When I first started experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia back in October, I refused to think my pain was a permanent condition. I was taking 16 units in online classes, writing freelance articles, volunteering at least 20 hours per week and trying to manage a household of seven. I kept telling myself as soon as school was over, things would get better. I gave myself tons of down time after graduating in January. I went to be early, slept late, changed my diet and more. Nothing seemed to help.
Finally, I went to my doctor wanting some type of relief. I believed deep down that if I maintained a consistent effort to take care of myself, that I would not need medication to get by. I did a little research on chronic muscle pain and skin sensitivity but no matter how I worded my symptoms, “fibromyalgia” came up in the search results. I did not want to face the fact that I had pushed myself so hard for so long that I would now have to live with a chronic condition for the rest of my life. But I also could not deny how what I was going through was causing more than just physical pain.
The fact I couldn’t cook a meal, do the dishes, grocery shop or even change my clothes without help was very hard on my emotional and mental health. I would lay in my bed and cry because the only thing that brought me even slight relief was doing nothing at all.
So I made a plan. I would take whatever medication my doctor gave me for three months as long as it gave me some ability to accomplish daily tasks and start taking care of myself. After three months, I would look into natural healing methods and wean myself from medication.
My doctor prescribed Lyrica which my insurance denied. It took a about a week for her to approve different medication. By the end of February, I was taking birth control pills (YAZ) (to minimize my premenstrual and menstrual issues), a mild antidepressant (Amitriptolyn) and an anti-seizure medication (Gabopentin) at 100 mg per day that eventually worked up to 900 mg day. At first, I felt better. I was sleeping through the night without stabbing pain every time I moved. I was able to do to some tasks without the pain increasing too much. I felt some hope. But then I over did it and all my symptoms came back in a massive flare up that lasted about 3 weeks. I was on an emotional roller coaster and in addition to all my FMS issues, I was now dealing with the intense side affects of my medication which included dizziness, and foggy thinking most of the time.
I decided I had to add in the natural program I had discovered on one of my searches. http://www.womentowomen.com has several articles on fibromyalgia as well as a personal program that covers nutrition, physical wellness, emotional wellness, detoxification and a meal plan with recipes. As of today, I have been on the 90 day Hormone Balancing program for 2 1/2 months. In June, I experienced a huge milestone which symbolized the effectiveness of the women to women supplements: My monthly “gift” was void of nearly every debilitating symptom I have experienced in the past 12 years! I had only mild irritability, a headache I hardly noticed, just a few cramps and I was able to be on my feet the entire time. This was huge considering I am normally wake up with a migraine, and the cramping and fatigue is so bad I am in bed for 2 days.
The most encouraging part was the fact I had been camping with my family the weekend before, slept horribly on top of being freezing all night, hunched over a campfire for 4 hours solid, and violated my diet rules by eating Smore’s and Oreos!
In addition, it seems like I am recovering quicker from flare-ups and my mental and emotional issues are not as intense. I have also started detoxification and bi-weekly counseling which I believe is helping immensely. I still need to work on completely changing my diet and exercising daily.
After the first 30 days on the program, I started weaning myself from the anti-seizure medication and quite the birth control at the end of my 3rd package. Not to my surprise, I felt little side affects from reducing and then eliminating my dosage. In fact, I think I feel better now that I ever did while taking it. I have heard that FMS suffers stop responding to medications after 3 months and that is exactly what happened to me. I was popping pills that were doing nothing for me. Actually, I think the only reason I even felt any relief was due to the “placebo” affect.
Today, I am only taking the antidepressant and a sleeping pill. I do not feel like the antidepressant is working at all, but I am not comfortable with stopping this type of medication without guidance from my doctor. However, there are many other things that have helped me manage my symptoms in recent months. There are also many things I have learned that don’t help. Since this post is already long, I will make a new post listing these things.