I was in a neurologist’s office in Waco, Texas expecting yet another doctor to look at me as if I were insane while telling me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me….again…
I was wrong. After completing his testing, this doctor actually looked at me as if he understood something. From the first, he had certainly seemed to believe me when I told him my symptoms, something that no other had done…and there had been others, many others.
“Fredda, if you had on short sleeves and the wind were to blow softly across your skin, would it hurt?”
“That’s what I thought. I know exactly what’s wrong with you. You have fibromyalgia.”
Fibromyalgia…I had never heard the word, and I had no idea what it meant, but I easily could have kissed the man who FINALLY had a diagnosis for a pain that was almost more than I could bear, a pain that the others had tried to convince me didn’t exist.
Today, it’s hard for me to believe that day in Waco was 20 years ago, but it was, and today I am a huge success story, actually a mostly pain-free success story…and the truth of the matter is that for the most part I have treated and cured myself (although I was prescribed the drug Flexeril that day, and I certainly took it.)
I suppose cured is the wrong word since I’m not sure fibromyalgia is ever cured; however, mine seldom flares up and when it does, I get it right back under control so to me that is a cure.
So how did I do it? I’m afraid you won’t like the answer, but you have to understand that I was willing to do whatever it took….and if that had meant taking a shot of straight heroin in the eyeball, I gladly would have done it! Thankfully, that was not necessary. Instead, I studied everything I could find, attended seminars, rested, and finally changed my diet.
The following are steps that worked for me, and I still stick to them pretty religiously.*
1. Cut the carbs. I took flour and sugar out of my diet, pretty much completely.** With the coming of menopause, I also axed the fruit. I replaced the carbs with protein.
2. Added Omega-3s. Even this many years later, doctors cannot agree whether fibromyalgia is an inflammatory or a neurological condition, but in my case, I banked on inflammation, and I believe that I was right. I first added a high grade fish oil to my diet (was easier to get back then), and later both organic ground flaxseed and chia seeds joined the fish oil in my daily routine.
3. Added turmeric. Turmeric (curcumin) is powerful anti-inflammatory spice, a natural pain killer if you will. Today, I take it in capsule form.
4. Added chamomile tea (relaxing) and rosemary tea (pain reliever). I added both of these herbal teas along with some green tea to my diet. I brew with a stick or two of Ceylon cinnamon sticks, and when I just have to sweeten, I use a bit of natural raw honey.
5. Added Ceylon cinnamon. This is something that I began adding to my diet years after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I use about 3/4 to a teaspoon a day, probably 5 days a week, and I do not use anything but Ceylon cinnamon.
6. Cut the artificial sweeteners. I actually never used these (except in my gum, which nearly killed me), but I do know that artificial sweeteners can certainly be a culprit.
7. Rest, Rest, Rest. I wasn’t used to rest, which was probably part of my problem. However, fibromyalgia can be totally exhausting, so much so that it is often hard to actually really rest even when you try, but I worked hard at letting my mind go blank for a period of time each day, and the herbal teas really helped.
As I look back over what I have written, it all seems very simple; however, that was not the case in the early 1990s, a time when few doctors knew anything about fibromyalgia and even fewer believed it existed. In the 1990s, those of us who had fibromyalgia had to suffer in silence for the most part because no one believed our stories, and most thought we were either looking for a disability check or were hypochondriacs who just wanted to be sick.
Back then, all of these seemingly easy steps came one at a time over a period of years while a lot of trial and error ruled out other things that I tried. It also wasn’t easy to take the carbs completely out of my life, but that is what it ultimately took for me to heal. I really believe this was the single most important thing that I did.
I also had the double whammy of fighting an adrenal problem along with the pain; however, that is another story for another day. Today, I still live basically carb free and pain free, allowing myself only a couple of days a month to indulge. However, I can guarantee you that if I choose to eat a large piece of cake, for example, I will not finish it before the pain begins, usually starting in my upper back and spreading outward.
Luckily, today I know that once a new carb-free day dawns and I get back to my normal routine, the pain will go away once again and that it will stay away until I decide to add the poison (for me) that is sugar and flour back into my system.
*I did not know for years to monitor my Vitamins D and B levels, and this can make a BIG difference in how you feel. Today, I take a script for the D and a sublingual B. ALSO, be sure to get a copy of your tests that you can read yourself without just taking your doctor’s reading of it. If you fall in the low normal, you will probably be told that you are “normal” when in fact you need some supplementation.
**This created (even more) severe exhaustion for about two weeks.
Obviously, I am not a doctor and simply relate a personal success story here. If you have questions, I will be glad to tell you more about what worked for me while knowing that you may have to do things differently. One thing that I positively have learned is that it positively IS all about what doctor you see and that all doctors are not created equally.
The other thing that I love to tell each doctor I see is that yes, I have had to cope with several strange illnesses….and yes, I have been correct 100% of the time that I have said that something was very wrong….And yes, you do detect a little bitterness there, but I am working on it!