Hello All, Nothing is more powerful than reading the success stories of others who have endured and overcome mind-body ailments. I've collated and posted these success stories for you to read at your leisure. I'm hoping that some may hold the golden ticket to your healing. Happy Sunday and be blessed, Alison – Facet Joint Disease Facet Joint Disease of the spine and ‘slipped’ discs. Alison had suffered from 4 years of severe back pain which had begun when lifting something awkwardly. She was diagnosed with Facet Joint Disease and had tried a number of treatments unsuccessfully. E.g. Physiotherapy, Osteopathy, Hydrocortisone injections, Pain Management Clinic, nerve pain block, cryotherapy etc. When Alison attended for an assessment she was in constant pain despite being on morphine and she had been unable to work for over 2 years. Her life was severely restricted, she had put on a lot of weight and she was unable to travel, which she used to do a lot. She had also had to give up driving due to severe episodes of anaphylactic shock that she had suffered from for 9 months. She had to inject herself with adrenalin regularly as tests had been unable to find out what she was allergic to. Within days she was off the morphine, within 6 weeks she was completely mobile and predominantly pain free and had not had any further episodes of anaphylactic shock since her first appointment. Within 4 months she had joined in a 10k run, lost weight, was back working and enjoying life again. The following is a press release written about her recovery, followed by a letter from Alison herself. From 4 years of severe back pain to pain free and running 10k! Just 5 months ago Alison Price* from Sheffield was at desperation point with back pain and sciatica, despite high doses of pain medication, including morphine. Within weeks of following a pioneering programme for pain relief inYorkshire, Alison first began aquarobics and then more energetic exercise classes at her local gym. Within 4 months she had completed a 10k run raising £200 for Cancer Research UK, has lost 3 stone, is back working in their family business again and now that she is free of the debilitating pain she had had for 4 years she is about to complete another goal of flying abroad on holiday. Alison and others who have learned about this self-help programme now use their new understanding to prevent future stress-related health problems which with Christmas coming up, everyone would benefit from! Alison’s problems began 4 years ago when she injured her back while lifting. Since that time, despite seeing a Specialist and Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, plus trying treatments such as Cryotherapy and nerve blocks into her spine, nothing had given her more than a few days ease of pain. She was diagnosed with Facet Joint Disease and due to the pain she was unable to work or do all the other activities she loved, such as scuba diving and skiing and ultimately she began to pile on weight. Just over 3 months ago Alison’s Osteopath mentioned a book written by Dr John Sarno in New York, which explains Dr Sarno’s pioneering work with chronic pain, called Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMS). Alison read the book, realized that this may be the answer to her pain and then found that despite the lack of awareness in the UK about this approach, there was a Specialist not too far from her. Alison was unable to drive very far at the time due not only to the pain, but the fear of having another anaphylactic shock which she had begun suffering from since October 2007 for which the Doctors could find no reason. Her husband therefore drove her to her first consultation with Georgina Oldfield, the Chartered Physiotherapist who runs the Pain Relief Centre in Huddersfield, and they returned the following week to attend a lecture. From that day on Alison made rapid progress on the TMS Recovery programme, run from the Pain Relief Centre, and in September she completed a 10k run, which was just one of the goals she had set to help motivate her during her recovery. Alison says, “I quickly accepted the principles of the programme and decided to start with some gentle exercise to test the TMS theory that it wasn’t the facet joint disease or slipped discs causing the pain, but the pain was caused unconsciously to protect me from having to deal with the stresses in my life. When the pain didn’t increase after starting aquarobics it gave me the confidence to do more and more and gradually the pain became easier and even the anaphylactic shock episodes I had been experiencing over the previous few months just stopped soon after my first visit to Georgie.” Alison’s update letter to Georgie, 3 months after her initial assessment “I am still in training for the 10k with less than 4 weeks to go! Aaaaaargh! I am now attending at least 2 fitness classes A DAY (sometimes 3!) to try and boost my aerobic fitness but my weight doesn’t seem to want to shift so running is still very difficult – it is like running whilst carrying a small child! I am sure I will get there if I can shift another stone by Sunday 21st September! Even though my weight doesn’t want to leave me (it has become very attached!!) I have gone down in size from a size 22 to a size 18 though, which is amazing! We cancelled our holiday abroad a while ago because I was worried about anaphylactic shock, however since starting the TMS programme I have not had a severe shock (a couple of lesser reactions) – which again is another milestone. My confidence on that score has increased and I have decided to set another goal (which hopefully will not be too far away) which is to book a last minute trip abroad as soon as I reach a size 16. I have found setting myself goals as part of my recovery works really well. After diagnosis my first goal was to go to the gym. Being so overweight because of inactivity for 4 years and (up until this point) being in so much pain because of my back this was a huge step. But I decided to listen to my body, not what the doctors told me I should and shouldn’t do, and it worked. I did aqua aerobics and went on from there. My second goal was to get myself back into business. We run our own business which my husband has had to manage on his own for such a long time. Being away from the business for so long meant I had lost a lot of self confidence which made it even more difficult to want to go back. However after a couple of hours my confidence started to grow and I have now managed to get us in front of a major player who has agreed to use us – which will double the size of our little company – so I AM BACK!!!! My third goal, as you know, is something really major. To run the 10k. When I decided to do this I was still struggling up a flight of stairs. Now I am happy to say I do at least 2 hours pain free exercise 5 days a week and I can run over 1k already – so I will be able to do the 10k in 4 weeks (albeit very slowly!). My fourth goal is to go abroad. Up until 4 years ago we went away every couple of months as we are keen travellers. When I first slipped the discs in my back we stopped going as frequently and we did less adventurous things (I used to ski and scuba dive and enjoyed safari’s. I ended up watching the rest of the family do it while I sat on the side-lines). Even when we did go away I felt so self conscious because I had leapt to a size 22 and found the seats too small on the plane. We have booked and cancelled many trips because of my back, and more recently, the anaphylaxis. Now I have decided as soon as I hit a size 16 we are on that plane!! One dress size to go!! It should be October -ish and I hope to scuba dive. We have already booked a two week trip to Canadain March to ski. I set one goal at a time and as soon as I near completion of a goal I set another. I found this helps focus my mind on getting better and it always gives me something to look forward to. Kind regards Alison p.s I am still rubbish at journaling. I still do it in my head and tell myself off!! No major twinges or anaphylactic shock since our last meeting Alon – back pain, surgery & returning to sport Be true (and kind) to yourself, the pain is only a diversion! Since childhood I was always involved in at least one sport or another. I was a hyperactive child who needed to expend large amounts of energy, something that continues until the present day. I turned 50 in early 2016. My back problems started around my late teen years, after years of Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis and Athletics, it seemed ‘normal’ to have my back ache from time to time. Through my twenties and until my mid thirties my back problem got progressively worse until I decided to have an operation to fix a right hand bulging L4-5 disc. Looking back now, I had so very little joy in my life, something which I know now contributed directly to my physical situation. 5 days after my back operation, which was successful, I developed a pain on my left side of the lower back. Little did I know then that my disturbed brain was playing tricks on me. Nevertheless as time passed by, I was progressing nicely back into my normal physically active life and on top of that being able to turn my long time passion other than sports, playing drums, into what I call professional fidgeting. Year in and year out, with playing the drums, band tours, recordings, photo shoots (which I hated with passion) together with playing tennis and then turning to kite surfing, my back was being a sort of Jekyll and Hyde. Some good days, some bad days. Episodes I used to call them, and some were more debilitating than others. My life changed dramatically when I lost my parents suddenly and in a very short space of time, 3 years ago at the age of 47. A few months after my father passed away I was supposed to meet my brother and go together to visit my uncle in hospital where he was evidently spending his last days. At that very morning, what in hindsight seemed like my brain telling me enough (morbidity) is enough, I suffered a violent sciatic attack, lost the ability to move with excruciating pain and subsequently lost about 20% of strength in my right leg. Some of my calf and toes were left numb. The days that followed were filled with a lot of pain, crying and desperate future prospects. Depressed and heavily medicated I lay days in bed, luckily having my girlfriend being very supportive and caring, until one day I got a text from my cousin with a link to a miracle sciatic recovery story which featured Dr. John Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain. After 30 minutes of receiving the text I was well into the first 20-30 pages google books let you read for free and I could not wait to pay and continue reading. It was amazing and actually very emotional to read things about myself that I never knew, or never realised. It was as if Dr. Sarno knew me and my personality without ever meeting or speaking to me before. From limping around the house, to starting long walks and then light jogging, I launched my kite for the first time after 45 days from the attack, whereas a month and a half earlier I was sitting disabled in front of a neurosurgeon telling me she’ll need to dig a bit into my spinal bone this time around….. The miracle point for me was above all, what Dr. Sarno’s book explains in an unbelievably straight forward, ground breaking way. That nothing physically is wrong with me!!! It was the best news I could ever get. It all had a perfectly good explanation. The cause of all the years of pain…. it was one of the biggest revelations of my life and I am thankful for it every single day since. Every kitesurfing day, 10k day, tennis day, swimming day, hiking day or drumming gig. I am thankful. I am thankful even on my lazy days! But the story does not end here. As I now know, with help from Georgie Oldfield of SIRPA (Dr. Sarno’s TMS ship captain in the UK and beyond), the knowledge and realisation that you need to continue to take care of all departments or “rooms” in your life, especially the emotional one, is something I was never used to doing. I was very good at bottling up or ignoring things altogether. I now meditate and journal almost every day and even if I have a niggle of pain once in a while, I always revert back to the truth…. it’s only a diversion! Best wishes on your road to recovery, Chris – Stress Email to Georgie Oldfield Prior to my first consultation with you last year I was putting up with painful stiffness and soreness which seemed to start in my lower back at the base of my spine and travel via my right shoulder through my neck and (probably because it had no further to go !) cause sometimes severe headache across my temples and behind my eyes. In short I was suffering quite badly, feeling permanently tired, irritable and demotivated. Some of these symptoms may have been due to all types of painkillers which I was taking. I had also spent a fortune with orthodox Physiotherapists who tried to help and also, so called, `Sports Injury Clinics` who made matters worse in professing to know where the root of my pain was and applying intrusive massage which I did not need. After our initial discussion and treatment, I left the clinic feeling a relief which stemmed from confidence in a potential cure for the pain I was suffering. The concept of TMS was a new one to me and I began to reflect on the many years of work pressures particularly, money struggles, relationships, bad decisions and even things from my childhood and education days which affected me traumatically. I booked second and third visits to your clinic almost out of comfort and curiousity as, being a typically cynical bloke (macho stereotype) I could hardly believe that TMS was the cause of my pain and your treatment along with “The Book” was working. Fortunately I was able to take it all on board very quickly, my pain was going which added to my belief in the treatment and within three weeks I was, and still am, totally free of the pain described above and `belief` has become `faith`. Shoulder tension and headache caused by driving long distances, stiffness from gardening, the occasional `domestic` , the weather — etc, etc, by simply identifying any potential cause of TMS at the outset I am able to lead a very happy, stress free, pain free life and I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your help. Georgina – take a bow and if ever you have any special offers on a refresher course please let me know, it would be nice to leave you with a hug next time instead of a handshake !!!!. Best wishes and kind regards Chris S Christa – Fibromyalgia Hi, I am 56 years old and have been diagnosed with FM in 2008 and found in Nov 2010 that I suffer from TMS. Always been proud of my personality, being able to sort and cope with anything that life throws at me. Emigrating from Germany to England with a young family learning the language, moving house and city, children leaving home, losing my job, just to name some hurdles. Having realised now that I was getting very frustrated and not coping well any more for approximately the last 25 years. Some of the symptoms: • Fatigue, taking tablets to keep going • Overcome with feeling nauseous several times a day • Feeling numbness in my back • Headaches, poor concentration, memory loss • And severe pain in various places over the last two years, resulting in taking prescription drugs [propranolol and tegretol], as over the counter painkillers didn’t help. The pain being worse at night when resting or when trying to sleep. I was diagnosed with TMS (Stress Illness) by Georgie Oldfield in October 2010, what a relief it was. I received help, guidance and support in communicating with Georgie on Skype and by e-mail, as well as reading her workbook and listening to her CD. I can honestly say my life changed the day I started my program. Within the first few weeks I was able to relax at night with my legs up without pain and stopped my prescription drugs. By the end of my course I was off all tablets, had no pain and in control again of my body and mind. It is now January 2011, with the normal pressures of the festive season I found it difficult to stick to my routine (my “me” time) and had a slight set back. However, taking time for myself again, doing my old routine and I also started to read books from Dr. John E. Sarno (Healing back pain and The Mindbody Prescription) and Dr Wayne W. Dyer (Stop the excuses and 1 0 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace). It has taken me this time, just over a week, to get control again over my pain, only my headaches are taking a bit more controlling. It is a great and calming feeling to know that I have the knowledge to help myself, that it is up to me, and that I don`t need to take any medication. I can`t believe how well I’ve done, admitting though, that I have to keep some kind of routine for longer, if not for ever. I like to say though if anybody is not sure if they should try it, do, if you have, and if you haven`t got a satisfactory result yet, keep going. What have you got to lose, “only your pain”. 2013 – over 2 years on and Christa remains well “I am a former Fibromyalgia sufferer. Following the SIRPA programme and attending a SIRPA retreat, apart from regaining my health, I was able to learn in depth, personal ways of recognising how to deal with the stresses in my life. I learned all different skills to stop the chatter in my head, be calmer, like myself and be myself. It’s two years on now and I’m still using those valuable skills. I didn’t realise at the time, but looking back now, what else it had shown me was that my old self was still in there.” Dave – Prolapsed Cervical Disc In 2003 Dave, a lorry driver from Yorkshire, was referred to me (Georgie Oldfield) with acute, severe neck and shoulder pain. At the time I was working in the NHS and visited him at home to assess and treat him with Adapted Reflextherapy in Spinal Pain. After half a dozen treatments he was discharged pain free and not restricted in any way. In 2007 the pain returned, initially in his neck and right arm and then spread to his left arm. Despite Physiotherapy treatment and medication nothing seemed to resolve the pain and an MRI scan of his cervical spine showed evidence of a prolapsed disc. During a follow up visit to the Specialist it was recommended that he be referred for surgery to remove the bulging disc, which was assumed to be causing his pain. At this point DAVE said he was not prepared to consider that yet and mentioned he wanted to see if he could find the lady who had cured him by massaging his feet last time he had the pain! Assessment findings and conclusions After finding me through Google Dave made an appointment to see me in April of 2008 with the expectation of being treated with Adapted Reflextherapy in Spinal Pain (AdRT). On assessment Dave told me he had had constant pain for 12 months which was now in his neck and down both arms, with the right more severe than the left. He described this as being on a level from 2 – 7 on a scale from 0 – 10. He was also complaining of a 2 week history of the recurrence of an old back problem, plus pins and needles into his right hand and toes. Throughout the assessment Dave had been rubbing his right arm to try and ease the pain. His neck movement was severely limited due to pain but he had non-specific tenderness along the whole cervical spine. He had neurological signs, and although he did not know which disc had prolapsed, the signs were bilateral and multilevel, plus involved the lower limbs. Dave had never had a neck injury and apart from a prolapsed disc, any other more serious conditions, such as cancer, had been ruled out. Due to these factors and the lack of consistency in his pain over the years, I suggested to him that his symptoms might be stress induced. I explained how his pattern of neck and shoulder pain, which covered the areas fed by 4 nerve roots, could not be due to the compression of just one nerve root by a bulging disc. I also suggested that this diagnosis also didn’t explain why he had had severe pain 5 years ago, then a recurrence in the past 12 months despite being pain free for so long in between. I went on to say that I could treat him with AdRT, but that it might be beneficial trying to find the underlying cause rather than treating him now, but not being able to prevent future relapses. I explained about the concept of stress illness and how pain and other persistent symptoms are an escape mechanism for the build up of inner emotional turmoil that has no other outlet. The history of Dave’s symptoms Although initially unsure whether he wanted to go down this route, Dave began to explain that a year or so after his episode of pain settled in 2003 he had developed depression. In the end he resorted to Psychotherapy, which did help, although he said he found it difficult to talk about his problems. The depression then lifted, but after a period of time his neck and arm pain returned 12 months previously and had remained constant since then. I explained to him how in 2003, although my treatment had resolved the pain, we had not addressed the root cause, which was the internal emotional turmoil due to stress. Because the underlying cause was not address, in time as his stress levels built up again the depression manifested as another outlet. When the depression lifted he managed for a while until an outlet was again needed from his inner emotions, hence the recurrence of his neck and arm pain. Pain Free! At this point I noticed that Dave had stopped rubbing his arm, so I asked him how his pain was. He looked baffled as he realised that the pain he had had constantly for a year was gone completely. We therefore again discussed his choice of treatment and he realised that his pain resolving was a powerful indicator that the pain was psychophysiological, so there was no point in having a hands on treatment. At this point we went through a basic timeline to see if he could begin to recognise what the main stressors had been in his life, including current ones and how the symptoms he had experienced fitted into this. Despite the pain resolving so quickly, Dave realised how important it was to gain a full understanding of the concept and follow the advice in order to prevent a recurrence. On following him up a few days later Dave said he had slept through on the Sunday night after the assessment for the first time in months, indicating the stress he had been experiencing with his job. He said his neck and arm pain had not recurred, but occasionally he would get twinges in his back, but on talking to himself he could get rid of it in minutes. Dave found that reading Dr Sarno’s book, ‘The Mindbody Prescription’, gave him the information he needed to understand the whole concept and that listening to the TMS (now SIRPA) Recovery CD enabled him to review this, as well as pick up more techniques to help him in his recovery. Offloading how he felt by journaling was something he found very helpful in learning how to deal with what was happening in his life and letting go of things from the past. On following up At the end of May 2008 Dave emailed to tell me that he had had no further neck and arm pain, but was having some stiffness in his neck and shoulders, which until I mentioned it he had not realised was also a symptom of stress illness. He had also had a brief spell of low back pain which he had dealt with by talking positively to himself, working out what was bothering him and then telling the pain to go away. Effective, but sneaky recurrence! Dave continued to use the techniques as and when necessary until the end of June 2008, when I received a text saying, “I’m in the Algarve. Bad back pain. Can’t move. Tried everything. Any suggestions before I call Dr?”. I sent a text back suggesting he work out what was going on, how he felt and write about it to offload. I received another text 30 minutes later asking if he could call me, which he duly did about 30 minutes later. Working it all out While speaking on the phone Dave told me that he had just woken up in agony despite no having been absolutely fine the day before. It was apparently day 10 of a holiday with his wife when you would have expected him to have relaxed from any work issues and less likely to be stressed and therefore develop symptoms. He told me however that he hated the Algarve and hot, sunny holidays, but they went there every year because his wife liked the area. He also realised that he hated having to make decisions for them both every morning as to what they were going to do and had begun to feel resentful about everything, although he wasn’t consciously aware how angry he was deep down. Dave told me that he had begun writing and worked out what had been bothering him so was able to offload about it onto paper. This resulted in him being able to get up, dressed and showered and prevented his wife from having to call an ambulance. He then sat down with his wife to explain how he felt and to discuss what they should do in the future to get around these problems. By the time he called me he was considerably better and his email on his return, said “Just to say thanks for your help while on holiday. After we spoke on the phone it was only another 30 minutes before I was back to normal and having no ill effects whatsoever. Once again thanks” And finally…… On talking to Dave this last weekend he told me that although he is still under a lot of pressure, he is able to deal with it much better these days. He said he still has occasional back ache, but this rarely lasts more than about 5 – 10 minutes and he recognises it as a sign that he is not dealing with something very well and starts to journal again, reviews the CD and where possible deals with whatever is causing him stress. I asked what techniques he finds most useful and his answer was; 1) Reviewing the information on the CD 2) Journaling 3) Shouting, swearing and screaming while in his cab! Interestingly he also told me that he hasn’t had any recurrence of his neck or back pain since his first consultation a year ago. The measure of his internal pressure is twinges in his lower back, but never his neck. Finally I asked Dave what, apart from the pain relief, were the benefits of learning about the concept of stress illness. He told me it has changed his life for the better. Although he says he still has a temper, he is less likely to lose it these days because he has learnt to offload how he’s feeling by journaling and instead of brooding about something he will come straight to the point and speak out about it. And finally, Dave told me; “I feel this is for life ……. I feel I can deal with pressure and my emotions better now …. I know I can now prevent future problems” Debbie – Fibromyalgia I was diagnosed in December 2010 with Fibromyalgia. My symptoms appeared quite suddenly in the summer of 2010. It started with strange burning/ aching pains in my hands that rapidly progressed to my feet and thighs. Within a couple of weeks I went from normal daily routines to not being able to walk or hold a pen without severe pain. I felt lost as no pain killers were effective. It totally ruined by summer family holiday for me and my husband and daughter as I found it difficult to join in on our active holiday, which also caused stress and friction which increased my pain symptoms (I realise that now) For the next few months the pains came and went but I stopped any physical activities that I had previously enjoyed, even walking the dog for 10 minutes daily stopped. I had been seeing a therapist, Louise Levy, for general anxiety issues, for which I had received hypnotherapy and counselling and she suggested I read the mind body prescription, which I did and I then, with Louise’s help, completed the SIRPA programme. Louise also used her skill as a hypnotherapist to enhance the programme so every week at the end of our session I was hypnotised to reinforce what we had discussed in the session. I found this really useful. Within 2 weeks of starting the programme my pains had virtually disappeared. I learnt to understand that my pains were a distraction and that I needed to acknowledge that and address the real issues. I found visualization and being strict with my goals beneficial. I now know what I need to do to keep my mind and body healthy and accept that I will need to keep working at it, maybe not for ever but for now. I have a bag of ‘tools’ and I can dip in whenever I choose to. The support of Louise has been invaluable, her calm positive attitude has spurred me on especially when at times I have wobbled. I have learnt to be kinder to myself and accept that I cannot change other people but I can change my reaction to them. The programme gave me a structure to follow and a wealth of experience to learn from. Enrique – RSI In 2005, I was working as an Information Technology Manager for a large company. I had a wife and 2 very young boys, ages 1 and 3. My wife was a stay-at-home Mom so I was the sole provider for the family. I was 36 years old. I had been working for this company for 4 years. It was a stressful job with high expectations placed upon me and the department that I ran. The job demanded that I put in long hours in front of the computer writing emails, reports, and completing other work on the computer. My boss, who I think had good intentions, was a micro-manager type and was making it difficult at the office for me by the nature of how he managed. Generally, I felt that he was hard to please and I worried a lot about doing a good job. Gradually during that year, I began to develop a dull aching pain in my right wrist where it bends (ulnar nerve side) when I bent to hit the backspace key. By September, this pain was bad and I actually developed a noticeable swelling in the area. The pain worsened to the point where it was seriously affecting my ability to work so saw a doctor about it. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and ganglion cyst were diagnosed and I was sent to hand therapy a few times per week for approximately 5 months. During those five months, I underwent various treatments such as hot wax, massage, ultra-sound, and strength training. The therapy alleviated the pain to a large degree, but it did not result in any long lasting improvement. At the advice of the therapist I made some changes while working in front of the computer. I changed to a mouse that did not require bending my wrist. The mouse looked like a joystick and you gripped it like you would a shifter in a car. I wore a brace to limit movement of my wrist. And I began using Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software to reduce typing at work. It took a long time to master, but eventually became quite good at it. Additionally, my employer paid for an ergonomics expert to come in and review my workstation for any recommended modifications. As a result of that, I was able to buy a new ergonomically sound chair and a keyboard tray which was installed under my desk. At the end of the year, I still had pain regardless of all of the modifications. The beginning of 2006 brought ongoing challenges at work and I began feeling less and less capable to meet the growing demands. My job was becoming less and less enjoyable and I began to dread going into the office. I wasn’t doing such a great job. I started making bad decisions or sometimes avoiding decisions. At some point, I even stopped having staff meetings. I wasn’t being a good manager for my team. My boss was verbally and visibly not happy with me. It was a vicious downward spiral of having negative thoughts of doubt and fear which lead to poor work performance which lead to my boss’ disapproval which made me feel even more doubtful and fearful. During this time, in January of 2006, I was referred to a hand surgeon to determine if surgery could help me. Initially, he just wanted to take it slow and see if I could continue to alter my work habits in such a way that the wrist would heal on its own. I tried many different mice. I tried left handed ones, big ones, small ones, touch pads, etc. None seemed to make any difference. Things even seemed to worsen. While trying to learn to use a left-handed mouse, I started to develop pain in that hand! I finally found a handless mouse called SmartNav that allowed me to move the cursor around the screen without using my hands. Of course, this helped me by removing the need to use my hand, but it was demoralizing to have to use a device designed for quadriplegics. It was at this same point in time that I started to develop pains in the backs of both hands. It was a shooting, needle-like pain that radiated from my knuckles and to my wrist and occasionally up to my forearm. It specifically hurt when I typed. It started lightly in the morning, but by end of the day, my hands were “buzzing” from the pain. The Dragon software allowed me to get through the day, but there were some things that even that kind of software was incapable of. I had to type a little bit to get through my job duties and even that minor amount of typing was causing me pain. When I mentioned these new pain symptoms to my doctor, he said he thought it was tendonitis and prescribed rest, reduced typing, and ibuprofen for when the pain was very bad. During these painful days, the only things that would help me were to take ibuprofen daily and to soak my hands in alternating cold and warm water each evening. It was a very low point in this fight against RSI. In mid-2006 the company made a decision to combine my department with another for synergistic purposes. This basically pitted me against the manager of the other department to lead the new department. In my paranoid mind I felt that this move to combine departments was meant to oust me as manager, but make it look fair by allowing both of us to interview for the new position. I don’t know if this was true or not, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t have the confidence in myself and my abilities to be able to take on even more responsibility that what I was already given. I felt this was a no-win situation for me. I therefore declined to interview for it. I essentially demoted myself. When the departments were combined, I was offered a staff position at a substantially lower pay. I accepted that because I needed to pay the bills at home, but it was quite demoralizing. I’ll never forget how defeated I felt during that time. In May 2006, the hand surgeon decided that removal of the cyst was justified. It was removed in early July and with my hand in a cast I took a month off from work and rested. I didn’t use a computer or did anything that might cause repetitive use of my hands. I hoped that this time off would heal my wrist and the structures in the back of my hands that I thought were causing the shooting pains. I desperately wanted to be healed. When I returned to work in August, I kept using the SmartNav and Dragon software, but tried to type a little to see if the month off had allowed my hands to heal. It was the most incredible disappointment when after just a few keystrokes, I was feeling the same exact pain once again. The surgery to remove the cyst had been successful and the pain in my wrist did feel a bit better, but the pain in my hands persisted. I had a follow up visit with the surgeon during which he expressed his satisfaction with the results of the surgery and basically closed my case. However, he had very little to say about the pain in my hands. He just recommended that I see my general practitioner (GP) about it. However, my GP could only recommend rest, pain killers, and practicing good ergonomics when using my computer – nothing new. Six months later, in February of 2007, I again visited my GP. The pain was not going away despite not using my hands to type or use the mouse. Unfortunately, the doctor could do nothing. It was at this point that I knew I was on my own and I turned to the internet for answers. In August of 2007, I found an online RSI support group, www.sorehand.org. I read through the posts looking for people with similar symptoms as mine. I stumbled upon some posts in reference to Dr. John Sarno’s approach to chronic pain. One man had the exact same wrist problem that I had in 2006 and claimed to be 100% healed in a short time after reading a book. I was very intrigued and read these posts voraciously. It was a ray of hope during a very dark and frustrating time. In retrospect, reading those posts was like a new awakening. Somehow, I knew that this could be my answer. I purchased The Divided Mind by Dr. Sarno. It’s an intimidatingly thick book yet I devoured it. I was reading it a second time through after a week. In my 20’s I read a lot of books on the power of the mind — books by Norman Vincent Peale, James Allen, Napoleon Hill, and Anthony Robins to name some. Being the overachiever type, I set goals to read one self-help book a month. I did this for 10 years. So I believe that with that sort of background about the power of the human mind, the idea of TMS was not outlandish to me. And it explains for me why and how I easily accepted the ideas so quickly from just reading a book. Within a just a few days of finishing the book the first time, I felt like I wanted to try testing the boundaries of how much I could type. I remember how giddy I was as I started typing, a little at first, but then little by little I was typing normally again, not quite the 18,000 keystrokes from the past, but a few thousand with NO major pain. There was only some very minor discomfort that was not pain as much as it was a tingling in the hands like what you would feel when a limb falls asleep. This reinforced that it had to be TMS. Moreover, there was absolutely no lingering pain when I got home. It was really mind blowing. I was actually healing from reading a book! I’m not sure what my co-workers thought when I clumsily tried to explain. By end of September, one month after learning about TMS, and I was almost 100% cured. It took a couple more weeks and continued reading and emotional exploration to be 100% pain free. The serendipity of this was that other aches and pains that I had suffered over the years (back/neck pain, plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, etc) never re-appeared again. That August 2007 marks a major turning point for me. Everything changed after that. Only seven months later I was promoted to a manager position again at work (under a new boss). And then in another 19 months I was promoted again to manage a larger department. Today I have no chronic pain. I don’t fear physical activity. I type for hours. I use any keyboard or mouse. I use any chair and even slouch sometimes. I know now that my body is capable of much greater things then I ever thought possible. I know that my mind has a profound control over my body. I once read in a James Allen book that “the body is the servant of the mind”. This idea carries a new significance for me. Finding out about TMS also opened my eyes to limitations that pain placed on me since I was a teenager. With my newfound knowledge I embarked to regain lost health and fitness. I started jogging and success after success led to many other physical activities over time. I’ve run various distances up to marathons and competed in triathlons including Ironman events which are some of the toughest one-day events in the world. My life is quite different because of the knowledge I now have about TMS. I am much more aware of my thoughts and feelings. I am less likely to bottle up emotions. I am more forgiving of myself. I am thankful for each day. I’m truly thankful that I found out about TMS. GP – Head & Neck Pain I have had problems on and off with my neck and back for years and over the past 2 years I have had persistent mid and lower back pain. This became much worse and I also developed severe, constant head and neck pain after spending two 18 hours days at the computer. The severe head and neck pain was preventing me from functioning normally, so this caused me to search online to find someone who could help me. I came across Georgie’s website and felt that her philosophy was similar to mine in that she didn’t just focus on the physical cause, so I made an appointment with her. At the time I didn’t actually realize just how different her approach was, but after she examined me and explained how pain can be caused by stress, I was interested enough to look into it further. I went off to listen to the SIRPA Recovery CD and decided to return for the full in-depth assessment a few days later. Even at this point I still hadn’t accepted that what appeared to be a physical condition could actually be emotionally induced. Having completed the pre-assessment forms prior to the appointment though, we went through this and discussed any current and past stresses in my life. Georgie questioned me to try and find any links and triggers to help me recognize and accept that my symptoms were a result of the stresses in my life. I had already informed Georgie that I had had urgent heart surgery after collapsing with heart problems 2 years earlier, without which I had been told I could die in days. Although this was a shock, I had no choice and had obviously agreed to have the surgery. At first I couldn’t see how this, or any of the other quite common stresses I have had in my life, could have anything to do with my current health problems. Although I consistently work very long hours and travel in my job, because I enjoy my work, I also couldn’t see how this could be relevant. During the assessment I had also told Georgie that for the previous few months I had been unable to write more than even an address because my hand would go dead and I would be unable to use it for a while. There appeared to be no reason for this, especially as I could type without any problem and had no other problems with it. I rationalized that writing must use different muscles and tendons and as I could usually get away with not writing, I had just ignored it. Georgie explained that it is the same muscles that are used to write or type, so there was no physical reason for me only to have a problem while writing and that there must be an underlying reason for this. We discussed this to try and work out any links and triggers with any stresses in my life, but initially I couldn’t see a link, especially as I couldn’t actually remember when the problem had begun. At one point though, I suddenly had an insight and remembered that I had been writing in my office when I had collapsed with my heart problem. I then realised that I hadn’t actually been able to write properly since then. Georgie explained that this had resulted in my body producing a maladapted ‘fight and flight’ response after my brain had connected writing with nearly dying. In other words, this extreme reaction was preventing me from writing because my brain was automatically ‘protecting’ me from dying. At first this seemed a bit far-fetched, but I was prepared to follow Georgie’s advice and see if I could overcome this. Within a couple of weeks of my appointment my headaches, neck and back pain had resolved and within 6 weeks my arm problem was significantly better. P.S. In an email to Georgie 4 months after his initial assessment, this Yorkshire GP told Georgie; “I am fine thanks – all of the symptoms seem to have vanished!” Hayley – elite runner Experience with TMS: my perspective as an elite athlete My first major experience with TMS was in February 2015; I was training for the London Marathon and everything was going well with my running. I had just run a half marathon personal best and had some promising physiological tests, which showed I was fitter than I had ever been. My lifelong ambitions of running for England were finally looking to be within my reach. I should have been feeling on top of the word, but I wasn’t. Things in my personal life were not so great; I had just split up with my partner following three years of problems, which had made the last few months extremely miserable. I was unsatisfied with my career outside of running and I was existing in a limbo of sorts, staying with friends after moving out of the flat I’d shared with my ex. Although my running was going amazingly, I was starting to feel the pressure that I was reaching heights I’d always thought were only in my dreams. Then, disaster struck…I was out for an easy run and my leg started to hurt….not just a niggle but an agonizing, throbbing pain. I tried to push through it but it got worse until I had no choice but to stop. I took the bus home in agony, catastrophizing the situation in my mind…if running was the only thing left that was going well in my life, where would I be without it? The next few days were horrible; I could hardly walk and had to take time off from my job (which, admittedly, I hated). I booked an emergency physiotherapy appointment and my physio took one look at me unable to walk, put me on crutches and in a boot and referred me for an MRI. In hindsight, this was probably the worst thing that could have happened. In a few days, the feelings of depression and hopelessness of not being able to do what I loved mounted. I felt isolated and terrified of the MRI results. The pain intensified so that I couldn’t put any weight through the leg at all. I awaited the results of my scan, but had already resigned myself to never running again and that my hope of making the Olympics was gone forever. Maybe there was another reason for my pain? Then, I got the results. The scan was clean. Despite agonising pain there was no indication of why I might be unable to walk. This was a pivotal moment for me. I’d come across TMS before and always had some suspicion that I could have been suffering from it. I’d spent university plagued by stomach aches with no explanation. I’d been diagnosed with IBS and anxiety/depression. Throughout my running career, I’d already been dogged by strange injuries that were given diagnoses which just didn’t seem to fit. I recognised all the ‘TMS’ qualities listed in me; I was extremely self-critical and had a hallmark Type A personality. In the past, I’d always found it difficult to fully accept TMS with my background as a Physiological Scientist, putting the emphasis firmly on the physical. I’d visited so many experts who diagnosed me with so many structural abnormalities I should have been surprised I could have run at all. Yet here I was with an extreme pain and a scan that showed nothing that could explain why I was in such agony I could hardly get out of bed. It took me another few weeks before I finally had fully accepted that my pain was caused by my emotions and before I got up the courage to do something about it. Using the books I’d read on the subject I managed to wean myself off of the boot and crutches,but felt like I really needed to see someone who was an expert in mind-body disorders to fully recover. I searched for a practitioner near me on the SIRPA website and came across Claire Lisboa. A quick check of her website convinced me she was the right person to see. Her blog was fascinating and showed her passion for treating people with TMS and the testimonials on her site were glowing. Meeting my SIRPA Practitioner My first meeting with Claire was amazing; she was fabulous –friendly, down to earth and she just seemed to get it. She listened to me as I told her more about how I was feeling than I’d ever shared before. I left feeling happier and more confident than I’d felt in ages. Almost immediately, I started to implement her suggestions; meditation, which I felt was a crucial step for my busy life style, and journaling. I started training my brain to see the pain as a friend reminding me to look after myself better. I realised that I’d always treated myself as I would my worst enemy (this had even led to self-harming during the emotionally abusive relationship). A few weeks on and I was walking almost normally; at Claire’s suggestion I was building up the length of my daily walks and loving them. I was still scared to run but I’d made so much progress that my confidence was growing day by day, despite the thought of returning to my previous levels of competition still seeming very far away. Turns out it wasn’t as far away as I thought. Following Claire’s advice, I continued to build up my activity levels. Within the week, I had managed to do short runs. Although, they were ridiculously slow compared to my prior level, it made me so happy to be running again! It was an amazing feeling and I remembered to thank my body for letting me do each one. I stuck to my plan and gradually increased the distance I was covering. The pain was there but I felt I could observe it rather than let it bother me, given that the scan had showed no damage, and it was reducing with each outing. This boosted my confidence more and more. So where am I now? I’m back! On Sunday, I completed the London marathon. In fact, I didn’t just complete it, I ran my second fastest time ever, less than one minute slower than my pre 2015 time on an arguably more difficult course. I was 3rd woman offthe championship start and my time of 2.38 puts me 5th in the British ranking. I feel like my goal of one day making the Olympics is back within my reach and I am so grateful to Claire and SIRPA for helping me to get my life back. The skills I learnt are so valuable, not just in my running but in all areas of my life. I am a happier person and feel that I am now more on track with my career as well. The Future Although, I feel I have come so far I still feel I have a little way to go. My training is never fully pain free and I am sure that most of these niggles are still TMS. For a normal person, I believe that I wouldn’t even be bothered by TMS anymore but as someone trying to get every inch out of themselves running 80-90 miles a week there is a little way to go. I’m still learning about mind-body disorders and my own self all the time and I believe that full recovery is within my reach. I’d love to talk to you more about how I may be able to achieve this. Running at such a level does present its own challenge in that a physical injury is a possibility, even if smaller than most physios would have you believe. Furthermore, my experiences have made me very interested in the mind-body connection and TMS. I would love to get involved in some way and help others to recover if I can. I am considering becoming a practitioner and would love it if my story could help others. Hazel – Sacroiliitis & Facet Joint Disease Hi my name is Hazel and I would like to share my recovery story. My pain started in January 2012 and 2 years later I am now pain free thanks to SIRPA and the dedicated work by Georgie. Without her help I wouldn’t be the happy person I am today! My pain started up after a bad fall at my Mother’s house. I had no physical breaks or real damage, but looking back I believed this was the emotional trigger. I developed what was genuine pain at the time in my upper back and side. Nothing helped the pain and I ended up on all sorts of strong painkillers and sleeping pills. We spent a fortune on chiropractors and private physios. The medication disagreed with me and I became extremely depressed and anxious. I ended up stopping my exercise classes and became scared to leave the house or even venture into the garden. From a ‘happy go lucky’ person I became totally withdrawn, obsessed with pain. My pain got worse and my Husband felt he had lost me. I had test after test and scan after scan. Despite spending over two thousand pounds on private treatments it made no difference to my pain. I couldn’t walk anywhere, sit comfortably drive or anywhere and I was a nervous wreck. No medication or treatment helped. I was diagnosed with Sacroiliitis, hip problems, facet joint problems and finally Polymyalgia Rheumatica and although mild doses of steroids did help, they didn’t help totally. Finally we discovered Georgie and I travelled down to see her for an assessment in Huddersfield. I felt immediately that she was right, but obviously it takes a while to accept that all your pain and suffering is caused by your emotions and stress and not that there is something physically wrong. I signed up last May and although I found the programme hard to grasp at first, I persevered and I still read the programme as often as possible to reinforce everything. My appointments via phone call with Georgie really helped my confidence which I had lost completely. My Husband is disabled and relies on me to help him to go out and get around. I lost all my confidence to do this too, which further added to my guilt and therefore my pain. Now I have been off steroids over 2 weeks, I am walking further, lifting and even putting light bulbs in ceiling lights! I can climb step ladders, am carrying more and am able to pick things up from the floor again! We recently went to the Cinema which was something I was unable to do before. Having developed extreme pain when on holiday, I was scared stiff of going away again and being in a similar situation. Thanks to Georgie, my husband and also help from Talking Therapies with CBT though, we went abroad twice, which further helped my confidence. What amazes me is I was convinced I had a serious back or rheumatic problem and I also had problems with my eyes! Now I understand my triggers and find positive self-talk and night-time programming my main helpers, along with mindfulness meditation, which I practice every day. I realise this is an ongoing journey and I feel so pleased to now have control over my life and understand the cause of the stiffness and pain. Thank you to Georgie and SIRPA for giving me my life back. I feel like every day is a new day and living in the moment is a better way to be take a step back and make time to relax. I have no fear now and look forward to achieving more goals this year on my continuing journey! Hazel Cross Helen – Low Back Pain I have suffered from low back pain for over 10 years, off and on, but over the past few years it had become much worse with severe spasms which were agonising. Before this I began suffering with depression 20 years ago after my nephew died tragically. Sadly my other two sister’s also lost their sons all in quite a short space of time and I found I couldn’t deal with it very well. I actually felt guilty that I had my own children and I became increasingly depressed and have been on and off medication since then. On top of this I had to deal with a number of other family traumas and was present during a robbery of a Post Office I worked in. During all this time I just had to cope as best I could. Because I tend to be a good listener friends would pour their hearts out to me about their own problems and I took on all their worries. In the end I began to feel I couldn’t cope and became very anxious. I found myself withdrawing from people, not going out socially at all and due to my back pain I found I was able to do less and less actively. Other symptoms of stress that I’ve suffered with over the years are piriformis syndrome, vaginiitis, rectal spasms and tendonitis. I have also suffered from tinnitus ever since I had measles when I was 9 years old and developed a perforated ear drum and then a diseased mastoid. I constantly have buzzing and ringing and I can feel my heart pulsing in my ear and regularly have to have my ear scraped to keep it clear. Various tests over the years have never shown anything seriously wrong, yet even with all the medication, including anti-depressants and Diazepam, I wasn’t able to live my life as I wanted to. I have had counselling over the years and my GP said she would refer me again, but when I went for the initial assessment I was told I would have to wait 18 months before I could begin my course! I already knew about Georgie’s Pain Relief Centre and that she was specialising in pain, so I thought I would ask her if she could help with my back pain. I popped in at first to see if she thought she could help me and just ended up in tears because I felt I didn’t know what else to do. Georgie suggested I listen to the SIRPA Recovery CD to see whether this work was something I would be open to. I listened to it a few times until it began to sink in and then I decided to make an appointment for a full assessment and to do a full stress check up with Georgie. Georgie explained really clearly about Stress Illness and said that as I hadn’t had any injury and that there was no sign of anything serious going on with my back then the pain had to caused by stress. The more she explained, the more I began to realise just how bottling up how I felt over the years could have resulted in not only the pain, but the anxiety and depression. I also began to understand how having negative thoughts running through my mind all the time were just making things so much worse. The most useful technique I found was the journaling. I’m not good at writing usually, but this was a great way to offload everything in my head onto paper without worrying about how it looked. The other thing that helped most was recognising just how much pressure I was putting on myself by the way I spoke to myself. Learning how to stop this and change it was a big step in being able to improve. I found Georgie’s positive self talk tapes brilliant and used them every morning on waking and I would also speak out loud to myself to motivate me. It’s so nice to feel normal again and wake up each morning without my head spinning with thoughts of cancer and me dying. I am much more active and back to my normal sociable self again. In the past few months I have felt like I’ve got my life back in all ways and feel like I can get up in a morning and I feel positive and clear headed. I used to spend each day always thinking bad thoughts and feeling guilty about how all this was affecting my husband. Now I feel in charge of my life again and not the victim I felt for so long. Even my tinnitus is probably about 80% better and sometimes I don’t even notice it! It will take a bit longer to wean myself off my anti-depressants, but now I know I can do it and I can’t believe how much better I feel. My daughter got married recently and I coped with all the pressure leading up to it and managed to really enjoy the whole event, whereas before this I would have been dreading it Hilary – RSI When I first read The Mindbody Prescription by Dr John Sarno my visual migraines disappeared straight away. However the real reason I was reading the book was because of my RSI. I read the book 2 or 3 times, but the RSI (which I’d had for over 10 years) didn’t go away. I was very enthusiastic about the book, but because my RSI didn’t go away, I eventually decided it wasn’t going to work. I think I was expecting a miracle cure or something. Well, about a year later, in about April / May 2005 my plumber came round to do some work in my house. He’s a very chatty person, and we were chatting about all sorts of things. At one stage he mentioned he used to suffer from back pain. Then he said “But that’s a thing of the past, now – thanks to…” then he couldn’t remember the name of the book. As soon as he said those words, though, Dr. Sarno’s book flashed into my mind, and I said “Was it The Mindbody Prescription?” He said, “Yes, that’s it! By the time I got to page 57 my back pain had gone!” He was full of enthusiasm about the book – I joined in his enthusiasm, but told him that it hadn’t worked for my RSI. His enthusiasm was so infectious, though, that I wondered if I shouldn’t try again. For a few years I had been suffering from bad headaches at certain times of the month. I managed to stave off these headaches with vitamin supplements, but I was having to take more and more for them to be effective, and I didn’t always remember to take them. A couple of weeks later, that time of the month came, and I’d been forgetting to take the vitamins. I thought to myself: “Oh no, I’m in for a whopping headache this month”. Then I remembered the conversation with my plumber, and thought to myself determinedly, “No, I’m not.” The next day, my headache started to come on. I started thinking, “Oh no, here it comes…”. Then I remembered again, and thought with great determination: “NO!” – and thought about the TMP book. It went away! I no longer take the vitamin pills, and although the headache sometimes threatens, I can usually get rid of it by thinking about the principles in Dr Sarno’s book. Encouraged by this success, I decided I would have another go at tackling the “Big One” (my repetitive strain injury), in conjunction with a pain management technique (i.e. start typing for very short periods, well within my capacity, and build up slowly). Initially, (perhaps a couple of months?) I didn’t really see any improvement. I was still convinced it was TMS, though, and I started to wonder if I should get psychotherapy. (Hard to get my mind to accept that idea because of the slight stigma attached to it, and also I haven’t had any major childhood traumas or anything, and I consider myself a well-balanced person, why should I need psychotherapy, etc. etc.) I decided to email Dr Sarno to find out if there are any TMS-trained psychotherapists over here in the UK. He replied that there aren’t, but that I should try going to see a psychotherapist and lend them my copy of his book. (Since this time, I’m glad to say that there is now a TMS clinic in the UK – see below for details.) Meanwhile I had contacted Harriet Young, who wrote an article for the UK RSI Association magazine on how she had cured her RSI through reading Dr Sarno’s book. She gave me lots of encouragement (very helpful!) and also recommended a book called “The Journey” by Brandon Bays. Brandon Bays isn’t a medical person, but she describes how she healed a tumour by tackling the emotional causes. If I hadn’t read TMP first I might have been a bit sceptical – but having read TMP first, “The Journey” made perfect sense. There are lots of “Journey” practitioners here in the UK, so I was able to get an appointment with one straight away. After that (or maybe before, even?) I started making small advances. One day I made a small discovery. Previously the pain I got from typing tended to happen AFTERWARDS – maybe a few hours later. Pretty scary, and a very effective tactic in making me afraid to overdo the typing, because I had no way of knowing if I was doing too much. But I noticed a change: I was getting (slight) pain DURING the typing. I didn’t push on with typing when this happened, because I don’t like pain. But when I noticed the change, I thought: “Gotcha!” This was an improvement, because it gave me more control. Even though I stopped when the pain came on, I would tell myself it was TMS, and it would be gone by next day at the latest. There came a time at work when I had to go on a one-day training course on a computer which didn’t have voice-recognition. I could probably have arranged for it to be installed, but I decided not to. I did lots of typing and mousing, and by 3:00pm when I finished, my hands were achy and a bit painful… but no worse after-effects. A week later I was having memory problems on my PC and we decided to remove the voice recognition to see if that was causing the problem. (Previously I wouldn’t have allowed that as I was entirely dependent on it. But I was feeling confident, so we went ahead.) It was supposed to be for half a day, but after that time the results were inconclusive, so I decided to keep it off for the rest of the day. The next morning I rang the Systems Administrator to ask him to put the vr back on. No reply – I think he was off sick. I thought of ringing his colleague but didn’t get around to it. That afternoon his colleague rang me and at that stage I asked her to put the vr back on. Nearly 2 days of typing with no major pain! After that I decided I would not use my voice recognition until midday every day at work. By September 2005 I had reduced my use of voice recognition to 1 hour a day and, in October 2005 I stopped using it altogether. Since that time I haven’t used my voice recognition. I work 4 days a week in front of the computer and also use it a lot at home for the Internet. Irene – Sciatica My pain story began in 2000. I was living 450 miles away from my elderly parents who both were showing symptoms of dementia and I was travelling up and down the country regularly to try to care for them. The first indication anything was wrong with my health was my breathing. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Asthma. I then found out, after I had an extreme nose bleed, that I had high blood pressure. By the end of 2001 my Dad’s health had deteriorated so much he was admitted to hospital and died two months later. I now had to care full time for my Mum who could not manage on her own. I lived with her for nearly 3 years, before she moved into a Nursing Home, going home to my own family only occasionally when I had respite for Mum. I started to get excruciating pain in my left leg and was diagnosed with sciatica. I went to a Chiropractor who manipulated my back and after several weeks of treatment the pain went away. Over the next few years I had intermittent pain in my leg and I still had breathing problems. In April 2009 my Mum passed away and around this time my sciatica came back with a vengeance. I tried all sorts of medication, had physiotherapy and an MRI scan (which just showed arthritic degeneration). I found a new Chiropractor, thinking “it worked the last time, it’ll work this time”. I had regular treatments for over six months and the pain was still exactly the same. It was sometimes so bad I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I was popping pain killers on a regular basis and nothing was working. I then came across TMS on the internet. I read up about it, bought Dr. Sarno’s book “Healing Back Pain”, read it cover to cover and just couldn’t understand how he could be writing about me! Phrases just kept jumping out of the pages…..I would underline them, circle them, put stars against them, until the book was just full of my marks and notations. In June of 2009 I found Georgie and made an appointment to see her. She was just so lovely. She examined me thoroughly and listened patiently to my story. She then told me I definitely had TMS (Stress Illness). Hallelujah. Now I could do something about my pain. I was a believer in self-help anyway and just knew deep down I could do something about this pain that was blighting my life. On one of my visits to my very sympathetic doctor she suggested I see a Grief Counsellor. I visited the Counsellor every week for some time and was very lucky that her method of treatment was very much in line with Dr. Sarno’s recommendations on psychotherapy. I lent her Dr. Sarno’s book and she was very open to his principles and methods of treatment. These visits were very hard, she made me talk about all my feelings that I had never openly acknowledged before and made me see how much stress I had been under for so many years. It was no wonder I had so much physical pain as I was repressing so much mental anguish, believing, wrongly of course, that if I didn’t think about it, it would all be okay. I started journaling, writing in my little private book every day. I put things down on paper that I could never have said out loud. I ranted and screamed and swore (all written down!) and amazingly, started to feel better. Not immediately but very gradually. I kept a note of how much pain I had, giving it marks out of ten. This gave me written confirmation of how well I was doing. Occasionally, I could just will the pain away by getting angry and telling it to leave me alone, I was sick of it ruining my life…..there was nothing physically wrong with me so I shouldn’t be having any physical pain. I started to think about me for a change. This was very hard sometimes, putting myself first. I wasn’t used to doing that and then I would get on that same old bandwagon again of feeling guilty, beating myself up about it and then WHAM – back came the pain. This happened so many times I began to put the two things together – “repressed feelings = pain”. It became so obvious sometimes I would cry and laugh at the same time, realising that yes it was true and yes I was getting better. This was not a quick fix for me. It took me months to get better…..but get better I did. To be totally pain free took about a year. I just persevered and slogged away – reading and re-reading the books and journaling. I now have zero pain. It is so wonderful to say that, I’ll say it again! I now have zero pain! I may sometimes get a little niggle in the back of my leg and I immediately think “what am I feeling?”. Sometimes I can just be tired and I know I need to sit down and rest. It can be as simple as that. My life now bears no resemblance to my life before. I can do things I thought I would never be able to do. I no longer use my walking stick. I go to the gym twice a week. I walk. I love my life and am so very, very grateful to Dr. Sarno and also, to Georgie. Without Dr. Sarno’s books (I’ve read three of his, plus other books on TMS by other authors) and all Georgie’s help and information, I dread to think where I would be now. I now have all the tools I need to sort my life out. This is still a work in progress but I handle my health myself. It’s extremely liberating. Jackie – Sciatica My story started in June 2011 when I started getting a severe burning pain down my right leg whilst sitting at work. I went to the doctor and he diagnosed it as sciatica and gave me painkillers and said it would go in about 6 weeks. However, it just got worse and worse over the next few months so my doctor put me on the waiting list for physiotherapy and prescribed me stronger co-codamol painkillers and other medication for neuropathic pain (gabapentin & pregabalin). These didn’t really help and made me feel like a zombie so I was really struggling to function at work. I started physiotherapy in October 2011 and saw two different physiotherapists, but neither could find anything wrong with my back. I remember before Christmas 2011 just sitting in the physiotherapy clinic and crying because I was at the end of my tether from being in constant pain and nobody seeming to have any idea what to do with me. In Jan 2012 I was referred to the senior physiotherapist, Pete Gray. He worked on different areas of my back for 3 or 4 sessions but nothing made any difference. Then the next time I went in we just chatted about what was going on in my life and then he said ‘I’m going to throw a bit of a curved ball at you now and ask you if there been anything significant that happened in your life around the time the pain started? I said ‘Well yes, my brother died a few weeks before it began’, but I couldn’t comprehend how that could have anything to do with my sciatica. We chatted some more about my brother and my family issues from childhood that had all been brought to the fore by my brother’s death. It felt a bit weird at first talking in this way with my physiotherapist, but he was so reassuring and supportive that he made me feel at ease and he explained more about TMS and how stress and emotional upset can sometimes lead to physical pain and suggested that I read Dr Sarno’s book ‘Healing back pain’. I went home and ordered it off Amazon immediately. I have read other people’s accounts of when they first read this book about how they saw themselves leap out of every page and it was exactly the same for me. I knew that TMS applied to me immediately but what I couldn’t get my head around was how I was going to conquer it. The pain seemed to intensify at this time so I got the doctor to sign me off work for 2 weeks and I just read everything I could find on the internet about TMS, I read Dr Sarno’s other books and ‘They can’t find anything wrong’ by David Clarke. I started to journal every day about everything that had happened to me in my childhood that had made me angry and how I felt about my family now. What I was struggling with was that I thought that in order to get better I would have to confront my family about how I felt about them and ‘sort things out’ which I knew I wouldn’t be able to do so I thought I wouldn’t be able to get better. I had had some counselling when my brother died and I thought back to what my counsellor had said about not being able to change people’s behaviour and how the only thing that you can change is how you deal with them. I came to a turning point when I realised I could get better by just changing the way I dealt with them. So I vented my anger and frustration on paper and also verbally to people I could trust, my best friend, my new partner and my kids, all of whom have been amazingly supportive. Gradually the pain started to go, it was not overnight but within 2-3 weeks I was feeling much better. When I went back to work the pain returned for a while but I felt able to control it and it didn’t overwhelm me as it had done before. I had been on the waiting list for an MRI scan which I went to during my recovery period which needless to say didn’t find anything. I found it so frustrating that neither my doctor nor the spinal specialist asked anything about my emotional state at that time and when I suggested it may be stress related after first hearing about TMS, they just dismissed it. I was amazingly lucky to have Pete as my physiotherapist who had heard about TMS, I can’t thank him enough and I can’t possibly imagine where I’d be without his help and advice. My story is relatively short compared to others who have been in pain for many years because they weren’t lucky enough to have someone tell them about TMS early on. I’m so pleased that Pete Gray has now done the practitioner course with Georgie Oldfield and is now listed on the SIRPA website as a practitioner in Nottingham Ian – Back Pain What age did you start to have any physical problems that you now recognize to be TMS? Looking back I began to have back pain when I was 16/17 years old whilst training for mountain bike racing, I now know this was TMS pain. How did this progress over the years? When I was training for the racing the pain began as an ache in the bottom of my back, over time it got worse until when I got off the bike it was hard to stand up straight. I would only get the pain when on a certain bike (I had 3 at the time), not on all of them and this now fits in with TMS. I gave up cycling and the pain was not much of a problem until about 1993 when I began to have a stabbing pain like an electric shock in my lower back. This would happen if I bent over and then stood up again. This again slowly got worse until the pain would happen while I was stood still and not even bending my back. This pain then changed to an aching pain in my lower back which would sometimes go into a spasm causing very severe pain. I also developed stabbing and aching pains in my right hip which would spread to my back making that worse, this lasted for approx 7 years. Then for 2 years up until recovery I developed RSI in both my hands and arms. This started as mild pain in my right hand and spread to both hands and arms. The pain would be burning, stabbing, tingly aching and many other strange painful feelings How did the pain limit you? At first I put up with it on the bike, but it got to a point where I no longer wanted to ride so I gave up, this was something I enjoyed. When I gave up cycling I began to ride motorcycles, but the type of bike I could ride was very limited. I thought I could only ride bikes where you are sat straight up. This way of thinking was the beginning of back pain ruling my life. Before doing almost any activity I would think how it could affect my back. Some examples were; If I went to see a film I wondered if I would be able to sit in a cinema if the seats were not just right for me. When I drove my car I used a cushion to support my lower back and if I hired a car I would be very worried about the seating position and how it could upset my back. Our sofa at home had bits of wood under it to make it just right. The beds in hotels caused major worries or if I slept at friends. All my garden tools had extra long handles so I didn’t have to bend down. The pain and the fear of more pain was ruling how I lived my life. At the time when the hip pain started I was doing a lot of walking which I liked. After a while I decided to give up the walking because I though my hip must be damaged, I had visions of the bones grinding together. Again I modified everything in my life to try and limit the pain. I would be very careful crossing the road making sure I had lots of time and would not have to run the last bit, I thought running would cause much more pain. I modified my work seats and motorbike seats to help too. I had begun to think that when I was 50 I could be in a wheel chair unable to walk and be active. I put a brave face on so it was probably not obvious to others what pain I had. The final straw was when I developed what I thought was RSI in both hands and arms, this was the worst TMS problem I had. It eventually meant I could do almost no normal daily tasks without pain even and though it started as just a slight pain in my right hand it ended up stopping me doing just about everything. These are some of the many ways it affected me. I could not do my job properly because I could not type, luckily my employers are very understanding. I could only drive very short distances and couldn’t even ride my motorbike. Most household jobs caused lots of pain and DIY work on our new house was out of the question. On a night I would just watch TV feeling frustrated knowing there was lots to do but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t peel veg for tea I bought an electric toothbrush, but it didn’t help. Opening doors was painful. Fastening buttons was difficult I did begin to feel very down about how I was so limited in what I could do. What treatments did you try for your pain? Over the years I saw a sports physio for a couple of years with no major results. I went to a pain clinic at the hospital which did nothing. For approx 10 years I saw a chiropractor which did help, but only until the next appointment was due, this cost me a fortune. I tried acupuncture, massage, heat treatment and had x rays which all showed clear . All the above were for my hip and back. For my RSI I had more acupuncture which did nothing at all. I went to the hospital and was told I had sudo winging and had weak core muscles. So to help this I began an exercise program which at one point took almost 3 hours a day. The pain got worse but I had more muscles around my shoulders. I also went to the hospital 2 to 3 times a week to have my arms massaged, this would ease the pain for about an hour at most. My partner would also massage my arms too again with no improvement. All in all I was pretty fed up, so was my partner because of how little we could do because of all my problems. When and how did you come across TMS? I first heard about Dr Sarno at the RSI awareness day in London in early 2007. Right at the end of the day 2 girls who had cured their RSI with Dr Sarno’s methods gave a talk on him. I took note of his name and as soon as I got home began to research him on the internet. The first thing I noticed was the people I was reading about were getting better from RSI. They didn’t have to be careful what they did and they sounded happy. Before searching under Sarno’s name people with RSI were very unhappy and not getting better, just slowly worse. You recovered on your own after reading ‘Healing Back Pain’ and ‘The Mindbody Prescription’. How did you go about it? I bought Healing back pain first and as I read it a lot of the things applied to me. My personality fitted and how I dealt with emotional issues fitted too. After the first time I read the book I decided that this was for me and it was going to work. I began to do all the things I had stopped doing with my hands and arms. All the things that had made my hands hurt, I did more often. I typed faster and for longer and if they hurt I typed more or used the mouse more. When at work I began to pick heavy things up twice or three times just to prove to myself there was nothing wrong with me. All the time I talked to myself saying things like, “there is nothing wrong with me”, “I can do what I want without pain or damaging myself” and “how can I injure my hand when there is nothing wrong with it?”. I visualized lots of blood going to the areas that hurt. I stopped doing all my hand and arm exercises straight away and stopped going to the hospital with them. After about 3 days my RSI was much better and after a week it had almost gone, the fear of it had gone too and I knew it was not coming back ever. I began to wonder if my other problems could be TMS too. I decided that they were and began to use my back like normal. For about 12 years I had been afraid to bend my back in case it made the pain come on. I began to bend my back to pick things up instead of bending my knees. If my back hurt I would touch my toes to prove nothing was wrong, all the time talking and visualizing. The talking to myself was in my head, not out loud, so people didn’t think I was mad. After just a few days I was doing all the things with my back that I had avoided for years, with no pain. Next was my hip, over a few days I got myself ready for a long walk on the following Saturday. This was the first time I had walked over about half a mile for a very long time. I set off walking at a good pace talking and visualizing as I went and when I had to cross a road I ran across it again to prove there was nothing wrong with me. On the walk and after it I had no pain. Over the next 3 weeks I built up the distance of my walks to 18 miles all with no pain, the feeling of being pain free and active was amazing. I got on my bicycle again and had no pain, this was even better than the walking because it was something I enjoyed and had had to give up. Since beginning the Sarno work in February 2007 I have gone from not being able to ride the bike at all to taking part and finishing a 100, 200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometer long distance cycling events with no hand, back or hip pain. You struggled with journaling yet you made a swift and complete recovery. What do you feel were the main reasons you succeeded? I think the main reason I have had very good results is a complete change of how I think about what was wrong with me and realizing how actually it is very hard to permanently damage yourself by doing every day things like bending to pick up a light object from the floor. I now believe that you can type and do repetitive things, we have been doing things like it for years so why should we now be having problems? Also I didn’t allow any doubts about what I was doing a chance to enter my head. I read all Dr Sarno’s books several times and researched all I could to convince my self it was right and would work for me. I was very committed to this and went into it with 100% effort and when the pain went or began to move around it made me try even harder because I knew it was working. It took a while but I began to tell people I didn’t have any more problems and I was back to normal or better, this helped a lot. I can relate the beginning of some of the pain to things that have gone on in my life and now know my personality causes a lot of the problems too. You had a number of TMS equivalents that you have also managed to recovery from. What were they and how did you resolve them? I had food allergies diagnosed with blood tests for milk, eggs and types of wheat. I had modified my diet to cut all of these out which made eating out and food shopping difficult. If I ate the wrong things I would get a sore/ burning mouth and stomach pains. I also suffered from asthma especially in cold weather. These problems have now gone too, I dealt with them all the same way as the others, I now eat lots of eggs, have milk on all my cereals and don’t even think about what I eat. I am very glad I found out about Dr Sarno’s work it has given me back a normal life and it’s going to stay normal. James’ journey through chronic pain My time with chronic pain all started back in the summer of 2012. My upper back had severe muscle pain, consisting of a very deep ache, and also a burning sensation. It was horrible ! This continued for around 2 years. On top of this my legs started to experience a deep ache, and a burning and crawling skin sensation also. I was at a loss about what could have been the cause of this pain, and so were the doctors. I was put on painkillers and also on anti-depressants as my mood took a severe turn for the worse during this struggle. I felt trapped within my own body, which was the scariest thing I could imagine. It’s hard to admit it, but I even considered suicide on many occasions as I couldn’t imagine a life feeling this way. That’s how bad things had got. Some time in 2014 is when I came across the work of Georgie. I spent most of my time looking and searching for answers on the Internet , which slowly became an obsession. Another thing to deal with! Initially I had a telephone conversation with Georgie and she had no doubt that what was causing my chronic pain……was stress, and unresolved emotional issues. Finally I had something a bit more concrete to go on and after a while of doubting this diagnosis, I felt that this could indeed be the cause of all my pain. I had a few Skype sessions with Georgie where she helped me understand the concept and what I could do to start to reduce the pain. I started journaling and writing down all my past and present emotional issues. I was still skeptical about whether this would do anything but nevertheless I continued to do so, after all I didn’t have much else to lose. Anything was worth a shot. Fast forward to early 2015, and I was still experiencing pain on a daily basis but now and again I had windows of relief. I continued to take many medications for both pain and mood which I didn’t like, as I’m not really one for taking anything, but I had to, as without them I was in agony. The summer of 2015 is where I started to experience more relief. I kept a daily record of my pain and mood scores, which was an idea given to me by my doctor. I would advise anyone in pain to do this as you get to see the patterns in your pain. I’m now ( November 2015 ) off my anti-depressants and slowly but surely coming off my painkillers also. I feel so much better! I still experience pain, but compared to how it was is night and day. Anyone reading this who is in pain, I promise that things will get better, they will get better! It happened to me, so it can happen to you also. I feel through my journey that I had an excellent team behind me. My thanks go out to my G.P. who at one point I was almost contacting daily, and a lot of the time in tears. Georgie and her website for showing me that recovery can and does happen. Also to my parents who had to go through a lot watching their son go through a living hell. I’m better now. That’s the main thing. James. Jane Doe’ – Pelvic and Back pain My life today could not be more different than when I first met Georgie and started the online SIRPA programme in November 2013. At that time, I struggled with moderate-severe chronic pain (pelvic and lower back) on a daily basis and was living my life in a very limited way: I couldn’t sit down for even short periods (like 5 minutes!), couldn’t exercise, had to cancel so many social arrangements which affected friendships, could only work standing up, and couldn’t even begin to think about starting a family – my greatest dream. The pain was just so debilitating. I spent so many hours lying in the bath or on the couch with an ice-pack or hot water bottle strapped to me, trying to numb the endless, awful pain. Looking back, I can see that my personality set me up perfectly for TMS. I am a people-pleaser, perfectionist and massive worrier. I have been through some tough experiences but never let people see me with anything but a smile on my face. In fact, I was known for my smile and stoicism. I have always hated conflict and put other people’s needs and wishes before my own, scared to speak up for myself for fear of upsetting someone or giving them a bad impression of me. Living my life in this way created a lot of hidden resentment – that reservoir of rage Dr Sarno talks about. When I first met Georgie, I wasn’t sure whether a mind-body approach could work for me but I was certain of one thing: there was nothing else left to try. No treatment or medication my doctors and physios had ever offered had worked. So I had nothing to lose in trying the SIRPA approach. Plus the TMS-personality was so very me: I just had to give it a try. It took time for the programme to work but I saw small improvements within about 2 months, which gave me huge hope and spurred me on. Here’s what I did: – read as much as possible about the TMS/mindbody/SIRPA approach to convince myself of the methodology – journaled at length every day to get my emotions out onto the page, digging really deep and thinking about my past and present stresses along with the burdens I heaped on myself due to my perfectionist, people-pleasing, stressful-worrier personality – whenever I felt pain, I told it that I didn’t believe there was anything wrong with me, that it was just TMS. I would chastise the pain, tell it go away, tell it I didn’t believe it and it had no power over me. – whenever I felt pain, I would think about what might be wrong emotionally rather than physically – and journal as soon as I could – I stopped researching in fear any kind of physical condition or possible other treatment (this was essential) – I stopped worrying (easier said than done!) that anything was physically wrong and believed whole-heartedly that my issue was TMS – Slowly but slowly I resumed all the activities I thought I couldn’t do because they would cause me more pain Belief is critical. TMS thrives on fear and uncertainty. You have to fully believe that there is nothing physically wrong and that the TMS approach will work. There have been set-backs along the way for me, generally when I stopped journalling or allowed any doubt to creep in about my diagnosis. When that happened, I would resume the approach described above with gusto and the pain would always abate, even if this took time (a few weeks). My life now Today I can do all the things I once feared I never would again: exercising (hard, even), socialising, sitting for as long as I like, fully embracing life without fear of pain. And I am finally a mummy to an amazing little boy. I hope my story inspires other TMS sufferers. You can get well. You will get well. You have to believe. Jane Doe Jane – Fibromyalgia I became very ill in November 2004, at the end of a holiday to the Canaries, my initial symptoms were oedema and hives – these became extremely bad in a short space of time, within the week I could not bend at any of my joints due to the severe swelling and even the hives appeared to be getting hives, I felt sick, swollen, itchy and couldn’t cool down at all, in addition, my joints were incredibly sore and stiff. The doctors tried me with various antihistamines over a two week period however it was only when steroids were introduced that the symptoms started to subside. When the steroids were stopped 6 weeks later the symptoms returned, along with the extremely painful joints and muscles. I was passed from department to department at the hospital and no-one could tell me what was the matter and after various tests, x-rays and MRI scans no underlying cause was found Eventually a rheumatologist diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia around 3 years ago. Having researched Fibromyalgia I became concerned to find that a high number of people diagnosed with this condition are high performers, perfectionists and for want of a better phrase ‘do gooders’, by which I mean always putting others’ needs before their own. I also discovered that many have to give up their work due to the severity of the ‘disease’. Remember also that my mum has this condition and I had seen how quickly she deteriorated. I was determined to not be included in this group and started to look into more alternative ways of dealing with this problem I had. On one of my visits to my rheumatologist I said I would not be beaten by this and I think some alarm bells went off with her as she thought it would be a good idea to see a psychologist to have CBT – cognitive behavioural therapy ( I think she was concerned that I was making life harder for myself because I wouldn’t accept my fate), however as I was trying to find anything that may help me, I agreed, and, as fortune would have it, it was this psychologist that introduced me to the concept of TMS and 18 months later in a roundabout way to Georgie. I came to see Georgie very recently in April this year for the 1st time, having already read John Sarno’s the Mind Body Prescription and also dipped into The Divided Mind by the same author. As I had had 18 months of pain free existence it was a bit of a shock to find myself experiencing the symptoms again when I thought I had cracked it. At my first appointment with Georgie, she examined me and noted that I was showing typical signs of TMS. We also discussed what was occurring currently in my life and a bit about my past. I also had some major things going on at the time that were causing me a lot of pressure. After a discussion with Georgie we agreed that I would benefit by following the programme. The programme has been beneficial and from being severely depressed, feeling overwhelmed and having a lot of pain in my shoulders, back, hips and legs, I am now back at work full time (after 7 weeks off) and feel ‘normal’ again. I also now have the ‘tools’ to see me through any problems I might encounter in the future. This is due to being able to see my way through these issues – as they haven’t all gone away – and being able now to put them in perspective and/or accept the emotional struggles they bring and work through them. I am journaling regularly and am also writing a ‘positive strokes’ document that I can pick up and read when I am losing my confidence and need to be reminded of all the things I have achieved and do extremely well. In the past I was very judgemental of myself and if I received any negative emotions or comments, I would believe what they had said and allow that to be absorbed and peck at my confidence until I began to doubt myself. If I had a disagreement with anyone I would carry the emotion around with me for days, I could literally feel the emotion like lead in the pit of my stomach. I haven’t changed the people around me – that would be virtually impossible for most of us to do in life, however I have changed the way I allow them to impact on me. This programme has helped me to believe in myself again – thanks Georgie Jenny – Cerebral Ischemia I have suffered from chronic back pain for the last 5 years and have also been given a diagnosis of Cerebral ischemia, which is the latest in a long list of diagnoses including MS, high blood pressure, Epilepsy and others too numerous to mention. I have seen GP, Neurologists, physiotherapist, psychiatrists, pain management team and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. No seriously I think everyone has had a diagnosis for my conditions and given treatment either pharmaceutical or physical or the good old bed rest. In fact three years ago I was in bed after numerous mini strokes and could not walk or do anything. I had to crawl to the loo and my husband had to fetch me all my meals etc. This was not for me, I hate being in bed, so slowly but surely I started to do things little by little and I also started to paint watercolours. This made me start to think that If I wanted to lead anything like a normal life I was going to have to fight the pain and make my body go again. This was working to a certain level, but I was still taking enough pain killers to stun an elephant and having 6 monthly epidural spine injections which worked for about 2 months. Then came the crunch my daughter was getting married at the end of November 2008 and I was NOT going to be ill for that. After begging and pleading to have an epidural at the beginning of November instead of as due in December I was informed that the list was now so full even my 6 monthly would now be 9 months, so not till March 2009. That was it I had to find something. My Husband searched the net for alternatives and found Georgie’s site for physiotherapy, acupuncture and TMS. I read the info and already being a great believer in the power of the mind I decided this was worth a try. I rang the next day and as fate would have it she had a cancellation that afternoon. I have not looked back since and that was Thursday the 16th October. I can’t believe it is only eight weeks ago since she took my history at the first visit and examined me and suggested that I could have TMS. After explaining this to me I realised I fitted into many of the categories and this could possibly be the answer, so I took home the book and DVD already feeling more positive. I read the book and watched the DVD and in days was improving. I have not looked back since and within a week I had knocked off all my pain killers and felt more alive than I had in ages. I then went to my doctor and under his supervision I have reduced and now stopped taking most of my other pills. Two weeks after going on the programme my husband and I went up to the Dales for a weekend and I managed a 10 mile walk the first day and an 8 mile walk the second, I had my life back and was now able to do the things I love. 6 weeks after going to see Georgie we drove down to Leatherhead where my daughter lives, on the Friday night. This in itself would have normally been a painful and exhausting journey, but I was fine. The next day I went to my daughter’s wedding feeling fit and well and thoroughly enjoyed the whole day and was still dancing at midnight. My daughters could not believe the difference in me and were totally shocked by the fact that I was still on my feet at the end of the day. Thanks to Georgie and the TMS/SIRPA programme I am now back to full health, my blood Pressure has gone from being dangerously high to being within normal limits. I no longer take loads of pills and I have not had a seizure or a blackout since going on the programme. Needless to say it has worked for me and many other people I have met at the meetings. I am much happier and much healthier than I have been for a long time and am looking forward to a healthy future Jimmy – Low Back Pain Physical ‘abnormality’ – One leg shorter than the other following a motor bike accident many years previously causing pelvic imbalance and subsequently spinal degeneration. “I‘ve always put the pain down to a road traffic accident I had about 27 years ago and since that time I’ve had to take painkillers virtually every day. The accident left me with one leg more than ½ an inch shorter than the other and this is what I thought had to be the reason for my back pain, and my GP was of the same mind. Every year for the past 20 years I’ve had to take at least 3 or 4weeks off work because of the pain, and every morning I had to exercise just to be able to get moving. I also had to keep a lumbar belt near me because I couldn’t lift anything without wearing it. For the 5 years before my recovery I had been seeing an Osteopath once a month, but the relief only lasted 2 or 3 days and then the pain would start again, slowly but surely. I now have no problems with my back and I haven’t taken any painkillers or seen my Osteopath for 3 years. Confronting the emotional and not just the physical side of my problems has left me pain free and a lot calmer.” N.B. 4 years later and Jimmy remains fit and well. He brought a friend for treatment last Summer and mentioned that he had moved over 350 tables and chairs on his own in the school he works in as a caretaker and had no problems whatsoever. Soon after he recovered he threw away his back belt and all his other ‘crutches’ ‘John Doe’ – CFS/ME At age 19 I was diagnosed with glandular fever which I was not able to recover from within 3 months. This led to a further diagnosis of Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (a synonym for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME). From age 19 to 32 I was so chronically ill I could barely walk a 100m without severe pain in my legs. I also had a ridiculous number of food allergies and chemical allergies. My planned legal career was in tatters and all attempts at living scuppered by this debilitating illness. I tried numerous therapies from healers, to cold baths and anti candida diets but nothing I tried could provide me a sustained and full recovery. A shed of light. At age 32 I was fortunate enough to come across a therapy called the Lightning Process. This was an NLP based stress management system aimed at challenging beliefs that I had developed about my health problems. For the first time in 2007 after 14 years I fully recovered and was able to return to full time work. The only problem was that my pain symptoms seemed to return at moments of high stress. Especially if a desire was thwarted, such as wanting a particular job or falling in love and not having a positive outcome. It seemed the Lightning Process had got me on the right track by showing me that beliefs around my health problems were a major part of the picture around creating symptoms. However, I feel there was one part of the jigsaw left undiscovered. During times of extreme stress or pressure, debilitating symptoms could return to a particular area of my body such as RSI in my fingers, neck pain or pains in the eyes. In all cases organic medical explanations for these symptoms were ruled out by tests. I was left wondering why sometimes I could be free of these symptoms and sometimes they came back. TMS and Dr Sarno. It was during a flare up of RSI type symptoms in 2010 that I first read the work of Dr Sarno. His explanation that emotions our psyche did not wish to come to the surface could be covered up by pain. He said this pain was physical in that it was caused by a temporary oxygen deprivation to certain parts of the body giving rise to symptoms and pain. I remember ten years ago seeing work by a Dr Costa which showed that in CFS patients there was reduced blood flow to the brain. His explanation seemed persuasive, but I set it aside, as I got through the RSI through a slow process of seeing my GP to rule out organic causes and using an ergonomic keyboard. As I later discovered this was only patching up a wider problem which would return later. It was in December 2012 I began to experience a flare up of career threatening symptoms. This was at a time of extreme stress. I was working in a challenging legal job as well as trying to study at law school. On top of this an on/off romance with a girl I really loved (even though she wasn’t good for me) finally fell apart. On this occasion the symptoms were in my eyes. This was initially diagnosed as Computer Vision Syndrome or eye strain. I was given all kinds of suggestions to work around this, from new glasses, to being told to look into the distance, having breaks but none of this worked. As I have since learned trying to negotiate with these symptoms is like trying to negotiate with terrorists. Once you let it back into your life it will come back and not let you go. Feb 2013 Legal career postponed, looking for answers to my pain. I had to leave my job at the law firm and defer my law school studies while I tried to find answers for this most recent flare up of symptoms. I floundered around looking for physical explanations for my supposed eye strain but these offered no relief to the pain. Then I remembered TMS and I found Louise Levy via Google as a UK practitioner who combined Dr Sarno’s therapeutic approach to pain syndromes as well as using hypnotherapy. We agreed a 5 session plan following the SIRPA program. This is a treatment methodology based (as I understand it) on Dr Sarno’s work. The first big step was reading a book which Louse recommended to me – ‘The Great Pain Deception’ by Steven Ray Ozanich. This was a man who had struggled with a myriad of debilitating pain syndromes, everything from back pain, to a cough that wouldn’t go away and all manner of weird and not so wonderful painful conditions. The book describes his battle with these debilitating pains. His determination to have a life and most importantly of all making the link between the emotional events in his life and his debilitating symptoms. Every month I have been free of chronic pain since 2007 is firmly rooted in an approach in which there is zero tolerance for pain. Hearing this man’s long, painful but ultimately successful journey to a pain free life can be an inspiration for all. The most important thing was the work me and Louise did together in our sessions. There was a big emotional block in my life relating to my failed wayward romance the previous year. I was furious with my ex, hating her and refusing to speak to her (which was a bit awkward as we worked together!). I was exhibiting classic TMS personality traits such as failing to assert myself and my boundaries. Also expecting the rest of the world to be psychic and know what I wanted and how I felt without ever actually saying what I wanted and how I felt! The incident at work that led to me not talking to my ex was a classic example of suppressed emotion and the TMS personality. Despite the break up we had got on passably well for a couple of months, but then one day she opined about how wonderful her new boyfriend was and how she loved to cook him these wonderful meals she spent hours learning how to cook. In classic TMS style, instead of stopping her there and then and telling her straight I was not comfortable with this kind of conversation, I just held in all the pain and anger her words had generated and walked away. Walk away, don’t make a fuss, don’t cause a scene = repressed negative emotions = debilitating pain. Louise skilfully helped me to uncover all of this. With Louise there is no hiding place or fobbing her off. She made me work to get to the root of what was really bothering me, the painful stuff that I was refusing to face, refusing to see. As Louise and I worked together my chronic pain gradually receded. I returned to law school and got a good score in a very difficult exam, which I had previously failed. In relation to my ex, we began talk. This produced some fiery and highly charged conversations but the result of this has been I no longer feel any animosity towards her and we respect one another’s boundaries. I also think the hypnotherapy helped in giving me some spine to face my ex and assertively, but not aggressively, express my feelings to her. Thanks to my work with Louise, the SIRPA program and Dr Sarno’s pioneering work I have my life back again. Chronic pain is no longer an issue. I do of course have to vigilant. Pain does of course come up from time to time but I am no longer looking in the wrong places for its cause. Instead of seeing a collection of physiotherapists, doctors and alternative practitioners, I look instead to my own life. What is being left unsaid? What is being left unexpressed? For me, this is where the answers are. Kath – Back Pain and Sciatica Diagnosed with degenerative discs and a bulging disc Below is an account of my back problem which resulted in my attending Georgina Oldfield’s clinic just over a year ago. My back problem started in June 2004 after training for a long distance walk. I had some issues with my back before this but nothing that stopped me having an active happy life. Before 2004 I classed myself as a fit active happy person. I did a lot of exercise swam, hiked, cycled, played badminton, danced and really enjoyed life. After June 2004 this changed after developing sciatica. I had treatment from a chiropractor and he advised me that my muscles were weak, he moved a stuck joint and I needed to be careful. I started to be unable to sit for very long or do any exercise without flaring it. During that year I continued to work and slowly over that time increased my exercise and eased my nerve pain. I saw physios over that year, unsure what was wrong. The last one’s treatment was making things worse and advised that I stopped coming as she couldn’t help me any more. My back crashed. From July 2005 my life was agony I had severe nerve pain down both legs, I couldn’t sit, I spent my life on the floor or in the local pool gentle jogging. All exercise made it worse. I couldn’t bear anything on my legs and I couldn’t feel my left foot. From July 2005 till June 2006 I tried many different treatments; sports physios, osteopath, acupuncture and they had many different theories. I had a twisted pelvis, one leg longer than the other, piriformis syndrome etc., bulging disc. I had 2 MRIs during this time showing degenerative discs at L4/L5 and L5/S1 with small annular tears and a minor bulge L5/S1. Some thought surgery was needed, some thought surgery wasn’t and could make it worse. Over this time I made some very slow progress. But by June 2006 two years on I was still in pain with no answer in sight and very limited activity. I made most improvement when I saw a health psychologist on the NHS and when I bought Fred Amir’s Rapid recovery from back and neck pain book about Dr Sarno’s work. However by this point I was severely depressed, at times suicidal and although the book was the only thing that made any sense, my physio wasn’t keen. So by November 2007 I had managed to walk for about 30 minutes on the flat. I had a very rigid routine and if anything changed my pain would flare and I feared nearly all activity. I couldn’t bend or do anything. I found Georgie’s website in November 2007 and started to believe I could get better. The one thing she gave me that no one else had, was hope. This was TMS and I could get better. Within two weeks I had managed to travel up toHuddersfieldfor a lecture. I achieved things I never thought possible. I walked further, I cycled and I started breaking my regimented routine. Because I lived so far away, my main contact with Georgie was via email or phone. She always replied immediately to all my emails and always gave me the support and encouragement I needed to keep improving. She never gave up on me even when I hit bad patches. In this year I am now more active than I ever imagined. I can hike in the Peak District, have been on three holidays whereas before meeting Georgie I couldn’t sit for more than 15mins. I have broken my routine, started swimming and even playing table tennis/ batinton (a form of badminton!). I am seeing a psychologist to help with releasing the repressed emotions etc. I still have pain and anxiety/fear of doing some things, but I am setting goals and getting my life back. When you have spent years in agony, tried so many treatments that fail and everyone has given up on you finally you give up on yourself. Finding the TMS program changed all this and as I continue to improve I look back at last year and am grateful that I found someone to help me when everyone else had given up. Kath F, Derbyshire December 2008 2012 – Kath continued to improve and is now happy and healthy and enjoying her role as a Mother of a fun, lively toddler. Lisa – back pain “I started having back problems in my teens. Three decades later I was still suffering and was having a particularly bad bout when I came across the work of Dr John Sarno and his theory of TMS. Despite TMS being relatively unknown in this country, Louise Levy was one of a handful of therapists who understood the theory and, amazingly, her clinic was located very close to me in London. To cut a long story short, Louise was the catalyst that kick-started my recovery. She was patient with me as I struggled to come to terms with my condition being mental not physical, and she gave me many useful and practical tools that I continue to work with. My improvement was by no means instant, but 5 months since first seeing Louise and working with her though the SIRPA Recovery Programme, I am 90% better and confident that I am finally on the right track. I highly recommend Louise, especially to anyone suspecting a psychosomatic illness. Having been there herself, she is better qualified than most to help you. I found the hypnotherapy particularly valuable in getting to the root cause of many of my symptoms. She is also a kind and caring person who makes you feel supported, and was very accessible between sessions.” Lisa Louise – Backpain & Sciatica The last ten years of my life have been a mix of incredible highs and devastating lows. Looking back I have been plagued with pain, illness or some other symptom on and off for most of that time. I now know it was all stress related. My last encounter with chronic pain started a few months ago when I was struck with severe sciatica and back pain. I had had it two years previously and had been treated with prolotherapy which I now know worked only as a placebo. Within a week I had spiralled into a very dark place of pain, depression, anxiety and fear. I have two children and everytime I looked at them I felt such despair and guilt that I almost couldn’t bear to be around them. I had been searching the Internet for any sign of hope when I stumbled across the work of Dr Sarno. I read his book ‘the mindbody prescription’ and could see myself on every page. It gave me hope but after applying his teqniques for a week or two I hadn’t progressed much and was still struggling immensely. I decided to see if there was anyone in the UK that did similar work and thank god I found Georgie. I contacted her and I haven’t looked back since. The SIRPA recovery programme has been the toughest and most challenging thing I have done but it has also been the most worthwhile. I’m only 2 months into my journey, but I have learnt so much about myself and now realise that actually although at the moment I still have some pain sometimes it’s ok because the most important thing is that I have my life back, my children have their mummy back and my husband his wife back. All the fears that kept me a prisoner to the pain are diminishing every day and that’s what counts. I know I will continue to improve and know I am now in control and that is an amazing feeling. I will continue to use some of the strategies Georgie taught me to help me deal with stress in my life and I know I will continue on my own personal journey to help me cope with whatever happens on the future, but now thanks to Georgie it is a journey I want to take. I would never have progressed so much without her unwavering support and guidance and for that I will be eternally grateful. Thank you x Summer 2013: “I am really good thanks and as my mother in law recently said, I am a different person than I was a year ago. I’m not sure I am actually but because I now know myself so well I deal with everything so differently. I have no pain at all of any emotional cause, but if any symptoms do crop up (although they rarely do) I stop and think about why I’ve got them and what might be going on emotionally. I then go back to basics and work from there. As you know the symptom doesn’t then hang around for long!“ Luke W – Knee Pain When I was about 20 years old, I developed pain in my knees after running. I had remembered a professional of some kind telling me as a child I would have knee problems later due having fallen arches. About a year later I developed widespread pain in my neck, head and hands. I was a biology student at the time and was working in a chemical firm; I really didn’t want to be there and hated handling chemicals. I became convinced I was suffering from some kind of chemical exposure. Tests and examinations showed up nothing. About a year later I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I also had irritable bowel symptoms and was sometimes sleeping poorly. In the years that followed I tried lots of different complementary therapies: Chinese medicine, nutritional therapies, western herbalism, Alexander technique, Shiatsu, cranial sacral therapy, and probably some I have forgotten! Nothing really worked very well, and after a few years I gave up. In my late twenties I went back to my GP and he sent me to see a Consultant. The consultant ran all the usual tests, and found no conclusive diagnosis. He also said I didn’t have fibromyalgia, as I didn’t have pain in enough different places. My pain had tended to only be badly in one place at any one time, often moving around over the years. He told me he could find nothing wrong, and that I should just go and exercise as I wished. He also sent me on a course of therapy with a physiotherapist. This did seem to help. In hindsight, its success may have been just as much about the message of there being nothing wrong, and to just go and get on with it. But things improved a bit, alhough I still stayed away from exercises that really caused me pain; anything that involved knee bending, including cycling. Another 5 years or so passed, and I read something about a man who had cured himself of back pain using a book called ‘Healing back Pain’ and it said that the cause of pain had been repressed emotion. I was instantly interested and bought the book. I read it, and it really rang true, but I was still unsure. Was my pain really TMS? How did I know? There wasn’t really much said about knee pain and it focused mainly on the back. These niggling doubts led me to not really apply myself to working with my pain in the way the book suggested and I dropped it. I did make contact with Georgie, but the distance to her was large and I also didn’t feel I could afford the treatment. It wasn’t until a year later that I finally decided to take the plunge, making my way from Norwich to Yorkshire to have a TMS assessment from Georgie. The assessment was really helpful in that it really took my whole story in. Georgie was confident that it was TMS, and this helped support me in dealing with the symptoms from that perspective in a wholehearted way. The support Georgie gave me over the following weeks was extremely helpful. She ‘coached’ me through the material, and helped me apply it to my life. I think her background as a medical professional helped give me a sense of confidence in her. She is also very positive and confidence-giving in the way she approaches the work. I quickly made progress in terms of what I was doing. I hadn’t been able to cycle for 15 years, and within 6 weeks I was doing about 16 miles a day 3-5 times per week. I also went on to take up qigong and now do at least an hour a day; this is something I could not do for more than 2 minutes before due to the pain in my knees. I never really unearthed anything significant from my past, but became more aware of my strong TMS personality. My perfectionism, self doubting and the internal pressure I create with endless analysis and worry. Georgie was always able to make really good suggestions across all these areas. This all happened nearly a couple of years ago and while I do get some level of pain from time to time, I do everything I want to do, so now live a full life. When I get occasional pain, it’s usually pretty mild and just a twinge. Because it’s been a while since I did the training, I have often found that I can be pain free for a while without consciously doing the TMS work. So when I get a twinge I often just ignore it and it goes. Sometimes I forget the TMS work and fall back into catastrophising a little, so its then that I might reapply the tools I used in the TMS work, and this resolves it. Actually, I often remind myself of one of Georgie’s earlier e-mails, and it puts me back in that place again. The journey isn’t over, as my body still seems to send me symptoms, of a different sort, which after a period of complacency I have begun applying the TMS work again to. In my experience the longer term personality habits that have helped create the TMS seem to take much longer to change, even though I experienced much progress early on. I had tried to apply the techniques from Sarno’s book for about a year, with not much success, it was only when I had Georgie’s support did I make any real progress. I have a very doubting mind, and I needed that extra push of encouragement that Georgie offered. I sent her endless e-mails, which she always responded quickly too; often just telling her what doubt I was having or that I had just done something, got some pain and was worried about carrying on with it. There were many points at which I wobbled and wanted to quit on it, each time she encouraged me and I managed to push through it. I think this ‘coaching’ element of the process was essential for me. So I would like to say a big thanks to Georgie for helping me through this and for her very helpful responses. Marie – sciatica and back pain Click here to hear Marie tell her own story on Youtube MRI Report: ‘Massive prolapsed disc’ Having recovered – Raising funds for Mind at an open water swimming event. I had had about 10 years of mild intermittent back pain and had built up a fear of it becoming worse – having been told at the start by my GP that “what can you expect when you weigh as much as you do? Now you have a bad back it will probably only get worse”. In December 2009 it did just that; got a little better and then got much worse in March 2010. During that time I was gradually prescribed more and more painkillers until by May I was taking high doses of 4 different types including a nerve blocker. Debilitating sciatica and back pain I cried on a daily – almost hourly basis. I woke up to 20 times a night in extreme pain – I didn’t sleep for more than about 20 minutes at a stretch. I could sometimes get into a position in a chair or kneeling where the pain dissipated but I knew it would be agony when I had to move. My desperation I felt my life was over and in truth I reached the point where I hoped it would be, as I literally could not stand the pain anymore. I cried over everything that I felt I had lost – all the things I would never be able to do and for my poor children whom I felt had lost their mother. Wherever I looked I saw an image or a reminder, I had this refrain ‘I’ll never do that again’ – for big things like cycling or dancing; simple things like cuddling up to my kids on the sofa and mundane things like cooking, washing my own feet or helping my Dad…and as for work; I assumed that I would have to give up work which was especially worrying as I am the main family breadwinner. Surgery recommended After the admission to A&E I had an MRI scan done which showed a “massive prolapsed disc” compressing the nerves on both sides even though I only had sciatica down one leg. It was suggested I be referred for surgery, but in the meantime I had found out about TMS and joined the programme and started to see some symptoms lessening. When the Physio called me to tell me the results of the MRI she couldn’t believe that I was feeling a little better, so held off on the surgical referral and gave me some exercises instead. In A & E and finally able to sleep! Middle of May 2010; I ended up in A&E in Durham after five months of doctors and physio visits. When this picture was taken I had Paracetamol going in my veins following some morphine, more morphine had gone in my mouth (plus a good few breaths of entenox) and I had diclofenac up my bottom. This was the first time I slept for more than about 20 minutes in a couple of months. I couldn’t stand up straight at all due to the sciatica and back pain. I was in pain all the time from Dec 2009 until the middle of the TMS support group at the end of May. I pretty much struggled to walk from one end of the house to the other. Starting the SIRPA Programme – May 2010 I followed both the TMS programme and the exercises at first – but frankly I don’t think even the NHS Physio expected the exercises to work. I remember the day when she asked if I thought a session in their hydrotherapy pool would help and I had to tell her that I had already been swimming. She was pleased and encouraging and didn’t dismiss the TMS approach – although she did tell me to keep all the painkillers handy and have a plan ready for ‘flare ups.’ It certainly wasn’t a magic wand; some of the techniques on the TMS programme did not work for me and some (the ones I was most skeptical about) I found were the most helpful. But generally believing that things could get better was the turning point. Me and my youngest son, Tristan out on a bike ride Mid July 2010 While cycling with my son and his friends I even ‘went over the jumps’! I still obviously have the prolapsed disc and then I couldn’t walk too fast due to some left over muscle weakness in my leg, but I could go anywhere I wanted virtually pain free by bike….. , or if I could can swim there! I had just played a small (sedentary) part in my theatre group’s summer show (another thing I had given up and thought was gone for ever) and that night I went out and boogied like it was July 2010 – doing something that just 3 months ago I thought I wouldn’t be able to do (a friend’s birthday disco dressed as the London tube map!). January 2011 I would describe myself as virtually pain free. I can do everything that I used to do. I have achieved most of the goals that I set during the TMS programme. I’m incredulous when I look back at my notes at the time; one reads “good night’s sleep; only woke up five times”!! I still have a little numbness in my right foot and a little stiffness in my left leg / foot, but I mostly don’t even notice it. I would urge everyone to read about the TMS / SIRPA approach which you can do for free by getting the SIRPA Recovery audio recording, researching online or chatting with Georgie. There’s no commitment and very little money needed unless you feel that the full programme will help. If it feels like it doesn’t fit your situation then you have lost nothing, but if it sounds like it might be for you then what have you got to lose. I have realised how often over the years I said to myself and family ‘be careful’ when they had to lift or bend. This winter I shoveled snow without worry and with just a few twinges – all the time saying “this will make my back stronger” – and it did! A note from Marie’s son Tristan; “It was sad coming back from school that day, I knew mum was in a lot of pain but I didn’t expect her to have been taken away in an ambulance, and when my biggest brother said that she’d been taken to hospital I was dead worried. It was very sad when mum thought she might not be able to go to Tunisia with us, but in the end the Physiotherapist decided it was best if she did go. In the end it was better she did go because going and having a bad time was better than staying back and having an even worse time. Even though she did not go on the excursion so we missed her for those two days, she still had a mega time. It was definitely better than being stuck in the house for a week and in the end it was partly the holiday that made her a bit better because in a way it made her realise that she could still do more things than she thought. Although she is better it was still depressing because we had no idea that it was going to turn out that way.” Marie’s husband – “Thank you for saving my wife’s ‘life‘” Megan – Aged 16, Severe back and leg pain Megan, A National Junior Springboard diving Champion from Leeds, came for a SIRPA assessment in May 2010 when aged 15 years. She had fallen on her coccyx when she was 12 and had had severe back and leg pain since then. Megan had been seen and treated by Physios, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, an Orthopaedic Specialist, a Neurospecialist, a Pain consultant etc. and had had MRIs, XRays etc and a spinal injection, with the cost of all this being over £5000 privately and through the NHS. All approaches to her treatment had been physical assuming a physical cause. Just before Megan had fallen in the gym, causing her initial injury, she had won a national award for diving and was being spotted for the Olympics. This pressure and the pressure she always puts on herself to succeed was huge and her pain was an unconscious response which allowed her to cope and remain in control, even though she was unable to dive, which is her passion. At her assessment I explained all about how and why we sometimes need symptoms to distract us from being overwhelmed and encouraged her to listen to the SIRPA Recovery CD and offload by writing about how she felt and feels. This was enough to ensure that as the underlying emotional cause was being addressed, her pain was no longer required. Within weeks of the assessment, Megan was finally been able to take up her sport again following an enforced break of 3 years. Mike – RSI I think that everybody feels some pain from overuse; however, you’re normally not aware of it as it goes away when you stop the activity – it’s just part of the normal human condition. Once you’ve had TMS it’s difficult to distinguish between pain that you would naturally feel and pain associated with TMS. I can imagine that many TMS people say they are 90 – 95% better, when in fact they are just feeling the normal day to day pain that people get – they are just over sensitised to it. I would therefore say that in regards to pain I do still feel some, but I think this is natural; however, it is 90%+ better than before. In regards to my mental approach, I would say that I am 95% better. I’m not worried about the pain any more and I can do unrestricted activity (including all sports!!) – I know the pain will go away and therefore it does not bother me. Occasionally I get the odd TMS moment and slip back into it, but if I ignore it and continue with the activity the pain always goes within a couple of hours. It’s amazing when you get the concept as you know that you can always beat it!!! On holiday I lifted all the suitcases and carried the children everywhere and I felt no pain. My wife has also has a shoulder operation a month ago and could not use one of her arms – during this period I’ve carried and lifted everything, again no pain!!! I can do unrestricted computer activity and occasionally get pain, but I just work through it and it always goes. I’m going mountain biking at least twice a week and getting absolutely no pain at all!!!! I think with TMS once you get the concept you can get back to full physical activity very quickly; however, it took around 2 months to get on top of the pain. As well as my hands getting better I now also get far less pain in my back (especially in my trapeziums) and have also lost several other weird symptoms I used to get such as night sweats. My insomnia (which admittedly was 80% better before I got RSI) has now gone completely, which is amazing as I suffered from it for nearly 3 years!!! Thanks again for your help. Mike Sloman December 2008 N.B. At Mike’s last contact in 2011 he reported that he was fit and well and was riding competitively in very challenging cycling events. He also reported that his Brother who had also followed this approach for his bilateral RSI was now enjoying a musical career playing the guitar Rita – Undiagnosed Neurological Symptoms 10 years previously Rita, 50, began to have problems off and on with the use of her hands and had breathing problems. Nothing abnormal was diagnosed. Since January 2007 she had had ongoing problems with various neurological symptoms including lack of coordination, tingling, general weakness, pain and numbness. She used sticks to walk and had a mobility scooter and a disability badge. She had been in and out of hospital for tests and recently had been in hospital unable to walk at all for a month, yet apart from a possible diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis she had not had a definitive diagnosis. Rita had known about this work for a few months but initially she was not open to the fact that her symptoms could be emotionally induced. After a course organised by work she began to accept that this might be the case and booked an assessment with Georgie. During this assessment Rita disclosed a number of very traumatic experiences during her life, including the traumatic death of her husband and one of her daughter’s and she told Georgie that she felt “the shelf on my shoulder where I stuff all my problems is crumbling”.She recognised that she had been emotionally very strong and ‘coped’ with everything in her life by bottling everthing up and just getting on. She also began to see how her symptoms had become the escape valve for all the internal emotional turmoil that had been building up. Within 10 days of starting the SIRPA programme and after beginning to journal, she was 90% better and was walking normally with no walking aids and excellent balance and coordination. For Rita, journaling was an invaluable way for her to offload how she felt about things and then gain perspective so she could move on with her life. Within 8 weeks Rita climbed Pen Y Ghent in Yorkshire with Georgie without any problems. Click on Rita’s youtube clip to hear her personal account of her recovery. Roberta – RSI / Back Problems I found Louise through a friends recommendation. I needed help with coping with day to day stresses and anxieties, anger and learning to like myself again after a relationship break down. Through hypnosis and Louise’s other skills I have been able to make my mind work in a much more positive way than ever before. In my initial assessment session with Louise after reading my history she advised me to look on her website at the stress illness section. She said it might be something I would be interested in. Following her advice I did this and was quite amazed by what I read. The possible root of most if not all of my physical pain could be caused by stress, including the carpal tunnel syndrome which had been operated on 18 months before. I am a hairdresser. This means that I stand at least 10 hours every day, usually needing to bend and lean in unnatural and awkward positions and my shoulders were so painful that sometimes changing gear in the car was agony. My lower back was continually aching sometimes sending shooting pains down my legs. I actually thought that this was all part of the job. Many hairdressers have bad backs, we probably don’t all suffer with TMS but we as a group are probably more stressed than we realize. I also suffer with a very painful right wrist, I have not suffered any injury to this wrist, I just woke up one day and the pain was there, working and doing anything with my right hand quickly became difficult and painful. After a little online research I told Louise that I would like a Stress Illness assessment and she sent me a form to fill in and send back to her before our actual session. By simply filling in this form and having to think about my pain and the times it occurs made me realize how powerful stress can be. The form made me remember the exact time when I first noticed my carpal tunnel symptoms. If only I had known about Louise and SIRPA before I could of avoided surgery. During my stress illness assessment with Louise we discussed many things and tools which I could take away to my day to day life and use to relieve the stress and hopefully the pain too. For me, just reminding myself as often as possible that my brain is causing the pain and I control my brain is so helpful. I now know how to recognize things that cause me stress and how to deal with them accordingly. Since I had my assessment with Louise I have had no upper back/shoulder pain, barely any lower back pain and my wrist has more good days than bad days, but i am only just starting to heal myself so in time i am fully expecting to be pain free. Roy – Dizzyness In about October 2011 I went to see my GP about feeling dizzy & having poor balance. I found myself stumbling easily & needed to concentrate a lot more whilst walking around. For example if I was walking in the office & looked sideways I would find myself off balance, maybe bumping into a doorway or something. It was never bad enough that I would fall over, but very frustrating not feeling like I had control anymore. Whilst I never connected this with anything else, I also had bouts of what I would describe as a head full of cotton wool and feeling like I was functioning in slow motion. After going through the obvious channel of seeing an ear nose & throat specialist, I eventually went to see a neurologist. He sent me for a brain scan which came back clear & he therefore diagnosed me as having a form of migraine. He did touch on the subject of me feeling stressed, but I quickly dismissed this as I thought I was too tough to let things get to me & couldn’t possibly relate the two even if I were. After several months of medication I was starting to come to the conclusion that I might be stressed & the symptoms could be related. He increased the medication & suggested I went for some therapy. As luck would have it I found Louise Levy who had first-hand experience of mind related pain & stress issues. Louise introduced me to a book called ‘The Great Pain Deception’, and within days of starting to read it I was convinced that it was in fact all brought on by my mind. Louise then told me about the SIRPA programme which was 5 one to one sessions & included a manual to work with. At the end of the programme I feel better than I have done for years & can highly recommend Louise as someone that really knows her subject & has walked the talk. I now realise that what is known as The Mind Body Syndrome has brought out a few stress related issues with me over the years, including a frozen shoulder, once on each side but about 4 years apart. There was no medical explanation for this & it now makes sense that my frozen shoulders were brought on by my mind rather than an injury or something. Sienna – Back Pain I am glad to share my story with those of you still struggling and I hope it can help you to strengthen your faith in your recovery. In my early 30s my life entered a parenthesis after a back spasm that appeared from nowhere while playing tennis. After 4 years of debilitating back pain, unnecessary surgery, constant physical therapy and other treatments and many unanswered questions, my life became very limited. I was skeptical, faithless and depressed. My life had become very limited. I stayed all day on the sofa and hardly went out for anything, just to visit Doctors or Physiotherapists. I could not walk for more than 5 minutes, avoided climbing steps and stopped driving, cooking, going out… I was totally ‘paralysed’! I lost 10 kilos and became really weak and fearful of any simple movement… not to mention bending or taking things from the floor. Last year I came across Dr. Sarno’s work and ordered all of his books. I started devouring Healing Back Pain and felt like I was reading my biography!! Finally, I had found answers to all my questions. I started connecting the dots, everything made sense to me!!! It took me only a few days to accept the approach and I kept looking for help. Finding the TMS Wiki was a treasure for me, cause “knowledge is Penicillin”. The site helped me to look for a practitioner in Europe. I was very lucky to hear about Georgie Oldfield in the UK, who helped me to reinforce the diagnosis and set the following challenges with confidence. Within a couple of months my pain had settled so much that I started swimming and my instructor was just amazed with my daily improvements. Time, perseverance and faith has continued to take me further. Last summer I did my first trips; jumped into the ocean, went out dancing and experienced things I had not been able to enjoy during the last years. I even went to my first concert in years after Georgie encouraged me to book it and then work towards being able to go with my friends, rather than cancel as I had done a few times before. I also put back on the 10kg that I had lost. Now I just came back from a long trip abroad and I still had to punch me to believe I was there. On my way back, as the plane was about to land in my city, I broke in tears due to the emotion it caused on me: I was there again! Travelling around the world and enjoying great experiences. I felt like a bird out of the cage, this is something I would have not even dreamt about a few years ago. I am still on my recovery journey and enjoying every bit of it. As almost every patient says, ‘I am sure this work changed my life for the better.’ Georgie has been a paramount support in my recovery. From the very first moment I contacted her, she gave me all the support I needed. Georgie always has the key words to reinforce your faith and confidence to take a step further. Now I know the power of strong self-dialogue, believe in yourself!!! Because all our muscles are strong and we are always able to do much more than we think. Tom – Back Pain Severe back pain ending up with 3 operations and still no let up! Basic background A lifelong athlete, physical educator and coach…..who up until a “snow shoveling” (?) injury in January of 2000 did pretty much anything, everything and MORE than most people would dream of physically. After the injury, I was in a good deal of back pain, and started in on physical therapy and chiropractic since several local docs indicated that it was a “minor” issue (minor if it is not yours!) Relief after treatments was only temporary and moderate. Even with 5 days of visits to well intentioned practitioners. Throughout the entire course of this misery, I was never able to get a consistent diagnosis. We ran the gamut from bulging discs, stenosis, nerve entrapment, piriformis syndrome, muscle imbalance, on and on and on. The local docs prescribed continued therapy and started a course of pain meds, muscle relaxers, anti anxiety drugs…..at one time I had 40+ bottles of different meds in a cabinet at home. Pain continued to get worse….at one pt during a session, I felt pain shoot down both legs during treatment. Despite these treatments, I continued to get worse, including numbness, tingling and incredible nerve pain down one leg and sometimes (no logic) into the other leg. They sent me for cat scans, MRI (6 at least) and diagnosed a herniated disc, that they felt was questionable in terms of involvement with the pain. At this point, I started in with several orthopaedists, neurologists and neurosurgeons, all of whom were puzzled or gave varying opinions as to what I should do. Pain continued to get worse…..did not sleep for months…..could not stand, sit or lie down with any relief…When I did lie down at night, I lay on a plywood board and the pain was so intense that I could not put a sheet on my feet or legs. NONE of the drugs worked….I was chewing Vioxx with my cereal in the morning! Needless to say, with all this going on, trying to maintain my “pleasant, sparkling” disposition at work and at home become more than a challenge…I’m surprised that someone did shoot me, and I myself was pretty close to doing that! I got to the point where I did next to NOTHING….any routine activity caused pain to the point of tears, and no matter what it continued to get worse. Taking a quart of milk out of the refrigerator caused excruciating pain. I continued to search out other docs, travelling great distances, looking for a magic bullet. Again, no consistent answers, many shrugged shoulders and more drugs and recommendations for treatments. Started acupuncture (daily) combined with various types of massage (5 times weekly), chiropractor visits, physical therapy. Had approximately one dozen steroidal injections in various areas, all with no real success. I even tried 6 courses of prolotherapy…look that one up! After several years of this, I found a surgeon in New Jersey who was experimenting with laser disc surgery. I literally begged him to “cut me open, I don’t care!” He did, and I ended up in the same position. Continued even more treatments, more drugs, different docs….no luck. One year later, another surgeon, an orthopaedist did a discectomy…..no luck. Approx.1 year later, the pain was so bad, I was ready to try anything. Found a big name surgeon in NYC who performed spinal fusion because he “needed to stabilize my back, or I’ll end up in a wheelchair” ….Fusion performed….no luck. Three surgeries and still following the same daily ritual. THEN I GOT LUCKY A Reader’s Digest was sitting on the counter at home and the title of an article on the cover caught my eye…..”End your Back Pain”. I’d spent so much time on the Internet researching standard and alternative treatments, I figured that there was nothing that I did not know. I even knew how to read x-rays and MRI scans at this point. However, the article mentioned a doc in NYC (I’d moved from the city to upstate NY in 1991) who felt that back pain, and other maladies, could be traced to the unconscious mind and bottled up emotions. This certainly piqued my interest, as a coach and athlete I was always very much in tune with the concept of emotions and the thought process influencing attitude and performance. Found Dr. Sarno’s first two books on the Internet and devoured them! I lived with them, as I found myself on every page! I began to do the homework as the book outlines…..I took a chance and called the NY office and wrote a letter outlining my case, also begging for a chance to drive down and meet him. About a week later, in May 2004, I got a phone call from Dr. Sarno in my office. I was so excited that I could hardly hold the phone. He invited me in for a one-on-one and a small group session. I was anxious about driving down, as I had not dared to drive that distance in such a long time. I loaded up my SUV with pills (bottles) and braced for the ride. I did the one on one and small group session with Dr. Sarno. I left for the return trip that night (210 miles) with a bounce in my step and the pain notably diminished. NO PILLS. I have not taken a pill or had a treatment since that night, over three years ago. The pain was not totally gone. I had to spend endless hours “married” to his texts, and doing my homework (journal). As I did the work and got into the proper mind set, I could often feel the pain and discomfort disappear. To the present…..I kayak, I bike, I chop wood, I coach baseball, I workout…no limitations. I began to do all these things within a couple of months of seeing Dr Sarno. I had a hard time at first convincing myself that I was ok, as there are always some doubts, especially when you’ve been “counselled” by so many docs and told that you’d never be able to do that stuff safely…… When there is a bit of discomfort, I can usually trace it back to some current life stressor, that I may or may not realize is taking place. POOF…pain disappears. TMS is a blessing…that sounds funny; however, being forced to dig into your “trash basket” and find the junk is helpful in all aspects of your life….. The key thing to stress is; a) it was a great deal of emotional/mental time invested, yet the results were quite noticeable b) if you can “forget” the physical, and do the homework, you WILL make progress…but as you heard everyone’s journey is different….I could not be happier with mine, as I was virtually a cripple for years! Tracey – Curvature of the Spine Tracey was in her mid 30’s when she came for an assessment for her severe pain. She is a Mother of 3 children and had been unable to work for the previous 5 months, having to use sticks some days due to the pain which had become increasingly severe over the previous 12 months. She had seen Doctors and a Specialist, who said the only thing left was to send her to the NHS Pain Management Clinic for spinal injections which would help her cope with the pain. Tracey immediately recognised that if her scoliosis (curvature of the spine) was responsible for her pain, then as she had had this since her teenage years it didn’t make sense that this was responsible for her pain. She took everything on board, understood that her fears was responsible for much of her pain and in order to test this within days she was bouncing on a trampoline with her children and was back at work soon after. She realised that she then needed to follow the advice given and learn more about the concept of stress illness, as well as working through the underlying causes of her pain. As a working Mother she continues to have periods of stress that she has to deal with, but if occasionally her back begins to ache she recognises it is not the scoliosis that is causing the pain. She therefore works out what is causing her stress and is able to resolve any discomfort within hours. Tracey has recently climbed the Empire State Building while in New York and regularly goes to yoga classes, both of which she wouldn’t have dreamed of being able to do not long ago. She recently told Georgie, “I could have never envisaged that I would be able to endure such a long flight never mind conquer my fear of heights! I am feeling really good and am finally on top of the TMS. I am constantly setting myself challenges and managing to deal with any pain along the way. I have just returned from a weekend of camping, something I would have never dreamed of attempting and had to manage without an airbed as it broke and still got up in the morning pain free. I am currently in training to do the 3 peaks, hopefully we will attempt it in the spring next year to raise funds for charity.” ‘Ursula’ – Frozen Shoulder / RSI What were you suffering from? I have experienced severe problems with the right side of my neck, upper back, shoulder arm and hand for over twenty years – from about 1993. I have been told variously over the years that this pain, discomfort, stiff neck, aching back, frozen shoulder, pins and needles and numbness was due to osteo-arthritis, wear and tear, pinched or trapped nerve(s), cervical vertebrae fusing together, bad posture, RSI, or a combination of these. What had you tried before coming across SIRPA? I have had chiropractic treatments (over 50), physiotherapy, acupuncture, Chinese manipulation treatments (for over a year), body massage, trigger point therapy and various pain relief drugs. All these things brought some relief and helped me to keep working and carry on, but I was never free of the pain, which was often severe. In 2015 after a particularly stressful and painful time, I decided to take early retirement as I felt I was getting worse by spending eight hours plus on a computer in a very busy and stressful office work environment. To begin with I seemed to improve, but the pain was easily aggravated even by simple things like chopping vegetables, cleaning windows or using a keyboard or even a pen for more than a few minutes. I needed to be very careful so as to not “set things off”. I felt I was “permanently” damaged. It was very depressing. How did you come across SIRPA? Then in February 2016 I got much worse again and suffered a severe stiff neck and then a frozen right shoulder where I could hardly move my head or lift my right arm. I was in agony. This went on for weeks and weeks. I was at my wits end and struggling to understand or see a way forward. I had always been interested in the mind body connection and holistic health and I stumbled on Dr Sarno’s book “Healing Back Pain The mind body connection” and Georgie Oldfield’s “Chronic Pain Your Key to Recovery” on Amazon and decided to get them as I had nothing to lose. After reading these and some more in a similar vein, (I needed to read more to gain a better understanding) I started myself on a journaling and meditation programme. I followed the suggestions in Georgie’s book that appealed most to me. I did lots of journaling and a time line and just wrote freely. I put some affirmations on a card and said them every day. I did short meditations several times a day. I started to improve and the pain started to ease. What were your results? After a short while (under 6 weeks) I stopped needing pain relief drugs during the day. I signed up to the SIRPA website for inspiration. Georgie e-mailed me to ask if she could help and I booked a phone call. Georgie called me and we discussed some techniques that might be of further help. That phone call alone helped as it was wonderful to know that someone cared enough to offer this service. The techniques also helped as well. I am deeply grateful to Georgie for her professional compassion and helpful suggestions. Now only six months on (August 2016) I am greatly improved, have full movement and very little pain. I have every faith that this progress will continue. This programme is positive, helpful and has no negative side effects. It has truly been remarkable. I have come to have a deep and great respect for the power of the mind which should never ever be underestimated. Also for the professional people like Dr. Sarno and Georgie Oldfield who have had the courage to write about it and find methods to help us harness our own healing power.