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 MY FIRST POST - 1 week into TMS - MY STORY

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sdiddy Posted - 01/22/2007 : 22:37:10

hi everyone im a 28m in southern cali. to make it brief, I was always very athletic, playing lots of basketball in high school and college. senior year in college in Boston, while lifting heavy furniture to move from one house to a new one, I felt a pop in my low back, followed by excruciating pain. MRI 1 month later showed herniation in L3 and L4. (i had 2 more MRIs in the following 5 years). The pain was awful and I was overcome with fear and worry. I stopped all physical activity and could not walk, stand for long and not even be intimate with my girlfriend (now wife). This caused more worry of course. Eventually I got off my ass and started doing physical therapy. In retrospect perhaps it was placebo but I began to feel better and better. I think after reading sarnos book it may have been because I truly felt that I was HEALING. I lifted special weights for the back legs and stomach and felt great. Still had pain and never fully resumed physical activity like running or basketball for fear. Travel made pain much worse. So did intimacy. Drinking alcohol made my back hurt a lot the next day.

Soon after I moved to LA and began playing golf. Pain would come back and haunt me for a couple days and then go away...but never completely. I have learned to live with constant pain for 6 years. I know that the second I wake in the morning my low back will hurt and I know how to get out of bed carefully and instinctively. I know then when I bend over to put on shoes, my back will be sore and tender. EVERYTIME I do it. I know that when I push my pelvis out a little, just to stretch the lower back, it will hurt and feel tender. I know that when I travel I need a lumbar support, and even still I will be sore for awhile. And I know that after I play golf I need a hot bath and even still I will be sore for 2 days. Or perhaps....I donít know ANTHING at all!

I found sarno 2 weeks ago. I read hundreds of reviews on his book and that single exercise gave me more hope than I have had in 6 years. I have lived in this awful fear that I will never be able to run and play again. Or lift up my wife. Or play with my kids (when I have them) and pick them up and be a good father and husband without this awful pain. I have lived that every moment of every day for 6 years. Reliving the event that caused my pain is very painful for me. I donít know if I fully know what happened that day. What was that popping feeling? Did I have some slight injury at that time? I really truly believe now that despite the mystery of what happened to my back that day, the CHRONIC pain I have felt for 6 years is TMS. I read sarnos book and reviews by good people like you and itís like a window into my deepest emotions and fears and soul. It truly lifts me up. I have often told my wife on nights when the pain was at its worst, "if I had one wish in life it would be to erase this back pain. To go back to that day it happened and hire a mover." THATíS what real pain is like, as I am sure all of you can relate to. It makes us desperate and hopeless and scared I guess.

But I am here now. I read sarno and I have begun my own form of exercise to help me. I tell myself hundreds of times a day, "you donít have back pain. Itís all in your head. Breathe is ok. You will be healed. You will run and play again. You donít have back pain." AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 6 YEARS I AM EXPERIENCING A SENSE OF NORMALITY. I canít say I donít have soreness, tenderness and back pain. But I have MUCH LESS of it this last week...and more importantly...I have HOPE and OPTIMISM. And guess what else? I stopped taking Tylenol and using bengay and salompas heat patches completely. Itís so weird because sometimes I feel my back start to hurt. Or not even hurtÖ.just a tinglingÖas if something is wrong and it WANTS to hurtÖor maybe as if it is GOING to hurt the next day or something. And I try very hard to relax and control my thoughts and it seems to subside and go away. This week I have done something I have not done in 6 years: JUMPING JACKS. Thatís right. Jumping jacks! I have done tae bo every night for 7 days without pain! Only slight soreness. To a normal person this seems like a weird thing to sayÖbut to a person who has ďherniated discsĒ and 6 years of disabling pain, this is a miracle. I am so excited to jump and do tae bo that I probably even push myself too hard. But then again, like many of you, I am a perfectionist and overachiever in nearly aspect of my life. I overthink nearly every facet of my daily routine. But I have always embraced that part of me. It has always made me the successful person I am. It has always made our vacations wonderful because I put so much thought into planning them perfectly. I give really wonderful gifts to people because I really think about them. Etc etc. What I am saying is I wonít change that part of me. But I will change my attitude and how I deal with stress and my emotions. And already I see changes. I also played golf twice with very little soreness and pain this week. I just enjoyed the game, whereas most other times I am constantly thinking about whether it is causing more physical damage to my back and also how sore I will be the next day.

I just wanted to share my story with you and say thanks and please respond and let me know your story and what has helped you make this work. How long has it taken to control the majority of the pain? What exercises have helped you? I look forward to talking to you more and I really look forward to life without pain and hope I can achieve it.

Ps. I just reread my post and realized I said in the first line, ďto make it brief.Ē All of a sudden I couldnít stop writing. If it werenít for this gosh darn carpal tunnel that has suddenly appeared I would have written more! Thatís kind of a joke by the wayÖsort ofÖ
14   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
charbald Posted - 02/03/2007 : 00:08:05
Originally posted by Michele

"I want happiness, peace, love and joy."

Thank you for this effective mantra!! After just repeating it to myself 5 times in a row, some of my shoulder/chest/back tension & numbness dissipated. It seems like a good way to fight the daily frustrations that intensify my symptoms.

Can't wait to really try it out tomorrow.
Thanks, Char
Littlebird Posted - 01/29/2007 : 12:43:00
I've found that, for me, fear and anger are always connected, because there is always anger that something is causing me to be fearful. Whatever the source of the fear may be, at some level I'm angry that I have to deal with the issue or situation. I want whatever it is that's making me feel fear to just go away and leave me alone and I'm really mad that it doesn't work that way; mad that I have to either face the fear or try to avoid the source; mad at myself for feeling fear.
armchairlinguist Posted - 01/29/2007 : 11:28:22
I have to join the chorus of those who say that it's unlikely you have no childhood anger, esp. if you are a perfectionist. I had a lovely childhood in many ways, and have no huge issues. But a pretty normal modern Western childhood with some achievement-oriented stuff is plenty to cause repressed anger.

even when i do have pressures, i thought i dealt with them well.

Yes, exactly. If you deal really well with all your pressures, then it usually means you do not get overwhelmed by any emotions, stress, etc. Which means you are suppressing or repressing it...

But if you are getting better by approaching the physical, concentrate on that, and just remember that if you do have some anger there's nothing wrong with that and you can deal with it later on.

Wherever you go, there you are.
whitris Posted - 01/27/2007 : 12:13:27
Good story, sdiddy. I've used Sarno to cure my stomach ailments and yes it does work miracles. Glad you are giving it a try.

As others have suggested, I think you may contradict yourself when you say "I had a wonderful childhood" and "I am a perfectionist" ... I like John Bradshaw's approach to childhood, family and anger/rage issues. You might try someone like him as an adjunct to the Sarno material. If you have some buried childhood rage/anger/frustration, you would not be alone.

Also be aware that too much Sarno web reading / researching can be a problem... causing symptoms to recur. Some of us stay away from the forums and only check in periodically.

Best wishes.
HilaryN Posted - 01/27/2007 : 02:26:45
I really enjoyed reading your story, sdiddy. It sounds like you've read plenty already, but if you want to read more success stories, go to the search function and type in "Success Story" but without a space between the 2 words. (We only started using this tagging convention recently so there are plenty more Success Stories before that, too.)

Hilary N
jcohen Posted - 01/26/2007 : 14:09:41
Sdiddy, sounds like you are on your way. I am new to this as well. I am the typical Sarno patient - herniated disk (L4/L5), goodist, perfectionist, driven, etc. I started reading the Mindbody Prescription a couple of weeks ago. I also went to Sarno's lecture and the alumni panel lecture. This has been extremely helpful. I am not pain free yet, but definitely making progress. Sleeping much better at night, sitting much longer. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can be pain free.
Wavy Soul Posted - 01/23/2007 : 23:11:33
i dont have repressed anger from childhood...


Your story is great. You're on the right track and it really does work (me: 30 years of back pain, thought I was disabled!).

Just wanted to comment on your lack of rage... hmm... that's what I thought too, that it was just fear. Keep an open mind, do the journaling, be willing to be surprised and for it to be okay if there just a teensie weensie bit of rage buried in there - remember Sarno's talking about the UNconscious, meaning we don't really know what is in there, ideal family or not.

Keep going.


Love is the answer, whatever the question
sdiddy Posted - 01/23/2007 : 20:50:10
really appreciate all your help...and just to clarify, when i say "its all in your head", what i actually mean to myself is "its your mind that has the power to control your body." not that "its all in my head and the pain doesnt exist." sorry if that was confusing. the pain most certianly does exist and i believe my particular reason is and has been fear. i dont have repressed anger from childhood was really wonderful actually. and i dont have a lot of stress in my life and even when i do have pressures, i thought i dealt with them well. but i DEFINITELY have been living in constant unstoppable crippling FEAR for 6 years. i was SO worried that my back pain was nerve related that i actually pictured myself getting worse and being paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for my whole life. i pictured that daily. and that vision killed my spirit and hopes and dreams. fear is my demon.

but i am working on it and i can say that just reading a lot of your posts and a lot of the reviews on sarnos healing back pain was the number one most important thing to me. it validated what sarno says. if it werent for the hundreds and thousands of people that sarno has helped, then he would just be some quack, but no one with a logical mind can refute the clear fact that sarno has healed many people. and to me that really matter.

anyways thanks again guys!
sonora sky Posted - 01/23/2007 : 19:54:13
Originally posted by Michele

Whenever I start to get a pain, I just repeat to myself, "I want happiness, peace, love and joy." ... I shift my thinking to what I DO want. And what I do want is happiness, peace, love and joy.

michele, I love this.


Your first week with less pain perfectly illustrates the power of our minds to heal. Much of TMS healing comes from within, by bringing awareness to our mind and emotions. But because this is a new concept for most of us, progress is not always in a straight line. It is a learning as well as a healing process in which enduring belief and conviction are essential. Remember, TMS is essentially a trick that your (unconscious) mind plays on you. It will go to great lengths to distract you from the root cause of your pain: your emotions. When you feel yourself starting to think about potential physical causes of your pain, that's your cue to outsmart the gremlin and bring your attention back to your emotions.

I didn't catch from your post whether or not you've started reading one of Sarno's books. I'd recommend starting with either the Mindbody Prescription or Healing Back Pain.

tootercat Posted - 01/23/2007 : 15:38:38
sdiddy, I so totally relate to your fear of not being able to "run and play" ever again. I am a "soon to be" 50 year old woman who is too damn young in my heart to feel as old as I have for the past couple of years (chronically I mean - I have ALWAYS had back issues) I don't remember exactly when the "straw" that broke me completely happened I just know that when the spasms started my life as I knew it ended. I used to play softball on 3 different teams and was better than most of the "youngies' on my teams.

Until reading Sarno just putting food down for my cats was an ordeal! I am still a newbie at this and am beginning to appreciate what folks have said about journaling. I liked H2oskiers vision of "letting the prisoners out". It makes sense. I have been talking the talk without walking the walk and only doing half the work is giving me half the results. That being said I am still venturing into being more active as it gives me the hope that I need to continue. I'm in a yoga class! Woo hoo! I feel alive again! I'm sore from activity NOT inactivity! Anyway...thank you for sharing your story and congrats for making a change in your life!

Hugs, Tooter (Pam)


"Everything is subject to change based on new information"
h2oskier25 Posted - 01/23/2007 : 14:50:59
Hi sdiddy,

Yes, I must agree with the others. Don't think "I am not in pain", instead think "That pain is a harmless condition brought on by the mind to serve an emotional purpose."

That's the beginning, taking the seriousness out of the pain.

I would urge you to start journaling as soon as possible, if you are not already. Think of it (your unconscious) as a prison, with inmates dying to break free. Every night (or morning or whenever) before you journal, picture this prison deep in the recesses of your mind, and picture the gates flinging wide open, and the inmates running free. I realy found this visualization helped.


sdiddy Posted - 01/23/2007 : 14:40:55
very cool thank you! i think one of the big fears that newbies like myself have is, "maybe this first week of less pain is JUST a placebo...maybe im just excited about the prospect of living without pain and full of hope and optimisim, and maybe once this hope dies down, the pain will recur. or worse, if the pain does recur again, will i still believe that i have TMS or will i abandon my conviction?"

just my $.02
Michele Posted - 01/23/2007 : 11:56:55
Congratulations! Yes, you have found the right approach. I would add that instead of thinking "I will not have back pain" you change it to something positive. Just thinking the word "pain" is a negative. Think of what you WANT, not what you don't want.

You want . . .
freedom of movement
or whatever it is

Whenever I start to get a pain, I just repeat to myself, "I want happiness, peace, love and joy." Over and over again. I don't think, gee my back hurts now, I wonder why. That just puts the thought into my brain. I obviously don't want the pain, so I shift my thinking to what I DO want. And what I do want is happiness, peace, love and joy.

Good luck - welcome to your new life!
tennis tom Posted - 01/23/2007 : 07:06:20

That's what it's all about! I have to run now (er, I mean limp) over to the courts to play some tennis. I'm real excited today myself. Yesterday while playing a very scratchy match, I got my lower back tightend up. This is the firest time that's happened in ten years. I said, wow, I've got a symptom, is it TMS or is it memorex? I still can feel the tightness. I'm looking FORWARD to seeing how it plays out this morning.

Well that's all about me, now back to you. IT IS NOT ALL IN YOUR HEAD. According to the Good Doctor's TMS theory of psychogenic pain, the pain is REAL but HARMLESS. It is due to the autonomic, involuntary nervous system, slighly shutting down the oxygen supply to a part of the body. It is very painful like a cramp. Muscuslar TMS is kind of like a chronic cramp. This is well documented by labaroatory studies (some done in Scandanvia. Old World scientific studies always trump our studies).

Bottom line, when you get the pysical pain, shift your thoughts to the psychological/emotional. Ask yourself what is causing the pressure. You have a good handle on it. Married, moving, beginning a family, perfectionist, goodist, etc. If you need more life-cycle causes for TMS "dis-ease" there's a list in THE MINDBODY PRESCRIPTION called the Holmes-Rahe list of about 40 life-cycle events that cause TMS. It may be on page 26 or 46?

Out of expediencey, if you only have time to read one person's posts here I would advise looking up Dave's archived posts (it's his site). His posts are right on the TMS target.

Thanks for posting your successstory. You're right on the TMS money!


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