Fibromyalgia-Taming the Dragon Within
There is no cure but there are many natural remedies that will stave off symptoms and keep you from the doctor’s office.
Some have called it the dragon within, some call it the Princess and the Pea disorder.
I’ve suffered for many years and was in my 30’s before I knew what was wrong. After going to the doctor with weird symptoms and pains while doctors look at me like I was crazy it was a relief to find a physician who recognized my ailments and sent me to a rheumatologist for diagnosis.
I was on many medications for years and at one point several very strong narcotics. Fearing I might grow dependent as other patients, I vowed to find ways to heal myself and throw away the drugs that were causing side effects and adding to my symptoms.
At one point I used a cane and had trouble getting around like an old woman. This was quite devastating for someone in her thirties. One day I decided I wasn’t going to live this way anymore. I was sick of it. There had to be another way
I will share with you what I have found after years of research, trial and error.
This is your most crucial addition to your road to healing your body. Think of it as your medication and do it religiously even when you feel you can’t get out of bed. Even when it hurts you have to move. When you stop moving your muscles atrophy and you hurt worse. It's a catch 22. Fibromyalgia is in the muscles more than the joints and we have to keep them limber.
Start slow. I found a man that gave Tai Chi lessons and went twice a week. In the beginning I had to do some of it sitting in a chair but I bought his tapes and worked myself up to doing the entire regimen.
He moved on and for several months I did it at home alone but soon tired of it and decided I wanted a treadmill. I made sure I bought one with a ledge I could put a book on. I took three foot of quarter inch elastic I got from a fabric store, tied a knot in it and looped it around to hold my page open while I walked. This has been my favorite method of exercise for four years now.
I walk four miles three times a week at a pace of 3.5 mph. That may not seem like much to a person that runs marathons but it keeps me out of the doctor's office.
Some use yoga or other types but just be sure it isn’t high impact. Damaging your muscles is the worst thing you can do. As you will find out we don’t heal like normal people and our pain is much worse.
Always stretch first. Stretching is as important as exercise.
Sticking to my routine while traveling can be tricky. I plan ahead. Check to see if the hotel has a gym, indoor pool or if there is a place to walk if the weather is permitting. I use treadmills, hike or walk around inside an indoor heated pool. Whatever I can do to keep moving.
Put in a search for diet and Fibromyalgia and you will get many different answers. The reason is some foods make us sick but it is different for everyone. You have to determine which foods are on your own personal bad list and it will take time. For me it is potatoes, fat, sugar, tomatoes and dairy. Do your own research to find out what foods are causing other people problems and experiment and see if eliminating them from your diet helps. After a while when you have gotten better you may be able to introduce them in small quantities without a flare up. I still eat these in very small amounts once in a while. I love potatoes but have to be careful how much I eat. Some foods literally turn on us. Think of it like an allergy.
For some people caffeine, artificial sweeteners, root foods and red meats are no-noes.
There are also foods that help you. For me it is red berries like strawberries, cherries and raspberries. I eat strawberries everyday. Fish also helps me. I eat it at least once a week.
I used to have a problem with yeast infections (a lot of Fibromites do) so I eat yogurt everyday. I haven’t had one in years.
Keeping on your diet while traveling can be a challenge. I’ve been known to visit health food and Asian markets while on trips. Continental breakfasts don’t always have what we can eat. Don’t forget dried foods. I’ve carried dried cherries and cuttle fish in my carry on before.
Fibromites need more rest than other people. While sleeping we restore our damaged tissue and rejuvenate our bodies.
A comfortable mattress is very important. I bought a Cuddle Ewe mattress topper and that helped a lot. A Sleep Number bed helps some sufferers. Soft mattresses are usually better than firm. Remember, the Princess and the Pea. We feel things no one else does. That button on the mattress will feel like a rock stabbing us in the back so make sure there aren’t any on the mattress you buy.
Make sure you get enough sleep. Figure out what amount works for you. I have to have at least eight hours sometimes nine depending on what is going on. If you don’t get that amount your body will turn on you.
Eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. I worked as a social worker and loved my job. Helping people made me feel great but the stress was killing me. Look up the word stress and you will see a picture of a social worker. I had to resign.
I had been writing for several years and decided to do it full time from home. It was the best thing I ever did. I can now work at my own pace and move when I need to. I realize not everyone has this choice but change your life and career as much as you can to take out anything that causes you grief. Working for the PTA may give you fulfillment but it may also be causing you pain. Learn how to say no. Use your doctor if you have to. “My physician said I have to cut back.”
If my masseur was single I’d marry him. Just kidding but he is a lifesaver. Find a good massage therapist you like and visit as much as you need to. Since I don’t spend hundreds of dollars every month on drugs anymore I feel this is a much better replacement. Make sure they know you have Fibromyalgia and are familiar with the quirks that go along with it.
About every two to three months I start feeling stiff and have twinges that need to be rubbed out. After exercising and stretching sometimes we still need a little something more.
Calming our mind and clearing the cobwebs in our brain seems to make a difference. Do this as often as you can. Breath deep and slow, relax your whole body and release all tension. Check out books or look online for more information.
This is a great exercise when at the dentist or any other place that causes us extra pain. We don’t deal with normal occurrences like other people. That routine cleaning from the dental hygienist will sometimes set us off. Work on your breathing, untighten your fists and visit your dream world.
My masseur also practices acupuncture and acupressure. When we hit our knee or hurt ourselves the first thing we want to do is rub the injury; this is a natural reflex. Putting pressure on an area sends healing endorphins. When we have a Fibromyalgia flare up this also works. I’ve never had acupuncture but if I were ever bad enough I would have Yeung do it. So far he’s been able to take care of my aches with just acupressure and massage.
- Magic Cream
I don’t know what else to call this but there are various ointments that work for us. Some of you probably remember the advertisements for Super Blue Stuff a few years a go. It has emu oil and Lord only knows what else but it helped me. Now days you can find several different creams with emu oil. I've tried a few and they all seem to be about the same. You’ll need a husband or significant other who is nice enough to rub you down with it. My problem areas seems to mostly be my shoulders and hips, which aren’t always easy to reach especially when I’m having twinges. It’s a joke at my house that I need my butt rubbed. We have to keep our sense of humor.
They don’t smell like Chanel and you won’t be drawing any beaus with the aroma but you will feel much better and when the dragon comes calling we don’t really care.
They don’t have to have emu oil in them. I’ve been known to use White Flower on my hands when they act up. It’s a Chinese medicine and still not a man catcher but smells a bit better than my bird cream. Find what works for you and keep stocked up.
- Handeze Gloves
If you suffer from carpal tunnel or symptoms resembling it you might want to try these gloves. They look like support hose for your hands or fingerless gloves. I found mine at a quilt shop years a go but you can get them online. I wear them inside out because the seams hurt my hands; it's that Princess in the Pea thing.
I also have Raynaud's syndrome and these are great for cold hands. Since the tips are cut out I can still type.
You'll need to measure your hands across the knuckles below your fingers to find your size. I measure three inches which is a small.
After hours of typing my hands thank me and yours will too.
- Comfortable Shoes
Don’t even think about wearing heels. I know they are all the rage, the popular girls are wearing them and celebrities make us think we can’t get a man without them but it's a bad idea. I don’t wear anything over an inch and a half. If you want to strut around the bedroom in them on special occasions for your man that’s okay but don’t go dancing or out shopping in those stilts or you will pay big time.
There are a few shoe companies that are smart and have pretty and comfy shoes. Find out what works for you and pay whatever they ask because it is worth it. Remember, we are no longer paying the pharmacist through the nose so we can splurge in other areas; this is one of them. Your hips will thank you, your feet will thank you and so will your legs.
I can’t tell you how many pairs of shoes I thought were comfortable in the store and later sold on Ebay because I paid a bundle for them only to find out they weren’t as great after wearing them for a few hours. Make sure they feel like you are wearing pillows in the store. If you feel even a slight seam or pinch don’t buy them. What feels like a tiny discomfort now, will later on be a dagger in the Princess’ heel.
- Ginseng Tea
There are two kinds, well really three but you will mostly hear of the two most common ones: American and Asian. The Asian is better because it helps circulation, stimulation and is an anti-inflammatory. It will usually say Korean or Chinese ginseng. I drink it every morning. It’s also supposed to give longevity and a host of other good things but I feel much better when I drink it. When I travel I take several packets with me in my suitcase.
I buy mine at an Asian market. You can get it online or some health food stores. It comes in pill form too so if you don’t care for the taste you might try that but I personally think it tastes delicious. I've read that the tea is absorbed better than the pills.
Figure out what works for you and stick with it even if you start to feel better. Unfortunately we look fine and healthy so people can’t figure out why we avoid doing certain things or say no when asked to volunteer to work in the community garden but don’t let them make you feel bad. You have limits, learn what they are and stick to your guns.
I've made the mistake of going back to my old ways after feeling better. I got away with it for a little while but then found myself right back in the mire. The two biggies are exercise and diet.
I no longer take any prescription medications, don't use a cane and most people don't even realize I have anything wrong with me.
- Coping With Pain Using Meditation
We all hurt at one time or another but some have ongoing pain they can’t control and feel like a prisoner in their aching body.