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When enough is enough?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by bla, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. bla

    bla New Member

    I live in the area far away from any TMS doctor. I have many weird and chronic symptoms and pains starting from headaches and dizziness (with some temporary and scary foggy cognitive and visual disturbances), face tingling to neck and lower back pains and ultimately more recent pains, pulsating and numbness in hands especially wrists (and elbows) and both knees, calves and feet. Occasionally I have pain in the chest and GI and urological issues. One day I can swim 80 lapses and next I feel fatigued and unwell with pains and then again back to full energy.
    In the last 5 years I had countless lab tests and other diagnostic procedures performed that found only gastritis, bulging disk L5-S1 on MRI (twice same MRi within 3 years!) and high cortisol level but not a cancer but stress related. Reading about TMS in Sarno's books I recognized myself as a typical TMS patient (probably with yet undiagnosed FM or CFS) but then question is when can you say for sure I am definitely a TMS sufferer? My problem is with TMS diagnosis (or self-diagnosis in my case). My physician ruled out everything more serious according to her knowledge. My neurologist is completely (and rightfully) unimpressed with my MRIs (and is prescribing some beta blockers for migraines) and my psychiatrist suspect I have somatoform disorder (aka TMS). Alternative medicine didn't help either.

    When are you done investigating if anything serious/structural is causing this? Is there a way to be diagnosed with TMS without being in the room with the TMS doctor? I think I really need accurate diagnosis to stop this vicious circle.
  2. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Hi bla, I think if you have seen that many doctors who have all ruled out a structural problem and you identify with Sarno's books you can assume you have TMS. I did see a TMS doctor and he was great but he basically confirmed what I already knew.

    Hope you feel better soon and look forward to seeing you around here :)
    laradara likes this.
  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hiya bla and Welcome to the Peer Network!

    This is a pretty common question, and one that i think is based on the fear that the medical industry feeds our culture. We are exposed to so many messages of serious conditions and what we can and cannot do. All this does is increase our fear of our symptoms and make us believe they are much more serious then they really are.

    There are tests that every one should have done before doing this approach, and it is important to have a medical doctor rule out any serious condition. But it sounds like you have already done all of this. When should you stop investigating if there is a structural problem? As soon as a doctor rules out a serious condition. The more you search for a structural cause or think there is a serious issue you will limit your success and prevent your conscious and unconscious mind accept the diagnosis.

    You already mentioned that your psychiatrist suspects somatoform disorder, which as you even stated is TMS. It is just a clinical term for it used by people you aren't familiar with TMS. Another sign of TMS is if a person has a whole bunch of different symptoms that move around and don't really make sense. Usually when a person says they have "Weird Chronic symptoms" I think of TMS at play.

    All of this should answer your question of if you need to be diagnosed by a TMS doctor. Seeing a TMS doctor can be very helpful and there are some very skilled ones out there, but it is not necessary. The idea that you have to see a TMS doctor is rooted in your believe that you still have a structural problem and doubt the diagnosis. Dr. Sarno himself said that he can't heal people. He can only give people the knowledge needed to recover. Recovering from TMS involves your acceptance of the diagnosis and acquisition of knowledge. Believing that you have to see a TMS doctor to recover and stop the "vicious cycle" is TMS distraction that your unconscious brain is creating to prevent you from exploring your emotions. For more on this check out Is it PPD/TMS or a real structural issue.

    If you have had all of the necessary tests and a doctor, any doctor, has ruled out serious medical conditions then go ahead with no hesitation with the TMS approach. You have the power to fully recover. If you fully accept the diagnosis you will recover.
  4. bla

    bla New Member

    Thanks veronica73 and Forest for your posts and encouragement. I appreciate your thoughts. Intellectually I knew the answers already but I guess with this TMS you have to be assured again and again. I am new to this altogether and therefore I still have these doubtful thoughts. There are diseases like MS that could mimic symptoms that I am experiencing and sometimes (especially at the beginning) they are not seen on the MRIs and during exams. I know, I know you will say that is exactly what my mind wants me to believe in order to perpetuate this condition further. But I am more and more convinced that I have TMS!
  5. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Hi bla, it did take me a while to really accept that I have TMS...one thing that helped me was spending a little time each day reading Dr. Sarno or some other TMS book.
  6. bla

    bla New Member

    Hi veronica73, I am doing exactly that. It makes perfectly sense to reiterate same notion about TMS causes over and over. However, I do not have problem to accept that this is TMS but my problem is who is to decide that TMS is a case here. I saw improvement in few days since I have started with Sarno's books so I am more convinced that I do have TMS then anything else. But it is tricky territory because medical industry is doing their job very well in spreading the fear and even before Sarno's books I was reluctant to believe in anything related to the vague diagnostic approach of most of our medical doctors. They would list neck pain as a diagnosis in their report. I knew that even before I came to see my doctor. How about some latin and more precise name? Most of them are my friends too so even then I was suspicious about their diagnostic skills. Definitely they are not trained to see bigger symptomatic picture. In Europe for example things are little better in that sense.
    I guess question is always where do you draw a line between structural and TMS. Sarno does a good job marking this line but eventually everything is pointing toward the initial self-diagnosis. It seems to me that we are ought to make a first distinction of our symptoms and seek help accordingly. That is little dangerous approach. Ideally medical doctor with TMS experience would be a solution but there are just a few of them out there.
  7. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    OK, I hear what you are saying now...how can you know for sure if it's TMS if there isn't a TMS doctor who gives you the diagnosis? I get that. I did see a TMS doctor and it was helpful for me to have that "official" diagnosis, though I had started to improve even before my appointment with him as I worked on TMS on my own.

    Unfortunately, as you know there just aren't many TMS docs out there. It sounds like you have seen several different doctors who have all ruled out anything structural so I think you can feel reasonably sure that there is not some structural issue going on.
  8. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Veronica's post is pretty much right now point. Having a TMS doctor is great, but most people do not have this option. If you do not have a TMS doctor, the next step is to be checked out for serious medical conditions, which again it sounds like you have. Good physicians are very capable of identifying these serious conditions. I tend to think that when a person has these tests done and the doctors still can't clearly explain why their symptoms are there, then going with the TMS approach is probably a good idea. Another option would be to simply ask your doctor if anything bad could happen if you tried to treat your symptoms as a psychological issue.

    I would say though, and this part you may be expecting, the reliance on a doctor to diagnose you is part of the TMS distraction process. A whole lot of people, myself included, have not been diagnosed by a TMS doctor, but still were able to recover. The one question you need to ask yourself is what is behind this need to have be diagnosed by a TMS doctor. If it is due to fear, why do you have this fear.

    The most important thing to remember about TMS is that you have the power to heal yourself. You and you alone can overcome this.
  9. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi bla and welcome to the forum. I am chiming in because I did NOT see a TMS doctor. My symptoms included neck pain, 5-ibuprofen headaches, lower back pain, shaky legs, occasional sciatica, eyelid twitches, facial numbness, tingling hands, constant non-vertigo dizziness, brain fog, and disorientation made worse by the fluorescent lights in stores, and a brand-new upper-left-back/shoulder pain (deltoids?). I was having frequent digestive issues and had started eliminating foods from my diet. I couldn't go the store for even a small item without clutching a shopping cart and I had a bar stool in the shower to sit on. I was also having anxiety attacks and was in danger of becoming house-bound.

    My MD was pretty sure that my main problem was anxiety. When I was much younger, that diagnosis would make my symptoms go away for months at a time, but in my late fifties, that wasn't working anymore. By the time I hit sixty last year, I was seeing a counselor for the anxiety, and going to a special PT clinic for the dizziness, to "retrain my vestibular system"in addition to seeing another PT for the neck and shoulder issues. Also a cranial sacral doc.

    Last September I read my first Sarno book which was The Divided Mind. I immediately said goodbye to the counselor, the two PTs and the cranial-sacral doc (who had already asked me to stop seeing my chiropractor some months before, and that's kind of an interesting story which I wrote about here). I started doing the Structured Education Program on the wiki, I read Claire Weekes for the anxiety, and I met Forest and other TMSers and started participating in the forums. Today I am about 80-90% well most of the time, and even 100% some of the time, which includes eating everything I'd started avoiding and enjoying shopping again. It's not perfect, but compared to a year ago, it feels damn good, and my future looks totally different. The only medical professional I've seen since last fall is my dentist. Instead of PTs etc. I see a personal trainer once a week and recently I pressed 45 pounds (which certainly DID hurt the next day :eek::D ).

    I never had any doubt about self-diagnosing TMS, but here's the thing: in the last several months before discovering it, I'd seen all kinds of medical professionals who had determined there was nothing wrong with me. It seemed to me that the chance of keeling over from some hidden mystery disease was pretty damn minimal - actually, my personal belief was that it was zero.

    So the question I asked myself before cancelling all of my upcoming appointments was: What POSSIBLE harm could there be in trying something psychological for a few months?

    Which is what you need to ask yourself.

    We're here pulling for you!

  10. bla

    bla New Member

    Thank you Jan and all of you for your thoughtful responses. I have many similar symptoms as you Jan. I was just about to get into the vertigo/non-vertigo thing. I am glad I didn't. I am just starting with my TMS struggle and I am eager to see results quickly as any newcomer.
    I know we are all different but I am wondering is there a way to know if you can fight TMS on your own or you might need help in the form of psychoanalysis? I remember Sarno was mentioning in his books that many symptoms could mean a lot of accumulated rage that usually requires psychoanalysis. I am very interested to hear if you Jan had that dilemma? This is also why I still think it is a good idea to see TMS doctor first. He/she can point into right direction.
  11. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi again, bla,

    I haven't undergone psychotherapy - I figured that if I didn't make any progress on my own, that it would be next on the list. I had almost immediate relief of about 80% of my back pain, shaky legs and shoulder pain the day after finishing The Divided Mind, and the other 20% of those symptoms in a short time and they've never come back. It took a number of weeks doing the Structured Ed Program to wake up one day and realize that I hadn't felt very dizzy for a while, although that's the symptom that comes back when I'm under stress. I basically decided that I could stop worrying about neck pain, so I did. I rarely get headaches anymore, and they go away with just one ibuprofen. Whenever I feel a hint of digestive discomfort, I simply talk myself out of it and so far so good. Those weird nervous system things rarely happen these days, and I don't care when they do.

    It's important to understand that my belief in the diagnosis was really strong right from the start. I was always the kind of person who went to the doctor hoping to hear that there was nothing wrong with me. I was pretty young when I figured out that I had a lot of control over my own health, but I've had chronic anxiety all my life, which we know is a TMS equivalent that can ratchet up our other symptoms in a vicious cycle. It was my anxiety that was spiraling out of control the last few years, which is pretty common amongst post-menopausal women, sad to say.

    Discovering TMS simply fit right in with my belief system. Getting the anxiety under control was an essential part of my self-therapy. When I experience the dizziness these days, I have what we call "a different relationship" with it now - it's annoying, but it doesn't scare me anymore, and I know that I've got some more work to do.

    Back to you: what I'm hearing from you, pretty loud and clear, is that you want to go through this process "perfectly". You might have more success if you consider giving that up, and just plunge in and see what happens. It doesn't have to be messy - the Structured Education Program on the wiki is a great place to start, and look - it has the word "Structured" in its title! Perfect for us perfectionists :p

  12. bla

    bla New Member

    Well, I am trying to apply Dr. Sarno's approach to my numerous symptoms but unfortunately I have little success so far. I must admit that fear of structural or other medical illness is still prevalent factor. I lost confidence in the medical field alltogether and therefore when one doctor rule out something as a potential cause I have a tendency to seek another "better" doctor. I know how debilitating that process is but I cannot help it. Since my first post I haven't seen any doctor. I really want to try psychological approach.
    My biggest problem is dizziness. In my case it manifest itself as tension in the neck and upper back area mainly on the right side with pain starting to build and radiate in the right back area of the neck and right eye and eyebrow. Tension is so severe that sometimes I am close to blackout and have feeling of instability while walking. It is so difficult to do anything even to keep eyes open. While having these symptoms I do not have impression that anything is spinning but rather strange cloudiness of mind that affects memory and cognitive functions of the brain. I also notice that in that same time some automatic functions are affected. For example I would put sugar in the wrong jar or look for the glass in the plates cabinet. Also any rapid movement of my head or even just te eyes is enought to provoke onset of my symptoms. Turning head up is almost impossible. It seems to me as if the sun glare is constantly so strong that I have to make grimace I have all symptoms that I always had even some that I haven't had in the long time.
    Year ago I had a normal brain MRI and ultrasound of the neck arteries. Month ago I had a normal neck MRI. So my neurologist s unimpressed with my tests and rules all of this as migraine and wants to treat tem with beta blockers. I of course know that is not the real diagnosis even before I discovered Sarno.
    What is wired is the fact that I do recognize psychological nature of my problems but struggling with symptoms for so long I do not have trust in any remedy and now that is preventing me from finding "cure" in Sarno's method. I am not a quitting personality either. I do not have anxyty or depression (I think) and despite everything I am physically active.
    In short this dysiness is impossible to ignore.
    Just minutes ago I had worst episode ever after swimming crawl for few minutes. Yes, it sounds as programming. Riding bike desn't provoke any symptoms.
    Anybody else struggling with this strange dizziness?
  13. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Bla,

    I too have experienced some dizziness now and again but can relate more to what you call 'cloudiness of the mind'. Jan calls it 'brain fog'. I call it 'otherworldliness.' Doctors would use the technical term 'aura.' It's all the same thing and the dizziness is taking it to the next level. Because your dizziness is impossible to ignore, as you say, you focus on it, check up on it, worry about it. These mental activities will serve only to keep it going. Jan mentioned how she now has a different relationship to dizziness and other symptoms. They no longer frighten her so their power over her is diminished. Lose the fear, establish a different relationship with the symptom and carry on with your life. It sounds like you are staying active despite it all which is great. Look for inconsistencies like the fact you can ride a bike with no ill effects. If you have been given the all clear medically consider what was going on in your life when the symptom first appeared. What, if anything, is this symptom preventing you from doing?
    Forest likes this.
  14. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    My symptoms lasted for over 18 years, so I am very familiar with trying another treatment for my symptoms. It was really disheartening to try treatment after treatment, ergonomic device after ergonomic device, all to no avail. Of course you have no trust in any treatment. You have tried almost all of them and none have worked. But the difference between TMS and every other treatment, remedy or approach you have tried so far, is that all of the others incorrectly focused on the symptom. TMS is inherently different because it treats the ACTUAL cause: repressed emotions. If you understand these major difference, you will put yourself in a great position to recover.

    I would encourage you to read a bunch of success stories. They helped me overcome my own doubts and reservations about the approach. Check out www.thankyoudrsarno.org . It is a wonderful collection of stories from people just like you and me who recovered using this approach.

    Yb44 made a great point. Recovering involves diminishing your fear of the symptom. Once you no longer fear the symptom, you will no longer focus on it all the time, and you can then begin to think psychologically. When I was able to overcome my fear of my symptoms I began to make significant progress.
  15. bla

    bla New Member

    Thank you all for your encouragements. Yb44 my dizziness is exactly like you described it. It is impossible to ignore it. How can you ignore something that feels like you got a strong blow to your head or you just survived close detonation of explosive. I would like to be able to ignore it or think of emotions that perpetuate it. Problem with vision, pain and dizziness are just one side of it. The other side is even worse. It manifest itselfs as brain fog, difficulty thinking and even speech seems affected (slured) sometimes. I am afraid of driving car. Spasam in the neck is quickly becoming too much for me to be able to operate anything. Reading is also a challenge. It seems that I cannot concentrate on the words as the background is more prominent (almost alive similarly to watching objects through hot air). Then concentration problems and memory loss are just the added "qualities" of this disorder.
    Psychologically thare is a lot of going on. I am realizing that psychoanalyze might be needed. Strangely as it sounds the fact that I have a lot of going on psychologically is my only hope that this could be correlated.

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