Managing Fibromyalgia
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About the Author

I've had Fibromyalgia since 1998. During that time I’ve learned a few little “tricks of the trade” that enable me to juggle working, writing and managing Fibromyalgia-- all at the same time.

I had had a multitude of symptoms for about six months before I was diagnosed. I thought I'd never be able to write again. I couldn’t sit long enough, and I couldn’t focus. Truthfully, I didn’t care enough about anything except how much I hurt. I thought I’d never work again. I was certain I was going to be in a wheel chair soon, and I wouldn’t be able to get into my home. Depressed? You bet. My life changed absolutely.

But I am a research-aholic. Once I was diagnosed, I had to find out all about this “syndrome” that wasn’t even considered serious enough to be called a disease. Twelve years ago there was precious little out there to be found. But I ate up all I did find. Although I have no medical credentials, I have been doing my own research on Fibromyalgia since day one-- the day I was given a name for all the symptoms I was experiencing.
Fibromyalgia will change your life.
But you can choose what direction
that change will take.

I remember that day well. I hadn’t been to a doctor for years and I was afraid he was going to lock me up and throw away the key when he heard all my disconnected and various symptoms. I had decided to tell him only a few. I didn’t have a family doctor back then, so I figured if he thought I was crazy, I would never have to see him again. I had visions of being in a wheel chair with MS, or in a nursing home for 52-year-olds with Alzheimer’s. I was there out if desperation; I just wanted him to get rid of my pain!

After describing the pain I had been experiencing for the prior six months, the doctor finally asked me how I felt when I woke in the morning. When I told him, he gently laid his finger on my skin near my clavicle. The pain he evoked brought me to tears as I pulled away from him. He raised his eyebrows, nodded his head and said, “Uh-huh.” Through my tears and pain I said, “What uh-huh?”

He somehow convinced me to sit there (not unquietly) while he proceeded to lay his finger on seventeen more tender points. When he finished, I was in severe pain everywhere, and wet from sweating as if I had just stepped out of a swimming pool. He said the word Fibromyalgia, but I was too out-of-it at the time to respond even with a question mark. I sat and cried with pain as he left the room.

When he came back, he had written down the names of a couple of websites, and a book, saying that some doctors think Fibromyalgia is a myth, or it is actually myofacial pain syndrome with a twist, or that it's all in the mind. He said that’s because there is no proof that it actually exists-- medically, that is.

Great. I had a non-existent syndrome with a weird name. “So how do you fix it?” I asked. He shook his head and wrote me two prescriptions - one for Elavil and one for Flexeril.

About two months later, I was feeling a bit better-- at least I was sleeping better. But then I woke up one morning and I couldn’t turn my head. The doctor gave me trigger point injections in the back of my neck and shoulder area. In a few days I was to start doing these gentle neck and shoulder exercises as a follow-up to these injections, to be certain those muscles didn’t freeze up again. I still do them twelve years later - and more.

I thank God every day that this relatively young doctor knew his stuff. Back in 1998, Fibromyalgia was not a common syndrome, much less a common word. I began my research online that same day. I could only sit for fifteen minutes at a time and it was slow going, but the bits and pieces I was assembling confirmed what my doctor had said. Many doctors did not “believe in” Fibromyalgia. I persisted. This book is the result of my accumulated research.

Throughout the course of these twelve years my life has changed drastically. I gave up my dream job of nine years with the Department of Natural Resources. I could no longer work outside in the winter. For the next nine years I worked part-time indoors, at a large retail store where I changed my shoes three times a day...because what was comfortable in the morning was no longer comfortable at noon, or later. Even still, I wear only good supportive shoes.

I couldn’t sit in my new Lazy-Boy, so I got a second hand Bentwood rocker which is now “my chair.” I couldn’t sit in my car for more than a few minutes without experiencing severe pain, so I had my car seat re-upholstered -- the lumbar pad was removed and the seat filled in so it was level. Soft or molded chairs bend my torso in such a way as to put pressure on those tender points, so flat-seated, straight-backed chairs are the "in" thing for me now.

I never drink or eat anything that is "sugar-free" because of the aspartame and other chemical sweetners. One of my aggravators is chemical sensitivity- both inhaled and injested.

I used to drink coffee by the potful. Now I drink only two cups of coffee a day and they are both half hot water and half coffee. I drink lots of water and green tea. Before Fibromyalgia that would never have happened.

I bought a Sleep Number Bed (I'm a number 40). I do toe and ankle exercises before I get out of bed in the morning. I meditate, do deep breathing exercises and Tai Chi exercises every morning and sometimes in the afternoon.

I make sure to keep a regular schedule so that I eat, take my supplements, exercise and sleep at the same times every day. Keeping a regular schedule is of paramount importance to keep the pain under control.

I always keep a flannel shirt in the car to keep chills away from the pressure points in my neck and shoulder area. I buy only loose-fitting comfortable clothing, having learned early on about the negative effects of tight jeans and turtlenecks.

I try to stay upbeat. Fortunately, I still have my sense of humor. I wear light and brightly colored clothes. I watch uplifting or funny movies. I listen to soothing or light tempo music. I play with my cats. I read light-hearted, romantic, mystery novels. I surround myself with light-colored walls, brightly colored accents and the things I enjoy. I have learned to LIFT my LIFE.

There are only a few of my life adaptations to Fibromyalgia. But I am now able to sit at my computer long enough to research and write -- while doing my ankle exercises, of course.

Fibromyalgia is still with me. But by using a few little tricks described in my book-- supplements, meditation, deep breathing exercises, Tai Chi exercises, eating appropriately and avoiding my aggravators -- I have been able to manage my Fibromyalgia. I still have a bad day now and then, but doesn’t everyone?

If I can help even one other soul learn to manage her or his Fibromyalgia symptoms, then I consider my mission accomplished. And I thank God for the opportunity to do so.

Thank you for visiting my site.

Good Health and JOY To You and Yours, *:) Pati Chandler