My Fibromyalgia Went AWOL! Suggestions for those Suffering from FM
What Happened to My Fibromyalgia?
I'd had chronic pain for about four years, and had not slept through the night since before I could remember. The pain was driving me crazy! At first I thought it was due to getting older - until I mentioned it to my 75 year old mother and discovered that she wasn't in constant pain!
So I finally went to my GP, and, after a variety of tests, was given a "clinical diagnosis" of Fibromyalgia. I'd never heard of it before so the doctor explained to me what was currently known of it, and explained that there was no cure. He prescribed depression tablets (!) to be taken in much smaller doses than for depression, and these were to treat the pain.
After trying several different types of these tablets, along with a wide variety of methods to manage the symptoms, including swimming and yoga, with no change, I believed I'd have to simply "put up" with the pain, and accept that I wouldn't be able to work again.
That was about two years ago. I now get deep sleep at night, waking only once or twice to go to the bathroom; I no longer have constant pain; and I do vigorous hour-and-a-half Karate training - somtimes twice a week. Most of the time I forget about the symptoms I had. I only remember them once in a while when someone mentions Fibromyalgia.
It may not be the same for everyone, but I'll share my experience and my views here, and hopefully it will help at least some people.
What's Sleep Got To Do With It?
I understood from my GP that most people with Fibromyalgia are deprived of proper deep sleep. I had noticed that I hadn't slept more than an hour or so at a time, and even then it seemed to be very light sleep. I couldn't remember the last time I had good deep sleep. It made sense that this couldn't be helping my symtoms.
However, recently I've found out just how much damage lack of deep sleep can do!
Lack of Sufficient Deep Sleep has More of an Effect on Your Life than You May Realise!
It is commonly known that as we grow older, we sleep less, and the sleep we do get is not as restful, but lack of deep sleep carries more repercussions than just being less energetic during the day.
Human growth hormone, a hormone produced by the anterior pituitary gland, is naturally secreted throughout our lives, and is essential for our survival and it is primarily secreted during the stages of deep sleep. With less deep sleep there is less growth hormone, and we see the effects of "age." Human Growth Hormone production begins to decline after age 23!
It is during deep sleep that our immune system does most of its work. Less deep sleep = weaker immune system.
During restful sleep, melatonin is produced (yes, you can take a melatonin supplement, but it is not nearly as effective as your body's own melatonin). Melatonin is essential for healthy skin.
During restful sleep all the cleaning organs are operating at full force. One of the causes of feeling sluggish and having a lack of energy during the day is from your cleaning organs not being able to do their job at night because of a lack of deep restful sleep!
Taking this into consideration, you can imagine the amount of damage and deterioration caused to the body of a person who is deprived of regular deep sleep for years on end!
Knowing this, if your symptoms are chronic as mine were, Prioritise Sleep! Sleep whenever you can. You may not be able to get into deep sleep at night, but you may be able to sleep in the afternoon.
For more information on Sleep, visit the Sleep Foundation:
What helped me to get deep sleep through the night:
Paths offers 5 different types of sleep support.
Standard Sleep: This is the first level of sleep and is meant for those who fall asleep easily.
Deep Sleep: This is the second level, and the majority of PATHS customers use this level. It is meant for those who sometimes have trouble falling, or staying, asleep, but have no real major sleep issues. When signing up for PATHS there is an option to select this level of sleep. If you would like this level, and did not select it at sign-up, just email Paths Customer Service, and they will add it in for you.
Super Deep Sleep: This level is meant for those who have more trouble falling or staying asleep and who have slightly more severe sleep issues. This is the second most popular level of sleep. If you have tried the Deep Sleep and feel you could use a little more assistance, just email Paths Customer Service and request that it be added into your Theater.
Super Duper Deep Sleep: This is level 4 in the sleep program and is not meant for the faint of heart! This level is rarely used and is reserved for those with the most severe sleep issues. If you have tried level 2 and 3, have supplemented with melatonin, and are still not sleeping well, email Paths and they will help you assess whether or not this level is right for you.
Flex Sleep: This is designed for those who do not want set sleep and wake times. It is the standard sleep program, but intended in such a way as to assist you in sleeping whenever you decide you would like to sleep. It is ideal for those in professions where one is on call during the night, and other such situations. If you would like this sleep in your Theater, just email Paths and ask!"
"Not being able to sleep is terrible. You have the misery of having partied all night... without the satisfaction."
Dealing With The Pain
None of the depression tablets prescribed by my doctor for the pain seemed to have any effect at all.
But here are some things I did that did work for me. Of course, everyone is different and these may work for some and not for others, but they're worth a try :)
* Hot baths - I sometimes took two a day. Unfortunately the relief didn't last, but I did find that while I was actually in the water, I felt no pain at all. It was the only time that I felt absolutely no pain.
* Breath! Lol, I'd often catch myself holding my breath! I don't know if you do this, but I believe that it is one of the effects that accompany Fibromyalgia. Reminding yourself to take a deep breath every now and then helps get more oxygen to your muscles.
* Swimming. Although this didn't seem to have any long-term effects for me, again, while I was actually in the water I felt a relief from the pain.
* Paths Chronic Pain Relief Module. This is what really got rid of the pain completely for me. It increases levels of the body's natural pain killers. They say you only need to watch it once a week (it lasts for three minutes), but I reccomend at least three times a week.(you can watch it as often as you like). I watched it every day for the first week, and then three times a week after that. The pain had gone after about 6 weeks, but I continued for another couple of weeks just to make sure.
* Seratonin. Research has identified a deficiency in Seratonin in the nervous system of those suffering from FM, which results in "disordered sensory processing" - the brain registers pain when others might experience a slight ache or stiffness. Some of the other Paths modules, such as the Mood Elevation and the Stress Reduction ones increase Seratonin levels, so those could make a difference as well.
* Drink lOts of water. This won't relieve the pain, but it will help your body keep clean, as well as help with the fatigue a little.
* Laugh!!! Laughter releases "feel-good" chemicals in the brain - including Seratonin - and these chemicals can, not only act as natural pain-killers, but also boost the immune system. Laughter is ABsolutely the Very Best medicine. Watch funny movies, watch sit-coms, look up funny stuff on YouTube, read funny books, ask someone to tickle you! (okay I started laughing just typing that last suggestion heh heh - 's a good idea though!) Make an effort to meet up with friends you share a sense of humour with. Read "Dogs In Elk" - a forum post on a dog-owners' forum that STILL makes me laugh out loud! See the link for it below, under "Further Resources".
* There is a Great free Information Booklet from the Fibromyalgia Information Association UK - I've put the link below under "Further Resources", along with their website address.
- Paths Fibromyalgia Release Module
This Module assists your body & mind in: Calming & balancing all neurotransmitters- for the pain; Increasing the health & comfort of muscle & ligaments; Reducing fatigue; Increasing physical comfort when pressure is applied; Reducing tender points...
- Dogs in Elk
For a really good laughter fix - this still makes me laugh out loud. Release that Seratonin! ;)
- Relaxing Sleep Module
This Module is designed to assist you in removing energetic blockages that can prevent you from sleeping well.
- Information Booklet from The Fibromyalgia Association UK
The UK charity site for everything you need to know about Fibromyalgia, including UK Support groups, pain management, exercise, legal information, research, and claiming benefits.