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Life with Fibromyalgia can be very difficult. I know this because I have been suffering from Fibromyalgia for years.
Let’s talk about life with Fibromyalgia. But first let me give you a little back story.
Twenty years and one month ago I gave birth to my second child, a daughter.
When I delivered her I separated my pelvis. And to have that happen during a natural birth, pain doesn’t even begin to describe it!
But still, I had a newborn and a two year old son to take care of. There were times where I had my newborn in a snuggly, my toddler in a shopping cart and a crutch under my arm.
But I got through the hard stuff, or so I thought.
During the first three months I fell down a flight of stairs, three times! Twice while holding my newborn!
Thankfully nothing happened to her. But falling affected the way my pelvis healed. It’s still slightly off today. And I did some pretty good damage to my right SI Joint.
This was twenty years ago and the doctors couldn’t come up with a way to fix the injury. And now my doctors don’t think fusing my joint together would work, it’s been quite a long time. Wow do I feel old right now!
I also have Ankylosing Spondylitis. That means that the bottom part of my spine has pushed upward and twisted causing some parts of the bones to fuse together in spots it shouldn’t.
Over the years it’s taken quite a toll on my body. I’m still in pain most days because of these two issues. But it’s been so long I know how to deal with it.
I had a third child against medical advice twelve years ago and that just kicked things up a few hundred notches in the pain category! It made my injuries much worse.
To top things off my doctors diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia about five years ago, possibly from the stress my injuries have put on my body.
The reason I’m telling you about all this is because everyone has a different story.
Before Fibromyalgia I knew what to expect every day and I knew what would cause me pain.
However, as bad as my injuries are, it’s the Fibromyalgia that kicks my butt every day.
Now that I have Fibromyalgia, my days are very unpredictable. I never know how I’m going to feel in the morning.
You’d think my pelvis and spine issues would cause me more pain, but the overall feeling from Fibromyalgia makes me feel worse. That’s how bad Fibromyalgia can be for some of us.
Fibromyalgia is defined as a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and tenderness in localized areas.
According to Dr. Kevin Fleming, Mayo Clinic Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, “It’s a disorder of pain processing in the nervous system, especially in the brain. It is not a progressive in the medical sense that it is non-deforming, non-degenerative and nonfatal.”
“Fibromyalgia is likely in part a response to environmental factors, in genetically predisposed individuals,” states Dr. Fleming.
The longer someone has had pain symptoms, the greater the pain becomes and the more likely the symptoms will become chronic.
Fibromyalgia affects one in fifty people.
It is a debilitating condition that causes joint pain, muscle pain, lack of energy, severe fatigue and sleep disorders. There is currently no cure, but there are treatments available.
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Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
- Extreme Fatigue- When you feel exhausted after a long night’s sleep. It feels like you are carrying dead weight
- Musculoskeletal Pain- Widespread pain with specific trigger points that spread pain to different areas of the body when pressure is applied
- Difficulty Concentrating- Lack of focus and inability to pay attention, a.k.a. “Fibro Fog”
- Sleep Disorders- Trouble falling asleep due to fidgeting from trying to find a comfortable position, or waking up throughout the night in discomfort
- Abdominal discomfort- Nausea, bloating, diarrhea and digestive problems
- Irregular Heartbeat/Heart Palpitations- Cardia symptoms that reveal no underlying cause, for example: shortness of breath
- Headaches- Ranging from dull or consistent headaches to full on chronic migraines
- TMJ or Jaw Pain- Facial pain that starts in the jaw and may spread to the neck or head
- Bladder Disorders- Having an irritable bladder, frequent urinary infections or incontinence
- Vision Problems- Dry or burning eyes, blurred vision or trouble focusing
- Balance Problems- Trouble with balancing, clumsiness
- Dysphagia- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble Exercising- Being too stiff or in too much pain to exercise
- Restless Leg Syndrome- Tingling in your legs, makes you feel like you have energy running through your legs when you’re trying to relax
With my injuries I know what to expect every day. I know what will set me off.
But with the Fibro, every day is different. I can be volunteering in my daughter’s classroom one day and be bedridden the next. It makes it hard for people to believe anything is physically wrong with me.
They think it’s all in my head.
But ask any one of the five million people in the United States who suffer from Fibromyalgia and they will tell you, it’s absolutely, positively not all in their head!
Naturally, living with a painful chronic condition with hard to manage symptoms can have an affect on your mental and emotional health.
“Fibro Fog” is real and if you have Fibromyalgia you know exactly what I mean.
I do the strangest things sometimes due to my “fibro fog”. For people who are in constant pain, everything else comes second. Someone can forget the simplest words.
They can be holding a cup of coffee but can’t seem to find the word coffee.
Pain is the first thing processed by the brain, so if someone is experiencing pain, the brain is too busy processing the pain to be able to focus on other signals.
Unfortunately depression is very common in Fibromyalgia patients.
Missing out, feeling frustrated, feeling like you’re going to lose your mind, feeling helpless and sad can all be very daunting.
Fibro flareups can last anywhere from a few days to a few years! To be depressed and in pain day after day takes a huge toll on your body, your heart and your soul.
It’s very important to seek professional help if you feel you just can’t cope.
Many people with Fibromyalgia take an anti-depressant to help them deal with the constant highs and lows.
I have been taking an anti-depressant for the last five years and I know I have benefitted from it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Life with Fibromyalgia definitely takes the fun out of things sometimes. Both for you and those around you.
It can make you feel lonely and withdrawn. It makes you question everything, even your faith.
Fibromyalgia can put a damper on the simplest things like playing with your children, taking a walk or just talking with a loved one.
Not knowing when your symptoms will subside can drive a person crazy.
It’s very difficult to keep your spirits up when you are so exhausted you can’t even bring yourself to muster up the strength to take a shower every day.
People with chronic illnesses avoid making any long term plans because of the unpredictability of their symptoms.
You fear making commitments and missing out on important life events.
You avoid going places where you may not have the means to retreat and find relief.
I have missed many of my kid’s basketball games because of my Fibromyalgia. Basketball is during the colder months (I live in Maine) when like others, my Fibro is worse.
It also keeps me from engaging in conversations because I can’t stop fidgeting or thinking about anything but the discomfort.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come away from someone wondering what we even talked about because I just couldn’t concentrate enough to pay attention, although I really tried to be present.
The more you exercise the better you feel.
How many times has someone said that to you? For me I’d say it’s happened hundreds of times.
The damage to my SI Joint keeps me from doing specific exercises.
Due to both my injuries I’m very limited. I can’t run, jump, bend or twist.
I can stretch somewhat but that’s it. But when I do manage to get some stretching in, I do feel a little better.
With more intense exercises like Pilates or cardio, my Fibromyalgia makes an appearance and I can’t get past ten minutes!
But you need to remember and understand that something is better than nothing.
Figure out how to get down on the floor and stretch.
Who cares if you have to ask someone for help to do it. If you are trying to better yourself, there is no one that won’t be happy to help you.
It only takes ten minutes of stretching to make a big difference in your day.
Do this twice every day and you will feel some relief from it.
I know what you’re thinking, it’s easy for me to say. But it’s not easy for me! It’s incredibly painful for me.
But what’s the alternative? Do I just quit and lay down suffering for the rest of my life? Nope. And it’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I feel this way.
Just think like Rocky, no pain, no gain! You’ll be proud of yourself for just trying!
Diet plays an important part of your Fibromyalgia treatment. It’s important to eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
You should avoid oily or processed foods. Don’t eat a lot of sugar, caffeine or table salt.
Say good-bye to junk food and hello to leafy green vegetables! I know how you feel, chocolate is my favorite food group, for real!
I found out through changing my diet that dairy was a big part of my stomach issues.
Some say dairy can be good for Fibro patients while others say to avoid dairy. We are all different so find out what works best for you.
Now I’m not a doctor or health care professional of any kind but altering my diet and taking a daily probiotic has completely changed my thinking of whether or not a diet really makes a difference.
Below you will find a simple food chart of foods to eat and foods to avoid so you can put it up on the fridge to remind you of what’s best for you.
Because exercise isn’t always an option for me, I have needed to find other ways to find relief for my Fibromyalgia symptoms.
At night before bed you can usually find me propped up on pillows in bed under a heating blanket, with a heating pad on my back, and a hot cup of turmeric tea to help with the inflammation.
Even if it’s ninety degrees outside, that’s still where I’ll be.
Here is a list of treatments that may or may not help you in finding relief for your Fibromyalgia~
- use a heating blanket
- use heating pads
- use icepacks
- use moist heat (corn pads that you microwave)
- eat an anti-inflammatory diet
- Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! it helps with muscle aches (and add a lemon- it helps with inflammation)
- don’t wear tight fitting clothing
- practice meditation
- regular chiropractic care
- improve your lymphatic system
- use essential oils
- get acupressure
- take Epsom salt baths
- take Melatonin before bed
- get a massage
- take breaks when you are feeling good too, it will help give you strength during flare ups
- know your limits and plan accordingly
- include magnesium and B vitamin rich foods to your diet
- use anti-oxidant rich herbs (turmeric, ginger)
- optimize your vitamin D
- STRETCH, STRETCH and then STRETCH AGAIN!
Fibromyalgia can run your life if you let it. It’s run mine before.
The thing that gets me through is that there are good days tucked in there too. So I know it’s not all bad.
Hopefully you also have good days tucked in as well. Participate in life as much as you can even if you have to force yourself. Make sure you appreciate all the people who care about you. For me that helps make things a little more bearable.
If you or anyone you know has been feeling like they just can’t cope any longer and want to hurt themselves, please ask for help!
There’s no shame in admitting you need help. It shows strength to be able to speak up and say you aren’t doing well.
SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255
THE TREVOR PROJECT: 1-866-488-7386
CRISIS TEXT HOTLINE: text START to 741741
SOURCES FOR THIS POST:
- www.DrJockers.com “21 Natural Solutions For Fibromyalgia”
- www.Everydayhealth.com “Fibromyalgia: What’s Your Gut Got To Do With it?”
- www.redorbit.com “Are Vitamin And Other Nutrient Deficiencies Making Your Fibromyalgia Symptoms Worse?”
- www.fibrowomen.com “Symptoms”
- National Fibromyalgia Association
- National Fibromyalgia And Chronic Pain Association
- American Chronic Pain Association
- Living With Fibro
- NFMCPA Online Fibromyalgia Support Community
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