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"Whack-a Mole" Phenomenon

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Yellowfin89, Sep 7, 2023.

  1. Yellowfin89

    Yellowfin89 New Member

    Hi all. Wondering if this resonates with anyone out there...

    I've noticed that when I exercise, the part of my body that's doing the work may feel fine, but another body part presents symptoms. For example, I go for a walk and my shoulders, neck and arms start to burn and tingle. Or this morning, I did some light upper body strength training and noticed a shaky feeling in my legs, and some tingling and numbness in my left foot.

    It's almost like my body (or brain?) is saying "Ha ha, you can't catch me!"

    I described my symptoms and background in a separate post in this forum, and want to add that for the past month I've been working with the Curable app, following Alan's 12-day program on this site, journaling and reading Schechter's book Think Away Your Pain.

    While I have seen some improvement in my mindset and certain behaviors (not going down the Dr. Google rabbit hole any more), I think what may be holding me back is the fact that I'm still waiting for an EMG in about 11 days (and have been waiting for 6 weeks), which keeps giving me the anxiety that something bad will show up.

    I know it's important to be diligent in ruling out conditions that wouldn't be TMS, but the extended waiting period is wearing me down.

    Thanks for any thoughts or suggestions you can offer!
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yep, and as in your title, it's 100% just like a game of Whack-A-Mole.

    I suggest that you stop, breathe, and truly appreciate the progress you've already made. Not appreciating this enough is your brain on TMS! This is what it does. Because this is its job. I think you will feel better if you also give yourself a break and accept that it's okay and normal to be stressed about your upcoming exam. Try doing a visualization/meditation which envisions a positive outcome. If you are unfamiliar with such practices, that is an excellent use of Google.

    Now, when I say breathe, I actually mean Breathe with a capital B. Below is the advice I've been giving a lot lately, based on my own experience (so this is a cooy/paste):

    Lately I've been reminding people to simply Breathe. I wanted to stop beating myself up about my failure to meditate, and realized I could take the advice of the breath experts and concentrate instead on my breath and muscle tension. I've been really making that a priority for a few months, and it's astonishing to look back and notice how it has made significant improvements in my physical well being in many small ways. GI symptoms, in particular, as well as vestibular ones (balance/dizziness).

    I'm talking about therapeutic, diaphragmatic, vagus-nerve breathing, as taught by teachers and trainers in all of the physical and meditative arts. But this is done outside of exercise and meditation, very briefly and easily throughout the day, as many times as you can remember to do it, as well as first thing in the morning when you wake up, and last thing at night when you're about to go to sleep. If you can take just three full, mindful breaths in any given moment, before your distracted brain takes over again, that's a small success. If you can make it four breaths, even better. And so on.

    I'm getting better at this as time goes on, and, unlike meditation, it's so easy to implement! I find myself breathing deeply more often while barely thinking about it, which of course is one of the goals of TMS work, which is to automatically reach for a different mindset so that we can quickly soothe our TMS brains as needed, before they can take over our lives again.

    Breathing. Try it - it works!
    Syl, fridaynotes and Mr Hip Guy like this.
  3. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is actually good because it reinforces Sarno's theory that the pain/feelings of discomfort/numbness etc, it there to distract you.
    One of the things I have done therapeutically to beat TMS is to actively use the muscle or body part the symptom is telling me is 'hurt' ..so if I get a shoulder spasm I do push-ups...if I get chest pain, bench press...if my leg hurts I run...it's my way of telling it "I ain't buying it"..it has NEVER caused a problem. At the very worst, it stayed the same but the blood flow tends to erase the pain proving Sarno's ischemia theory correct!

    Keep in mind, changing locations is a favorite strategy of TMS...however, I have found that If I ignore some issue in my life, in spite of my awareness of what's going on, new symptoms keep popping up until I deal with the formerly ignored feelings/situation. Sometimes this is frustrating because I don't know what it is!!! Or..I have an idea, but I haven't explored how very angry I am about it.

    If you have TMS, you very well could get a 'nerve damage' reading on an EMG but what the Medieval Medical Model doesn't get is that Nerves suffering from Ischemia will of course read 'damaged' or 'Not full functioning'...that is a symptom not a cause. Sarno explains this is Great Detail in "Healing Back Pain".
    On a personal note I had lots of Nerve damage according to the EMG when I first got free of 'the system'...and after reading Sarno and his well reasoned, common sense explanation, I never cared again..and I have zero limitations or pain or coordination issues...it's juts another one of their self fulfilling prophecies, or 'Nocebo's'...

    I might even go a step further and say anybody with Ischemia MUST have some nerve damage because if you cut off oxygen to a nerve it eventually goes numb. A very common part of TMS. Nerves heal. I cut off my thumb and I am typing with it right now...and I can feel it about 96%...ALL of the EMG scary outcomes I got from the Md. World got better in weeks after doing the TMS work.

    Obsessing over outcomes of diagnostics is actually part of the TMS suffering cycle..Fear, anxiety are all there to once again..."Keep you distracted from the realm of emotions, in particular ANGER". Anything that makes you focus on the physical will work..symptoms, scary diagnoses, and general FEAR, all precipitated by the medical world....a holding pattern circling around and around. That is why Sarno said TMS was synonymous with OCD....same mechanism and outcome, different look.

    Ultimately I guess it comes down to who and what you believe. I believe Dr. Sarno because what he said was the problem , Was the problem and what he recommended to do to eradicate the problem solved the problem. He also had no Horse in the race...a 12 dollar book Vs. Thousands of dollars of surgeries and medical treatments. ...there was always one more test, one more procedure and one more BILL!!
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks again for relating your experiences with this, @Baseball65 - I need to pay more attention to these reports of "nerve damage" and EMG procedures, because it feels like they are happening more frequently, and it's something that I know nothing about. I will refer to you for a common sense response to EMG outcomes!

    Now I wonder if "nerve damage" is the latest TMS "fad"? Dr Sarno was the one who pointed out that before back pain became "popular" in the 1980s, it was ulcers - and indeed, I briefly dated a guy at university (1971 or so) who had ulcers - at age 20! As other guys were guzzling beer, he was putting away the buttermilk. He was what we called, back then, "neurotic". Very bright and creative, but ultimately not much fun to be with.
    Baseball65 likes this.
  5. Yellowfin89

    Yellowfin89 New Member

    Thank you both for your quick and thoughtful responses!

    There's an irony here, @JanAtheCPA, since I'm a yoga and mindfulness/meditation teacher (though not my full-time profession) who knows a lot about the value of conscious breathing and other relaxation techniques, AND YET... I'm finding it challenging to apply these things to myself in my current situation. Surely, I need to practice what I preach.

    @Baseball65 - your points about EMG results make a lot of sense and are very reassuring. I'm also doing as much as I can to get back into my regular routines and challenging my symptoms, as you mention above. My primary profession in environmental/outdoor/experiential education can be pretty physical, and I'm getting better at approaching this work with less intimidation and more of a "screw you, pain" attitude.

    One more note, I have an appointment in October with a TMS doctor at NYU/Langone, which I believe will be helpful regardless of what the EMG says.

    Thanks for being so supportive, and for keeping it real.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  6. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    That is Sarno's home turf so hopefully they are keeping his legacy alive!!
    Having always been a student of details, I learned a LOT going through the pain system. Then I was OMG astonished at how much of what I learned was fiction. I come from a building and engineering family, so you can imagine how the structural theories appealed to my brain...the only problem being that we aren't made out of wood, metal and drywall (LOL)

    My Father had them (I guess?)....rather , he was treated for them his whole life and they never 'fixed it' before he died. My Mom told me an interesting story that affirmed it was MBS/TMS equivalent... His absolutely worst attack came when he was driving across country to go to grad school at age 30. He had to give up his pretty good job as an engineer and drive cross country (Sacramento-Boston)...on the way he was in so much pain they had to stop for a week in the midwest and he was hospitalized... but they never 'got' it???
    Move-career change-pressure of going to Harvard at age 30 (less people went back to school then)
    I know this sounds weird, but when I pieced it all together, I knew I was really my Fathers son. Same personality/different era. As @JanAtheCPA says, stuff goes in and out of vogue. Nowadays it seems to be nerve...10 years ago was carpal tunnel...who knows whats next?

    Thank You wherever you are Dr. Sarno!
    MWsunin12 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  7. fridaynotes

    fridaynotes Well known member

    for many men, TMS presents these days as “pelvic issues” and it’s definitely a fad.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  8. Syl

    Syl Peer Supporter

    Hi there! You are lucky to have a TMS doctor over there (in the States). Unfortunately, over here in the land Down Under we live in the dark ages, and for years now I have been the one educating the doctors I visit. Why do I do this? Simply because I wish to be 100% sure that my diagnoses are right. It's sad, however, when I have to pay for the doctor's visit, but I'm the one telling them what I have, how I know, and why I won't have medical treatment as "the pain is in the brain!" And then I give them a mini-session on neuroplasticity dancea

    This seems to fascinate them, especially when I tell them that pudendal neuralgia (PN) is considered TMS (and a lot of them have never heard of PN in any case); fibromyalgia is also considered to be TMS (I've lived with chronic pain for 14 years now plus I have many other conditions I won't bore you with), but lately I discovered that patulous eustachian tube (PET), a nasty condition of the ear is idiopathic. I must've read hundreds of studies about this condition and ENTs are still scratching their heads as to the cause and the fact that there is no real cure; they don't even recommend surgery.

    Anyway, I decided PET (not to be confused with eustachian tube dysfunction) is a TMS condition as is pulsatile tinnitus, which has been keeping me in fear these past two weeks (general tinnitus is already mentioned in Dr Sarno's books and I've had this for ages), but as PET is a rare condition and it freaked me out. So I checked with Dr Schubiner, with whom I sometimes correspond in regards to my many conditions and whose book I've read repeatedly and even introduced it to some of the doctors I've seen, and sure enough, Dr Schubiner emails me back and tells me funny he got my email just when he has seen a few patients recently with PET. Isn't that amazing? What are the chances? I read the only 0.01% of the world population gets PET (and though rare, I'm obviously one of them). But I'm not surprised. I always say that my biggest talent in life is to develop rare kind of conditions (99% of which I now know to be TMS).

    I hope my story helps to illustrate just how tricky the brain can be in throwing weird symptoms at you or changing from one condition to another, etc, etc; and regarding what @JanAtheCPA said, I agree that we need to take a deep breath and try not to lose ourselves in fear, accept we have TMS, and try to relax and allow things to be. I know it's easier said than done, but I remind myself of this every time I have a new symptom that sends me into a panic attack. Please stay in touch and know that we are here for you. I've had a lot of support from some great people in this forum and it's wonderful to know that I'm not alone in this world doing battle with so many scary health conditions.

    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  9. Yellowfin89

    Yellowfin89 New Member

    Just popping in with a quick update… my EMG results came back “normal,” and that was a big relief. To my surprise, my neuro suggested that I stop “chasing the symptoms” and focus on getting a handle on the anxiety—what a reassuring next step! I fully expected her to suggest a spinal tap, skin punch biopsy, etc. Of course she never mentioned TMS but I’m sure she gets it on some level.

    Part of me also expected ALL pain to disappear after hearing the news (wouldn’t that be nice?), but I understand that there’s work ahead and it’s well worth the effort. I finally see a pathway out.

    By the way, I Started reading Sarno and am blown away by how much I see myself in the pages!
    Syl, Baseball65 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  10. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Very awesome update, @Yellowfin89 - sounds like you are on track! This is amazing stuff, for sure.

    That's also super interesting about your neurologist's response. I wonder how many neurologists are thrilled to have mindbody awareness becoming so much more prominent these days? Back in 2018 I had a fainting episode and a minor head bump - there was a simple explanation for the faint, which had been easily resolved, but they ordered a full EEG in addition to the CTs they took at urgent care. I had a follow-up with a neurologist, who said my brain looked great - and who was then more than happy to spend the rest of our time discussing anxiety and the mindbody connection - what we call TMS, in other words.
    Syl, Yellowfin89 and Baseball65 like this.

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