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Day 1 Road to Recovery

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by nato1003, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Day 1,


    After trying numerous options for my back pain I have finally landed here at the TMS forums. Nice to meet you all.

    My pain journey began in March of 2015 when I suffered a yoga injury in a forward bend position. I had the instructor provide extra pressure, then something snapped in my low back. It was incredibly painful, and yet I still managed to finish the class. At this time I was only 24 years old.

    All of my life I had beat up my body in sports and weightlifting. I was in extremely good shape and played basketball about 5 times a week, doing yoga about 6 times a week. There was nothing wrong with me prior to this injury. I figured it was just a normal back strain and went on practicing yoga.

    Except I couldn't do yoga right. It hurt so bad. My back was very sore and weak, it wasn't getting better. After a couple weeks of trying to resume, I called it quits, as I was useless on the mat. At this time I only hurt when bending in a forward motion, and it hurt bad.

    I was fine for some time and didn't notice my back. It only flared up when I strained myself athletically, and made forward movements. In basketball I could run full speed and hurl myself into defenders, yet I couldn't pick the ball up off the ground without pain.

    On a family vacation six months later I remember having an immense struggle standing in lines at an amusement park. I was continuously stretching my back for relief. The pain was finally becoming chronic. It changed a lot of over the two years.

    Well, it just kept getting worse. I now couldn't play basketball, because of constant spasms any time I made any quick movement. Now I was no longer restricted to forward movements. Sitting hurt. Laying down hurt. Walking hurt. Everything sucked. I stopped going out and began to live like an old man. I was 25. I had spasms getting out of the car, having sex, standing up...you name it. I was just about crippled. Fortunately, I had my engineering job and could go to work.

    I decided I was going to figure out this problem and get better. I was far too young to have this crippling pain. I would try a series of treatments. There was stretching, massage, chiropractic, trigger point therapy, hot and cold packs, better ergonomics, meditation, drugs...everything but surgery. I had no insurance so I did not get an MRI yet, and knowing what I know now I doubt I'll get one. If this was anything serious I would know by now and Sarno's books describe me to the letter.

    The injury has healed, and I'm left with muscle pain all over both sides of my back, and occasionally down my legs. My original injury was so localized and felt nothing like the type of pain I have now. If I pressed on a buttcheek pain will radiate down my leg, mimicking sciatica. I read that this can happen with trigger points.

    I learned everything I could about trigger points, and began to improve via self massage, but it was temporary. The moment I quit any exercises, the pain came back.

    Recently I have read Sarno's book "Healing Back Pain." I instantly connected with his ideas on TMS and have been doing the best I can for about a week. Also, I've been playing basketball again. I can go full speed, but am very sore in my lower back when I finish. I'm not the same player I was right now, but I'm not spasming anymore after applying some of the ideas on TMS. I do think I'm improving and want to be cured, I'll try anything. My insurance goes through on July 20 so I'll finally see a doctor to rule anything out then.

    I plan on being completely cured by the end of this program.
  2. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Day 3:

    I don't know how to change the day count. How do I do that?

    The program asks me to describe the last time I exercised. Well, yesterday I played basketball. The team chose me as it's coach and captain, as I'm the only player who really knows basketball. If we are going to win I really have to play. It would be difficult without me scoring most of the points. Playing again feels so great even though it's still quite uncomfortable. My back had a slight spasm early in the game, and yet I could easily play though it. It happened just routinely running up the court, nothing special. However, it made me feel stiff and I lost some of my balance.

    Is this normal? I know it's suggested that we return to full activity as quickly as possible and we should be ok, but having spasms turns me off to that somewhat. My back feels a little weaker today that it did yesterday and I woke up very stiff. Still, I feel a lot better than I did at this time last week, so something is working. Has anyone else dealt with spasms while doing physical activity? Do they keep happening, but just get weaker to the point that it isn't bothersome anymore? My buttcheeks are very tender on the outer edges this morning. More tender than before playing yesterday. Is this a result of the spasm?

    Overall, I am doing a lot better. I feel confident that TMS is the diagnosis and can heal. I feel better than I have in a couple years already. Mostly, I'm just really stiff and a bit achy, but don't have much pain. I'm learning to calm any pain that arises by thinking psychologically and relaxing my body as much as possible. It works.

    By the way...my insurance has finally kicked in. I'm going to go to the doctor this weekend and get checked out as a precaution. I live in Thailand now, so we'll see how it goes. At least it's cheap here.
  3. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Day 4:

    What is the most disheartening thing a doctor has ever told you?

    I still haven't been to a doctor officially, but my massage lady is always telling me I'm tight and should do sports. That is frustrating knowing my condition is benign. I'm just going to play through the pain at this point. I'm fed up with it.

    In what ways have you kept that in your mind?

    I don't think about it much anymore. Just do it. I realize most of these people have no idea what their really talking about and need to say something to a) keep me coming back or b) sound like an informed professional. They don't really know. I've been told it's my posture, my flexibility, my lack of strength. Seriously? I've lifted weights for years...I could deadlift over 350 pounds and squat nearly 300. I'm strong, I know it. Then there's people like my frail grandmother who has never had back pain in her life. She can barely lift a chair. Doesn't add up at all. These people are clueless and I'm done paying them money.
  4. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Welcome Nato1003. It sounds like you've found a great resource for yourself. Surrendering to the Knowing that TMS is the diagnosis, letting go that it's anything physical, has allowed me to let go of a great deal of my pain in a short time. Sarno says exercise is important, yes, and he also says not to go back too soon. That acute pain with exercise isn't helpful. I, too, have been a heavily-trained, probably over-trained, athlete in my past and am having to listen to my body in a very different way and let go of pushing so hard through the pain. Yup, balance.

    I so understand that playing ball feels great, and I also hear that you're having spasms. One of the characteristics of us TMS folks is that we tend toward people pleasing. I wonder if feeling the need to play because otherwise your team won't win is a factor in your symptoms at this point. That's the kind of feeling I know well. I'm having to let go of playing as much tennis as folks would like me to play in order to listen to what supports my recovery from TMS. I love playing tennis and am also aware that overuse on the court is at least part of the stress behind my TMS symptoms. It's a piece I need to continue to attend to, and I appreciate your basketball story as it helps me a good deal.

    Glad you're here.
  5. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Day 5:

    Think of some activities you really enjoy doing. If you could do one of these activities without feeling stressed out, without having anxiety, and without worrying about your family, kids, job, etc. how would that feel? Why do you not do this activity more often? What steps could you take to do this activity stress free and without worrying about other things? Do this activity this week.

    Well, there are three things that I have been limiting. Basketball, yoga, and weightlifting. I have set dates to do yoga again (11/1/17) and weightlifting (12/1/17). Currently I'm working on basketball. I played yesterday and on Sunday and felt great! No problems, no spasms. Sunday just half court and yesterday full court. Yesterday was really a step forward. The spasm seems like a freak incident. Yesterday, I was run over by a giant guy. My back was fine. I made an athletic reach for the ball and finished with a lot of physical contact. My back was fine. No problems with my defensive stance. I felt nearly 100%. Only I'm not jumping as high as I probably could. I'm starting to do basketball 5 days a week and it's working again. Today I felt fine waking up. After the spasm I felt pretty horrible for a few days, but I'm good now. I'm going to keep this going.

    Chimpmama, thanks for your reply and I wish you luck on getting back to the tennis courts. There is nothing like playing your favorite sport.

    Pushing hard has always been my style. It's probably part of the reason why I'm in this mess. My recovery from the spasm has come quickly, though, and I'm going to continue playing for sure. I feel great today so far, a day after playing full court. Usually, I'm extremely sore the next day after full court. I refuse to let myself be held back by something benign and I will play even if I can barely move, just to do something. This pain is useless. I truly believe that now and it's the only reason I can get back on the court. I will not hurt myself further.

    As for the need to help my team win, I will investigate this feeling. I've have pain long before the team was ever put together, but it's worth examining. Thanks!
  6. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Fabulous that you feel great today after playing. There truly is magic in this work.
  7. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Yes Chimpmama, I feel good. Today some soreness while sitting. A little stiff, and otherwise fine :) Actually, a little worse than yesterday, but I'm trending upward. Crazy I spent 2 years in agony just to find out I had the cure inside me all along.

    Day 6:

    Briefly take a few minutes and write down some of your fears. Why are you afraid of these things?

    Bees and Wasps: Hate them. Been stung a few times and am pretty much terrified of them when they're around me. I've never liked them.

    Social Rejection: Asking for a girl's phone number, initiating conversations with people can be a little hard if I don't know them. I'm afraid that I won't receive a positive response and this gives me a little anxiety. Not much. When I was younger my dad made me go around to stores so I could apply for jobs. For some reason this terrified me . of course I never got the jobs I was so scared. My body language was horrible and employers could see the fear in my face. I had a lot of trouble with this until about 5 years ago. Now I have only a little difficulty. Just regular nerves every person has.

    Social Anxiety: Until about 5 years ago I struggled immensely with social anxiety, which is just fear of social interaction. I was very tense. This likely resulted as a combination of factors from my childhood. My parents were pretty overbearing, sheltering me from many things my peers were familiar with. Also, my parents instilled in me a conservative, Christian upbringing, which perpetuated my anxiety. I didn't know what my friends were talking about half the time, because my family never exposed me to it. I questioned everything I might say, which resulted in hesitation rather than action.

    I've figured this stuff out and now live a great active social life. I'm popular with my friends and have a great girlfriend. I am no longer limited by my fears and do what I want in most situations. Life is so good now, but my past remains. That anxiety took its toll on my body and came out physically the last couple of years. This is a cleansing exercise for me. This pain is the last remnants of the old me. I'm looking now to move past that.
  8. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Day 6 Meditation:

    Today I did the meditation. It was very relaxing. I've done meditation for 5 years now so I was pretty familiar with the body scan technique. There was no pain during the meditation and it really soothed me. No issues. Very positive.

    Had a small spasm this morning in the shower while washing my feet. I came down and stretched too quickly. I've had spasms for a while. They are getting weaker now. This one barely bothered me. It happened because of my basketball game yesterday and then I went out drinking with friends. My body and mind were very tired. I went balls to the wall yesterday. This is an improvement over this time last week. Continuing to feel better. Keep fighting
  9. srton

    srton Well known member

    Hi Nato1003,
    I've been reading your journal entries and am so HAPPY for you that you've been feeling better and have been able to get back out and enjoy basketball again. Although I have the feeling that we are in very different stages in our lives, I really identify with some of the things you have posted.
    I think that I had some sort of fantasy that I could "get to the root" of my TMS get rid of my pain and then just get on with life and continue business as usual.
    Like you (and many TMS-ers), I love to push myself. I love to prove that I can do it. I don't need help. Athletically, professionally, as a Mom....I get immense pleasure from being a person who gets stuff done.
    If I want to live pain free I must change this thinking. I must be compassionate with myself and truly believe that I'm worthy - independant of my accomplishments.
    Unless I beleive this and stop pushing myself I'm afraid that I'll just be relapsing again and again and again.
    Hope you have a good Saturday and I look forward to reading more of your journal entries!!!!!!!!
  10. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Thanks srton for your entry. Glad I can be of help to you :)

    Unfortunately, that spasm I had Friday morning ended up escalating into something pretty terrible. My back got worse as the night went on and I then had a sleepless night. I struggled immensely to get out of bed Saturday morning. It's getting better again now, but I didn't have a good weekend pain wise. I feel like I'm a little worse than I was last week, and I'm going to work on integrating my physical exercise more slowly. Not going all out in bball will be hard. I think it's the best decision, though.

    Day 8:

    Are you having success at recognizing the emotions connected to your pain? If you have, how do these emotions make you feel? If not, what do you think is preventing you from doing this?

    The journalling helps. I definitely have a past full of anxiety and the journalling is helping me to realize that. There are some people I really hated without realizing it, and my dad caused me some pain when I was younger. He didn't know he was doing it and had the best of intentions, but it still happened. The emotions are not that intense yet if I'm being honest. Maybe I'm supposed to feel it more, but consciously I'm kind of over it...it's the past and I've chosen to not fret about it. Perhaps journalling will help me to feel more and face my past more directly. I could try harder, yet I don't think that would be an effective way to go about it. Better to just relax, and if it happens, let it happen.
  11. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Today I feel pretty awesome. Getting better fast! I went to see the doctor today just for the hell of it, and, as expected, no structural issues at all after the x-ray. I even asked him "you are 100% certain I have no structural cause for my back pain?" He said yes, my back looks perfectly fine. Hahah. TMS is the answer of course. You know what, ever since that moment, I've had almost no pain or tightness at all. If I didn't have proof before, I do now.

    I've got a pretty long list of evidence for TMS at this point:
    1. Muscle pain in the three key areas (small of back, outside of butt, top of shoulders)
    2. No structural issues
    3. Pain has been moving a lot to my shoulders and I'm getting headaches sometimes. I NEVER normally get headaches
    4. Pain decreases during physical activity
    5. There is no pain scale (one moment it's like I'm being stabbed, then nothing)
    6. Stagnancy increases discomfort

    For sure, it's TMS.

    Day 9:

    Have you been overly critical of yourself lately? How and why have you done this?

    I have high standards for myself in all areas of my life. Sometimes I can be critical if something does not get checked off my to-do list. This used to be a problem, and yet I'm getting good at stepping back and letting things go. I'm not perfect yet. There is always something to improve, but I'm better than I used to be. In the past I would be really hard on myself and it would ruin my day. I can't honestly remember the last time that happened.

    The answer is: no, I haven't been critical of myself lately, but I used to a lot, and I'm sure that is part of the reason I have this pain.
  12. srton

    srton Well known member

    Wow I love your list!
    That could 100% be me!
    Glad to hear you're working the program and feeling good
  13. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member


    I keep finding more evidence of healing. Last night I started developing some random neck pain that is still kind of there. Didn't help with sleep much lol. I keep getting all these random aches and pains now, and yet my back pain is diminishing. The pain is looking for somewhere to go, but I'm not holding to it. This program is really working. i played full court ball on Thursday, taking it easy. No spasm, just some discomfort. It's way better.

    I'm reading this book by Dale Carnegie, "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living." Highly recommend it. It is like a classic TMS recovery book. A challenge of worry and stress by one of the most renowned authors of this era. It's really good. The book talks about disease going away after patients get their minds right, it discusses relaxation techniques. It discusses mind body syndrome almost exactly as Sarno does, only many years earlier. This syndrome has been known in different forms for many years, just no one is getting it into the mainstream. It needs to reach the mainstream.

    People are getting hosed by doctors whose methods are obsolete. I've sure lost a lot of faith in traditional medical procedures during my recovery. They are so full of crap hahaha. Just need to appear to be "experts" so they bullshit while keeping you coming back. They barely know more about back pain than the standard patient. Such a joke.

    Day 10:

    Think of a person in your life from whom you hide your emotions. What is preventing you from telling this person how you feel?

    My parents for sure. No doubt. There is so much I haven't told them. About drugs, drinking, sex. They think I still believe in God. There is just so much they don't know about me. My life in Thailand has changed me entirely, but they are the same, and don't know what changes have gone through me. I avoid talking with them about serious issues because my Dad is so rigid in his beliefs. If I told him what I think of religion, and don't think he could live with it. Also, my attitude towards sex is radical to them. I believe in open relationships, and I don't think they could understand it.

    I suppose fear holds me back. I'd love to just put it all out there, but it's hard. Especially since I can't see them face to face. I want to be authentic. I'll work up the courage. Like I won't let them take me to church when I go home next year. Because I don't want to. I won't get married, because I don't see it as useful. Stuff like that, I'm best off just getting it off my shoulders.
  14. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Feel a bit worse today, a little uneasy, yet still a lot better than I've been in the past.

    I'm somewhat anxious, and thinking too much...I need to just relax. Back aches a little. Nothing limiting though. I did make a big stride in quitting my back exercises, the exercises I do for the pain. That was a big step. I see them as pointless, and they take up too much time that I could be doing other things I love.

    Day 11:

    When was the last time you exercised? Do you have any apprehension about exercising or engaging in physical activity?

    Yeah, I played basketball again last night and felt pretty great. I beat a guy 1v1, and wasn't really limited in anything. I do have some apprehension, because I've had spasms after exercise before, but no issues today. I'm a little more sore and achy than usual, but still feel a lot better than I did last week on Monday. I need to remember it's completely psychological, and not worry about how I feel day to day. If I'm able to exercise with no restraints, I have nothing to worry about.
  15. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    I had a rough time the last couple of days. A flare up of pain hit my back randomly. I'm not sure what it was, but I just stayed with it, and it's coming back down again. I played basketball last night and felt fine. I'm not going to overanalyze it, just keep working on treatment and progressing.

    Day 12:

    What is one of your best memories from your childhood?

    I don't remember much of my childhood anymore. There isn't much I need to remember, being an anxious, nerdy kid. I guess it was scoring 34 points in a bball game against a good friend. That was really fun. I rarely think about my past anymore, and there must be something better, but I'm drawing a blank. Maybe going to Disney World or a trip to see my Aunt and Uncle. Eh it's in the past, I don't really give a shit about it
  16. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Day 13:

    What TMS-related book, article, or news story have you found the most helpful in solidifying your belief in the diagnosis?

    The article I just read was really good. The Dr. Marc Sopher one. It was lengthy, but really helped to reinforce things.

    I'm noticing a pattern now in my pain. The mornings are pretty horrible. Laying in bed for long periods is not good. I need to be out doing stuff or I get really stiff. Keeping busy keeps my mind off of my back.
  17. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    I have trouble still with a lot of soreness in the mornings. I wake up and it feels like I'm back to where I started sometimes. Then as the day goes on I start feeling better. I've been able to play basketball 3 days straight with minimal issues. A little stiff but not much else.

    One thing I've noticed is that I don't give my back much thought anymore. The pain is still there, but I'm not drawing any attention to it. I rarely think about it. It's kind of just this background issue. Staying busy helps a lot. The times it does bother me are when I'm tired or bored, I have no where else for my thoughts to go.

    Day 15:

    During the past two weeks has your pain been moving around? How has this affected your belief in the diagnosis?

    Yeah, my pain has moved a pretty good deal. A couple nights ago I was dealing with some upper back pain and I thought it was weird. I've also had a tension headache (I never get those). Not too much else. Maybe a little in my shoulders. It's all muscle pain though and showing up for no real good reason.

    These symptoms only continue to feed my belief in the diagnosis. I continue to heal and get better, I think. I'm on no exercises now for directly treating my back. This is improvement. I'm excited about the possibilities of getting back into yoga and weightlifting, and yet I'm moving slow. I don't want to be too aggressive. Keep moving slowly. It's ok.
  18. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Today, I feel I've made a breakthrough. I've been pain free in my lower back almost the entire day. Today, I went on a field trip with the students at my school. This involved being on my feet the entire day. I got to play some bball with some Thai high school kids as well for about an hour. Also, long car rides. A little sore, that's it, the best I've been since getting hurt a couple years ago.

    Oddly, I did something to my upper back this morning and have some pain there, though it's not very bad and completely manageable.

    Day 16:

    Since starting this program have you told anyone about your condition and TMS? Why or Why not? If you have how did they react?

    Yeah, but I haven't gone into depth with it. Some people have shown interest in mind body syndromes and we had a light chat about it. I see it this way, if I talk about it often that makes it more real and it becomes something I can identify with. I don't want that. I'd like to just live pain free, so I almost never bring it up now. The only times it comes up is with people who knew about my pain from a few months ago.

    I've had no arguments with people believing my pain is structural. There is one guy who has tried to help. He's suggested I do stuff like stretching and heat. I listen to him, and hear him out, then disregard his advice. The guy's never had back issues, he's pretty old, too. Yet, I can't take advice like that seriously anymore, it's just not helpful. TMS is it. It's crystal clear.
  19. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Ok, I'm doing pretty well. I went on a long 6 hour motorbike ride up the tallest mountain in Thailand on Saturday. I started getting pretty stiff about halfway through that, but then calmed down. By the end I was fine. The trip was exhausting, I fell asleep for 12 hours after returning. No major pain issues, no spasms.

    I still have some stiffness and aching sitting here in my desk chair right now. Overall, I'm a lot better. There isn't much that I can't do. I still haven't tried yoga or weightlifting. Those will be the final steps. I have a schedule to return to those and I plan on keeping that schedule as is, so those two activities can wait. No spasms in the past several weeks, best yet.

    Day 17:

    What part of this program do you find the most helpful?

    The educational activities by far. I just keep learning so much about different ways to handle my pain, and it's working very well. I look forward to each one that I read.
  20. nato1003

    nato1003 New Member

    Sometimes it's hard not to think physically about the pain. Last night while playing basketball I made a particularly dangerous, twisting move that tweaked my right lower back muscles a bit. This morning while teaching I nearly had a back spasm. It's calming down now, but kinda freaky. I just try and keep going, not thinking much of it.

    It's amazing how fast I can calm my back down now. I feel pretty good again. I think mentally I'm much better at thinking about the right things and staying away from pain.
    Over the long term, since reading "Healing Back Pain", my back is slowly healing. I've had some bumps, and I've tested it in vigorous sports already. It can withstand more than before. I don't feel completely healed, but much, much better. I'm not afraid to make any sharp cuts on the court. I do everything I used to do and am getting back to game shape. Also, I'm playing more often and I'm not afraid to go out anymore. I just do it. Yes, sometimes I make a particularly stressful move that may trigger some pain, but I then recover and my body learns to accept that new movement. I'm gonna keep up what I'm doing. I'd say I'm about 80% better.

    Day 18:

    Take a look at your journal entries. What emotions are most prevalent?

    The biggest thing I see is hope for the future. I'm no longer sad about these things. They were painful at the time, but now don't bother me so much. I put myself in the position of my past, and you know, it doesn't really bother me much anymore. I see that stuff as quite trivial. Maybe it's the years of meditation or general maturity. For example, there was a girl I really used to like who rejected me to go to the prom. It absolutely destroyed my at the time. Now, I think it's really silly. Most of my entries are that kind of stuff. Things that used to bother me, but now are just...silly. I was an emotional wreck when I was younger. I had a very low threshold for stress. This stuff doesn't bother me anymore.

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