What does it feel like to put a piece of toast in a toaster, and feel as if you have whiplash? Yes, this is fibromyalgia for you. Fibromyalgia is a form of arthritis that falls in between rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. The doctors are sometimes astounded at how well I am doing. I'm going to share my tips to you fellow sufferers.
Rheumatoid arthritis has swollen joints and redness, and lupus has more internal symptoms, such as kidney failure and chronic fatigue. These symptoms vary with each patient, but all arthritis is an ongoing challenge for the doctors. Fibromyalgia is found by pressing on pressure points, about twelve, such as neck, elbow, hips, knees and ankles. If the patient feels pain, he qualifies. Some theorists believe that fibromyalgia is thought about by untreated infection early in life, and later trauma. I've had both: I endured a ruptured appendix at the age of two, which was misdiagnosed as polio until the appendic burst and peritonitis set in. I survived to tell the story, but I later put my body through just as much by keeping late hours, and drinking too much alcohol. I must have liked trauma. Oh, excuse me, I mean I must have liked “drama” because I lived in a state of over-excitation for many of my youthful years.
Some in the medical field theorize that fibromyalgia is brought on by a diet lacking in nutrition. All arthritis, according to these sages, is due to food sitting in the bowel too long. Added to the heavy starch in the diet, we have the additives and the preservatives which are toxic and cause the joints to ache. I have always felt much better when I'm eating loads of greens and fruit. “Grazing” as the vegans call it, is even more important for the fibromyalgia patient.
Most of the pain of fibromyalgia is found in the upper torso. I first noticed it in the legs, but then I'm usually the exception to many rules anyway. Or, you might say, I take exception with some rules that have been given me by the medical field. I do not take much pain medication, but I do watch my diet and exercise. I have taken a couple of shots in my right arm: I have inherited the tension in that shoulder joint, to develop bursitis. Once when I was right in the middle of explaining something in a crafts class my arm became utterly useless and extreme pain shot through it with even the slightest movement.
I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia at age forty-five, and it is now some twenty-five years later. This disease is diagnosed much more frequently now as at one time it was called “fibromicitis” and was almost unknown. It probably occurs more often now as our diet has not really improved. There is probably not more trauma, as life is more comfortable now, although changes in employment and relationships occur more often. Supposedly, we are valued more effectively for infection, that is, unless the “super bug” is out to get us. Mercer is on the rise, and we still have rare flu's and immune system difficulties. I believe immune difficulties to be due to chemical bombardment, but I'm not prepared to develop a theory.
What I do know is that good old common sense comes to play in my yard. By watching my diet like the hawk on the fence, I deserve to feel okay. Right? I'm still ten pounds overweight. I do have fresh vegetables every day, although frozen are considered acceptable. I once had a cook who could fry wonderful catfish nuggets and southern chicken, and those foods were my nemesis. Nowadays, I try to be more prudent and stick to what is sometimes referred to as the “glamorous” Mediterranean diet. I eat many salads, sometimes for dinner. I've often heard that if I eat light, I can sleep better. The other ingredients are cooked with olive oil. I remember an Italian lady I helped, jumping with glee at a large tin canister of olive oil she found in a ninety-nine cents store. I should be so lucky! But it's well worth the additional cost.
However, do not overdo your oils or your meats. Meat, in past history, was used for celebrations and was not everyday fare. Meat tend to sit in the bowel longer, so beware of the cow and the chicken. Too much oil affects the rippling effect of the bowel and is high in calories. The ideal situation is frequent bowel movements. I have come to agree with the doctor who says, “Life and death begin in the bowel”. Using loads of laxatives (which I have not done) probably reduces the body's ability to produce waste on its own. I'm far from being a nurse, but these suggestions have really helped me.
I eat whole foods, by and large. You may complain that this is expensive, but I have gone vegan on a very limited diet. The tip for grocery shopping is to stick to the side aisles: the vegetable stands, and the fresh fruits. God gives us these foods and we're meant to eat them. In the Bible, meat was used for special occasions, and I have at least partially managed to eliminate everyday meat eating. I need protein, and was raised eating meat almost everyday, so I eat fish, chicken and eggs but not as frequently as I used to.
This ideal diet must be coupled with an exercise plan. The reason is that food is a great pleasure, especially since it's abundant in this country. Choosing foods at the market, blending these foods and tasting these delights, are enjoyable past times. So, substitute the activities associated with exercise for the activities involved with food. Exercise is the best substitution and will not bring further pain. This exercise includes pulling on the rubber exercise band, swimming, walking etc. I live in southern California so I walk outside almost every day, and also use the rubber pulls for the upper torso. A person can walk anywhere, and swim just about anywhere where there are indoor pools. This is exercise which is completely natural, does not involve extra machinery and gimmicks, and is free.
We are one of the healthiest areas in the country, so given the fact that I have lived here for most of my life, how did I end up with fibromyalgia? I accept the fact that I have this condition and must live with it. That's the important first step. A physical therapist gave me the exercises with the rubber band, and I've been a walker all of my life. You can buy the workout band at any athletic equipment store. My doctor constantly tells me to swim. although I'm a little hesitant in public pools due to a bladder problem. I'm probably just imagining things. You may not feel that way about pollution that may occur. The rubber band has strengthened my shoulders and upper chest muscles and I walk much more uprightly.
I have been walking all of my life. As a young girl, I walked to school for a mile or two. I can remember running my hands along the metal gaps, for attention, I suppose. The next memories are walking about one fourth mile to and from junior high school, across the railroad tracks in Lemon Grove, a small suburb of San Diego. It can get very hot during the summer, so walking outside is not possible for about four months, if you are elderly or disabled. I made it year round when I was young. The next walk down memory lane was the two mile or so walk to my high school, each way. I would often stop at my friend's house at the top of a steep hill to spend the night or the weekend. While there, I would sometimes ride her horses and this is very good exercise which I do not recommend unless you can take a fall, and I've taken quite a few of them. It's an interesting view of a horse if you are hanging happily around her neck and looking up at her frothing mouth. I knew I should not have been riding an ex-rodeo horse.
I did some professional walking, well, marching; I was in baton corp and tambourine corp in school. We marched in many parades. The Mother Goose was three miles long and the sun is always bright in this part of the country. I was tired but exhilarated at the end of these parades; one time we won the Sweepstakes. I always loved to perform. In college, whenever I wanted to take a break from studies I would walk the tree-lined streets of the campus, whistling a tune. The area around the fraternity houses was particularly beautiful as this was in Oakland where the weather is decent and everything is very green from rain. Walking to and from the college camp was at least two miles round trip and it was no wonder I was very trim. This walk sometimes became a desperate race to my first class.
When I lived briefly in the beach area of this community I walked along a canal that had a beautiful bridge, with a picture perfect arch over it. I did some jogging then, but am not supposed to do it now as it's too hard on the joints. If I am fit at all, it's because of the walking. So choose something athletic that you are familiar with and just do it. Doctors recommend one half hour per day. Currently I live in an older section of San Diego and during my travels, I enjoy seeing the individual Touches on some of the vintage homes, and looking at the park at the end of the street. Please choose safe areas, though, and, if possible, walk with a buddy for company. This really does make the time go faster.
So, if you are walking in marathons you are preventing arthritis, as long as you do not damage your joints. I've used common sense throughout my walk with fibromyalgia, and I've been cheered on by a very good woman doctor what I've seen for fifteen years. She does not over-prescribe and takes the time to sit and talk to me. The main medicine that I've taken that has helped is Lyrica, but you need to check with your doctor. For years, there was nothing to be recommended and Lyrica was finally discovered. As a neurological medicine, it treats the tension of the nerves in fibromyalgia sufferers, to overreact to pain.
I am very pleased with Lyrica and I have few side effects. I can do all kinds of things that I could not do before they found this treatment. I can walk longer and participate in a local drama class, which involves practices and being on stage. I do not feel as if I have to sit much of the time. I also take some herbs, most notably magnesium malate as I was told by a natural practitioner that this type of arthritis involves a lack of magnesium. This vitamin seems to help with the sweating results from overheating in the muscles. Unlike many forms of arthritis, I have a disease of the soft tissues, muscles and ligaments, rather than the bones. And muscles can overheat. Each person may have his / her own set of symptoms and I take a few additional medicines for mine.
Swimming has been a challenge for me but I've swam in my share of gorgeous pools. I lived in Hawaii, and swimming in a green tile pool amidst a garden of green tropical plants, dotted with birds of paradise flowers and orchids was my idea of living. I swam often and hard, competing with my friend in games we made up. Our city at one time had an Olympic size pool with salt water in it. I, of course, had to go in it with my dad. It's now changed to a sanitized pool but I tried swimming in it again a few years ago; I dove in the deep end and it was twelve feet deep. I did not count on the water being so heavy as it is a huge pool. I went under, and with some effort, I rose to the surface and found myself staring into the face of the lifeguard .. My friend and I spent the rest of the time frolicking about in the deep end, and hanging onto the ladder for security . But I did it, I faced a challenge, and I was very proud of myself.
As far as attitude, after accepting the ailment and keeping up on essential doctor's appointments, I've found that I can help others in spite of my limitations. I've kept the lawn watered for my apartment building: this is about one quarter acre and involves pulling a hose around. Also, I have sewn for other people as I like to design outfits. This has become harder and I have retired from this as it has hurt my neck (I have three bulging discs). I still tutor some very gifted children whom I feel I can keep up with as they are eight to eleven years old. I so enjoy the slow pace they seem to appreciate and it's so wonderful to be needed. I try to share the Lord's love to those around me because He does not care what condition I'm in, He can use me.