1. Gary SYD

    Gary SYD Newcomer

    This is my first post. I'd like to start by thanking the therapists who have put together the amazing material and resources, and this forum.

    The main reason for posting is that i'd like a review of my progress. I'm able to admit that at this point, i'm obsessed with pain treatment and I want to ensure i'm directing my time and energy in the best way possible.

    The pain is sometimes so extreme that I can hardly walk. It's constantly on my mind. It's impacting my relationships with my wife and children. It's stopping me being 'me'.

    Since September 2019, I have been suffering from lower back pain, specifically pain in the left buttock and hips, extending down the leg (sciatica). There was no accident or event that started to cause my symptoms. They developed over a short period of time after returning from a family holiday. I was finishing my masters at the time and striving for perfect results while also balancing family and work issues. I am an intensely competitive person. The pain has changed in some ways over the past year - sometimes I can almost feel the nerve being compressed in the lower central back. Other times, it's like a cramping muscle spasm towards the front of my hip. However, it's always on the left side. It's constantly there to some degree when standing/ walking or lying with my legs straight. ** The symptoms are mostly totally gone when sitting. **

    History of symptoms:

    Prior to this, I have had some back 'issues' from martial arts, weightlifting and water incidents like diving into a sand bank or coming off my surfboard in big swell.

    I've also had 'IT Band Friction Syndrome' about 7 years ago that only used to impact me doing distance running (not doing Judo or surfing). I remember being constantly afraid it would come on, especially if I was out hiking in the bush a long way from the car. I believe this was one of my first TMS symptoms.

    Just prior to this most recent back problem, I had an excruciatingly painful issue called 'proctalgia' (or similar), which is spasming muscles in your bum. I had never thought this much pain was possible before and at points had me balled in bed crying. These symptoms developed shortly after starting a new job after 8 years at a former employer (the exit wasn't ideal). I visited a specialist and after hearing there was nothing seriously wrong and using some minor treatment, the symptoms went away relatively quickly and permanently. I now believe this was TMS. The back issue I now have may have replaced this condition.

    After the current back issue developed, which was quite minor at first, I went to the doctor and have had a number of CT scans, which all show a 'left L5 foraminal encroachment on the exiting left L5 nerve root'. There seemed to be some issues at L5 S1. This nerve compression is cited as the cause of my pain. There are no tumours or any other issues identified. I have no muscle weakness and no loss of sensation.

    I have researched and gone through a number of conventional treatments including pain medication, chiropractic sessions and physiotherapy sessions. I have had four steroid injections into the lumbar spine area to reduce inflammation (the first one was amazing and worked for months, one other worked relatively well and two did not have any effect). One of the injections was on New Years Eve - I had my sister visiting at the time and it was very stressful. I could hardly stand to watch the fireworks and the injection had no impact (may have may my symptoms worse).

    I was researching everything, such as nerve ablation and decompression machines. I visited a pain medicine specialist who prescribed low dose naltrexone, which had no impact. I was referred to a specialist neurosurgeon at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney who recommended spinal surgery, an ALEF procedure, which is a total disc replacement and fusion. This scared me so much and I do feel like my pain was worse after this visit. He referred me for an MRI but I decided that i'm not doing it. I am 36 years old, married with two young children and otherwise in relatively good health.

    I remember going to play basketball a few days later and was in a car with my friend Dean and a relatively new guy who was Dean's friend. We were discussing back issues and I told them about my surgery, which at the time I was going to go ahead with. After we had played, Dean later told me that the new guy had said 'what, you're telling me that he needs spinal surgery?' I was running around and during the game wasn't really conscious of pain to a large extent.

    My friend sent me the Dr Sarno youtube recording of his book a while ago, which I listened to, however, I guess I wasn't quite ready to accept this TMS thing at that point and continued with the conventional treatments until shortly after the surgical consultation.

    After the surgeon, I was desperate. I went out an purchased the Dr Sarno book Healing Back Pain, took a days holiday from work, sat on the beach and read the whole thing, using a marker to highlight all the key points. I have read Steven Ozanich's 'The great pain deception'. I am 'on the journey', no longer on any pain medication or undertaking conventional treatment. I'm keeping active - doing walks with the family, playing some basketball, swimming and occasionally surfing. However, the pain remains a constant feature of my life and is often very severe. It's constantly on my mind. I do feel like it's getting worse and my wife said this to me last night.

    I have spent time considering factors from my past which may be generating strong emotions that are repressed, of which there are a number of events that could be an issue. I also write down current thoughts and feelings, such as my relationship with my wife, work pressures and family/ kids. There are some issues here too. I've just gone through Alan Gordon's treatment plan, which I have to say has been really interesting. Slight difference in treatment but the somatic tracking is something i'm going to explore further. Exploring the pain.

    I think one of the main issues in my self treatment plan is that, unlike patients in the US, it's not possible to have a physician review scans and make a TMS diagnosis in Australia. The CU Boulder back pain patients that were in the study had Dr Schubiner to review scans as a physician.

    In terms of belief, which is a key matter, I have it. The surgical consultation, being in the room with a respected medical specialist who tells you that he's going to go in, remove a disc and replace it with a rubber one and then fuse it all together - that is hard to get out of my mind.

    Thank you for reading. Any guidance or feedback would be amazing. I'm very hopeful of working my way through this and having the outcomes that so many others have had before me. With the work i've done so far, I would have expected to have had my pain reduced by now.

  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Gary,

    I appreciate your experience and
    Welcome to the Forum!

    I'll make a few comments, and hopefully you'll get other feedback too.

    This is great, if you mean you totally believe the pain is caused by your mind/emotions. This is a very powerful foundation. It may take time however for "all" of you to understand this.

    This is difficult in the US also. I have heard that Dr. Schechter, out of LA is doing telemedicine in many states. You might write him. My understanding is that the Structured Education Program is designed from one of his books. Highly recommended way to support yourself. SEP

    This is the best foundational work. So is the reading you've done. Know that unless you have direct experience of some of the emotional stuff, with a friend, coach or therapist, it may not be easy to have a visceral "knowledge" of how difficult the emotions are. That is, the more you have direct experience, the more you can deeply apprehend that you have a mind-body thing, rather than physical. So it is huge that you know and consider the emotional pieces, explore them, but deeper yet is feeling them in your body, going deep. If you don't have progress after a couple of months (following Dr. Sarno's outline, I think), then get help from someone versed in the emotional realms, a guide. Not sure your background in this, or your therapy history. Some folks need this, others don't.

    Look at the inner critic and self-pressure, self-rejection. This is usually a factor.

    Meditation/centering prayer/mindfulness. Develop a daily practice of something you're attracted to. Can even be watching the water or trees. Builds awareness, tolerance for emotional and physical sensations, deepens ability to "stay present." Fear is a huge factor, and so is the mind spinning. Staying present to breath or sensations, learning to observe your thinking is very important.

    Yes. Take all information you read and examine what is believable for you and what is not. Chew on stuff, come back to it. It is better to go deep than to try to digest more and more. If you don't understand something, read the stuff again. And it is OK to have doubts. Be real with yourself.

    Your acute onsets are correlated with increased stress. This is good to review every day in your mind. You know why you're in pain. But, like the belief you believe you have, most folks need weeks and months of re-enforcement to "turn the ship around." It takes awhile to go deep.

    Try to correlate increases/decreases in pain/symptoms, even mild changes, to recent or real-time inner or outer events. This is very important if you can get some traction here. It re-enforces deeply that this is not physical.

    Finally, don't be afraid of pain meds if they help you cope. Dr. Sarno said folks should use them if needed "until the pain begins to subside" with his methods.

    The whole process is deeply personal and individual. Your "soul" is trying to tell you something. What is it? Your mind-body is trying to align itself into more clarity. How can you help it? What in you wants to be heard which has not been heard? How can you learn to listen more deeply?

    Gary SYD and backhand like this.
  3. mugwump

    mugwump Well known member

    Hi Gary, welcome to twswiki! Your story is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing it. :)
    Gary SYD likes this.
  4. Gary SYD

    Gary SYD Newcomer

    Thank you Andy, I really appreciate the response.

    I'm at the 6 week of treatment mark and I feel I have some of the tools I need. I've not really experienced a reduction in pain at this stage. I really like your comment that 'all of me' needs to believe and understand the reason and purpose of the pain. I'll continue to work on re-conditioning and exploring emotional triggers and events. I do notice that during stressful moments with work or at home, the pain intensifies. This is further evidence.

    One question for the people out there who have sciatica symptoms. My pain is only really there when standing or walking or indeed when lying down with my legs straight (particularly bad and intense). Sitting and lying on my back with my legs bent does not cause the pain symptoms at the same intensity/ no pain. Has anyone else experienced this? Conditioning may play a factor here.

    I noticed this morning when I woke up that I was waiting for the pain to come on and shortly after, it did.

    I'm going to stay away from pain medication - in truth, it was never effective when I was taking it.

    Something interesting happened last night. I was lying on the sofa with my wife having a glass of red and relaxing, watching some tv. She says to me, 'you really should have that looked at.' I asked 'what?' and she pointed at my left foot. I have a bunion there that used to cause some pain an issues when I was training Judo. I haven't noticed it for a long time and it hadn't been causing me any issues at all. However, almost instantly, it started to be painful. Today, it's really painful and is making me walk funny. So by having this issue pointed out to me (there actually is a structural issue, I can see it) I'm experiencing pain where 24 hours prior, there was none. TMS.

    I'm still keen to get any further insight on my story and any suggestions on treatment methods. If there is a medical doctor who is able to review scans for example, that would be really interesting to explore.

    Thank you.

  5. Gary SYD

    Gary SYD Newcomer

    The pain is extreme today. I'm moving home next week and packing. I can hardly stand up. I have to though because the packing needs to be done and the kids need to be looked after. I'm not going to bed, although I think I could get myself into a position where there is relief.

    I listened to a recent podcast with Steve Ozanich, which was awesome:

    In terms of treatment, he says there is nothing to do. Just read the books. Read the material. Increase knowledge. When you are ready to heal, you will heal. This is totally the opposite of the way I usually am. I want to work harder and harder and harder to get the outcome, which is freedom from this chronic pain.

    I'm telling myself that the increase in pain is because I'm getting closer towards the goal. I'm feeling pain in my lower leg, my foot and of course my lower back and hip. It's shooting down the nerve.

    This is a hard journey.

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