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Suffering newbie in need of encouragment!

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Moose, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone! Apologies, this is gonna be LOOONG.

    I'm new to the forum, so I thought I'd say hi! I've been struggling with RSI in both arms/hands for a year and a half, which started towards the end of my PhD. I had... shall we say... 'less than supportive' supervisors (at once point they told me I was gonna fail so probably shouldn't bother submitting my thesis), and wasn't enjoying it and was majorly stressed. I remember when it all started I had a bit of pain in the back of my left hand for about a week, and when I casually mentioned this to my supervisor, she freaked out, told me to get away from the keyboard and get to the doctor, as RSI is REALLY serious, and she knew someone who couldn't use a computer for 2 years because of it. Needless to say, this put the fear of god into me and I went to the doctor's right away and got signed off work for 2 weeks.

    Guess what happened next? That 'bit of hand pain' was suddenly engulfing my whole arm, shoulder and neck, even though I was resting it. A couple of days later, it had spread to the other arm. Classic TMS, amirite? The first physio I saw about it told me that the problem was actually in my back, and after that appointment - hey presto, I had back pain too! Interestingly, my back and arm pain are roughly anti-correlated, so that when my arms hurt more, my back tends to be in better form and vice versa.

    So since then I've had loads of physio/doctors appointments, every ergonomic tool going, I've rested, micro-breaked, had needling for trigger points, strong drugs, the works. Nothing has helped. Until a couple of weeks ago when in a moment of desperate googling I found Rachel's site about TMS and the Mindbody Prescription. It was the first explanation I'd come across that made sense to me - the fact that my symptoms have often changed over time, the fact that I can get symptoms without even touching a computer, the fact that I can do lots of much more strenuous activities without any problems... you know the story by now :p

    So I bought TMP, and have been reading and listening to lots of advice and success stories, and for the first week my pain wasn't so bad. I'm a software developer so at a computer full time, so the softly-softly approach to recovery really isn't an option for me (I only started my job a couple of months ago, and almost immediately broke my hand falling off my bike, which is now mostly better but caused me to lose a lot of time and get to avoid the computer for a few weeks, so more time off is not an option). I've just been trying to throw myself into things full throttle, even playing computer games again when I feel like it, to get over my fear (and it really is a fear) of using a computer. I also started journalling about a week ago, and at the weekend had my first breakthrough with this and managed to surface some grief about my Mum (who has alzheimer's). It left me so drained, so that I didn't journal for a couple of days. I did again last night, but it just left me feeling really down. One of the problems is that even when I'm alone, I find it very difficult to let it out and cry, a result of conditioning from childhood. I don't know if this is holding me back.

    The thing is, in the first week after reading about TMS, my pain improved a bit and I was really optimistic. However, since Friday, my pain levels have shot up - I'm in SO MUCH pain typing (and even when I'm resting atm). I'm trying really hard to stay positive. I keep repeating my affirmations. I keep telling myself that I know my unconscious is just restricting blood flow to my arms to distract me from negative repressed emotions. I keep telling myself that I worked longer hours during my PhD without causing my symptoms to get worse so physically I'm ok. I keep telling myself all the reasons that my pain doesn't make sense from a structural point of view. WI keep asking myself how I am feeling and why I'm feeling that way. But it's so very, very tiring, when I'm in so much pain. Any advice anyone has on how to get through this, and really convince myself it's psychosomatic and not structural would be much appreciated!

    I don't know if this lingering doubt as to whether TMS is really the problem is making me hurt so much, or if the extra pain is actually a good sign that the deconditioning is happening and my subconscious is really rebelling! I've still got some nerve conduction studies coming up, and an appointment with a rheumatologist which I've been waiting months for (ahh the NHS...). Hopefully if (when!) nothing 'dangerous' shows up on the results, I'll finally be able to convince myself it's TMS...

    Anyway, nice to meet you all!

    Moose :)
  2. SDGirl

    SDGirl New Member

    Welcome! I'm a newbie too - I just joined this forum last week. I don't have a lot of experience I can only say that I felt immediate relief of most of my pain last week after reading the book and yesterday it came back (only it moved from the right side of my neck/upper back to my left!). I too am working on the affirmations, working through emotions. I guess I am just saying you're not alone. You may be held back in some ways by your lingering medical testing. I know that yesterday, I went to the dr. and did the last of the bloodwork (Lyme etc.) and in some ways I wonder if that has crept in a level of doubt that has manifested. Still, I've seen a neuro (2xs), rheumy, Nerve conduction, MRI's blood work and everything has come back totally normal. I think its good to get the testing to put your mind at ease - but the challenge at least for me is to BELIEVE that I am OK - that the numbness and tingling and weird stuff and pain will go away as I go through the process. Nice to meet you too!
  3. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    Hey There! I can relate to your story to a large degree. I work in the information technology world and also suffered from RSI. I was at my absolute worst and darkest point in my life when I found out about Dr. Sarno and TMS. It was way before this wiki existed and I also found Rachel's website which helped lead me to toward belief in TMS. I ultimately recovered 100%.

    Today people like you have this wiki as a source of information and support. Have you checked out the free program? Check it out if not!

  4. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    Hi SDGirl! Nice to meet you too :) Hopefully we'll see each other get better together!

    Hi Enrique, thanks for the link, I'll definitely check that out tonight. It's really good to know other similar people have got better :)

    I have just started the Structured Educational Program on the wiki so it'll be interesting to see how that and the recovery program fit together. This morning, when walking to work, I suddenly felt all tear-y and emotional - it was definitely a healthy feeling, but I don't know exactly why I felt that way. Possibly I've been stirring up a lot of emotions recently and my unconscious is finally starting to let me feel my feels. Then, as I turned onto he road my work is on, my hands got all tingly and weird in anticipation, and kept getting worse the closer I got... more evidence that this is caused by my brain not my body! I'm not letting it put me off anyways. Today I am going to focus on staying relaxed and at ease at work, because when it comes to getting things done, I'm definitely more hare than tortoise, and I always end up rushing and feeling strung out.
    Enrique likes this.
  5. Calum

    Calum Well known member

    Hi Moose, thought I'd reply too you on here, from reading your replies to my post and your introduction above I think we have similar issues, I'm also what you would describe as a "hare" my job is pretty stressful and my perfectionism definitely makes it worse, although when I'm fully stressed out and "in the zone" at work the RSI pain is negligible, I think this is because my concious is already distracted and 100% focussed on the work therefore the pain is not needed as a distraction. More evidence that the problem is TMS.

    I also find it hard to let the emotions out when alone its like there is a defence mechanism that swats the emotion down as soon as it rises up. Something that you could try that I've been doing to get round this is to journal about something until it is clear in my head and then (if I am comfortable discussing it) talking to my girlfriend (who is being incredibly supportive) about the issue, I find that by talking out load and finding the words to describe it really helps to coax the emotion to the surface.

    I liked the fact that you shouted at your unconscious and the dizziness went away hasn't worked for me yet, but who knows maybe one day! Also have you tired positive talk like telling yourself that your arms are amazingly strong and enduring, sometimes, not often it helps to take the edge off. :)

    Do you think that getting all the medical tests out of the way has helped you? I was going to get an MRI on my shoulders, and back, but then I cancelled. I guess I'm scared that it will show something that could make me doubt the problem is TMS and make the pain worse.
  6. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    Hi Calum, I find the same thing - when I'm concentrating hard, I tend to notice my pain a lot less. When I broke my hand though, that was a pain that would rudely intrude on whatever you were doing, so there's definitely a different element about this type of TMS pain.

    Thanks for the advice about talking to your partner, I tried this today - I journalled about the event in my life that I think has most negatively affected me, and I felt kinda emotional but it was still not coming out, so I went and talked to my boyfriend afterwards, and told him about what I had just written down and how it made me feel. I ended up crying - somehow just saying the words out loud in front of another person made it all so much more real, concrete and important. I realised just how angry I really felt about the event - anger I wasn't capable of processing or consciously experiencing as a child . I still don't feel like I *felt* the anger enough, but I guess it was still a good start. I'll definitely be doing that again.

    I keep up the positive self talk as much as I can, it's a good way just to stop the spiral of negative thoughts from starting, and it's starting to feel almost automatic already which is good! Even if I don't totally believe everything I tell myself yet, it's definitely better than the alternative feeling increasing worried and fearful.

    I have a nerve conduction test and rheumatology appointment scheduled in the next few weeks, so I haven't got all the tests out of the way yet - I considered cancelling, but I waited so long for the appointment, and my hope is that they don't find anything (or don't find any evidence that by continuing to use a computer I'd be damaging myself), which might be what I need to really accept the TMS diagnosis and get rid of that lingering doubt.

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