Today I want to tell the story of my hip, even though it is long-cured and my current TMS is in my feet. I feel the need to draw a comparison for my mind to really believe that my feet are also TMS, just as my hip once was. About ten years ago, I had an onset of completely debilitating hip pain. It became so bad that I could barely walk, barely work, barely do anything except lie on the floor and weep. I saw doctors, specialists, had MRIs, got zapped for some nerve test (aside: my favorite memory of this test was the doctor who spoke English as a second language, so every time he was about to zap me, he would say: "I give shock"), I went to physio therapy, I tried seeing an odd osteopath who drew all over my body in black crayon and flicked my body with his thumb and middle finger and then declared me reborn, I paid for private Pilates classes that took me an hour to reach, I downed painkillers with wild abandon, I stopped all activity, I stopped having a social life, I became very depressed and imagined myself to be about ninety years old, when in fact I was in my early thirties. Every time I walked, I imagined my hip joint was pulling or tearing in terrible ways. I was terrified that I might never recover. I thought I was doomed. Oddly, not long before this happened, I had ridden my five-speed bike from Montreal to New York City through the mountains of Vermont and upstate New York without any issues besides the obvious physical exhaustion associated with biking over 100 km a day for a week and sleeping on the hard ground at night. It was amazing and I was on top of the world both physically and emotionally. Fast forward a few years later and, because of my hip issue, when my husband and I went on a trip to LA, he rented a senior-style scooter for me so that I could "stroll" (or rather scoot) along Venice Beach because I couldn't walk, not even a little. I remember everyone looking at me with sad eyes, like they were thinking: Oh that poor young woman, she must be a cripple. And I was. I lived and breathed the life of a cripple and yet I was 32 years old, fit as a fiddle, and had suffered no injury or trauma that I could think of. It was a mystery and it was ruining my life. If I look back now, of course, much had happened in that timeframe between cycling to NYC and scooting along Venice Beach. Not long after my famous bike ride, I moved in with my boyfriend (not my now husband) and things went downhill fast: money problems (I kept bailing him out but there were always more debts to be discovered, more crap he would suddenly buy with my credit card, more schemes to make money that he needed to borrow seed money for, and on and on). I moved into his place and what I thought was a mess that could be tidied up with a few summer BBQ cleaning parties with friends soon proved that he was a hoarder and we lived in never-ending filth and chaos. One day I came home and he had decided to reno the bathroom and had hauled the clawfoot bathtub out onto the back deck. It was our only bathroom and there was nowhere else to bathe in the house. It took him a year and a half to get around to reinstalling it. From that point onward, I bathed at the Y. We started to fight all the time. He was controlling (though not violent) and wouldn't let me see my friends who I liked to sing and play music with. Around that time, I started to have all kinds of health issues. I was teaching at the time and I lost my voice for months. I went to the doctor and got throat swabs on several occasions, took antibiotics, saw a throat, nose and mouth specialist, the list goes on--but there seemed to be nothing wrong with me, except that I couldn't speak a word. Then I had severe neck pain that traveled down both arms and gave me near migrains. I was nauseous and dizzy from it all the time. I mainlined mints to calm my queasy stomach, but to no avail. And then came the hip pain. It seemed to arrive overnight, out of nowhere, stealing my ability to walk or do much of anything. The years clicked by and I was a physical wreck--to the point that a friend pulled me aside one time and asked if my boyfriend was abusing me because I always seemed to be injured and unwell. I said no...but it triggered a thought in my mind, but I quickly pushed it aside. A few months later I fell off a ladder (note: we lived in odd and appalling conditions. My boyfriend had constructed a very high bed to provide room for an office below and, to get in and out of bed, I had to scale up and down a rickety ladder). And one day I fell. I caught myself partway going down and hung, dangling, with my leg caught in the ladder. It hurt horribly. I had a huge gash in my leg that required stitches. In that moment, I thought: This place, this relationship, is killing me. If I don't leave, I will surely die. And so I left a few days later, with only what I could stuff into a backpack. At this point in the story, you would think that all my ails would simply disappear now that I had gotten out of that relationship. But my hip pain did not go away. It remained for years...It dominated my every waking minute. I built my entire life around it. I quit one job and got a new one based on what I thought I could physically manage. Every decision I made took my hip into account. It was the focal point of my existence. And then one day a friend of mine emailed me. We had played music together a few years back and he was an engineer and a very smart, kind man. I didn't realize it at the time, but he had suffered from stomach issues and debilitating arm and hand pain, which was a major issue for him because he worked in an office. He spent much of his work day with ice packs on his arms. In his search for a solution, he stumbled upon Dr. Sarno's book The MindBody Prescription--and it worked! He immediately thought of me and my hip issue. I read the email and downloaded the book that very day. That evening, I read the whole thing, cover to virtual cover. And I felt the pain diminish with each page. I identified with it all, or enough, and I was, as he said, just desperate enough to give it a try. Lord knows, I had tried all else, at the cost of thousands of dollars, and this little $10 download was the only thing that worked. The pain decreased immediately, but recovery took months. Long, hard months of writing endless lists and reading and re-reading his book. Each time I reached the end, I would start it again. And again. And again. I would write out passages on slips of paper. I wrote countless lists on yellow note pads about all the stresses in my life (of which there seemed to be so many). And at last I was pain-free. I wish I could remember how quickly or gradually I reintroduced activities into my life. But I do remember a few key moments. After reading Sarno's book for the first time, I went around the house and gathered everything hip-related: all my painkillers, special pillows, creams, tinctures, half a dozen multicolored PT stretch bands, you name it. I dug stuff out of bags, backpacks, office drawers, and bedroom cupboards and I put it all in one big pile on top of our piano and declared: I don't need you anymore! I was terrified, but triumphant. I also recall walking up my block, stomping, quietly yelling at my hip: F--* you! I don't believe you anymore. Stop it! Stop it! And I stomped up and down the street. I must have looked insane. I didn't care. I had been a prisoner in my body for years and I was fed up. Now here I am today, battling a new and challenging form: foot pain. It's been dragging on for months and so much of what I am going through emotionally is what I went through with my hip. So I am hoping that I can think back on my previous success and learn from it. I hope I can be as strong now as I was then to overcome TMS once again.