What is Fibromyalgia? I live with FMS

wordleNote to Reader:  “I recently teamed up with American Recall Center after reading their article “What is Fibromyalgia? Living with FMS” and together we want to raise awareness about living with Fibromyalgia on a more personal level.” 

I have attached a link to their very informative post and below are my thoughts;

How many times have you heard “You have Fibromyalgia? Next we hear “My so & so has it”.  “They tried enter treatment here and it went away” or “They aren’t able to do anything”.

Very seldom are we asked “What is Fibromyalgia?” or “How can I help?” They have heard the commercials for medication used to treat Fibro and think that is all there is to it.

There is no known cure.

The treatments focus on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life.

What are the symptoms?

According to the American College of Rheumatology ~ “Fibromyalgia is a chronic health problem that causes pain all over the body and other symptoms. Other symptoms that patients most often have are; Tenderness to touch or pressure points affecting joints & muscles, Fatigue, Sleep problems(Waking up unrefreshed), Problems with memory or thinking clearly aka “Fibro Fog”. Some patients may also have; Depression or Anxiety, Migraines, TMJ, tension headaches, IBS, Irritable/over active bladder or Pelvic pain. 

Fibromyalgia symptoms and its related problems can vary in intensity, and will wax and wane over time.  Stress often worsens the symptoms.” 

Not only do we live with the Fibromyalgia symptoms, co-morbid and co-existing conditions daily but we experience Fibro flares which is a temporary increase in the number and/or intensity of symptoms.  Fibro Flares are caused by any one of various triggers such as; poor sleep, over exertion, illness/injury, weather changes, treatment changes, too much/too little physical activity, hormonal changes and traveling.

What does that mean to me?

It means that I have no idea each day when I wake up how I am going to feel.  In fact, I can honestly say I don’t know how I will feel hour by hour.

Each person’s level of pain, fatigue and brain fog is different and each of us have our own list of co-existing or co-morbid conditions. I never have a day or night pain free and I can’t remember what it feels like to be rested.

I have Fibromyalgia and 19 co-morbids.  If I were to rank the top 3 diseases/syndromes that affect my quality of life the most I would choose Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome & Systemic exertion intolerance disease(formerly CFS).

What are some of the possible co-existing/co-morbids?

  • Lyme disease     Lupus    Osteoarthritis     Rhumatoid arthritis     Cushing’s syndrome     Hypothyroidism   Polymyalgia Rheumatica   Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome  Cervical spinal stenosis     Irritable Bowel Syndrome     Osteoporosis     Endometriosis     Carpal Tunnel Syndrome  Sjogren’s syndrome     Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis     Raynaud’s Phenomenon  Chronic Fatigue  Syndrome  Anemia   Seasonal Affective Disorder     GERD Interstitial Cystitis     Yeast Infections    and MORE;

One of the problems having Fibromyalgia is understanding if the symptoms you are experiencing is Fibro related or if it is from one of the many co-existing & co-morbids you can have along with Fibro.

I began being diagnosed with some of the co-existing syndromes at 19. Although I remember experiencing some symptoms as early as 13.  I was very lucky that it took only a year for me to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia once I began my true search for what was wrong with me?  Why was I always in pain? Why couldn’t I sleep? etc….

It has taken years or sometimes a life time living with Fibromyalgia before some patients have been properly diagnosed.  We still struggle with those Doctors who refuse to believe the facts and recognize Fibromyalgia as a diagnosis.

Imagine what it would do to you if you were in pain daily, not sleeping, experiencing migraines, jaw pain, severe light sensitivity, joint & muscles aching, skin feeling like it’s sunburned, depression, decrease in mental clarity and digestion problems. Now, Imagine being sent to a different Doctor for each of those symptoms, being diagnosed with something different each time you go to an appointment or having the physician tell you there is nothing wrong with you “it’s all in your head”.

It is a blessing and a curse when you finally hear the words “You have Fibromyalgia”.

Thank You! Someone finally believes you and it is real.  Once you start researching it the Ah-ha moments begin.  All of the symptoms you have been experiencing almost your entire life makes sense. It is so important to find credible sources. During my researching I found not only helpful books but wonderful friends. One book stays by my chair at all times and has helped me so many times. It is lovingly called “The Big Book” written by: Celeste Cooper, R.N. and Jeffrey Miller, Ph.D.Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain

Okay, So I have Fibromyalgia…. Now what?

Grieving and Acceptance are a very important part of living with Fibromyalgia.  Fibromites need to realize that their lives will not be the same as before.  However, they also need to know their life is not over. You can still be a productive member of society.  You may just need to change how you were doing it before.

We often need accommodations at work, home and while traveling.  These are a few of the things I have bought to help me get through the pain-filled, sleep-less day and nights;

Tempur-Ego mattress, memory foam pillow, light with sunlight bulb, ice packs,
Tens unit, heating pad(including one for car), dark glasses, anti-glare screen 
for computer, loose clothing, good shoes (no more high heel fun shoes),
 the best stadium chair and even a comfortable car.

I have described Fibromites as snowflakes.  No two are the same.  Just as it may have taken time, trial & error to be diagnosed it takes the same to find the treatment combination that works for you. Even then you may need to change it up now and again.

Some common treatments are;  Prescription Meds, Herbal supplements, Chiropractor,
Acupuncture, Acupressure, Massage, Mindfulness, Yoga, Walking,Water Therapy,
Pace Activities/Increase rest, Improve Nutrition, a Positive Support & Education.

It is important to create a good health team.  My health team includes a General Practitioner, Rheumatologist, Neurologist, Pain Doctor, Chiropractor, Acupuncturist with me as my own Health Advocate.

I have found the right combination of Prescription Medications, Alternative Therapies, Sleep, Exercise, Mindfulness and Support.

Does that mean I am pain free, rested and can live my life like before Fibromyalgia?  NO!

It means that I have accepted I will always have some level of pain, fatigue and “Fibro Fog” and whatever other side kicks decide to kick in.  I know that at any time I could hit a “Flare” caused by any one of the numerous variety of triggers.   I also know the “Flare” will go away and what I should do to help ease the Flare.

“Adversity is only an OBSTACLE if we fail to see OPPORTUNITY” ~ Celeste Cooper

I am a Fibro Warrior ~ Living LifeFeatured Image -- 2250

Fibromyalgia & Your Teeth

I will admit this is not my “typical” blog. Stick with me thru the “Facts” I will get to my story. I feel that it is something those of us on medication for our pain, depression and anxiety do not think about it.  Dry mouth is a common side effect of those drugs. Without saliva, tooth decay and gum disease are more likely to occur.

Individuals with any form of arthritis, arthritis-related inflammatory disorders (Fibromyalgia for instance), or autoimmune disorders are at HIGH risk of developing many diseases of the oral cavity including, but not limited to:

  • Developing periodontal disease – more than twice as likely as others
  • Developing severe jawbone loss – moderate to severe
  • Extractions – averaged 12 missing teeth in studies

Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center published findings linking periodontal disease to autoimmunity in October 2010. This evidence of autoimmunity explains why regular flossing helps prevent periodontal problems, and it also explains why some people are affected by periodontal disease more than other people. This theory can also be linked to the fact that the risk of both periodontal disease and autoimmune disorders increase with age.

“In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, toothgums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.”

Of course if it’s a possible side effect (a.k.a. evil sidekicks) of Fibromyalgia or a treatment I am likely to get it.

I had been experiencing dry mouth for the past few years ~ Thanks to medication. Approximately 1 1/2 years ago I had been told I had the start of periodontal disease. The hygienist found I had more than several teeth pockets at 5’s and 6’s.  I brushed my teeth 2x a day but honestly only flossed for the week before my appointment.

Six months later I returned to the Dentist.  I had began to floss more frequently and it had proven to work.  All of my 6’s were lowered to 5’s.

So this week here I am again, another 6 months later sitting in the Dentist chair hearing the  lecture “Why to Floss”.

She told me I was bleeding a lot – I told her it was normal. “Individuals with periodontal disease may experience bleeding of the gums when brushing, which is often the first sign of a problem.” “Floss for a week and the bleeding will stop”.

She continued to explain “one theory is that gum disease can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream where they attach to the fatty deposits in the heart blood vessels. This condition can cause blood clots and may lead to heart attacks.”

Once the cleaning was done it was time for Dr. Mike to examine my teeth.  He asked if he was walking in to find good news.  “Of course, I deserve a gold star”.The good news is that I have lowered all but 4 of my numbers to 4’s and only had 4-5’s left.

Ia smile is the prettiest went on to tell him he was my favorite Doctor.  Not only did I not get diagnosed with a new syndrome/condition or disease but my health had improved. Even better I leave with a new toothbrush, floss and a compliment “You have beautiful teeth” This is one of the sidekicks of our “Invisible Illness” that is visible and we have the power to control. Drink lots of water & floss daily.

 

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