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What To Expect with Recovery

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Lauren.R89, Dec 13, 2019.

  1. Lauren.R89

    Lauren.R89 Peer Supporter

    Hi! I have been mostly pain free for about four months (yay!) and then had a bit of a relapse the last two weeks. Which has sparked me to hop on here and ask this question -

    What is to be expected with recovering from psychosomatic pain/tms?

    I'm trying to reframe so that I don't view myself as someone with a disorder I have to manage my whole life. I know that I can expect to encounter triggers and have flare ups at times - in the same way anxiety might try to flare or any other thing we encounter in life.

    I hope that my question makes sense and I'd love the insight of this community :)

  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Lauren.R89,

    I think your aim, and your inquiry are good. My hope for you is that you frame future TMS symptoms as your "propensity" to TMS as opposed to a "disorder." Dr. Sarno told us that everyone has some kind of TMS equivalent. So we all have a propensity to have TMS symptoms.

    My father lived to be very old, in excellent health, with almost no pain. However, occasionally he had a little knee pain ("from a high school football injury"), and he had a sensitive stomach --a sort of GERD, which came and went. He never treated either of these as TMS, but I frame it this way. I use him as an example because of all the people I ever knew, he was the last to worry about symptoms, and was extremely young for his age. But he still had TMS.

    I know also that some of the best known TMS practitioners, caught off-guard with symptoms, and then realized that they were being fooled by TMS, perhaps after a medical exam. Dr. Sarno tells his story of ---I think GERD, and wondering what it could be coming from. It is natural, and you'll get through it, and in fact you're 95% ahead of most folks who don't know what TMS is, nor have had success treating it.

    So having a "relapse" is not a failure, or a weakness, or really much to worry about, because you'll always have the power to unravel the fear and the symptoms.

    I remember walking along one day and having some pretty strong foot pain come back. First I was worried, then I felt like a failure, then I just told myself "Of course your foot hurts. Why would you expect anything different? You're prone to TMS!" This helped me relax, helped me accept and not contract around the symptoms, and the foot pain was soon gone.

    Another day with foot pain I inquired into what kind of pressure I'd been putting on myself lately. The pain did not go away immediately, and I was concerned, and then I realized that it is like "turning a ship" and didn't pressure myself that my technique needed to work in any particular time frame. This reassuring myself again relieved inner pressure, and the pain was soon gone.

    Relapse can mean, by the way, that you're called to look more deeply at your life including being more intimate with yourself, forgiving of yourself, looking at barriers to connecting with others, life stressors, etc. Your work on yourself might go deeper this time, or it might stay "shallow" by reading, listening to podcasts, etc, but even at this level you'll build confidence.

    Good luck in this process. You're already a winner, believe me.

    In this regard here is a note I made here and a recent discussion on "relapse." My piece is what I hope you "expect with recovery!"

    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/ease-trust-success-and-positive-loops.19807/ (Ease, trust, success, and positive loops)

    http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/r-e-l-a-p-s-e.22141/#post-114273 (R E L A P S E)

    Pietro Carloni and grapefruit like this.
  3. Lauren.R89

    Lauren.R89 Peer Supporter

    Wow. Thank you for such a thoughtful and hopeful response. I like the word "propensity" a lot. Wording is really important with calming the nervous system. I'll look through the links you shared :) Thanks so much. Happy Holidays :)
  4. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    Absolutely. The way we word our self-talk reflects how we think about our pain and how we think about it can affect how intense it is or whether we have pain at all. In this regard, the Day 2 lesson of Alan Gordon's Pain Recovery Program is relevant. He makes two important points there that are the foundation for the rest of the program. His first point is: Pain = Danger. The brain creates pain to protect you from the danger of tissue damage. The example he gives is that when you sprain your ankle, you have pain, and this is your brain's way of telling you: “You are at risk of causing tissue damage, kindly back off until we heal.” He says: "Pain warns us of causing additional tissue damage." With a sprained angle, pain is helpful.

    His second point is: The brain is not perfect. It can create pain not only when we face the danger of tissue damage but also when we face danger that is psychological (or emotional) rather than physical. Of course, pain in this situation is not helpful. He has a wonderful name for this propensity--the blunderous brain. It think it is beneficial to think of TMS pain as just your brain blundering again. The pain is nothing to fear.

    I looked at your profile and see you were diagnosed with central sensitization. This is a name for TMS that comes from research by pain scientists revealing the nitty gritty of the brain's propensity to blunder. Prominent among these pain scientists is Lorimer Moseley. In case you are interested, Moseley has written a book with David Butler titled Explain Pain (2nd edition). On page 82 they say: "Sensitization of the brain and spinal cord is called central sensitization. Read through the common features below. Perhaps you have some of them. They may provide a clue that your pain is more related to central nervous system processes than tissue processes." Their book is pricey, but I think it can be really helpful in dealing with a sensitized central alarm system that is setting off false alarms of tissue damage. As they say on page 9: "Most people, including many health professionals, do not have a modern understanding of pain. This is disappointing because we know that understanding pain helps you to deal with it effectively. Here are two things we now know about explaining pain: the biology of pain can be easily understood by men and women in the street, and understanding pain biology changes the way people think about pain, reduces its threat value, and improves their management of it." Dr. Sarno was the pioneer in educating people about their pain as a way to treat TMS. In my view, Butler & Moseley are in that tradition but with the advantage of access to research over the last couple decades on pain biology that was not available to Sarno.
  5. Lauren.R89

    Lauren.R89 Peer Supporter

    Ya! I was diagnosed last February! I'm well aware it's just TMS. I worked with an incredible hospital with a wonderful pain recovery team that explained that alarm system misfiring. I actually have the most recent edition of Explain Pain! It's an extremely helpful book. :) Thanks for responding so thoroughly. These are all great reminders!
  6. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    Lauren, its great that you found a wonderful pain recovery team. Congratulations.

    When you say you have the most recent edition of Explain Pain. I am guessing you mean the second edition, but I am wondering if maybe you are referring to Moseley & Butler's newest book Explain Pain Supercharged. The latter is more on point to your comment above that "Wording is really important with calming the nervous system," but I did not mention it above for two reasons. First, Explain Pain Supercharged cannot be understood without first having read Explain Pain. Second, Supercharged is written mainly for clinicians, not the lay public. Chapter 3 titled "Supercharge your pain biology" is off-putting even for clinicians because of lots of technical terminology--such as toll-like receptors and pro-inflammatory cytokines. The chapter, which Moseley wrote, is introduced with a quip about his co-author David Butler: "We know that this chapter will be tough going and hard reading for everyone. Dave has read it five times and he almost gets it. Be brave as you take this on and realize that to really integrate this amazing stuff, you will need to put in time and effort."

    If you have not read Supercharged, I will explain why I see it as so on point regarding your observation about the importance of wording in calming the nervous system, Chapter 7 titled "The malleable magic of metaphor" discusses how metaphors and similes that we use about our health and pain can be either harmful or helpful depending on which ones we use. Chapter 7 contains seventy-one "nuggets" (very short stories) and Chapter 8 contains fifteen "novellas" (somewhat longer stories) that clinicians can tell patients to help them deal successfully with false alarm danger messages. I am not a clinician, but some of the nuggets and novellas have been very helpful personally.

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