Friday, June 26, 2009

Fibro and all that jazz

SS said...
Hi- I am curious about you saying you had fibromyalgia- do you no longer have it? My sisters suffer from this condition and with the limited medication available even with a good rheumatologist they've had trouble controlling it. Were you able to do this through acupuncture or diet? Did you have positive ANA titer? Just curious- good luck with the diet changes. They tried a million of those to no avail.

Ah, yes, well, the fibro issue. OK, so I never got a real diagnosis from a rheumatologist or an MD. Usually I hesitate before mentioning anything about fibro because it all seems a bit...unlikely, even to me. Can you have it and then not have it? What happened was this...I had a super stressful time at work for an ongoing period, and basically burned myself out. Then for months afterwards I had fibro symptoms - intense muscle and joint pain, fatigue, fogginess, etc, but was refusing to believe anything was necessarily amiss. Then I went to a naturopathic doc, or ND, at the urging of auntie, who "diagnosed" me with fibro (not even sure they're technically allowed to diagnose - she may have used whatever wording she had to - suggested or believed or whatever) based on tender points, symptoms and some bioelectric feedback machine thingie. I never had a positive titer or any blood test. I never wanted to go to a regular doctor because I knew they didn't have much to offer and I didn't want it on my insurance records.

The thing is, I know it was mild, even though it was mildly debilitating at the time - it was never so debilitating that I couldn't force myself to get to work. I couldn't do much else, but I could work. My aunt has fibro, and she has it way worse than I ever did, and also can't get rid of it so I always had a comparison and knew that I was lucky. I was also lucky in that it was "diagnosed" very early - after only a few months rather than years as most people suffer through. I think that was very helpful in addition to the mildness. So the first, and only, thing I took specifically for fibro was magnesium malate (also known as malic magnesium). I took it up to my digestive tolerance level, I had to ramp up the amount until I got pain relief, then was able to taper back down when it wasn't so bad. Basically it's a muscle relaxant, but it relaxes everything so you end up with diarrhea - you have to find the balancing point of what you can tolerate, and your body does get digestively used to it after a while. The biggest thing I did I think was deciding that my job was not worth making myself sick over. I decided that if they fired me, oh well. So I cut back down on the hours I was working and the stress that I put myself under. I decided I didn't care any more, didn't want to do the job any more and would look for something else I could do. And 6+ years later, they still haven't fired me, but it came close at various points, I am sure. And now I am on the path to a new job and hopefully not so much stress.

Other than that, I can't really say what worked. I mean, acupuncture I'm sure has helped. I've done so much of it, but we weren't focusing on fibro. Changes in my diet have helped but I don't recall exactly what I did or didn't do. I just generally eat healthier. I took vitamins and supplements, but did any of those help other than the magnesium malate? I don't know. At some point, the pain just faded away and then stopped. Occasionally, it will start to come back - it has lately. I find when I am under stress, or not taking my vitamins, or not eating so healthily, it starts playing around with my middle back, then starts stretching around my ribs, then starts invading my hands and feet. Actually, as I'm typing this, I'm wondering if it's the dairy, as that's the only thing I started eating more of lately just before the pain started coming back. Although school is stressful in its own way, so it could be that too. It may be a combination - maybe I can deal with dairy (and/or wheat) when under no stress, or vice versa, but can't handle both/all together? When it does return, I jump back on the magnesium malate, and make a conscious effort to reduce the stress, and pay attention to my diet again. And luckily, for the last few years, the pain fades out again after a few weeks.

So, did I ever really have it? Maybe not. Did it ever go away? Maybe not. It, whatever it is, lurks. But these days, the majority of the time, I don't have any symptoms.


SS said...

Thanks! I think the fact that yours is mild, and you were able to figure it out quickly, makes the difference. it took them years to get that diagnosis, during their early 20's when they refused to slow down. And fibro is still not necessarily what is really wrong, but definitely in that spectrum. Thanks for your insight- and congrats on keeping it under control.

ms.bri said...

How strange - I wrote about this today, too!

I forgot to say in mine that magnesium malate was tremendously helpful. Thanks for that reminder!

Lori said...

I have an aunt whose doc insisted she had fibromyalgia. She insisted on other tests. Turns out she's allergic to calcium. Once she cleared most foods w/calcium she started feeling like her former energetic self. fwiw.