What made you think you needed to see a doctor and be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?

Yes, I was diagnosed in 2001.

In 1999, I suffered a back injury at work. Even though I followed my treating physician’s advice, including physical therapy and home exercises, the pain in my back just wouldn’t ease up.

Within a year, I had widespread pain that felt like I’d overtaxed my muscles. (To this day, the area of my injury is extremely sensitive to the touch, as if someone kicked me in the sacrum.) My physician referred me to a rheumatologist who confirmed the diagnosis of fibromyalgia…after nearly six months of medical testing to rule out other medical conditions. I had loads of blood tests, x-rays, MRIs, an EMG test of my muscle function, and a nerve conduction test.

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There isn’t one tried-and-true treatment for fibromyalgia, so I can only tell you what has helped me.

Move. Don’t be overly sedentary because your muscles will tighten and cramp. Stretch frequently.

Eat. And I mean real food. I eliminated all fast food and most processed food. Now, I buy ingredients, not food. This naturally reduced my weight by 30 pounds and ensured I was getting proper nutrition. (I don’t recommend supplements because they’re not regulated, so you have no idea what you’re getting.)

Hydrate. Make sure you’re drinking sufficient fluids throughout the day.

Think. Chronic pain irrevocably changes your life. There is a grieving process for the “you” you’ve lost, which must eventually lead you to acceptance. Once you’ve accepted this new life, you’re capable of finding new ways to do things that are physically demanding, like pacing your activities, getting help from family and friends, and the like. Sometimes, thinking is difficult; fibromyalgia includes cognitive “fog.” My solution is lists, alarms, and reminders.

Medicate. Fibromyalgia pain can be difficult to treat. It doesn’t stem from inflammation, infection, or injury. And it doesn’t begin in the peripheral nervous system but in the brain. For these reasons, NSAIDs and opioids are useless. Some people are helped by antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and/or anti-seizure drugs. Personally, I make cannabis edibles. (Yes, it’s legal where I live.) It’s the only medication I’ve found that treats the pain, muscle tension, and depression.

Also, if, like me, the fibromyalgia is disabling, don’t despair. You now have the priceless gift of time, and can do whatever you like with it. Even after nearly 20 years, I don’t get bored. I read voraciously, dabble in writing, watch movies, play computer games, answer questions on Quora, participate in forums, etc.

Yes, of course, there is suffering; chronic pain is unrelenting and demoralizing. But you absolutely can still have an enjoyable life, even though it’ll be different from the one you planned.

Lastly, be aware that fibromyalgia makes many people more susceptible to autoimmune diseases—I currently have three—so ensure you choose a rheumatologist who understands fibromyalgia AND considers you as part of your health care team.

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Official Fibromyalgia Blogs

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