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Day 1 TMS in my life

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Kyle, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. Kyle

    Kyle New Member

    I have read Healing Back Pain and The Divided Mind and completely accept the idea that TMS is the root cause of my health issues.

    Although I can trace symptoms back to my mid-teens, my eruption of symptoms really began in my freshman year of college. I had an episode of vomiting after a highly-regretted night of binge drinking to celebrate the end of my first semester, and the next day I felt a pain in my throat I had never felt before. It was acid reflux. I had given myself acid reflux by vomiting too hard. That was my understanding as I suffered the burning, torturous pain in my throat for the next 10 years.

    Reflux was the most extreme symptom I had during that time, however it was not the only one. I also realized that the muscles in my stomach, back, shoulders, neck, face and pelvis were tight all the time. Sometimes it was only one or a few of those muscle groups, but it was always at least one of them. And under certain circumstances, the tightness would increase greatly.

    During periods of increased tightness, I would find it was difficult for me to think clearly. My brain was in a fog, and even though I didn't look like there was anything wrong with me, I would have difficulty understanding what people were saying or thinking of things to say back to them. It made socializing so hard that I started to fear moments where I was around people. I had trouble doing my job, which involves working at a computer. It has beaten me down over the years and hurt me in every part of my life.

    A couple years ago I made a list of all the doctors I've seen trying to get help for my condition. At that time, it was well over 20 people, and the sum total of there opinions was that I have a lot of problems, but there's nothing wrong with me... This has left me feeling abandoned and angry at the medical community.

    I've tried every alternative medicine treatment I could find in the hope of finding an answer. The list includes herbal supplements, Alexander technique, massage, osteopathy, e-stim units, heat/ice, trigger point therapy, biofeedback, neurofeedback, and more. The things that have actually helped me manage my symptoms have been meditation, acupuncture and physical therapy. Acupuncture even seemed to fix my acid reflux, which has been very much under control for about two years, however I've never felt like any of those methods were directly addressing the source of my problem and the brain fog and muscle tightness still cause me a lot of physical and emotional pain.

    Enter Sarno's ideas. I was directed to buy Healing Back pain from my therapist a couple months ago and I saw myself on every page. The limited work I've done to understand what TMS is doing to me and how to overcome it have already produced some good results. But I feel like it's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm looking forward to more improvement as I go through this structured plan, and I've also made an appointment to see a TMS specialist. He's booked until January though, so I'm really hoping this structured plan gets me on the right track!
  2. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member


    Wonderful you found Sarno and a TMS doc. I have nerve pain in my arms, legs, hands and feet that started 3 months back after a very anxious time in my life. I have been going through the structured program and getting a lot of support from the wiki. The hardest thing to do is stop putting a timeframe on healing and live if the moment. This is so hard for me and a lot of anger is coming up from my past. Some that I didn't even know was there.

    You can heal. It takes a lot of patience. Most do not heal over night so don't worry if it takes time.

    Here to chat if you need anything....

  3. Kyle

    Kyle New Member

    Thank you Susan! It feels good to have the support. And I'm glad to hear your work with the structured program is helping, that's encouraging. I agree that that thinking in terms of a timeframe is a trap; one that I continue to fall in time and time again. Looking forward to breaking free of some of those mental hurdles.

    I wish you good luck in your recovery!

  4. Stock Trader

    Stock Trader Peer Supporter

    Hello Ken, how is your acid reflux symptom now? Are you free of it? Are you eating everything now? I am an acid reflux victim too.
  5. Kyle

    Kyle New Member

    Hi Stock Trader,

    My acid reflux symptoms are still very much under control and have continued to improve as I've treated for TMS. Just today I had two spicy bloody mary's at brunch, which in the past would have had severe and painful consequences. Now it's just a little irritation that I barely notice. I hardly ever think about reflux anymore, which is some kind of miracle. At one point in my life I had considered surgery. Now that painful period is becoming a distant memory.

    I have seen huge improvement in all my symptoms ever since I've realized that TMS is my underlying problem and "treating" myself for it. I am very thankful that after a decade of looking for for help, I finally found Sarno and the other health professionals that work in this area of treatment.

    My recovery hasn't been quick by any means. It feels like it's two step forwards one step back. But I'm much better than I was a month ago and light years better than I was a year ago. And I continue to get better every day. My treatment consists mainly of journaling, meditation and self-affirmations/self-talk.

    "Treatment" for TMS is completely different than anything I'd experienced previously. It's completely psychological and not well understood by the medical community. None of the 20+ doctors I saw recommended treatment anywhere close to the ballpark of Sarno's and even the first two psychologists I saw didn't seem to have a grasp on it.

    How can anyone get better when there is almost no one in the traditional medical channels that understands what is happening to people with TMS/PPD? Nobody ever tells you how to work with your emotions when you're growing up (at least no one told me). Nobody tells you what an inner child is. Nobody tells you that a part of your mind is unconsciously furious at you because you are pressuring yourself to be perfect.

    The winning combination of people and resources that has helped me (found through much trial-and-error) has been the help of a therapist familiar with TMS, the TMSwiki.org site (used mostly for journaling), meditation, and the things I learned from these three books:
    -"The Divided Mind" by Dr. John Sarno
    -"Unlearn Your Pain" by Dr. Howard Schubiner
    -"A New Earth" by "Eckhart Tolle"

    I have read other helpful books, but I think these three best helped me understand what is happening with TMS and how to overcome it. And the first two weren't actually enough for me by themselves; it took the Tolle book to help me understand what my ego was doing that was so destructive. Then the rest of Sarno and Schubiner's ideas seemed to click into place for me.

    So if you are suffering from acid reflux, I hope you are considering that TMS is the culprit. And I should add that I was originally diagnosed with a hiatal hernia when I first saw the doctor, which mysteriously disappeared a few years later (they said it would be permanent), but the reflux remained. The hernia was not the cause of my reflux. My point being, even if you a physical diagnosis for having reflux, don't assume that treating TMS won't help.

    Please let me know if I can answer any other questions. I'm eager to help anyone that is suffering with TMS or acid reflux b/c I know what a nightmare it can be. Good luck in your recovery!

  6. Stock Trader

    Stock Trader Peer Supporter

    I have a few questions:
    Did you use ppi medication? If so, how did you get rid of them(cold turkey)?
    What were your symptoms when not using medication and how long did they last?
    When you decided to eat anything after the medication? How you felt at first when eating anything?
    How many weeks or months it took you to be acid reflux free?

    Thanks Ken.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ken, thanks for coming back to respond with your success story! It's wonderful to hear of your progress. Like you, I have my ups and downs, but TMS awareness also changed my life, turning it around 180 degrees at age 60 when I was in a spiraling downward crisis. I'll be 62 next month, and healthier than I've been in years.


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  8. Kyle

    Kyle New Member

    I was on PPI meds for over 5 years. For a while, they seemed like the answer to my problems because I felt better on them. However after being on Prevacid for a couple years, it stopped working and my doctor switched me to Prilosec. Prilosec worked for about a year and then it stopped working, too. My doctor cycled me through the remaining PPI's that were available (Nexium, Aciphex, etc) but I had become refractory to all of them. I tried to stop cold turkey because I thought they were no longer helping, but I experienced "acid rebound" which is one of the worst pains I've ever felt (like someone holding a lit match inside my throat constantly). After 5 years of blocking acid into my stomach, stopping the PPI's cold-turkey was like opening the acid flood gates. Don't stop cold turkey. You have to taper off of PPI's. I was able to get off them by tapering over a period of several months. My pharmacist friend thought I could have done it in a month.

    I wanted to stop the meds because not only did they not help, but it seemed that they were making my problems worse. So during that time I asked a pharmacist what he thought was happening to me. He told me that my problem might not be about the amount of acid in my stomach, but because I was not digesting well. He suggested that I might be better off taking something that helps my digestion, instead of PPI's which actually impair digestion (acid breaks down food, it's a good thing). So I started taking probiotic supplements and, sure enough, my acid reflux symptoms improved quite a bit. They didn't get completely better, but it was much better than I was on the PPI's. (For reference, I was taking Nature Made Acidophlus tablets.)

    It's not a surprise, given what I know now, that the meds didn't help. During the decade I had acid reflux, I also had chronic muscle tension in my stomach and chest. Unfortunately at the time I was barely aware of it because my stomach and chest felt "normal" to me. Now that I am able to relax those areas, I understand how locked up my muscles really were. That kind of muscle tension is bad for digestion. So I realize that the muscle tension plus anything else the TMS was doing to my digestion was the real culprit. Taking PPI's was only making the reflux worse by reducing the acid in my stomach and further slowing my digestion.

    And to be clear, although the PPI's helped me at first, they never stopped the problem. From day one, I still had reflux symptoms even when on the meds. Both a feeling of acid burning in my chest and throat and regurgitation in my throat. The regurgitation was worse. It was kind of like a tickle from something that never totally goes away, no matter how much you swallow. It was particularly maddening at night when I was trying to go to sleep. I hope you don't have that happening to you. The burning sensations happened whenever I ate "trigger" foods (there were lots of them) or drank alcohol/soda. I mostly avoided those foods. If you haven't already, elevate the head of your bed 4-8 inches.
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  9. Kyle

    Kyle New Member

    Thanks Jan! I'd been meaning to get back here and post an update.

    I'm glad to hear you're feeling well!

    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  10. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    And sleep on your left side!

    PPIs are very bad for bone density - women in particular must avoid them, but Ken tells us why everyone should avoid them.
  11. Angelina B

    Angelina B New Member

    Hi Ken,

    Any advice for how you were able to significantly rid yourself of the reflux? I was just diagnosed with Barrett's Esophagus (BE) after 5 years of reflux symptoms and I'm terrified, but I do believe that stress and/or TMS is at the root of it, but haven't been able to rid myself of the GERD except for rare occasions of combinations of Xanax and vacation. I don't want to be on Xanax forever and eventually the effects of it lessen. I'm sure my fear of getting esophageal cancer is helping keep the reflux around, but a fact is a fact, I have BE, which may someday lead to cancer. Any tips would greatly be appreciated.

  12. Kyle

    Kyle New Member

    I can believe that is a scary situation and can only imagine how you must feel, but I think you are right that the fear is probably not helping the situation. I know my body reacts to strong emotions and learning how to do deal with emotions has been a key part of recovery from TMS.

    As I mentioned above, there were a few things that helped me relieve some of my reflux symptoms before I discovered TMS. Taking supplements to help my digestion helped a ton. The best for me was acidophlus tablets (I get Nature made brand, which is available on Amazon). I also had some luck drinking a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water twice a day, which helped my digestion (although I hear the ACV might be bad for your teeth).

    The other biggest improvement I had was after about a month of acupuncture treatment (twice a week), specifically treatments on the front of my body. My acupuncturist said there are ways to treat reflux on either the front or back of your body, but it was noticeable to me how much more frontal treatments help. During those treatments, quite a few of the needles went into the area in and around my stomach, and I feel like that area of my body was more relaxed after the first month of treatment. The fact that my symptoms also got better around that time is one of the reasons that I feel like the tension in my stomach muscles was contributing to the reflux.

    A couple other random things that helped me was turning off all screens (TV, computer, phone) after 9pm. My body seems to benefit a lot from a couple peaceful hours before bed, and that helps all my symptoms, not just reflux. Avoiding trigger foods was critical. Elevating head of the bed 6 inches helped. Meditation is good for reflux because it helps you relax. One of the reasons I suspected a hiatal hernia wasn't the cause of my reflux was that I never had reflux symptoms when I went on vacation, which has always been a relaxing time for me. I know my reflux was caused mostly by psychological factors, so I encourage you to learn more about TMS and how it might be affecting your body.

    Hope this info is helpful for you!
    Kira likes this.
  13. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ken, I'm glad you discovered how calming it is to turn off the tv, computer, and phone after 9 pm.
    It really does help us to find peace before bedtime. I usually turn off the computer and phone at 6 pm
    and only watch quieting things on tv such as nature. No news, of course.

    I'm also glad how well you are working with TMS.

    I also like apple cider vinegar and add lemon and honey to hot water.

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