Living Productively (and drug-free) with Fibromyalgia
“LIVING WITH FIBROMYALGIA” by Sherri Mitchell
When I found out that I have Fibromyalgia back in 2005, it was almost a relief. I knew something was wrong for a few years prior but couldn’t get a clear diagnosis. It wasn’t until my shoulder and neck ached for quite awhile and then eventually my whole body just was continuously achy that I knew a doctor should be seen.
Let’s go back to the previous year when I was always feeling tired and foggy. My thinking was off and the big one was the body aching—flu-like symptoms all the time. I felt like this for about 1-1/2 years and denied that anything was wrong. Thinking it was just premenopause symptoms, or that I was over-tired from working evenings from my home office delayed me to get help sooner. A cycle of being tired every other day was my norm so I would pace myself. Like many young people today and hard working people that work days and nights, getting little sleep, it became the norm. I was forgetful and felt very old thinking I was just working too hard or not being able to function too well during the day.
This went on for about 7-8 months, before I really thought and felt like maybe something else could be wrong. At first, I thought maybe I hurt my right shoulder, as it would ache like I pulled something and hurt when I lifted my right arm to drive, I went for a check-up after two weeks of no improvement after applying heat and Ben Gay® large pads. I then went to a specialist who had me go for therapy. They massaged me, put me on machines and had me do rubberband stretches for the arm. This alleved the aching shoulder, and I was still thinking at this point that I just hurt the shoulder. Eventually, about 2 weeks into therapy, I noticed that both shoulders were aching, and thinking this was strange, I ignored that until it was apparent that both sides of my body ached and I possibly couldn’t have hurt both shoulders. I then went to a rheumatoid arthritis specialist who saw that even my feet were aching after he checked several pressure points; he ordered blood work and saw all else was fine, so he gave me Fibromyalgia pamphlets and explained that was what I had.
I researched and read everything that I could find online for about 4 months. I also looked for ways to combat the illness and find alternative medicines as I am a big believer of Supplements and looking at what your body lacks. I went to a Chiropractor in McHenry for my allergies and asthma (as I had allergic reactions to allergy shots during my first pregnancy—and they said that they were safe). I have a history of arthritis in my mother and maternal grandmother, and this is what they say can be one of the common backgrounds of people with Fibro, a shorter term for Fibromyalgia.
What I have learned is that I am persistent to keep going and do not want to let an illness bring me down. I have too much to do and need to take care of my kids; however, I need to start taking better care of me.
● Sleeping regularly is extremely important for me and basically everyone. Therefore, I began to go to bed earlier and get more sleep helping to prevent relapses and overall better health.
● Eating more foods with enzymes to help arthritic treatment, such as: Bromelain which is an enzyme found in pineapple was added weekly to my diet, as well as a daily supplement. Other daily supplements such as multivitamin, B-complex, Calcium with Magnesium, Potassium, garlic and some others do help as I have skipped days and even weeks, and when symptoms return, I take my vitamin mix of about 7 vitamins and symptoms do go away with a day or two.
● Additionally, regular exercise helps to keep the arthritis and Fibromyalgia at a distance.
● I am able to read about the new condition, Fibromyalgia and find articles, blogs, medical information and alternative treatments. I am able to analyze the information and apply what I believe will be a self-treatment based on what I’ve read. My thoughts and beliefs are that I am in control of what goes in my body and how my aging body needs not only exercise but proper rest as well. If we take better care of ourselves during and after treatments, recovery is quicker.
How do I know that some of the things I was doing helped? When I had less pain, this meant something I was doing was definitely working. I felt like I had control again and know that I learned to take better care of myself. The experience of my shoulder problem to my body feeling like I was falling apart and getting the diagnosis of having Fibromyalgia changed me to say, I need to take control and try some things that can make this situation better.
I applied the knowledge gained to make changes and feel better as an end result. The chiropractor that I saw temporarily after therapy was helpful in training me to change my sitting posture while working at my desk, stretching and movement allows muscles to not get stiff, and supplements/diet help as well, so I don’t have to continue to go to a chiropractor for help.
By learning more about my condition and learning what my choices were to improve my condition, my overall well being and ability to function again improved tremendously. I was able to function again without feeling like I am walking in a fog, and without daily body aches. Feeling less pain meant I could lead a normal life of enjoying activities with my children again, like ice skating or water skiing with the family in Michigan. With regular sleep patterns, more exercise and supplementation of herbals and vitamins, I was less irritable and able to have more energetic days of getting tasks accomplished.
Having changed my attitude and feelings towards regular exercise, I understand others that do have physical conditions that might limit them and know that they have to choose a different lifestyle than what was done prior. Busy people today are workaholics and tend to sleep less and work too many hours. Well-balanced life means getting to fulfill other activities besides work, and this means juggling many areas to be a better healthier person…..both mentally and physically.
For additional resources, read everything out there on Fibro and even join a social media group that is for your condition, whether it be Fibromyalgia or whatever your condition. Our goal is to get better together!