According to Wikipedia, Fibromyalgia is a condition that primarily causes muscle and connective tissue pain. It goes on to say that sufferers report having widespread symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbance, joint stiffness, memory problems, bowel and bladder abnormalities, and even difficulty breathing. The “syndrome” as they have come to call it is obviously an extremely complex condition that I have experienced first hand.
The American College of Rheumatology reported in 2004 the following statistics.
• Fibromyalgia affects three to six million – or as many as one-in-fifty Americans.
• It occurs seven times more frequently in women than in men.
• Between 80 and 90 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women.
• Women who have a family member with fibromyalgia are more likely to have fibromyalgia themselves.
• Fibromyalgia is the second most common rheumatic ailment after osteoarthritis.
At age 21, I experienced some bizarre symptoms that had me and several doctors puzzled. In 1988, they had not coined the medical catch phrase of “Fibromyalgia”. They were starting to diagnose Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but seemed to be lost when droves of patients were coming forward with new, debilitating symptoms. My problems were mostly related to joint pain, swelling, and extreme fatigue. The doctor tested me for every known disease and condition that could possibly cause those symptoms in a young woman. I remember even getting a CAT scan, “just in case it’s a brain tumor,” they said. I was left extremely angry when after months and a whole lot of money I still had no diagnosis.
Much later, I discovered that I was not the only one who had been pushed aside with strange symptoms. I began to do research at the library and on the internet and found many articles that surprisingly stated reports of the same type of undiagnosed problems I was having. Fortunately, I did not give up on finding out what was wreaking havoc on my system. I knew there was an answer. The symptoms became more defined and much more frequent after the birth of my fifth child in 1997. It was then that I finally got a diagnosis from my Primary Care Physician.
She did a series of pressure point tests on my body and listened as I spilled the litany of symptoms one more time. The conclusion was obvious to her, “You have Fibromyalgia,” she said. I had heard the word before but didn’t know anything specific about it. My doctor prescribed an anti-depressant and a muscle relaxer; the typical protocol in 1997 for the newly named disease. The drugs only made me too loopy to drive, exercise, or do half of my daily activities. Back to the drawing board.
It wasn’t until a friend, who just so happened to be fluent in alternative medicine, gave me a lecture on the body’s need for good nutrition, water, and cleansing that I started to realize that maybe I could overcome the horrible condition that had me feeling like a ninety-year-old woman. I can still remember waking up and limping to the bathroom with curled, stiff fingers and aching joints. First, I started on some whole food vitamins and enzymes, the beginning of my recovery. He also referred me to a Chiropractor who did a complete exam of my spine and body systems. The discovery of a twisted atlas (the first cervical bone closest to the base of the skull) revealed one reason that my body could not heal a lot of what was going on. The bone had been putting pressure on my brain stem and caused at least a dozen unwanted symptoms; including, headaches, fatigue, nausea, brain fog, all of which can be experienced with Fibromyalgia. Interesting, huh?
After the adjustment of my neck, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, literally. My friend continued to counsel me through my recovery, health coaching before it was popular. I needed to understand how the body worked. He explained the importance of lymphatic health. That was the first I’d heard of that. I knew I had something called lymph glands that hurt when I had mono years before, but I didn’t really understand the incredible responsibility that they carried. Fortunately, today, it’s not hard to find information on the ignored body system.
John Ossipinsky, author of An Undetected Acid-Alkaline Imbalance states, “You see, the lymphatic system is responsible for maintaining the health of your cells that make up everything in your skin, muscles, bones, organs, spinal cord, nerves, and brain. When your body becomes out of balance and acidic, the lymphatic system, a sewage treatment plant for your body can’t function to clean your body and it fills with acid waste, proteins, toxins and other waste.” If the lymph system is hindered in any way, the body becomes a breeding ground for disease.
Dr. Paul Yanick says, “The lymphatic system is the most forgotten and neglected system of the entire body. It is composed of a network of thin tubes that branch, like blood vessels. These lymphatic capillaries carry lymph fluid into tissues throughout the body. Lymph fluid is loaded with infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes that originate from clusters of bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes, which are found under the arms and in the groin, neck, chest, and abdomen. Lymphatic organs include the spleen, thymus, tonsils, and bone marrow.
The neglect of our lymphatic system isn’t just causing autoimmune disorders like Fibro and CFS but holds the key to other more life-threatening diseases as stated in an article entitled “Unlocking the Drains” in a 2005 issue of Nature (436:28). “After centuries of playing second fiddle to the blood system, our lymphatic circulation is coming into its own as a key player in diseases ranging from cancer to asthma. Once dismissed as a mere drainage network, the body’s ‘second circulation’ [lymphatic system] is emerging as a crucial player in numerous diseases….and as a vital part of the normal immune system.”
When I discovered the “Fibromyalgia” card I had been handed was a result of something that I’d been doing wrong, I was elated. It meant that it wasn’t an untreatable condition, a sentence of chronic pain, or even a long-term deal if I was willing to do the work to reverse my mistakes. It took me a good part of a year to overcome most of my symptoms. Honestly, it was worth every minute and every dollar to rid my body of the invasive toxins that hindered me.
Today, eleven years later, I am still free of the debilitating symptoms. My discovery of alternative medicine and therapies changed my life forever. I do have to be careful, though; my body does remain sensitive to some degree. It wouldn’t take much to push me back into the pattern of ill health. I’m not perfect in my diet, exercise, or stress reduction, but I do pay attention to what my body is saying now. I still suffer from migraine headaches though. (See the article in this section Why Are So Many Women Getting Migraines?). That is my current health concern and one that I am willing to go to the ends of the earth to overcome.
How I Did It
Below, I have put together a synopsis of the treatment, therapy, and supplement protocol I did to conquer the Fibromyalgia. Keep in mind, my health protocol took place over a one year period and some of the therapies are still a part of my daily health practices. This article should not be a replacement for professional advice from your health care provider. I make no claims that any information in this article will cure you of any condition or disease. I offer my personal account as a Fibromyalgia sufferer as encouragement only and should be taken as such. Please contact me if you need additional information about my experience.
A Health Protocol
- A proper balance of whole grains, proteins, carbs, and fats. (Lots of raw veggies and juicing).
- Quality whole food vitamin supplements like Standard Process or Metagenics. (Ask a naturopathic physician for advice on which ones would suit your specific needs).
- Digestive enzymes to aid in breaking down foods that are not raw. (Again, ask a professional for recommendations).
- A urinalysis to determine the body’s levels of vitamins and minerals. (See the Links section for a contact).
- Supplementation with quality products as needed.
- Colon Hydrotherapy (I initially did 10 sessions and then maintenance after that).
- Magnetic mattress
- Chiropractic care (This needs to be an ongoing therapy).
- Cranial Sacral work
- Massage Therapy
- Body Reflexology
- Pure, spring water (Reverse Osmosis is the best).
- Skin brushing (Aids in lymphatic drainage).
- Jumping on a rebounder (Aids in lymphatic drainage).
- Regular exercise (I did whatever I could do).
- Stress reduction (Meditation, prayer, yoga, whatever works).
- Super food (These are available in most health food stores).
- Health diary (Keeping track of pain and symptoms helps determine what is working and what is not).