Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fighting Fibromyalgia (For Dummies)

I was involved in a car accident in 2006.  I never saw the car that hit me.  That same week a relationship ended, but I was still in love.  That job of 6 1/2 years laid me off.  Business had been slowing, and I saw this one coming.  I'd even given up my apartment and moved back home in anticipation of the fall out.  I was the bookkeeper and I saw how badly our branch of the company was doing.  However, they made up something I'd done wrong ("Uhh, the records weren't in order." "Which records?" "Uhh...") and fired me for wrongdoing (although they couldn't explain to me exactly what I'd done wrong).  I knew the drill.  Management would do this to avoid paying unemployment.  

Maybe if only one of these things had happened I would have bounced right back.   Three was too much.  I gained 75 pounds in one month.  I wasn't eating much, though.  That's just what my body does under extreme stress.  

I was never the same.  I just wanted to stay in the bathtub day and night.  I hurt like I'd run a marathon the day before.  I went to the doctor and asked him to check my thyroid.  He refused. He told me to quit making excuses and go on Weight Watchers before I died of heart disease or diabetes.  I cried right there.  I never went back.  

My family had a lot of autoimmune diseases so I went to a rheumatologist in 2008.  I had all the symptoms of fibromyalgia.  He diagnosed me, gave me some muscle relaxers, and told me to try massage and acupuncture.  I spent a lot of money on acupuncture.  It worked for about 24 hours, then the pain set back in.  Muscle relaxers just gave me a bad hangover the next morning.  After a few weeks they didn't make a difference anyway.

The only thing that worked was a hot bath, so that's what I did.

I studied herbal medicine.  I took up to 30 supplements a day.  Amino acids, chlorella, spirulina, malic acid, magnesium, potassium- I took all of those.  I quit using fluoride toothpaste.  I went gluten free.  I went completely vegan for a year.  Two meals a day were raw vegan.   I didn't even lose weight!  

I spent my honeymoon in a wheelchair because I couldn't walk more than 5 minutes without intense pain.  Even in the chair I had to take muscle relaxers and pain killers to enjoy the trip.

Doctors have no idea what causes it.  They guess.  And they guess at what medicines to throw at you.  I was put on antidepressants, but I couldn't handle them.  They made me miserable.  It was then I quit all prescription medications and all over-the-counter medications.  I quit cold turkey.  If I hurt, I took a bath.  

I read more books, I took more supplements (some very expensive), but the end result was neon yellow and flushed down the toilet.  

I didn't want to give up and let myself die.  

Then, on an episode of Dr. Oz I saw a freak.  His name was Dr. Soram and he was wearing a turban and a beard, but he didn't look Indian.  I thought he must be a quack.  He was a proponent of high vitamin D levels.  The amount of D in my vitamin wasn't nearly what he recommended.  I had asked for my vitamin D levels to be checked many times, but no doctor actually did it.  (When you have fibro doctors treat you like you are a hypochondriac.)  Dr. Soram said the D3 over-the-counter was better than prescription.  So I took it, hoping I didn't take too much.  You can test yourself via a kit sold on his website, in case your doctor ignores you.  Too much vitamin D is bad for you.  After 6 months of supplementation my level was on low end of normal.  And I started to feel a bit better.  The muscle pain started to fade.  I could walk a mile at a time.  

But I wasn't better yet.  I was still tired all the time.  

Enter Joe Cross' "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead".  I loved every minute of that movie.  I was going to juice my way to health and happiness!  It lasted a day and a half.  The lack of fiber sent the sugar straight to my blood system and I felt terrible.  That movie stuck in my head for a long time afterwards.  He said the pure juice cleaned your cells allowing them to function properly, but my digestive system had never worked properly.  How could I heal my digestive system?

I had IBS and had been told to take the refrigerated acidophilus pills by my acupuncturist.  I didn't see many results with that.  I read "The Makers Diet" and took the soil organism probiotics he sold and they really helped.  They were over $50 a bottle, so I quit taking them years ago.  I found a cheaper brand online and started taking them again.  

My body wasn't digesting the food I ate.  It was too damaged to process it.  That's why I was sick- I was lacking nutrients and starving for vitamins from my food.  I decided to blend instead of juice.  I borrowed a friend's Nutribullet and later purchased my own.   I put in spinach, frozen berries, Greek yogurt (for probiotics), and flax seed (for Omega 3).  Later, I added a Stevia sweetened vanilla protein powder.  That's breakfast for me now.  I slowly noticed more energy.  It took months before I noticed it.  I think my body is getting actual nutrition from my food now.  The stomach spasms haven't visited in a long time.  

I still get the fibro nerve pain from time to time.  I hate it.  I'm experimenting with Alpha Lipoic Acid and it seems to be helping so far.  I still have the fibro fog.  I still can't remember words.  Earlier while writing this I couldn't remember the word for 'hypochondriac' and kept thinking 'kleptomaniac'.  

Thankfully, I feel like I have a shot at beating this, and since September 1, 2014 I've lost 23 pounds.   I've been going between MyFitnessPal and Weight Watchers Points Plus.  

Most of my miserableness now is from being obese.  I've been taking a garcinia cambogia supplement a half hour before lunch.  It helps me not to get too hungry before dinner, and from what I've read on Dr. Oz's blog it metabolizes into seratonin (a happiness hormone).  I'm no expert, but I do feel happier.  Maybe it's a placebo effect, but it's working for me right now.   

I used to spend $200 a month on supplements/prescriptions.  Now it's under $10. 

I use the rest of that money to save up for vacations.  In December we went on a Caribbean cruise.  I wasn't in a wheelchair, though.   I was climbing Mayan pyramids.