My pain story began in 2000. I was living 450 miles away from my elderly parents who both were showing symptoms of dementia and I was travelling up and down the country regularly to try to care for them. The first indication anything was wrong with my health was my breathing. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Asthma. I then found out, after I had an extreme nose bleed, that I had high blood pressure. By the end of 2001 my Dad’s health had deteriorated so much he was admitted to hospital and died two months later.
I now had to care full time for my Mum who could not manage on her own. I lived with her for nearly 3 years, before she moved into a Nursing Home, going home to my own family only occasionally when I had respite for Mum. I started to get excruciating pain in my left leg and was diagnosed with sciatica. I went to a Chiropractor who manipulated my back and after several weeks of treatment the pain went away. Over the next few years I had intermittent pain in my leg and I still had breathing problems.
In April 2009 my Mum passed away and around this time my sciatica came back with a vengeance. I tried all sorts of medication, had physiotherapy and an MRI scan (which just showed arthritic degeneration). I found a new Chiropractor, thinking “it worked the last time, it’ll work this time”. I had regular treatments for over six months and the pain was still exactly the same. It was sometimes so bad I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I was popping pain killers on a regular basis and nothing was working.
I then came across TMS on the internet. I read up about it, bought Dr. Sarno’s book “Healing Back Pain”, read it cover to cover and just couldn’t understand how he could be writing about me! Phrases just kept jumping out of the pages…..I would underline them, circle them, put stars against them, until the book was just full of my marks and notations.
In June of 2009 I found Georgie and made an appointment to see her. She was just so lovely. She examined me thoroughly and listened patiently to my story. She then told me I definitely had TMS (Stress Illness). Hallelujah. Now I could do something about my pain. I was a believer in self-help anyway and just knew deep down I could do something about this pain that was blighting my life.
On one of my visits to my very sympathetic doctor she suggested I see a Grief Counsellor. I visited the Counsellor every week for some time and was very lucky that her method of treatment was very much in line with Dr. Sarno’s recommendations on psychotherapy. I lent her Dr. Sarno’s book and she was very open to his principles and methods of treatment.
These visits were very hard, she made me talk about all my feelings that I had never openly acknowledged before and made me see how much stress I had been under for so many years. It was no wonder I had so much physical pain as I was repressing so much mental anguish, believing, wrongly of course, that if I didn’t think about it, it would all be okay. I started journaling, writing in my little private book every day. I put things down on paper that I could never have said out loud. I ranted and screamed and swore (all written down!) and amazingly, started to feel better. Not immediately but very gradually. I kept a note of how much pain I had, giving it marks out of ten. This gave me written confirmation of how well I was doing. Occasionally, I could just will the pain away by getting angry and telling it to leave me alone, I was sick of it ruining my life…..there was nothing physically wrong with me so I shouldn’t be having any physical pain.
I started to think about me for a change. This was very hard sometimes, putting myself first. I wasn’t used to doing that and then I would get on that same old bandwagon again of feeling guilty, beating myself up about it and then WHAM – back came the pain. This happened so many times I began to put the two things together – “repressed feelings = pain”. It became so obvious sometimes I would cry and laugh at the same time, realising that yes it was true and yes I was getting better.
This was not a quick fix for me. It took me months to get better…..but get better I did. To be totally pain free took about a year. I just persevered and slogged away – reading and re-reading the books and journaling. I now have zero pain. It is so wonderful to say that, I’ll say it again! I now have zero pain! I may sometimes get a little niggle in the back of my leg and I immediately think “what am I feeling?”. Sometimes I can just be tired and I know I need to sit down and rest. It can be as simple as that.
My life now bears no resemblance to my life before. I can do things I thought I would never be able to do. I no longer use my walking stick. I go to the gym twice a week. I walk. I love my life and am so very, very grateful to Dr. Sarno and also, to Georgie. Without Dr. Sarno’s books (I’ve read three of his, plus other books on TMS by other authors) and all Georgie’s help and information, I dread to think where I would be now. I now have all the tools I need to sort my life out. This is still a work in progress but I handle my health myself. It’s extremely liberating.