Living with Fibromyalgia
My Search for a Solution
Living with fibromyalgia has been an extremely bizarre and humbling experience. It all started at the age of seventeen. A few muscle twitches here, and a few muscle twitches there. Then some mild morning stiffness, some itchy eyes and then some flu like aches. Eventually, it was a full fledged assault against my entire body. This was the beginning of my long and painful journey living with this disease.
Hi, my name is Shawn and I've experienced the ups and downs of living with fibromyalgia for over 20 years.
When my symptoms first began, I thought it was from playing sports and lifting weights, but the frequency and severity became more and more pronounced as time went on. It then got to the point where I was so exhausted that I could barely get out of bed.
I went to my doctor and was told I was just experiencing a mild back and neck muscle strain, so I was prescribed some ibuprofen and muscle relaxers to help ease the discomfort until I could get back on track. These helped with sleep, but it seemed to take forever for the pain and stiffness in my muscles to finally subside. I then became concerned that I may have slipped a disc or pinched a nerve, so I immediately visited a chiropractor for further evaluation. X-rays yielded no results, but I continued with some realignment and electronic muscle stimulation therapy which helped tremendously.
Unfortunately, the progress that I made was only short lived. My symptoms soon surfaced again along with stiff and sore joints. Eventually, the chiropractor and massage therapist visits were needed more and more often. I knew something just wasn't right.
I told my doctor I was getting very concerned. She first suspected mono because of the chronic fatigue and flu like symptoms, but after a blood test and throat examination this was taken off the list. More x-rays were done but they showed no musculoskeletal issues or abnormalities. I was then sent to an orthopedic doctor, but the same conclusion was met.
My primary doctor then sent me to a physical therapist with which I began a training regemen designed to strengthen my neck and back muscles. It was very painfull and uncomfortable, but the physical therapist insisted that this was normal.
After a few months the pain subsided and I felt like I was making some progress. I eventually concluded my therapy and continued to do my stretches and exercises religiously every day.
Time went on, but it didn't take much to aggravate my muscles again. Even lifting mildly heavy things would cause my muscles to contract and spasm. Sometimes my neck muscles were so cramped and fatigued that it felt like I was having trouble holding my head upright. I eventually became angry and frustrated. I just couldn't figure out what was causing these symptoms. My consumption of muscle relaxers and anti inflammatory medications became a daily occurrence, and the dosages increased substantially. The pain and stiffness started to become unbearable.
My doctor visits were starting to mount and I started to become very depressed. Full blood work was done including ultra sounds but all results came out negative. Even my doctor was beginning to scratch her head.
As the months went by, my symptoms then began to multiply. Like many people living with fibromyalgia I started experiencing anxiety, sensitivity to light, ringing ears and irritability. On my days off I would just sleep the entire afternoon just so I didn't have to deal with my pain. This is when I knew I was in big trouble. It was the most hopeless feeling I've ever felt.
I was finally sent to a pain specialist and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. At first, I was relieved that I finally received a diagnosis, but I really didn't understand what this condition was. It was then suggested that I consider taking an antidepressant to help manage my symptoms. I was told that many people living with fibromyalgia have experienced very good results and were able to reduce some of their pain and fatigue.
I was very hesitant because my knowledge of these was very limited. After many weeks of consideration, I was so desperate for some relief that I finally gave in. I was finally prescribed a light dosage of Prozac. After just a few weeks, I noticed a small reduction of pain and stiffness in my muscles and joints. In addition, I was able to sleep much more comfortably.
Unfortunately, my success with Prozac didn't come without consequences. My weight gain was substantial, and I wanted to sleep way too much. Eventually, these changes also began to affect my work and personal life. It was extremely frustrating; I finally found some type of relief to help cope with these symptoms, but it started affecting other areas of my life.
I couldn't blame anyone else because even I didn't understand the complexity of this disease. I looked strong and healthy so it was hard for anyone to understand what I was really going through. This is when I finally began to understand the magnitude of helplessness and frustration people experience when living with fibromyalgia.
As time went on, new symptoms began to appear; specifically in my hips, legs, feet, stomach and lower extremities. I was diagnosed with non bacterial prostatitis numerous times, and eventually got to the point were I couldn't sit for any long durations.
In addition to this, the heels of my feet started to burn and would feel like I just walked over hot coals. It eventually got to the point where the thought of wearing shoes was downright dreadful.
My stomach muscles would spasm so much that they would become cramped and inflamed. This caused it to feel like I had a water balloon stuffed under my left ribcage. I was then eventually diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.
This was just another phase of living with fibromyalgia and its overlapping symptoms. They seemed to slowly surface as the years went by. I thought I was going crazy or becoming a hypochondriac, but little did I know that these symptoms were actually linked to my underlying condition.
Because of this lack of knowledge, I continued to do what many individuals living with fibromyalgia are forced to do which is go from specialist to specialist looking for a cause to each individual symptom. Each and every time, I was told there was nothing wrong with me. This is a pure example of how difficult it is to obtain a diagnosis.
I continued trying multiple anti depressants and pain killers that produced the same unwanted side effects and subpar results. I also focused on maintaining a healthy diet which also included vitamins like Vitamin b-12, Vitamin D and Magnesium to also help with my energy levels. All these treatment options helped, but my curiosity never waned. I was so determined to find a better solution that it eventually became an obsession.
Over the next several months I continually read every article and book about people living with fibromyalgia, and studied the most up to date research trying to find a more natural solution.
I finally ran across a book
written by Dr R Paul St Amand titled "What your doctor may not tell you about fibromyalgia". As soon as I started reading it, all pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place immediately. I knew I had discovered something different.
This treatment program was unlike anything else I had come across. And the way Dr St Amand describes the progression of this disease and its symptoms is very compelling. It described my life living with fibromyalgia with great precision and detail. I immediately began the protocol and within just a few weeks my symptoms began to disappear. I've never looked back.
After many years of living with fibromyalgia, dozens upon dozens of doctor’s visits and a constant intake of unhealthy pain and anxiety medications, I was finally able to play sports at a competitive level and participate in activities I thought I would never get a chance to take part in again. It's truly been what I call "The Awaited Discovery".
With a combined regimen of key
and a healthy diet, I'm a completely new person.
If it wasn't for the compassion, understanding, and amazing work of Dr St Amand and his nurse Claudia Craig Marek, I would still be walking through life as a medicated, hopeless and lost individual. I owe these two remarkable human beings and their team a great deal of gratitude.
I developed this site to bring awareness to the many treatment options available for people living with fibromyalgia, including the specific ones that have helped me, other family members and friends in extraordinary ways. I hope this information brings you a new found knowledge of this this disease and a life without pain and fatigue.
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