Jim’s Thank You

In October 2021, as I was beginning preparations for making holiday chocolates for my small business, I gradually developed pain in my right hand, the hand I use most in the process of creating chocolates. It was very scary. I wrote to all on my customer list explaining that I would not be able to make as many Christmas chocolates as usual. I went to my primary care physician, and of course he gave a probable diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. In spite of my mentions of stress as a factor in many diseases in our encounters, he always ignores me and heads for his arsenal of physical diagnoses. But I knew that CTS is a common diagnosis for what is actually TMS. To state the obvious, it is very difficult to move forward with trying to treat symptoms as psychogenic when every word you hear or read says otherwise.

To cite one small example: I went to the farmers’ market to buy bread and mentioned my symptoms to the two bakers (since they asked about Christmas chocolates). In unison, they said they both had had CTS, had the surgery, and were cured. Get the surgery! they advised. But I persevered in what I believed was the true diagnosis (it was a fairly easy connection to make: extreme stress over making several thousand chocolates by myself and terrible pain in the most crucial part of my body for the endeavor).

A few weeks after Christmas, I was lying in bed and realized that some of the same symptoms were showing up but this time in my left hand. Being familiar with this TMS flag, I was instantly optimistic about my future. For a while both hands hurt, then I noticed pain in various other joints. So my faith in the TMS diagnosis was strengthened, and within a few days, all the pain was gone. Yes, gone!

The next time I went to my primary care doctor, I expected him to ask if I had had the surgery he thought would be necessary. But, for a brief moment, I forgot that in modern American medicine, doctors have a brief allotted time to make sure you are still alive, then get to the next patient. He never even mentioned my carpal tunnel symptoms! So I said nothing and smiled to myself. Occasionally I have hand pain (usually the left one), but it goes away as again I smile about the “wandering symptom syndrome.”