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asus06 July 27th, 2006 11:22 PM

EMDR and post medical trauma?
Hi all,

It has been recommended to me that I try EMDR to deal with some recent emotional trauma associated with emergency surgery that I had. I got the book by shapiro and forrest and read it. It seems that the cases of PTSD in that book are dominated by flashbacks. In my case, I do have flashbacks and bad dreams on occasion, but it is the hypervigilence and anxiety (and physical manifestations thereof such as tense muscles, headaches, dizziness, etc..) that cause me the most problems. My flashbacks seem to be getting less and less. I do have trouble falling asleep, and even when I get to sleep and am able to sleep the "normal" amount of hours, I never feel rested. The littlest pain or weird sensation "sets off the cavelry" even if my higher level thinking is telling it not to do so.

Basically, I was taken by suprise and rushed to the ER to fix a problem I thought I had licked in childhood, then had this relatively complicated surgery which ended up OK, but not without some bumps. The more and more I found out about what happened to me and my condition after my surgery, the more and more anxious, scared, and hypervigilant I got. My stress response to the littlest things is now blown way out of proportion - medical or non-medical. This is all despite the fact that the doctors say I am doing great and aren't expecting any problems. I guess my mind is just doing all the "expecting" and bracing itself to never be suprised again. I am what I would consider a "type A" personality and in my "normal" life (work, etc..) I would always be the person to research everything out and go the "extra mile". This behavior has even ended me in the ER a couple times, although not lately. However, I don't really trust myself to judge what I should be worried about or not anymore.

It seems to me that what I am scared of seems to be relatively on the surface. Its the reaction that is out of proportion, but I don't know how to deal with it so I can get past it. Is this type of trauma something that EMDR can help with? I have tried more traditional "talking therapy" and it has made me feel better, but I don't see it really helping me get to the "core" of the issue. Various meds and their side effects only seem to trigger my hypervigilence, and to be honest, I'd like to not have to be on meds if possible.

thanks for any input.

Sandra Paulsen July 28th, 2006 12:31 AM

Re: EMDR and post medical trauma?
I'll make some general comments here which may or may not apply in your case.

EMDR is generally very helpful with medical trauma, whether the disturbance meets criteria for PTSD or not.

Medical problems that start in childhood can be harder to target, but targetting memory fragments or even body sensations can bring symptom relief to many. An experienced EMDR practitioner knows how to work with targets that are not explicit memories, but are rather bodily held. The somatic channel of information is very fundamental to healing trauma, and talk therapy just doesn't do it.

asus06 July 28th, 2006 09:28 AM

Re: EMDR and post medical trauma?
Thanks very much for the response. My problems haven't been chronic so much. Basically, I had a surgery when I was little that they thought was "curative" (or thats what was told to me), and then I had to have a "redo" or sorts recently that came as a suprise to both me and my doctors. The second one was under pretty emergent circumstances so I never really got a chance to prepare mentally. So I suppose I'm dealing with 2 separate "traumas" as I don't know if I ever dealt with the childhood one. Although it never really "disturbed" me as much as the second one.

thanks again

Sandra Paulsen July 29th, 2006 01:35 AM

Re: EMDR and post medical trauma?
It happens alot in EMDR that we target a recent trauma and lo and behold, up pops an early experience that is filed in the same mental shoebox.

We usually recommend going in first to the underlying event because it is foundational. Then we go do the recent one if it still is causing disturbance.

If a client insists that the present trauma is in his/her face and that's the problem then the clinician likely goes with that one. In the middle of it, the old one may come up if it is actually foundational.

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