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 My recovery from over 30 years of TMS
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56 Posts

Posted - 07/08/2009 :  07:28:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I now realise my suffering from back pain and other TMS equivalents goes back to my childhood. By my early 20s I had an ulcer. I was OK during my late 20s, during which time I was married and had kids. In my mid 30s, following a traumatic death in my family, I developed chronic hand-arm-shoulder pain which doctors called RSI or carpal tunnel, although the symptoms didn't quite match and no treatments had any effect. This lasted about 15 years, and I also gradually developed a lot of back and shoulder pain. Over the years I have had IBS, gastritis and other digestive problems, become allergic (to cats, pollen and chemicals) and have generalised bone and muscle pains that doctors cannot fathom.

A year ago (August 2008) I woke up one morning with severe lower back pain. This continued to get worse over the next months: I had to take time off work repeatedly, and was in constant pain. I couldn't sit for more than 15-20 minutes without suffering acute pain: that meant I had to switch to an ergonomic kneeling chair at work, all social life came to a halt and I spent every evening lying on the sofa watching tv, with heat packs, cushions... I couldn't do any travelling, which is normally an important aspect of my job, and my boss was beginning to lose patience with me. My family's patience was wearing very thin indeed, especially my husband's as we could no longer share any of the things we previously enjoyed like gardening and home improvement etc. Sure they were sympathetic, but life wasn't much fun. On top of that my allergies had reached an all-time high and I was spending day and night sneezing and blowing my nose till the skin was raw.

I had blood tests, x-rays, MRI scans, saw several doctors, osteopaths, acupuncture... all in all I spent several thousand euro on tests and treatments on top of what was reimbursed by insurance To cut a very long story short, nothing worked and they couldn't find the cause of my pain. Also I spent a fortune on loads of different types of allergy medication that made no difference whatsoever.

In January I had booked a 2-week holiday in Greece, for end June. By mid May I was panicking... how could I contemplate such a trip when the pain was constantly so bad? I needed my husband's help to put on my socks, never mind spending 2 weeks in a remote village on a greek island. It caused me intense pain to bend over and pick up something I dropped. I couldn't carry even a light bag of shopping.

I started (for the umpteenth time) to google randomly and this time, instead of all the scary stuff about the nasty things lower back pain can be a symptom of, I happened on Dr Sarno's web page... which I immediately moved on from because it seemed like just another internet scam (his website really is crap!) But then I happened on a website of someone talking about TMS and Sarno, and I found this website and suddenly it all started to make sense.

Within minutes I was downloading Healing Back Pain from Audible, and as I listened I actually started to cry. Here was my answer not just to my chronic pain for the last year, but for many years before that.

The following weeks were hard. Within a few hours of listening to Sarno's book, I stood up and felt something "go" in my back. Suddenly my back pain had disappeared only to be replaced by sciatica that grew worse over the next couple of days. 3 days later I was in such pain I was gasping for breath: it was a national holiday but I managed to find an osteopath who could see me right away. My husband helped me to get there, and the osteopath pulled and twisted and relieved some of the pain. I already knew at that stage that this was the "wrong" way to treat the pain but I couldn't "think psychological" while the immediate pain was so intense. I loaded up on painkillers and waited for teh worst to subside while I tried to "think psychological" and keep telling myself "this is not real: this is TMS..."

Gradually over the following weeks my pain improved. I listened to Sarno's books Healing Back Pain and then The Divided Mind over and over and over. I visited this forum several times a day - and some wonderful people here supported me and even took the time to email me privately. (You know who you are and I am incredibly grateful to you!) My allergies just stopped, miraculously, from when I first started listening to Healing Back Pain. I think I sneezed 5 times in the following weeks and each time told myself "this is just TMS trying it on. I won't accept it!" and it just stopped!

I have not really managed to journal or do much of the work that I should do. I find it very hard to address the psychological issues. I think I would benefit from psychotherapy but for one I can't afford it and for two, I want to kick this thing myself in my own way and my own time. For the time being, it is enough for me to take the time to de-program my brain so that it stops using TMS as a distraction technique.

And the result? Well, yesterday we returned from our 2-week holiday in Greece. It was the best holiday I have ever had. I walked for hours, hiked (in 32C heat), climbed mountains and swam several times a day. I was 90% pain free!!!!!! Every time it was tough, instead of telling myself "I'm so unfit, my body is letting me down all the time" I told myself "a month ago I was flat on my back in pain! Look at the progress I have made!"

When we came back our garden was like a jungle and this morning I spent 2 hours weeding! After 9 months of lying on my back most of my time, unable to bend over to put on my socks, I was weeding!!!!

What I find so remarkable about TMS diagnosis and treatment is that although I did not have an overnight cure - almost every day I still experience some pain - I have now understood my pain and so I can manage it. Every time I feel pain, I talk to my brain, telling it I know what it's trying to do, but I won't accept it. I can actually make pain disappear just by talking to my brain. It keeps trying it on, and I keep talking it away.

I have ordered The Mind-Body Prescription book and I'm looking forward to reading it soon. I know I still have a way to go. But I feel great joy that I have found the key to my back pain and so many other symptoms I have had over the years.

The psychological journey will continue to be tough, and I know my work is not done, but I am fully optimistic that although I may always have a tendency towards TMS, at least now I can manage it.

And most of all, I can get back to gardening, which I love, and all the other activities which I couldn't do for so long. And my husband and I had a wonderful holiday, as well! My gratitude to Dr Sarno knows no bounds, and my gratitude to everyone here is immense also.

To anyone new to all this, I wish you well, and a good journey towards recovery.

I don't suppose Dr Sarno will ever read this post, but if I could talk to him I would tell him that he can add my name to the list of thousands and thousands of people whose lives he has changed radically for the better and forever. How many people can achieve that in a lifetime?


United Kingdom
79 Posts

Posted - 07/08/2009 :  07:42:55  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It's really great to hear how much better you are, fibri!
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United Kingdom
879 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2009 :  12:26:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi fibri,

It's great to read about your progress!

If you want to thank Dr Sarno, send him a card:

Hilary N
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56 Posts

Posted - 08/31/2009 :  01:33:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Hilary, I'm going to do that!

Update on my success story: Physically I am doing really great! Never more than a few moments of pain each day, easily quashed by talking to my brain. Saturday I spent 4-5 hours kneeling down with my face close to the ground as I painstakingly painted skirting boards (we were painting my mother-in-law's house and I volonteered for all the low-down painting). As I was hunched over, back bent at an angle that 6 months ago would have at me groaning in pain, knees on a hard floor, arm extended and holding a paintbrush for hours, at one point I actually burst out laughing and couldn't stop myself crowing with joy: "this doesn't hurt at all!!!"

Mentally (anxiety symptoms and insomnia) I've made great progress although I'm not fully out of the woods yet :-) Progress is slower than with the physical aspects, but steady and certain nonetheless.

So for anyone here with a lot of anxiety symptoms, stick with it! It's working for me and it can work for you too.
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United Kingdom
6 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2009 :  18:05:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So great to hear. I love hearing success stories. I have just found this forum and just starting my journey. Hearing your story inspires me :-)
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19 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2010 :  19:27:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I know this is an older thread, but I wanted to thank you for posting, fibri. You are an inspiration! :)
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