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My experience with TMS - still battling

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by manny8888, Dec 18, 2018.

  1. manny8888

    manny8888 New Member

    Hi All,

    Wanted to share my experience with TMS. Around 18 years ago, I had a back issue. I was 20 years old at that time and attributed it to my bike riding and bad road conditions in my home country. I left for a graduate program in the US fearing the cold and what that would do to my back. A couple of years passed and the back pain disappeared only to be supplanted by shoulder pain. Then came the RSI. I struggled with these issues for nearly a decade while remaining active. An earlier MRI of the back revealed a disc bulge but the back pain disappeared with the onset of shoulder pain. A shoulder MRI revealed a hooked acromion. Chiropractors, Physiotherapist, Dietitians all joined in this battle but still failed to give me respite beyond a week or so.

    I finally chanced upon Dr. Sarno's book. On reading the book, I felt that I was a perfect fit for TMS patients. As I finished reading the book.
    A few things I applied from the book
    • At the onset of pain I would start to think about all the issues that I had been repressing. All the things in my life that stood against my vision of myself as a perfectionist.
    • I had a pretty rough childhood that I had shut out. I threatened my brain that I would dwell on that should a pain occur
    • I would tell my brain to take things easy. I would tell it - Whatever the issues, we would work it out together.
    • I would tell my brain to supply oxygen to the relevant parts
    A couple of months and the pains completely vanished. I would walk a few miles a day, work out in the gym and be pretty active all around. It remained that way for three years save for the occasional back spasm. A couple of months ago, I sat on a dodgems car with my kid. I was also starting yoga sessions. Psychologically bending forward was a thing that my brain was averse to. Sure enough this caused a lower back spasm. I was climbing stairs to train for a trek that I was about to embark on.

    That healed with pain killers. The next week, I was brushing my teeth and had a mid back spasm. I had an upcoming multi day winter trek in the Himalayas. Somehow I feel this might have bought about these spasms. Not sure if any of you have experienced this. I withdrew into a shell filled with anxiety. People around me were stunned to see the change. Forget the miles I walked I could not take three steps without fear of a spasm. However, I did successfully compete the trek (5 days in -10 C and hiking up steep terrains) by taking pain killers and imploring my brain not to spasm. That worked. Yay!

    Now, back home, I am trying to apply the same techniques to battle a much more educated brain. I am in a much better mood now. Needless to say I have zero shoulder/RSI pain. Just the back pain that seems to move up and down from the mid to upper back.

    There is no radiating pain. Doctors ask me to take an MRI but I am resisting that since that would show some conditions that were unrelated to the TMS pain anyways. I would probably take some micronutrient tests to see if I have the right amounts of Calcium, B12, Vitamin D etc.

    Also, I am now trying a new technique where I am asking the brain to pick a condition that I can deal with better :). I am asking it to go back to RSI instead of back pain. Let me see how that works. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated. Love and peace to all here.

    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  2. Cjica

    Cjica New Member

    I just wanna ask how that concentration went? Distracting your pain to other place worked?
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi manny8888,

    Well, this is a new one!!
    Welcome to the Forum and Wiki. I guess you know we have free programs at the Wiki, which you can go through. They are all good, and you can do them consecutively.

    Your story sounds others written here: symptoms go away, often for several years, and then come back, or in many cases new symptoms arrive after a reprieve. Based on what techniques you employed before, and what seemed to work, you might do deeper psychological inquiry work this go-round. Not sure if you have, or how much. Sometimes the more surface treatments, or even a "book cure" work the first time, and when symptoms come back it is the mind-body "asking us to go deeper." The programs may help with this aspect, and then there is outside help.

    Each person finds their own way. This is just a possible pointer.

    Andy B
  4. manny8888

    manny8888 New Member

    Not yet. I feel like trying to tame a wild beast. I feel a tightness in the back. I ignore it and ask it to distract me with some RSI if it needs to. Occasionally, a pang of pain in the neck and arm. It tests me by sending a shot of pain in my mid back and then to the low back. I quickly respond by thinking of all things psychological. It backs off. I sit for a couple of hours. It responds by giving me a shot of pain in the mid back. I think about what happened in my childhood. It goes away. I do a deadhang from the pull up bar to bait it further into shifting the pain from the back to the forearm. But the beast slinks away not taking the bait. I got more active. Walked a couple of miles. It tests me again by giving me a blitz of quick shots all over the back. I talk it down. I tell it that this is as disastrous as the emotional pain we are trying to suppress. I tell it that we are in it together. It fades away. I give in a bit to it by doing my stretches. I tell myself there is nothing wrong structurally. It responds by giving me a shot of pain in the lower back and down the buttocks :). This has been my act for the last two days. I hope to win this dance with my subconscious. I will keep you informed. Btw, I have also been listening to the audio book again and the good doctor's words do have a calming effect overall.

    Thank you Andy. I have been going a lot deeper psychologically. Found several issues. Baring it all in the hope that it would help someone or someone would help me :). I am also looking at the structured recovery program. On week 0 now.

    I fit the description of TMS sufferers to a T. I have always felt the need to be the do-gooder and liked by people. Lost my dad when I was a kid and that left a lasting trauma on me. I was always very very good academically. However, I always had a bad feeling in the pit of the stomach when it came to sports. I would shy away from sports. Not wanting to be socially awkward, I became the class jester and got a great set of friends in the bargain.

    I shied away from running, athletics, and cricket (a sport in India where I am from) since soccer gave me more chances of obscurity than cricket where you were expected to face the bowler (batter facing the pitcher in baseball). Post the back pain, I had a reason not to play. I had taken up hiking and travelling to remote places by then.

    I moved to pursue my graduate studies in the US. Another shift in my thinking had happened. I had an admit in one of the top engineering schools in America but I chose a tier 2 school just so I could take it easy. I also had a scholarship there. Post that I worked in academic research organizations and published papers etc. I have always had a great set of friends and somehow was the defacto person they would come to for counsel on any issues they had. Little did they know how screwed up my brain was. From ice climbing in Colorado to trekking the grand canyon I did most of it without back pain. The back pain had transformed to RSI and shoulder pain. Then I moved back to India. I have always been the funny guy who "knows everything about everything" for the people I know.

    However, deep down I wanted people to compliment me on my physical abilities. I knew it was silly, I knew it was shallow but I craved it. What still stumps me is why would my subconscious try to block my ability to do physical activity with these pains if it knew how important it was for me to feel good about it. I even promised it not to play sports where I would make a fool of myself :)

    I became an entrepreneur. However, even though I love technology I keep questioning myself that what I do does not make a sufficient impact. I feel that what I do is not that intellectually challenging. Not sure if that contributes to the pain.

    Back to the physical - Running for some reason triggers my back spasms but other things don't. I made the cardinal mistake of running a couple of times and sure enough the back spasms came over again into my life. I knew its psychological. But I gave in by doing stretches and hot packs.

    I then re-read Dr. Sarno and the pain went away for three years until recently. I had back to back spasms within 2 months and I might have stumbled upon the reason why. Recently, I had planned a trip to climb a trekkable peak in the Himalayas. This was around 4 -5 days in freezing weather camping out in tents. I have done most of these trips alone or with people who were really not that fit and needed my help to make it. However, for the first time a few younger ultra fit triathletes wanted to accompany me. They had never done high altitude treks and were looking to me for guidance. Whether it was the innate feeling of competition or the fear of being "showed up" by them I might have have the spasms. The first spasm happened soon after I booked the flight tickets. The second spasm two weeks before the trip. I finally did do the climb and taught them a few things about high altitude treks but the overall experience was screwed up because I was constantly thinking about my back.

    I hope this write up helps someone. If anyone has any suggestions please weigh in. This forum has helped a lot.

    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  5. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi manny8888,

    You might think less of the symptoms being something which is attacking you, and more of a guide to self understanding. Your first quote above makes sense to me, if I look at it as the symptoms are pointing to inner pressure and inner tension.

    Your mind-body (and symptoms response) may reflect or "know" that you put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform, and this pressure is between the urge to be good enough and be loved for this, and the urge to ____________what? Or between the self image, pressures of being competent and an Inner Child who feels ____________about the pressure to be competent.

    I see this in your being an entrepreneur, and in being there for others. There is almost a hide-and-go-seek between the part of you that wants to be seen and successful, and the part of you which "doesn't really care" --but does he? And if he really does care, then what pressures exist on the Inner Child?

    In any case, it seems you do know your own psychology pretty well, and you're connecting things, inquiring. The next question for me is how much do you really feel into your body when inquiring, and find expression for feelings? This is another layer of 'thinking psychologically' which may help you.

    Andy B
    manny8888 likes this.
  6. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Manny8888

    First, You are a father but you never mention family relationships in all of your self evaluations? I too lost my Father young (5) and when it came time to BEING one I was lost and scared. I didn't want to screw them up but I had no clue how to be a parent.
    Interesting note... my failed back surgery #1 was on my second sons first B-day

    Being the 'court jester' is a sort of self-effacing that, though harmless on the surface, is usually covering up a fear. If I can make fun of myself before you do, be an ass, the center of attention, then maybe people will like me and I won't be Abandoned. (I was also that guy.... to my own detriment) People might also overlook my obvious deficiencies I am aware of (I was overweight and dirty and in special ed...fat and stupid)

    I've never climbed and mountains, but I did get very , very, very obsessed with playing Baseball and being a musician (very competitive) when I became an adult.
    I had a huge chip on my shoulder about both, but with Baseball I had always LOVED baseball but wasn't a particularly good athlete....subsequently I played it every moment I could...I came from an academia-worshipping snobby euro-family so playing baseball, cussing , fighting and being dirty was my way of embracing my american identity

    ... Regardless I really identified with your anxiety and TMS attacks at particularly inopportune times. I would work out all week without a hiccup and 'pull' a hamstring warming up on gameday. Having read Sarno and recovered from back pain I knew it was only TMS but I couldn't shake off the spasm in time for the game (back then...now I can)... My coach would see me limping and pull me from the line-up. Next day, fine. I was very, very caught up with winning, dominating, validating my existence... not consciously, but underneath...that little kid saying "I am gonna do this, I want to WIN always, I don't want to be that fat stupid kid"

    I was nowhere near as thoughtful as you organizing your intents into packages or distracting myself. However, I have resolved all of the physical issues and discomfort and am able healthy and unrestricted at age 53. I just have to keep a phone line open to that little kid.

  7. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

  8. manny8888

    manny8888 New Member

    Andy and Baseball65. I cannot express how thankful I am to you guys for weighing in.
    Baseball65 - You were spot on in pointing that out. I actually wrote about it and then deleted it. Not sure why. Perhaps for fear of jinxing the good things I have got going on in my life with regard to my wife and son? Before my dad died my parents marriage was rocky and I was exposed to things that I should not have been as a child. I need more introspection on this. Also, my son is similar to me and has shown some anxiety when it comes to group sports. I am cognizant of that and trying to tell him to do what he likes. Your experience with spasms/pulls were enlightening to me.

    Doing it now
    Thank you Andy for putting it in a simple way that forced me to answer. I asked the inner child in me and here was the answer. I am not sure if this comes across as something coherent (the adult me thinks this is childish) but I wrote it all down anyways.

    The inner child in me wants to be left alone. He wants to be left alone reading up on philosophies, writing about what he likes, and trying to find why life works this way. Maybe then he could find peace with why things happened to him that did in his childhood. Maybe he can find where his dad went. He just wants to know since that's the most important thing. He's obsessed with the idea of life and death. He is peeved at people identifying him with one group or another, and bucketing him into one category or another. He is fed up of trying to compare himself against people who are physically more gifted than him. He's fed up of being in technology and not philosophy.

    Now I need to figure out how to deal with this. I believe acknowledging the child is a good first step as both of you have pointed out. But the kid needs to understand that real life is hard. I can't fail my family by being this kid who wants to be left alone. Should I tell that to this kid or just stop at acknowledging his feelings. Maybe under this so called "garrulous funny guy" is actually a little introvert who just wants his space?

    Another thing to add - I began to pursue a degree in history just out of passion for the subject but I dropped out since it meant a huge shift in my career and I feared that it would not pay as much as being in tech.

    Btw as I wrote this my body was giving me various shots of pain all over. However, one of the tight spot on my mid-back just melted away. Thank you all for being there and listening. Thanks.
  9. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi manny8888,

    With regards to 'what to do' with your new information there are many paths, none of which are probably a threat to your current life. It is more important to have that dialogue, many times, as Baseball65 suggests he's done. I think that is what is being called for. You can write out dialogues taking both the role of your "current adult self" and your younger self who just wants to know why he was not loved. You can notice a symptom and ask your 'younger self' what is happening right now? What does he need to feel safe? How can you love him?

    This question, about why we don't feel loved, and all the rage and sadness, and need for support about it (typically) is a universal, existential human question. Now you're closer to this conundrum which has been rolling around in you, your whole life. It can guide you. Not to a different life probably, but to more of your life, with the people around you. If changes come they will be right for you, in time. I suggest you put this learning ahead of symptom relief in your own mind, because this is a natural expansion, without pressure to 'do' or better yourself.

    I think you are going deeper, and this is a beautiful statement. I feel my heart quite tender when I read it. This, I think is a huge life teaching unfolding for you.

    Andy B
  10. manny8888

    manny8888 New Member

    What if the younger self does not love who I have become now? Should I reassure him that I am there for him nevertheless.

    Thanks Andy. I feel this way too. Thank you for helping me bring this out. This is big for me.

    I will do this regularly from now. I will continue to write on how things pan out. I am embarking upon the structured recovery program as well.
  11. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Let the younger one really express his fear, his distrust. Exploring this will grow your compassion. Then the older one might explain that he is listening, learning, and to tell the younger one that he will listen. You're opening the lines of communication here, even if there is fear or imperfect attunement. What you're doing in this is growing your love.

    I am curious about Baseball's input also. How he suggests you go. In my opinion you're doing well.
  12. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    To all of you who posted above, Many888, Baseball, Andy. Your posts are poignant and heartfelt. I almost feel as if I am intruding with this post, for all of you have inspired me with your wisdom and openness.
  13. manny8888

    manny8888 New Member

    I will try this for sure. Thanks again for your helpful words. I will await @Baseball65 's inputs as well.

    Thank you for your kind words Lainey. This is a fantastic forum and I am glad I found this group of people.
  14. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    That's It! It doesn't get much more deeper than that. It doesn't matter HOW or WHY...just that it is. And simply staying aware for long enough, Reconditioning your mind about activities and Rethinking your perception of 'injury' is sufficient to banish TMS. It has for me. (the Three R's, Rethink, Return, Recondition) I have had the same sort of ontological musings you have written about here. I have solved NONE of them, but I haven't been in pain and I have slowly come to an awakening of sorts.

    Mortality, 'Career' and Relationships, along with some shallow stuff like Vanity and Athletic function are what is at the core of TMS. None of us really feel we are good enough BUT we are reigning tyrants in our 'ego-mind'(Narcissism)...That is the formula for RAGE that makes TMS

    Let's see... I want to Be Richard Branson, Brad Pitt, Bernie Williams , Slash and Chris Cornell... all at the same time.(Ego) BUT, I am a construction worker in Nashville Tennessee who is a couple of paychecks from trouble (ouch... reality) My Female Partners should be Ginger , Marianne, Mother Theresa and the virgin Mary... but She is a Tree-hugging Dance teacher with a storied past .(LOL... I do like her) I want to get up each morning, pontificate about this or that, deign to inform my fellows upon the outcomes of their foibles , play guitar for 6 hours, lift weights and play some ball.... But I usually come home covered in paint and drywall and Hungry and exhausted.... Home to my Mom who has dementia that I have to take care of which means I usually don't have time for all of the things I want to do. Sometimes I don't have time for any. My back molars are slowly disintegrating from a bunch of bad dental work I got in Belgium in the 60's and as each one goes it gives me a painful, ego shattering reminder that this kid isn't going to be around much longer. I went to see about implants BUT I can't work any overtime to pay for them because of all the responsibilities I have to others.... sigh. The circle game of 'I want'

    We can fool ourselves about what's going on 'out there' all we want. If we continue to fool ourselves about what's going on 'down there' we will continue to have symptoms. There are many different 'shovels' with which to dig. I myself have found the 12 steps, The Bible and Eckhart Tolle to be of immense help digging. Many of the men who taught me how and where to dig used other shovels, but we all got to the same place. The more I dig, the less I really give a damn about what's 'out there'....and when I stop giving a damn about the outcome it turns out that some higher source has a lot better success rate at running my life, seeing to the day to day stuff. I have become a watcher. I have stayed painfree, out of trouble and unharmed for a long time using that plan. I am blessed beyond the ability of text to convey.

    Sarno's greatest achievement was coming up with a medical model that appeals to 'out there', and redirecting our attention to 'down there'. From time to time I feel like I have this mastered and then my tooth hurts or my leg twinges or something even weirder. The details of our individual lives vary considerably...however ancient scriptures and modern science harmoniously BOTH point to the same answer based on the Fact that actually the machinations of our being aren't really all that unique when we look closely. I do not need to know HOW or WHY this works. It just does

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
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  15. manny8888

    manny8888 New Member

    Thank you @Baseball65 for sharing your thoughts. I gained a lot by reading it. ALL of what you wrote resonated with me. Your thoughts were enlightening and immensely moving for me.

    I will stay aware. I am rethinking my perception of the injury. Definitely keeping a line open to my Inner Child.

    Right now whenever I feel the pain I shift to thinking psychological. I also talk to my brain asking it not to fall for the tricks of the subconscious. I have seen two approaches -

    1. folks aggressively take on their subconscious telling it they are not falling prey to its tricks.
    2. Talking to the inner child and finding out what pressures ail it. As @Andy B mentioned asking him what he needs to do to feel safe...

    I do both depending on my mood and assume one is not better than the other. As both @Andy B and @Baseball65 have pointed out I believe the awareness should be cure enough. I will be working on the program. I will beat this.

    Also, in the past two days I have done something that I had been putting off for a while. I made a trip to spend some time in my hometown. In the home where I grew up. This is where it all began.

    This is where I choose to have the dialogue with myself. This is where I tell the little kid that I am around for him. He does not have to feel scared. This is where I tell my subconscious that we move together irrespective of whether we fall to the depths or soar to the skies. We are together in this dance with or without the pain. There is no victor in this showdown for we are one.

    This is a huge step in itself. Everytime I visit I would be extremely irritable. I used to have feelings of anger and resentment. This time I have none. I am already feeling better.

    I will continue to share details of my journey in the hope it will help others. As always please feel free to weigh in with your opinions.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
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  16. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi manny8888,
    I am very happy for your progress. Reading about your connection, I get a sense of truth and integration, a sense of truly being in yourself, with yourself. I think this is wonderful.
    Andy B
  17. manny8888

    manny8888 New Member

    Thanks @Andy B for all the knowledge and the support. I don't know the road ahead but I feel better equipped to deal with it. I still get a feeling of the pain increasing at times and the brain threatening to spasm the back. I try to think psychological and keep it in check. I will continue to update as the days proceed.
  18. manny8888

    manny8888 New Member

    A three year journey update. In the first few months that followed my last post, I did tame the beast thanks to all your inputs (@Andy Bayliss, @Baseball65 ). I had sessions where my brain tried to give me pain all over my back but I successfully thwarted all its attempts. I have mostly been involved in non-profits and helping others. I have trekked many mountains, driven many miles without pain. Of course the pain did shift to my hands and shoulders on time but that was bearable and I could tame that as well. I did get a milder spasm once but I just popped a pill and began to think psychologically and it too disappeared in a day.

    After 3 years as I sit and type this I do have a spasm in my back. And I know why it is. TMS is an ongoing journey and I needed to write this in the hope that it helps someone else who is reading.

    One thing I have never been able to say till date is that I have been subject to abuse as a child. There was a ton of emotional trauma that I had to undergo as well due to their actions. The person who abused me is not someone who I can sever ties from because society dictates that this is a person for whom I need care for. This person is a narcissistic individual and was/is emotionally manipulative.

    There was a recent incident where the insults and emotional abuse came in again. This pushed me into rage and the inner child in me wanted to confront them with all the questions that I had. Of course, my desperate need to be good prevented me from doing that. What was the point in confronting an older person for things that happened decades ago. Why cause that hurt to that person? What does it say of me that I am harboring this angst? What would that mean for my karma. You know how it goes. But of course, she did end up apologizing (for just this incident) saying that it was their state of mind, how their age was making her eccentric etc. And I in fact ended up helping in various way, talking them out of the issues they was facing and so on. What else could I do? The inner child in me was seething with rage for I fell into the trap again. But what else can one do.

    The day after, I immediately got a slight discomfort/pain in my back. A couple of weeks later I am playing with my kids. I can feel my back tightening up. Its not an all out spasm but I do know what's in store is not pretty. I run up and try to write my thoughts down on paper. I desperately think psychologically but this time the beast wins. But not for long because I am going to do more introspection and I will tame the beast yet again.
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  19. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes it is. I have never kept track, but it tries to make incursions periodically and I just use the same strategies . They are still working after all of this time.
    It is amazing that after all of this time it STILL goes back to things that shaped me when I was 4-8 years old. I am actually working through a book for Artist Blockage called "The Artists Way" and it is not unlike TMS work ... looking at where my beliefs about myself and creativity came from.
    Most of them came from that age and young adulthood. And just like with TMS, they are (were) exercising a surprising amount of control on a 56 year old writer.
    The reason your getting good results is probably because these are all really good questions. I always tell people, they don't need a better answer, but a better question.

    Glad to hear your doing well...
    manny8888 likes this.

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