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MatthewNJ
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MatthewNJ

Peer Supporter, Male, from Northern New Jersey, USA

MatthewNJ was last seen:
Jul 29, 2014 at 10:23 PM
  • My Story

    MORE ABOUT ME...The best word to describe me is: A recovering Goodist and Perfectionist
    Interests: Stress Illness, snow skiing, National Ski Patrol, biking, reading, computers, fixing things, helping others, mindfulness, meditation, spirituality and Yoga.


    Favorite movies: The Matrix, Get Smart, Target, A Knights Tale, Avatar, Tron, Limitless, The Razors Edge (Bill Murray version), You Can Heal your Life (Louise L. Hay), "The Shift (Wayne Dyer), Click (Adam Sandler), The Kid (Bruce Willis), Avatar

    Favorite TV shows: Numbers, Bones, Royal Pains,

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Books I recommend:
    The MindBody Prescription by Dr. John Sarno
    The Divided Mind by Dr. John Sarno
    The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (There is a Fifth agreement now)
    Waking the Tiger, Healing the Trauma by Peter A. Levine
    Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body by Peter A. Levine 2008
    The Ancestral Mind by Dr. Gregg Jacobs
    Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabit-Zin
    Mindsight Dr. Daniel Siegel
    The Biology of Belief Dr, Bruce Lipton
    Many Lives Many Masters Dr. Brian Weiss
    Living Buddha Living Christ by Thich Nhat HanhTaming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions byThich Nhat Hanh

    The Shadow Effect Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson
    Daring Greatly Brene Brown

    Books I really love (and usually teach me something about me):
    The Earth Children's Series (Clan of the Cave Bear, etc)
    Anything by Charles DeLint (Urban Fantasy)
    Any book by Ann McCaffrey (sci fi , Dragons)
    Anything by Thich Nhat HanhHorton Hears a Who
    The Missing Piece Meets The Big O
    Nobody Listens to Andrew
    Harry Potter Series
    The Hobbit (the whole series)


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    MY TMS SUCCESS STORY...
    Here is the "readers digest " version (see below for the full details) : I am on every page of MBP. 28 years of back pain (on and off, lasting for weeks at a time), the whole works. I read MBP and get somewhat better. I see Dr. Sarno 1 year later (2004) and I get better some more. In 2005 I have vertigo and Dr. Sarno sends me to Dr. Bob Evans for counseling. This accelerates the process. In 2007 I have an ulcer. In 2008 I have a 6 month bout with sever back pain. Dr, Sarno confirms my MRI is the same and "I have more work to do" (with Dr. Evans). At this point I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, I am just not having back pain anymore. I start doing more mindfulness and meditation and things start to improve more rapidly. But it is a journey (approximately one life time) and I am still on it. In April 2013 after about a year and a half of the most family stress I have ever encountered, I end up in the hospital with diverticulitis. This was a message to me to work harder on my life style changes everyday.


    The "LONG" story is here, with all the details: This is a long , so bear with me. I am a "long Term" patient, in that I started on the TMS journey in 2003. I am still working on getting 100% better. I am SOOOO much better than I was. I am still getting better all the time. But not just my TMS symptoms, my LIFE IS BETTER. Here we go. I have had back pain on and off since 1976 when I first "hurt" my back lifting a lawn mower. I was treated with muscle relaxers and aspirin and believed that was they way to go. Because I was an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) at the time, I believed in treating symptoms. Any doctor in the ER (Emergency Room) that I explained my back pain to was more then willing to refill my muscle relaxant prescription (without even examining me). This further ingrained in me that this was the way to go. Treat the symptom. So my life went like this: I would "hurt" my back, get more pills, "be careful lifting" and my back would "get better". In 1981 I moved to NYC to become a Paramedic. During my first 9 months there, I had significant stress with one of my EMT partners on the ambulance. This created significantly painful gastritis. Another source of stress was I was a shop steward in the union. Also, I was angry. I was always angry at something or someone. More on this later. The gastritis continued. This back pain cycle went on as well until approximately November 1983. I was working in Brooklyn as a paramedic. I lifted a stretcher "wrong" and had a twinge in my lower back. Understand that at this point I had worked on ambulances full time since 1980 and was currently employed by the city of NY EMS. I was lifting a lot of patients! The pain never went away this time. Also, up to this point I was never disabled by the pain. Around February of 1984 I was walking on a subway platform on the way to work. I was working in the city now at Bellevue Hospital (right down the street from NYU where Dr. Sarno is. Ahh, so close, yet so far) and I coughed. It felt like someone had hit me in the lower back with a sledge hammer. Needless to say I was walking stooped over and scared witless. Within 48 hours there was fire down my leg on the right side (classic Sciatica). To say the pain was unbearable was an understatement. On a scale of 0 -10, 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain I ever had, it was a 10. I went to my HMO doctor who gave me some Valium (which didn't do ANYTHING for the pain) and told me to come back to orthopedic clinic in 10 days. WHAT was this guy thinking. I had a pain of 10 on a scale of 10, come back in 10 days?. One of my paramedic partners recommended a chiropractor. I had heard of them, but never used one. What did I have to lose? So I go and I "learn" that I have subluxations and rotations of my L4 and L5 and this is the "cause" of my sciatic pain . Hallelujah the "cause", it can be "fixed", I am saved! Or, so I thought then. So for the next 6 weeks I am disabled and I am out of work. I get the chiro treatments. This was 2-3 times a week. That and unbelievable quantities of Robaxin (a muscle relaxant) aspirin and Tylenol. I was miserable. My life consisted of laying down, with ice on my back 20 minutes on 20 minutes off all day long. Lying in bed unless I went to the bathroom or got something to eat. And the horror of riding the subway train in this kind of pain to go see my chiropractor. I did a lot of reading. Eventually the pain was bearable enough for me to work again. Although frequently I had to lie down on the stretcher between ambulance calls. I could not sit for any period of time. Jump ahead to March of 1985. I left NYC, got married and moved to New Haven Connecticut. Lots of anger there too. Just ask my wife and son! I was working for a really great private ambulance company and the stress was lower (or so I thought). I was married, we had two incomes, we had a baby boy, life was good. But the back pain continued to come and go. Another BTW, I had 1 emotion up until this time in my life : Anger. Particularly at my wife, and sometimes for weeks at a time. I continued the Chiro thing as needed. At some time around 1986 I "hurt" my back again on the ambulance. My Chiro suggested swimming and I started that too. Lucky for me this time, I was able to work "light duty" instead of lying in bed all day. It was manageable. Also during this time period I remember having gastritis as well . Also, I have suffered from nasal allergies since I was 12 and Eczema. Also in the late 80's I was being treated for gastritis fairly regularly with medications. In 1989 we moved to New Jersey. This was due to the 1988 financial crises. No need to go into detail here other than to say our house ( we bought in nov 1988) was now worth about 35% of what we paid for it. My mortgage was three times the value of the house. Stress? what stress? The back pain continued on and off and I continued to treat it with Chiro, somewhat successfully. And the gastritis continued, treated with Acid blockers and the eczema continued treated with topical steroids. Move up to 1992. I change careers. I turn to computer programming. Between 1992 and 2003, I have all kinds of ups and downs with the back pain. I spent 6 weeks working from home flat on my back with a laptop on my chest. When I went back to work, I had to work standing up. During one period of back pain, I couldn't stand, only sitting was comfortable. Note: that I never even considered the inconsistency that at one point I could only sit and one point I could only stand without pain. I did Chiro, "laying on of hands", pain pills (narcotics this time) and finally I saw an orthopedic. I was given a diagnosis of a herniated disk based on an MRI. I had the standard PT and steroid injections in my spine and more narcotic pain killers (vicodin this time). And had I not found Dr. Sarno, they probably would have offered me surgery. My pain was pretty much a 3 on a scale of 10 all the time now. And although that is not severe, it just wears you down! Somehow I ended up with a copy of the Dr. Sarno's Mindbody Prescription. I started to read it and I thought "this guy is so full of crap". I had a medical background and there was a herniated disk, "proven" on an MRI. What could my mind possibly have to do with this? Yet I kept reading. Interestingly enough, my back started to feel better. I thought, “maybe this guy has something”. I started to use "the Jim Campobello method" from the book. I got somewhat better and then I leveled off. I went to see Dr. Sarno in 2004. He diagnosed TMS and I went through his program. This also helped to a degree, but my success leveled off again. In 2005 I had severe vertigo (treated with some pill I don't remember). I happen to share this with Dr. Sarno. -1- he always says that if you have a symptom, see your doctor to rule out a physical diagnosis and then CALL ME! Boy am I glad I listened to THAT advice (also he likes to hear from his patients regularly about their progress). He said I needed psychotherapy. Dr. Sarno sent me to one of his "trained" psychotherapists Dr. Bob Evans. Dr. Evans is analytically trained. He also uses techniques to tune you into your somatic experience (Dr. Peter A. Levine : Healing the Trauma) and being "in the moment" (Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin) as well as other techniques. I started to see Dr. Evans weekly. Things improved slowly. I got very frustrated many times. I wanted to be better RIGHT NOW (well. yesterday at the very least). At these times Dr. Evans would always gently remind me that I had taken a long time to get to this point (probably most of my life!). It may take some time to "heal". He likes to remind me that I did not become the expert skier (I am a Senior Ski Patroller for the National Ski Patrol) over night. That actually took about 12 years of regular skiing and training. This helps with the frustration a great deal, because I have had to work very hard to be as good a skier as I am. He also taught me that "anger is easy". And together we determined it wasn't so much anger as suppressed hurt and sadness for me. Let's jump up to April of 2007. I start having abdominal pain. Now I have been down this path before (from the late eighties on) and usually I am diagnosed with gastritis. Another TMS equivalent for me. I am seeing my doctor (always rule out the physical first) and she has me on acid blockers and I am watching what I eat (and completely missing the fact that this is an equivalent of TMS). Needless to say this turns into a full blown gastric ulcer. I land in the hospital with pain again, on a scale of 10, yet in my abdomen. 19 days in the hospital! I ended up having leg and lung clots (DVT and PE) that was caused by a combination of the being immobile so long and having an inflammatory response (the ulcer). Anyway, I survive this too. The winter of 2007/2008 arrives and I start skiing again. I am training to become a "Senior" level Ski Patroller. Now I really love skiing and training with skis and sleds and rescuing folks off the mountain. I don't think it was the cause, yet, I started to have some back pain towards the beginning of February 2008. I am ignoring it (that was not wise) and skiing top expert trails and taking people down in sleds on these slopes as part of my training and carry these sleds up on the chair lifts. Very physical stuff that we all KNOW doesn't cause back pain. So March 15th rolls around and I take the test and pass it. To add to the joy of that day, my son (22 at the time) had also been training with me and he takes and passes the test with me! So why do I have pain? (Note of 6/27/14 - I now believe this pain event was my significant success in the Ski Patrol world , when I din't feel worthy of that success - see Brene Brown's "Daring Greatly" or watch her Ted Talks). After I am told I passed (which was around lunch time, my back pain increased , and by dinner time, was about a 6 on a scale of 10. Within the next few days I had severe pain requiring narcotic pain killers. 10 MG of Percocet (Oxycodone) 6-7 times a day. I saw a pain specialist to get the pain killers and he insisted on an MRI. Well he did one and some kind of electro physiology study of the electrical conduction in my legs. The MRI showed the herniated disk I knew I had. The other study was "negative", which surprised him (but not me). But then I did what Dr. Sarno says and I called him up. I faxed him the MRI results and he said that they were the same as my MRI from 4 years earlier, I still had TMS and " Matthew, you have more work to do!" (EG; with Dr. Evans). At this point I have had enough of this. ENOUGH is ENOUGH! I had hit rock bottom. I decide that is the last time I am going to have severe pain. I increase my appointments with Dr. Evans to twice a week. It takes a number of months, but we start to get a hold of it. By August or so, I am off the pain killers (Thank goodness, that stuff is very scary), and by the time the snow flies, I am skiing again! I continue to see Dr. Evans 1 time a week now, and I am in a much better place. Around the end of October I have been reading Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin and getting into meditation. I decide to go to Meetup.com and use that as a tool to find groups of other mediators. I have to say that this has been very helpful in reducing my TMS symptom. This also lead me to meet spiritually minded people. I also get into spiritual groups and Yoga. At this point I meditate regularly, I started 2 meditation groups at work, I have one at a friends home weekly with friends. As of November of 2010, I switch from seeing Dr. Evans (although I still HIGHLY recommend him) and started seeing a counselor specializing in Emotionally Focused Therapy (see www.iceeft.com). This was with Dr. Evans support and it has accelerated my progress in learning to feel my emotions. In April 2013 after about a year and a half of the most family stress I have ever encountered, I end up in the hospital with diverticulitis. This was a message to me to work harder. So I now meditate and do pranayama every day, walk 5-6 days a week, do yoga 5-6 days a week, verbalize what I am grateful for before bed and when I wake, try to get plenty of sleep and eat healthy. This has been updated as of 06/27/14.

    Other stuff:

    Other TMS equivalents I have had (since I was probably about 9-12 years old) and been treated “medically“ for are Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), Eczema (innumerable cortisone creams and anti histamines), gastritis (anti acid drugs, special diets) , gastroenteritis, knee pain, foot pain ("diagnosed" as plantar fasciitis ), shoulder pain that radiates down my arm, "sciatica" (including all kinds of pain, burning, numbness etc in my right leg), generalized itching, nasal allergies, depression (anti depressants), migraine and tension headaches (tylenol, Aspirin, motrin, naproxyn) knotted muscles, laryngitis (full thyroid work up), that there was no infection associated with, gastric ulcers (hospital stay with multiple IV antibiotics and narcotic pain killers), joint stiffness that lasts for weeks at a time, insomnia, dry eyes (eye drops and antihistamines), itching eyes (anti histamines and cortisone creams), hearing loss, TMJ pain, diarrhea, skin infections, finger pain and chest pain (yes I saw my regular doc about this). The list is almost endless.

    In my mind, if you want to get better and STAY better, here are my ideas on this:
    -1- Remember this : IMO western medicine (and those of us conditioned by it's methods) have a pain, go to the doctor, expect a pill or a surgery to fix it and expect to go home "cured". My experience (and MANY others) say this doesn't work. We are only treating the symptom in about 95% of the cases. Therefore, it comes back because we haven't gotten to the real cause.
    -2- Try a lot of different things. Take from each what works for you
    -3- Commit to it and do it everyday. Even if it is only 5 minutes a day to start.
    I believe an integral approach to our health and well being is
    necessary. EG: eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, meditate and have a spiritual practice.
    I am now more proactive about symptoms. I don't wait for them, I keep in touch with my body and my mind. I figure I am in touch with my body about 95% of the time now and that is improving every day. This is what Dr. Peter Levine calls "Somatic Experience" - I continue to work on it all the time (every day, through out the day) and I continue to get better. Meditation is a great help here. It helps me tune into the moment (be mindful and aware). Not what was, or what is going to be, just what is.....now! It also gives me an opportunity to choose to not be bothered by the things that otherwise would activate my nervous system. Then my mindbody has an opportunity to chill out, or better stay chill.
    There is no “quick fix”. You can't fix in a short time, that which was created over a lifetime. You need to make life changes that are positive and will be with you for the rest of your life. It is like a diet. You can go on a diet and lose weight or you can change your eating habits. When you diet and then you go back to eating the way you did before the diet, you just gain the weight back. I see that you have to have a new way of "eating" all the time, so when the weight is gone, you are still "eating" the same way. Your habits have changed and the weight stays gone. Substitute "pain" for "weight" in the above and that is the approach Dr. Evans (and now my new counselor) are taking. Since about 3/2014 I have taken a break from counseling and I feel I am doing really well.


    BTW: Dr. Bob Evans is available through this Wiki. I highly recommend him.

    If you are interested in The Emotionally Focused Therapy see www.iceeft.com
    Feel free to contact me any time. Ferretsx3@comcast.net, or through the tmswiki
    1. Joy
      Joy
      Hi Matthew, Thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed talking with you in the chat room. I've been meeting with a TMS psychologist in Manhattan with unsuccessful results. Do you know any TMS physicians that accept Medicare in New York City or Long Island? Thanking you, I remain, Very Truly Yours, Joy
    2. Stella
      Stella
      I really appreciate your story. I will get mine posted soon. I have had numerous illnesses too. It is amazing how many illnesses TMS manifests.
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  • My Story

    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Northern New Jersey, USA
    MORE ABOUT ME...The best word to describe me is: A recovering Goodist and Perfectionist
    Interests: Stress Illness, snow skiing, National Ski Patrol, biking, reading, computers, fixing things, helping others, mindfulness, meditation, spirituality and Yoga.


    Favorite movies: The Matrix, Get Smart, Target, A Knights Tale, Avatar, Tron, Limitless, The Razors Edge (Bill Murray version), You Can Heal your Life (Louise L. Hay), "The Shift (Wayne Dyer), Click (Adam Sandler), The Kid (Bruce Willis), Avatar

    Favorite TV shows: Numbers, Bones, Royal Pains,

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Books I recommend:
    The MindBody Prescription by Dr. John Sarno
    The Divided Mind by Dr. John Sarno
    The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (There is a Fifth agreement now)
    Waking the Tiger, Healing the Trauma by Peter A. Levine
    Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body by Peter A. Levine 2008
    The Ancestral Mind by Dr. Gregg Jacobs
    Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabit-Zin
    Mindsight Dr. Daniel Siegel
    The Biology of Belief Dr, Bruce Lipton
    Many Lives Many Masters Dr. Brian Weiss
    Living Buddha Living Christ by Thich Nhat HanhTaming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions byThich Nhat Hanh

    The Shadow Effect Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson
    Daring Greatly Brene Brown

    Books I really love (and usually teach me something about me):
    The Earth Children's Series (Clan of the Cave Bear, etc)
    Anything by Charles DeLint (Urban Fantasy)
    Any book by Ann McCaffrey (sci fi , Dragons)
    Anything by Thich Nhat HanhHorton Hears a Who
    The Missing Piece Meets The Big O
    Nobody Listens to Andrew
    Harry Potter Series
    The Hobbit (the whole series)


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    MY TMS SUCCESS STORY...
    Here is the "readers digest " version (see below for the full details) : I am on every page of MBP. 28 years of back pain (on and off, lasting for weeks at a time), the whole works. I read MBP and get somewhat better. I see Dr. Sarno 1 year later (2004) and I get better some more. In 2005 I have vertigo and Dr. Sarno sends me to Dr. Bob Evans for counseling. This accelerates the process. In 2007 I have an ulcer. In 2008 I have a 6 month bout with sever back pain. Dr, Sarno confirms my MRI is the same and "I have more work to do" (with Dr. Evans). At this point I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, I am just not having back pain anymore. I start doing more mindfulness and meditation and things start to improve more rapidly. But it is a journey (approximately one life time) and I am still on it. In April 2013 after about a year and a half of the most family stress I have ever encountered, I end up in the hospital with diverticulitis. This was a message to me to work harder on my life style changes everyday.


    The "LONG" story is here, with all the details: This is a long , so bear with me. I am a "long Term" patient, in that I started on the TMS journey in 2003. I am still working on getting 100% better. I am SOOOO much better than I was. I am still getting better all the time. But not just my TMS symptoms, my LIFE IS BETTER. Here we go. I have had back pain on and off since 1976 when I first "hurt" my back lifting a lawn mower. I was treated with muscle relaxers and aspirin and believed that was they way to go. Because I was an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) at the time, I believed in treating symptoms. Any doctor in the ER (Emergency Room) that I explained my back pain to was more then willing to refill my muscle relaxant prescription (without even examining me). This further ingrained in me that this was the way to go. Treat the symptom. So my life went like this: I would "hurt" my back, get more pills, "be careful lifting" and my back would "get better". In 1981 I moved to NYC to become a Paramedic. During my first 9 months there, I had significant stress with one of my EMT partners on the ambulance. This created significantly painful gastritis. Another source of stress was I was a shop steward in the union. Also, I was angry. I was always angry at something or someone. More on this later. The gastritis continued. This back pain cycle went on as well until approximately November 1983. I was working in Brooklyn as a paramedic. I lifted a stretcher "wrong" and had a twinge in my lower back. Understand that at this point I had worked on ambulances full time since 1980 and was currently employed by the city of NY EMS. I was lifting a lot of patients! The pain never went away this time. Also, up to this point I was never disabled by the pain. Around February of 1984 I was walking on a subway platform on the way to work. I was working in the city now at Bellevue Hospital (right down the street from NYU where Dr. Sarno is. Ahh, so close, yet so far) and I coughed. It felt like someone had hit me in the lower back with a sledge hammer. Needless to say I was walking stooped over and scared witless. Within 48 hours there was fire down my leg on the right side (classic Sciatica). To say the pain was unbearable was an understatement. On a scale of 0 -10, 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain I ever had, it was a 10. I went to my HMO doctor who gave me some Valium (which didn't do ANYTHING for the pain) and told me to come back to orthopedic clinic in 10 days. WHAT was this guy thinking. I had a pain of 10 on a scale of 10, come back in 10 days?. One of my paramedic partners recommended a chiropractor. I had heard of them, but never used one. What did I have to lose? So I go and I "learn" that I have subluxations and rotations of my L4 and L5 and this is the "cause" of my sciatic pain . Hallelujah the "cause", it can be "fixed", I am saved! Or, so I thought then. So for the next 6 weeks I am disabled and I am out of work. I get the chiro treatments. This was 2-3 times a week. That and unbelievable quantities of Robaxin (a muscle relaxant) aspirin and Tylenol. I was miserable. My life consisted of laying down, with ice on my back 20 minutes on 20 minutes off all day long. Lying in bed unless I went to the bathroom or got something to eat. And the horror of riding the subway train in this kind of pain to go see my chiropractor. I did a lot of reading. Eventually the pain was bearable enough for me to work again. Although frequently I had to lie down on the stretcher between ambulance calls. I could not sit for any period of time. Jump ahead to March of 1985. I left NYC, got married and moved to New Haven Connecticut. Lots of anger there too. Just ask my wife and son! I was working for a really great private ambulance company and the stress was lower (or so I thought). I was married, we had two incomes, we had a baby boy, life was good. But the back pain continued to come and go. Another BTW, I had 1 emotion up until this time in my life : Anger. Particularly at my wife, and sometimes for weeks at a time. I continued the Chiro thing as needed. At some time around 1986 I "hurt" my back again on the ambulance. My Chiro suggested swimming and I started that too. Lucky for me this time, I was able to work "light duty" instead of lying in bed all day. It was manageable. Also during this time period I remember having gastritis as well . Also, I have suffered from nasal allergies since I was 12 and Eczema. Also in the late 80's I was being treated for gastritis fairly regularly with medications. In 1989 we moved to New Jersey. This was due to the 1988 financial crises. No need to go into detail here other than to say our house ( we bought in nov 1988) was now worth about 35% of what we paid for it. My mortgage was three times the value of the house. Stress? what stress? The back pain continued on and off and I continued to treat it with Chiro, somewhat successfully. And the gastritis continued, treated with Acid blockers and the eczema continued treated with topical steroids. Move up to 1992. I change careers. I turn to computer programming. Between 1992 and 2003, I have all kinds of ups and downs with the back pain. I spent 6 weeks working from home flat on my back with a laptop on my chest. When I went back to work, I had to work standing up. During one period of back pain, I couldn't stand, only sitting was comfortable. Note: that I never even considered the inconsistency that at one point I could only sit and one point I could only stand without pain. I did Chiro, "laying on of hands", pain pills (narcotics this time) and finally I saw an orthopedic. I was given a diagnosis of a herniated disk based on an MRI. I had the standard PT and steroid injections in my spine and more narcotic pain killers (vicodin this time). And had I not found Dr. Sarno, they probably would have offered me surgery. My pain was pretty much a 3 on a scale of 10 all the time now. And although that is not severe, it just wears you down! Somehow I ended up with a copy of the Dr. Sarno's Mindbody Prescription. I started to read it and I thought "this guy is so full of crap". I had a medical background and there was a herniated disk, "proven" on an MRI. What could my mind possibly have to do with this? Yet I kept reading. Interestingly enough, my back started to feel better. I thought, “maybe this guy has something”. I started to use "the Jim Campobello method" from the book. I got somewhat better and then I leveled off. I went to see Dr. Sarno in 2004. He diagnosed TMS and I went through his program. This also helped to a degree, but my success leveled off again. In 2005 I had severe vertigo (treated with some pill I don't remember). I happen to share this with Dr. Sarno. -1- he always says that if you have a symptom, see your doctor to rule out a physical diagnosis and then CALL ME! Boy am I glad I listened to THAT advice (also he likes to hear from his patients regularly about their progress). He said I needed psychotherapy. Dr. Sarno sent me to one of his "trained" psychotherapists Dr. Bob Evans. Dr. Evans is analytically trained. He also uses techniques to tune you into your somatic experience (Dr. Peter A. Levine : Healing the Trauma) and being "in the moment" (Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin) as well as other techniques. I started to see Dr. Evans weekly. Things improved slowly. I got very frustrated many times. I wanted to be better RIGHT NOW (well. yesterday at the very least). At these times Dr. Evans would always gently remind me that I had taken a long time to get to this point (probably most of my life!). It may take some time to "heal". He likes to remind me that I did not become the expert skier (I am a Senior Ski Patroller for the National Ski Patrol) over night. That actually took about 12 years of regular skiing and training. This helps with the frustration a great deal, because I have had to work very hard to be as good a skier as I am. He also taught me that "anger is easy". And together we determined it wasn't so much anger as suppressed hurt and sadness for me. Let's jump up to April of 2007. I start having abdominal pain. Now I have been down this path before (from the late eighties on) and usually I am diagnosed with gastritis. Another TMS equivalent for me. I am seeing my doctor (always rule out the physical first) and she has me on acid blockers and I am watching what I eat (and completely missing the fact that this is an equivalent of TMS). Needless to say this turns into a full blown gastric ulcer. I land in the hospital with pain again, on a scale of 10, yet in my abdomen. 19 days in the hospital! I ended up having leg and lung clots (DVT and PE) that was caused by a combination of the being immobile so long and having an inflammatory response (the ulcer). Anyway, I survive this too. The winter of 2007/2008 arrives and I start skiing again. I am training to become a "Senior" level Ski Patroller. Now I really love skiing and training with skis and sleds and rescuing folks off the mountain. I don't think it was the cause, yet, I started to have some back pain towards the beginning of February 2008. I am ignoring it (that was not wise) and skiing top expert trails and taking people down in sleds on these slopes as part of my training and carry these sleds up on the chair lifts. Very physical stuff that we all KNOW doesn't cause back pain. So March 15th rolls around and I take the test and pass it. To add to the joy of that day, my son (22 at the time) had also been training with me and he takes and passes the test with me! So why do I have pain? (Note of 6/27/14 - I now believe this pain event was my significant success in the Ski Patrol world , when I din't feel worthy of that success - see Brene Brown's "Daring Greatly" or watch her Ted Talks). After I am told I passed (which was around lunch time, my back pain increased , and by dinner time, was about a 6 on a scale of 10. Within the next few days I had severe pain requiring narcotic pain killers. 10 MG of Percocet (Oxycodone) 6-7 times a day. I saw a pain specialist to get the pain killers and he insisted on an MRI. Well he did one and some kind of electro physiology study of the electrical conduction in my legs. The MRI showed the herniated disk I knew I had. The other study was "negative", which surprised him (but not me). But then I did what Dr. Sarno says and I called him up. I faxed him the MRI results and he said that they were the same as my MRI from 4 years earlier, I still had TMS and " Matthew, you have more work to do!" (EG; with Dr. Evans). At this point I have had enough of this. ENOUGH is ENOUGH! I had hit rock bottom. I decide that is the last time I am going to have severe pain. I increase my appointments with Dr. Evans to twice a week. It takes a number of months, but we start to get a hold of it. By August or so, I am off the pain killers (Thank goodness, that stuff is very scary), and by the time the snow flies, I am skiing again! I continue to see Dr. Evans 1 time a week now, and I am in a much better place. Around the end of October I have been reading Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin and getting into meditation. I decide to go to Meetup.com and use that as a tool to find groups of other mediators. I have to say that this has been very helpful in reducing my TMS symptom. This also lead me to meet spiritually minded people. I also get into spiritual groups and Yoga. At this point I meditate regularly, I started 2 meditation groups at work, I have one at a friends home weekly with friends. As of November of 2010, I switch from seeing Dr. Evans (although I still HIGHLY recommend him) and started seeing a counselor specializing in Emotionally Focused Therapy (see www.iceeft.com). This was with Dr. Evans support and it has accelerated my progress in learning to feel my emotions. In April 2013 after about a year and a half of the most family stress I have ever encountered, I end up in the hospital with diverticulitis. This was a message to me to work harder. So I now meditate and do pranayama every day, walk 5-6 days a week, do yoga 5-6 days a week, verbalize what I am grateful for before bed and when I wake, try to get plenty of sleep and eat healthy. This has been updated as of 06/27/14.

    Other stuff:

    Other TMS equivalents I have had (since I was probably about 9-12 years old) and been treated “medically“ for are Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), Eczema (innumerable cortisone creams and anti histamines), gastritis (anti acid drugs, special diets) , gastroenteritis, knee pain, foot pain ("diagnosed" as plantar fasciitis ), shoulder pain that radiates down my arm, "sciatica" (including all kinds of pain, burning, numbness etc in my right leg), generalized itching, nasal allergies, depression (anti depressants), migraine and tension headaches (tylenol, Aspirin, motrin, naproxyn) knotted muscles, laryngitis (full thyroid work up), that there was no infection associated with, gastric ulcers (hospital stay with multiple IV antibiotics and narcotic pain killers), joint stiffness that lasts for weeks at a time, insomnia, dry eyes (eye drops and antihistamines), itching eyes (anti histamines and cortisone creams), hearing loss, TMJ pain, diarrhea, skin infections, finger pain and chest pain (yes I saw my regular doc about this). The list is almost endless.

    In my mind, if you want to get better and STAY better, here are my ideas on this:
    -1- Remember this : IMO western medicine (and those of us conditioned by it's methods) have a pain, go to the doctor, expect a pill or a surgery to fix it and expect to go home "cured". My experience (and MANY others) say this doesn't work. We are only treating the symptom in about 95% of the cases. Therefore, it comes back because we haven't gotten to the real cause.
    -2- Try a lot of different things. Take from each what works for you
    -3- Commit to it and do it everyday. Even if it is only 5 minutes a day to start.
    I believe an integral approach to our health and well being is
    necessary. EG: eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, meditate and have a spiritual practice.
    I am now more proactive about symptoms. I don't wait for them, I keep in touch with my body and my mind. I figure I am in touch with my body about 95% of the time now and that is improving every day. This is what Dr. Peter Levine calls "Somatic Experience" - I continue to work on it all the time (every day, through out the day) and I continue to get better. Meditation is a great help here. It helps me tune into the moment (be mindful and aware). Not what was, or what is going to be, just what is.....now! It also gives me an opportunity to choose to not be bothered by the things that otherwise would activate my nervous system. Then my mindbody has an opportunity to chill out, or better stay chill.
    There is no “quick fix”. You can't fix in a short time, that which was created over a lifetime. You need to make life changes that are positive and will be with you for the rest of your life. It is like a diet. You can go on a diet and lose weight or you can change your eating habits. When you diet and then you go back to eating the way you did before the diet, you just gain the weight back. I see that you have to have a new way of "eating" all the time, so when the weight is gone, you are still "eating" the same way. Your habits have changed and the weight stays gone. Substitute "pain" for "weight" in the above and that is the approach Dr. Evans (and now my new counselor) are taking. Since about 3/2014 I have taken a break from counseling and I feel I am doing really well.


    BTW: Dr. Bob Evans is available through this Wiki. I highly recommend him.

    If you are interested in The Emotionally Focused Therapy see www.iceeft.com
    Feel free to contact me any time. Ferretsx3@comcast.net, or through the tmswiki

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    Matthew
    Ferretsx3@comcast.net
    Organizer of TMSwiki.org/chat
    Less activated, more regulated and more resilient!