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 Setback - Have any of you experienced one as well?
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Northerner

62 Posts

Posted - 01/10/2009 :  20:16:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is a long story, but Iíd appreciate it if any of you could help out. Iíve just had a setback on Wednesday after significant improvement over the last six weeks, and am wondering if any of you others have experienced the same.

I had experienced some back pain 10 years ago that went away (I just woke up and it was there), and then, out of the blue, woke up with symptoms just before Christmas a year ago. The pain was in the upper left back and sliding down the arm, and was intermittent. The symptoms got worse, adding on numbness in the right fingers after about 2 months, and then mild toe numbness and some leg and arm numbness when I woke up (the arm and leg numbness went away almost as soon as I moved around upon waking). After four months, I experienced lower back pain, too. The other symptoms had waned some by then.

I went through all of the normal treatments Ė physical therapy (I got some relief there, especially on the low back pain), went to my doctor, did exercises (playing basketball and whitewater kayaking were the best therapies Ė the symptoms were at their worst when sitting and driving), saw a neurologist, had an EMG and MRIís (neck indicated mild spinal cord compression and stenosis Ė even the neurosurgeon said she couldnít figure out where the lower back pain was coming from after viewing the lower back MRI).

In late June, just before I went on vacation, I told my doctor that my symptoms would almost always go away if I took a sleeping pill. In the hour between when I took the sleeping pill (ambien), the symptoms would almost vanish. So we tried a small dose of a mild form of valium (clorazepate), and most of the symptoms, other than the finger and toe numbness, went away within days. By October, I was toning down on the clorazepate, often forgetting to take it some days, and taking less of it on the days when I did take it. My symptoms didnít return.

Then, on the Monday after Thanksgiving, I woke up with worse symptoms than I had had the year before. My arm felt like an alligator was biting it. I had shoulder pain, elbow pain, hand pain, and greater pain than I had had the year before in the upper back.

I tried a month of physical therapy (which helped a little) and steroid anti-inflammatories (which did nothing, except that I did lose 5 pounds), and decided to try the Sarno approach at the same time. I started journaling, and talked to my psychologist, who is not Freudian, but has had people recover from back pain through psychological breakthroughs. He told me to suspend my analytical side and try the Sarno approach hard after I described it to him. I worked intensively at the journaling, met with the psychologist again, and we did some basic digging into my past in that session, based on my journaling. I had him listen to part of a Schechter tape to learn more about the TMS psychological approach. I stopped the physical therapy.

Although I hadnít recovered, I was improving after 6 weeks Ė whether it was just time or the Sarno approach, I canít say. I went downhill skiing, added Nordic Track to my running on the trampoline and walking (which I had never stopped doing) and would have started basketball again if it hadnít been for multiple snowstorms.

Then, for no apparent reason, I got worse again last Wednesday afternoon. My back and arm were killing me, it hurt to sit and type again. I was almost back to where I was when this started 6 weeks ago. I canít pinpoint a physical or psychological event (there are always events I can point to Ė I tried the exercise bike for 10 minutes on Wednesday, I had an insurance physical scheduled for the next day and was concerned about whether I would qualify as preferred, and there were work worries, but I canít say I was under any more stress than I had been in any of the previous 6 weeks). I do worry excessively and am perfectionistic, but I was under even more stress before Christmas Ė trying to do Christmas stuff, work, and wondering whether Iíd have to sue someone to get $13,000 they owed me (they paid on Christmas Eve, removing a major worry) and was even more worried about how my business (consulting) would hold up through the recession back then than I am now and was last Wednesday. Yet, Iíve had a significant setback.

Iím continuing the Sarno plan, and will see my psychologist on Monday. So Iím not quitting. But I seem to be treading water.

Have any of you experienced something like this?

HilaryN

United Kingdom
878 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2009 :  06:31:58  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Northerner,

Don't worry, it's perfectly normal to suffer setbacks - it's all part of the recovery process!

Your subconscious has been trying to protect you from the pain of feeling your feelings and it's difficult for it to give up its old habits. Now that you're on to it and trying to get the feelings out, it's still trying to do its previous job and trying to distract you from those feelings.

It hasn't quite got the message yet, so you need to keep talking to it and tell it firmly that you know it's just creating the pain as a distraction from your feelings, but that you're not going to put up with that any more.

In the meantime carry on doing the emotional work as you are. It sounds like you're doing really well.

All the best,

Hilary N
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Bobbypols

Canada
46 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2009 :  12:33:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Its normally to go through cycles, atleast it is for me. But if i look at the whole picture, i notice my self getting better as the weeks/months pass. Dont give up.
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pericakralj

77 Posts

Posted - 01/15/2009 :  13:19:56  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello North.I had many setbacks in my path of ,,curing'' TMS.I dont come on this forum too often now,because i am extremly well.My TMS Symptoms totaly desapierd,sometimes when there is much stress in my life ,they appeir,but they are destroyed very fast.

So dont worry about setback,just keep on good work and you will be ok.
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MHI

Canada
13 Posts

Posted - 01/15/2009 :  15:52:06  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Northerner,

I just asked this very question a few days ago. I am going through a set back for the second time. Ironically, it has been a break through because my setback have only happened when I started new jobs. It became painfully obvious (no pun intended) that my back pain was created by a onslaught of emotions associated with a new job (impressing others, putting pressure on myself, doing a good job, etc which all contribute to the rage and fear within). I have had fairly bad symptoms for almost 9 weeks but thanks to those who have encouraged me on this forum, I am convinced that this relapse will be conquered. It will just take time and recommitting to the process. Last time I went back on a small dose of effexor for my anxiety and then stopped it after about 10 weeks when I began to feel better. I am not sure this was the best move but I certainly did not relapse after going off it. I think that any accumulation of rage, fear, doubt can reach a boiling point. I have had minor relapses but when I have focused on what was bothering me at that point and then coupled with a long run, the pain has gone away. Hang in there and be firm.
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Northerner

62 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2009 :  16:29:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you, one and all, for your advice. The battle continues, but I've played basketball meekly and badly a couple of times and done some light weight lifting in addition to other exercise.

By the way, MHI, in Dr. Sopher's book, he says he finds that patients who start on antidepressants often have their back pain/TMS go away, and return when they go off of them. He has no problem with patients taking them, and it seems that he uses them in TMS treatment at times.

I can't take them - they don't work on me, or I would take them myself.
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MHI

Canada
13 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2009 :  07:05:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Northerner. I know about the masking of medication. Right now, the atmosphere I work in is causing me a lot of anxiety, like last time I switched jobs. I very reluctantly went back on small dose so that I can focus on issues and continue counselling with therapist (together). Last time, I was only on the meds for about 2 months and when I stopped taking them I felt great for months (until I took this job). I believe that this job has raised a whole host of unconscious feelings (real fear of safety, proving myself, new career, insecurity, change). I hated going back to anxiety medication but it will be short term like last time. I hope I am doign the right thing. It has and will never stop me from doing physical events. I still play competative hockey, run and lift weights, without any consequence so I know it is TMS. I plan to continue working with my therapist beyond the pain and medication.
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