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Day 1 Wife of someone with TMS

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by TMSwife, Jun 24, 2017.

  1. TMSwife

    TMSwife Newcomer

    Let me start by saying that I am a wife of a man who I believe suffers from TMS.

    After a desperate search online, I found this community last night and felt a huge sense of validation! I have always believed my husband's chronic back pain is connected to his repressed feelings. I have known my husband for 10 years and have never seen him express his anger. NOT ONCE. In fact, his mother says she has never seen him express his anger! He never says anything contradictory, doesn't speak up when he disagrees, never expresses his needs, and doesn't say anything when he's hurt. He's a great and loving man but the fact that he has swallowed 34 years of emotional, mental, and physical pain is slowly unraveling our marriage.

    His chronic back pain has turned our lives upside down. We went from a couple who loved going snowboarding, hiking, camping, swimming, traveling, hanging out with friends, and the works...to a couple who can't even go out to eat because he's worried that the chair at the restaurant will trigger his back pain. His pain is so bad that he is unable to go to work.

    Physical therapy, chiropractors, massages, acupuncture, pain management classes, therapy, muscle relaxants, and even cortisone injections- he's done it all and nothing works! We got married last year and our first year of marriage has been one hell of a ride. Our entire lives have been put on hold and we're in a state of limbo.

    I decided to start the Structured Educational Program because I need to understand TMS for myself and my sanity. Even though I'm not the one with the pain, I want to understand this so I can help support my husband with the daily hell he's living in. There's nothing worst than watching the person you love most suffer from so much unbelievable pain.

    I have accepted that TMS makes absolute sense. There's nothing structurally wrong with my husband. The challenge is that he has not accepted it. He doesn't like it when I bring up stress and anxiety as factors of this pain. I know I have to wait until he's ready. In the meantime, I'm glad I found this community so I can learn more about his experience.

    I'm wondering if there are any other spouse out there...? What has your experience been like?
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
  2. jesstms

    jesstms Newcomer

    TMSwife - So sorry to hear what you and your husband are going through. We were there about a year ago and it was absolute hell. I relate to so much of your story. My husband was 32 and what had been occasional back pain (a few "incidents" a year that would take him down for a couple days) turned into 4 months of agonizing pain and attempted treatments. Like you said, life was completely put on hold and we lived in a state of limbo. I remember countless nights where he would be writhing in pain on the living room floor, unable to get up, and I'd be upstairs reading depressing stories on other forums desperate for a glimmer of hope that he would recover.

    He had an MRI which showed a large herniation, and at the time we knew nothing about TMS so we assumed that was the cause of his pain (of course, because that's what the surgeon told us). He ended up having surgery, which he walked away from pain free. A week later the pain returned worse than ever, and another 2 weeks after that he turned a corner and slowly started improving. He did physical therapy and life is now back to normal. Whether the surgery was a placebo cure or not, I guess I'll never know. Even though I had never heard of TMS, I often wondered if the PT was what saved him. Not the physical work itself, but the wonderful guys he worked with there. They were very blunt with him always saying things like, "you're young, you're strong and there's no reason you're not going to recover," "there's nothing structurally wrong, you just need to regain the strength you've lost from months of no movement," "that's crazy, you can't re-herniate your back from doing x,y,z." Sounds a little like TMS speak huh? While they trained him physically I often wondered if it was the mental aspect, the weekly reality check that was helping him the most. Anytime he doubted his recovery they would tell him to stop worrying and get on with his training.

    Understandably every twinge scared him and he worried about re-herniation. Now that I've learned about TMS (in searching for answers to my own pain) I'm fairly certain that's what he was dealing with. I can say that learning about TMS has given me so much confidence and taken away the daily fear that he will relapse. Throughout his treatment I always felt like the doctors were guessing/throwing darts and hoping something would stick. I have never felt as hopeful as I have since learning about TMS.

    I recently read The Great Pain Deception, recommended by many people here. If he's open to it, this may be a good book for him to read as it's based on personal experience and less text book than others. Sarno's books have helped me tremendously, but I think they might be a more difficult place to start for someone who isn't completely open to the diagnosis.

    Even though I can't speak directly to the TMS / back pain connection I wanted to let you know there's another spouse here who understands how you feel. It's such a lonely and scary place to be, not knowing if/when life will improve or what the future holds. Watching someone you love in that much pain and not being able to help is the worst. I wish I had found out about TMS back then. There's so much hope here and the more I learn about TMS, the more it makes sense. I'm about 5 weeks into working through my own issues using knowledge of TMS (mostly jaw pain and headaches) and I have improved a lot. Please feel free to reach out if you want to talk to someone, I know how isolating your situation can be. Best wishes to your husband!

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