Note 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.
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