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Traumatic Stress, " The Body Keeps the Score."


My profile along with everyone else on this site speaks of trauma. Each one of us has been traumatized by everything leading up to the ostomy and things that have occurred afterwards. Some traumatic experiences may include, scopes, drains, NG tubes, multiple surgeries, pain, relationship breakups, lack of empathy by providers, and lonely hospital stays. The list goes on. As a clinical therapist, I have done work in trauma. I will be getting help soon to process some of my own trauma with the use of talk therapy and brainspotting/EMDR.  My recent trauma is my mother dying last November. I saw her battle cancer for a year. I was there for her. The images of being next to her bedside throughout the year and seeing her health decline are traumatic. Seeing her take her last breath was traumatic for me.  I just got through another surgery which is getting old.  The trauma is in my body. I feel it. I know it is there. I am aware of it. No denying it. I am putting it off for now which is a normal coping strategy. There are things we just can't deal with at the moment. We need to eventually allow the trauma to come out of our body and be processed. Some helpful strategies to process trauma are talk therapy along with brainspotting and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). They both help to desensitize the trauma. The memories will still be there. The difference is they will no longer have a lot of the activating emotions behind them. Take a minute and notice where you feel the trauma in your body.  Every person that I counsel with trauma will tell me where they feel it in their body. When you process trauma, it will come of the body. You should notice some calmness in those areas of the body. Unprocessed trauma affects your whole life. I have been trained in both strategies.  They are both research/evidence-based practices. I would encourage you to get more information about these if you want to address some of your own trauma.  If you decide you want to get some therapy, you will need to request a therapist who does EMDR or Brainspotting. Not all counselors are trained in these. Just thought I would pass this information on to you as an ostomate, counselor and person who has his own issues to be worked on. Tim

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thanks Tim. great idea.

day by day dude. 


Tim I am really sorry about your mom.


So very sorry for the loss of your mom. Being with someone when they pass is…. ya.

Thank you for sharing your personal story along with the other information. 

How is brain spotting different than EMDR? I tried EMDR therapy pre Covid but it was making my migraines worse so the therapist switched to CBT. I have this book but I only got a couple chapters in and I had to close it because it was bringing up so many memories for me that I didn't want to/didn't know how to process.  I've been seeing different psychologists doing fellowships under CLeveland Clinic's digestive disease psych program. It's been nice to work with them because it's so specialized. 


I'm very sorry about your Mom. Cancer is so very hard, the treatment,the side-effects, surgeries, hair loss, depression. Sending positive thoughts and prayers.


Trauma = a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.  It has an adverse connotation too.  There is little in medicine that is not disturbingly invasive whether it is palpating something that you would rather not, jabbing you with a needle or sticking some long tube in an orifice where you have not had it before.  Those disturbing experiences lead to us having a piece of our intestines put in a jar.  We all ended up with a bag to match our shoes.  All of this needs to be acknowledged, put in a box and put on the shelf.  I look back upon it as a bad dream or maybe a nightmare that is behind me.  As I think about it, I will never have to prep for a colonoscopy again!

Most of us are not taking prednisone.  A lot of us are not being exposed to the potential complications of biologics.  Most of us got our lives back.  There are stoma problems and we are not like when we were born.  There are social adjustments.  My ileostomy has a voice of its own.  So far it has not farted the Star Spangled Banner.  My wife, a nurse, still has not adjusted to me having an ileostomy.   I have offered to help her with her problem (She said "she was traumatized by my surgery".}.......But I got my life back.

I lost my mother when I was your age.  She was my mentor and at times the only one who believed in me.  For her it was a blessing because of her intractable pain and nerve compression from compression fractures of her vertebrae despite a pain pump and medications.  She took her oxygen off herself and passed away.  I was there too.  I acknowledge my sadness and loss, put it in a box and put it on the shelf.  

Life goes on.  I focus on pleasant things and what a wonderful day in the neighborhood tomorrow will be.          

Reply to gentlejohn

John, when you talk about putting it in a box on a shelf, I remember that strategy was taught to me in therapy for ptsd. I had to visualize something that I wouldn't be drawn to come back to/keep reopening. So for me it was a can of decaf Folgers coffee. I'm a coffee snob and I like my caffeine(most days). It had the therapist laughing. Apparently no one had said that particular one before 😁


Hi Tim, I lost my mom five and a half weeks after my first surgery. I was fortunate in that she, as a nurse, was able to get me to get off my meds and agree to surgery and I was healed enough to be able to be with her. Through all of the trauma, I was given those gifts. Thank you for sharing your story and your knowledge.

Reply to crappycolondiaries

I can relate to the use of the can of Folgers coffee.  Being a coffee snob like you, I was once given a cup of that stuff and couldn't drink it.  

Reply to HenryM

Henry!!! We have something in common and it's good coffee!!! That makes me so happy :)

Reply to crappycolondiaries

I really don't do much EMDR anymore. I have found brainspotting to be more affective. My colleagues have also decreased EMDR and resort to brainspotting. Brainspotting gets to the problems quicker. It was developed by David Grand who was doing EMDR.  There are no back and forth eye movements except looking at the pointer. The counselor helps you to find the spot with your eyes. My clients usually find it on their own. I bring the pointer across their eyes as they bring up the pain. I will ask them where they notice the emotional pain the strongest. Like I said, they will know. They look at the pointer and bring up whatever they want to. They will also identify where they feel it in their body. You always end with a resource spot where they feel the most relaxed in their body. Hope this helps. Tim

Reply to Beth22


Reply to crappycolondiaries

It is referred as the container exercise. I use it in my practice. Sometimes we just can't deal with things at the moment. We can choose a container in our mind to put the problems into. The container is whatever you want it to be. It could be a box, chest or bin. It could be a coffee container. Maybe you want to be more specific such as Foldgers or Maxwell House . We put our problems in the container until we are ready to deal with them. I will usually end some sessions with this. There is no way you can process trauma in one counseling session. I have them put the trauma in the container. At the next session they will reopen the container to begin processing again.

Reply to Wisconsinguy72

I wonder if the psychologist tried something like that on me… we were doing a grounding exercise (I think) and it led to visualizing where the emotional pain was and for me it was so heavy and all encompassing around my heart.  Hard to describe how it felt but I REALLY felt it. 


Hi Tim,  I'm sorry about your mom.  I lost mine at a very young age (14) and I watched her quick decline, only three months from diagnosis.  My dad would not allow me to go to the hospital with him over her last three days.  I think he felt that seeing her like that would have been too traumatic for me and perhaps he was right.  I know I've carried the trauma of her death with me, but it's hard to know what form it took.  I have not heard of either form of therapy you mention, but I'm interested.  The last three years have added new layers of trauma I'm sure, with my multiple surgeries and hospitalizations, complications, tests, on and on.  Thanks for sharing your story, and I hope you will continue.



How about trying Jesus therapy? Doesn't alleviate life's problems but He gives peace that surpasses all understanding and helps get you through the tough times 


Sorry Tim. Every one is human and so we all feel the pangs of life's troubles. My Dad sat with my Mom for months before she passed and he will be in grief and trauma till he passes on. Gentle John, nice words as well. I like the idea of putting the trauma in a  box and putting it on a shelf. In the same way, when a negative thought comes in, I crumple it up like a piece of paper and throw it away. 

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