Fighting Fibromyalgia

Every day is a battle but who is winning the war?

Since I began Fibro Fantastic, I have often been asked how do I manage to focus on the positives whilst battling Fibromyalgia? The answer to that is what are the alternatives? I guess I have two choices but only one is worth pursuing.

The truth is that there is certainly nothing positive about having a chronic condition. But given that there is currently no cure for Fibromyalgia, then I feel that I must change and adapt. So read on to see how I do just that….

Learn to dance in the rain

When I was diagnosed in 2000, I had already been struggling with Fibromyalgia for 11 years. I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I think in reality those years were the darkest. They were scary in the sense that I feared for my sanity. I knew all was not well but the doctors could find nothing wrong.

It was in the early years that this condition robbed me of so much.

It took my energy, my health, my confidence and my self esteem. More tragically, it robbed me of the early years with my baby son and later in 1997 it put paid to my first marriage. Whatever this was, it was beating me and winning!

Getting my diagnosis was a massive relief and once I got my head around the fact that it was incurable, I was ready to fight. I made the decision there and then, that I was not going to rely on medication and from then on, things started to change.

I had two choices, roll over and let Fibromyalgia throw all that it had at me. Become it’s victim and allow it to keep robbing me until I had nothing left or I couldn’t fight anymore!!

I chose to start fighting!!

I didn’t have an army or stash of secret weapons…yet! But, I did have a renewed will to get better. I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I thought I knew what I was up against. It was a start, the battle lines were drawn and I could start and fight back.

Over the years, I read everything I could get my hands on about the condition. I saw a nutritionist, spent a fortune on alternative therapies and acupuncture.  Joined a gym and quit, joined another and quit again. I took supplements, drank Aloe Vera. I used crystals and aromatherapy oils looking for one that one miracle cure. You have been there right? You know what I am talking about.

Well, I am sure you discovered the same as me. There is no miracle cure. One Nil to Fibromyalgia

As I neared my 50th birthday, there came the realisation that with this anniversary there would be another “milestone.” I would have officially battled Fibromyalgia for over half of my life. In all likelihood, I would have to carry on the fight for another 25 years. I knew that there had to be a way of making sure that the Fibro didn’t swallow me up completely. I finally knew that the answer wasn’t going to come in some wonder drug or therapy. It was going to come from within me!!

Never a failure always a lesson

Yep, Fibromyalgia, I won this one!! I got the answer you tried to keep from me for 25 years – one all

It was almost a revelation that my “healing” as much as it could be, was going to start and end with me. No doctors, no therapists, no medication – just me. I truly believed that I had all the weapons I needed right here in my body. It was just a matter of deciding what I had and how I was going to use it.

Firstly, I knew I needed exercise. I had tried all the usual gym stuff, swimming and walking. Invariably, these made me feel worse and induced a flare. I knew that I had to find something fairly gentle on my body but it had to be effective. So began my journey to the Yoga mat. It was and still is amazing.

Yoga meets you where you are and no two sessions are the same. Positions are adapted to accommodate my Fibro body depending on what I can manage on any given day. I also read up on rebounding (bouncing on a trampoline) and learnt that this was beneficial for Fibromyalgia sufferers. So, I bought my rebounder and gradually increased my bounce time from an initial tough 5 minutes to an invigorating and enjoyable half an hour.

Another win chalked up to me I think Fibro 🙂

I had, over the years dabbled with meditation. This had been born out of my love of all things Tibetan and His Holiness, The Dalai Lama. Therefore it made sense to make a real effort to include meditation in with my yoga practice. In addition, I spend the first 10 minutes of every day meditating outside, no matter the weather. (An outdoor gazebo is a triumph).

Meditation works!! It takes me to a place where my breath dominates and my thoughts, feelings and pain are relegated for a short time while I focus on ME. My personal mantra is “It is all about me, it’s all about now”.

Live in the moment

My early morning meditation and yoga sessions set me up for the day. I believe that this sends a message to my Fibromyalgia that I am up, out of bed and ready to take on my day – strong and determined.

So, that is my body & mind sorted – what else could I arm myself with?

I have always been a strong believer that given the right conditions, the body can heal itself. Never one to embrace medication, I always know that a headache will eventually go away. A cold or flu will run it’s course and then disappear without trace. A cut or a bruise will in time, heal as if by magic. So, my next quest was to explore what my body needed to fight Fibromyalgia every damn day.

I personally believed that the answer would lie in my diet. So, I decided to go right back to the drawing board and carry out a cleanse. I knew that this would give me the opportunity of cutting out large amounts of food, whilst giving my digestion a break. This would then put me in the position of slowly introducing certain foods again and then judging how it impacted my body.

I opted for a 12 day program which required me to cut out all processed food, meat, caffeine, dairy and sugar. It was tough for a couple of days but then the magic started. I woke in the mornings with no aches and pains (seriously). My energy increased and the constant fatigue which plagued my days was gone. People started to comment on how well I looked and I was even accused of getting Botox because my skin glowed.

I felt so good that at the end of the 12 days, I did another 12. I made the decision then to permanently cut out all caffeine and processed foods from my diet. Also I opted to leave out meat and just eat fish.

So, the stage was set for my fight back!

As time went on, I wanted to learn more about how I could further support my body in it’s war with Fibromyalgia but I also wanted to pass on what I had learnt already. In order to support other sufferers, I decided to sign up to become and Health & Wellness Coach. I then went on to study raw food nutrition. It was learning about what my body needed to function at it’s optimal. I was giving it a fighting chance against Fibromyalgia.

Don't be the same be better

Now, I need to be clear here and say that I would not consider myself healed. There are times when the pain is too much to bear, the fatigue overwhelming but compared to how I felt in 1989 there is no comparison. I have learnt that with the right foods and being gentle with me when I need it, these flares pass and I live to fight another day!

Fibromyalgia may win many of the battles but I am determined it will never, ever win the war!!