Dealing with Fibromyalgia (FM)
I began to manifest symptoms of FM around 1991, but it wasn’t until about ten years later that my doctors realized that my multiple symptoms, including chronic fatigue and general malaise, were all related, and that they resembled symptoms common to FM sufferers.
True, they wouldn’t say definitely that I had FM, because I lacked the pain points on my back that were then the core of the standard diagnosis. But they said I had “something like FM.” Later, they changed that to a clear diagnosis of FM.
Before that, in 2002, one of my doctors said that all my symptoms could be explained by mild depression. He wanted to put me on an anti-depressant, but after reading the fine print I asked whether I could use St. John’s Wort instead. He agreed. I knew that SJW had some side effects, and that it had to be mixed with other ingredients to be effective, so I chose the Shaklee version, Moodlift Complex. I took that for about five years. The mild depression I did have went away, mostly because of certain changes in mental habit and some exercise, but I think that SJW also helped with FM pain.
Around 2013 or 2014, the pain from FM was so bad that my doctor prescribed an anti-depressant (I forgot the name of it), which I took for several years. It helped me sleep and reduced the pain. Later, when the pain returned, he also prescribed meloxicam (Mobic), which proved effective.
In 2015, we moved to Texas, where I was introduced to Dr. Ted Edwards, who practices alternative medicine. Extensive blood tests showed low Vitamin D, low-normal testosterone, and the presence of high levels of toxic metals, especially lead.
He started me on I-V chelation to remove the toxic metals. After 30 sessions, the other metals were down significantly, but the lead was only slightly lower. They told me that chelation works on the other metals first. But I was out of money, so I stopped the chelation.
On a return visit to Charlottesville in 2016, I talked with our old friends, Wes and Jackie Howard. Wes is a physician and Jackie has had FM for decades. He told me three things that have made a huge difference:
Go on a completely vegan diet. He put me on to the web site of Dr. Michael Gregor, who shows that science definitely shows the connection between eating animal products and the presence of all major killer diseases (https://nutritionfacts.org/). I followed his advice and felt better within a few weeks.
For FM pain, he recommended Vitalzym, which I have been taking for two years now. (https://www.energeticnutrition.com/vitalzym/vitalzym.html) The FM pain has almost completely disappeared.
Wes also insisted that I get off the anti-depressant, and suggested that I read Anatomy of an Epidemic, by Robert Whitaker, which proves that these medicines are addictive, ineffective over the long term, and very dangerous. Under the supervision of my doctor, and in conjunction with the vegan diet and Vitalzym, I weaned myself off the anti-depressant without any side effects.
For detoxification from heavy metals and other toxins, Wes later recommended BioRay products (http://www.bioray.com/). I tried them for several months and have just resumed, using their maintenance dose. I haven’t tested for heavy metals since taking BioRay, so I don’t know how effective it is.
ALL the doctors I’ve seen and all the literature I have read say that aerobic exercise is essential for overcoming FM. The problem is, of course, that you don’t feel like exercising. Recently, after two different doctors stressed that I must gradually push through pain and slowly increase the amount of aerobic exercise I’m doing, I’ve decided to overcome my body’s resistance and just do it. I use an elliptical machine in our home. In the past week, I’ve worked up from two minutes to fix. That’s a huge improvement for me. I’m also trying to work in the garden regularly and to walk.
I also do stretching and core strengthening exercises twice a day.
Sleep deprivation is a major aspect of FM. Various medications have been prescribed for me. The latest is Gabbapentin, which I started taking last week. It seems to be effective, though it wasn’t last night. I’ve also used Alteril and melatonin to good effect.
We need supplements because our diet is lacking inessential nutrients. This is a complex matter, but let me simply say that I have used Shaklee products for thirty years. I believe that these, plus a good diet, are responsible for my overall good health. Ironically, though I have FM, extensive bloodwork has shown that I am otherwise in excellent health! No heart, lung, prostate, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc., problems at all!
I became a Shaklee member in order to obtain the products at a discount. If you want to know more, just get in touch with me.
We are more than physical creatures. FM is a complex illness with many components and perhaps many “causes,” if that’s the right word.
Without a doubt, any kind of stress, especially prolonged stress, can either cause FM or trigger a “flare” of it. I have experienced this in the past few months.
Stress comes in various varieties: physical, emotional, relational, financial, etc.
Over the years, I have learned to examine my heart to identify worry/fear, guilt, and resentment. I deal with these in a biblical way whenever possible, and have found that God does help us remove, or at least greatly reduce, these energy-sapping emotions.
More positively, I am trying to learn to thank God for everything, little and big, easy and hard. I’m trying to increase the number of things for which I offer simple thanks during the day. Praise, too, has become a regular part of my life, for the first time since I was born again in 1965- I’m a slow learner!
The medical people tell me that keeping a positive attitude is essential for overcoming FM. That means thinking about the Lord, pondering his wondrous works, and noticing the “little” things he gives us each day, as well as the “big” things – like his grace, love, forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, Christian fellowship, the Word, my wonderful wife Dori, daughter Sarah, and grandson Blaise.
I have a doctor friend who keeps telling to “smile, smile.” When I remember to do it, I find that smiling actually changes my attitude, partly because I have to think of things worth smiling about
I’m spending much more time reading the Bible and meditating on it. I also listen to the Chinese Bible on my YouVersion app. (They have English, too ) And Christian music, which I enjoy while exercising, getting dressed, working in the garden, and other odd moments.
I’m sure I’ve left something out, but these are the main things that I’ve been doing. I am much better than I was even three years ago, for which I thank God.
At the same time, I’m not healed yet. I “crashed” at the end of April, probably as a result of a lot of stress associated with our daughter’s health crisis (she has endometriosis). Clearly, I’m still vulnerable. The past two months have been very difficult for me, with constant fatigue and frequent malaise.
But I have been able to handle it better, thanks to the steps mentioned above. I trust that I’ll feel better soon, though it seems that FM may be a constant ”companion” for years to come.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a new thought: Perhaps I should see my FM as a special gift from God. It’s an unusual opportunity to know him, love him, trust him, and reflect his power to help the weak. I’m still mulling over that idea. It’s pretty revolutionary for me.
I think that my main goal now should be to increase aerobic exercise, as well as physical activity in general. So, I’m going to close this and go out to pull up weeds in our yard!