10 Changes I've Made for Life With Fibromyalgia
I had heard of fibromyalgia but never really dove into its effects. Both of my sisters, along with my mother, have it – but they also have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), so I assumed that this was the pain I was experiencing. They had also been diagnosed at a much earlier age, so in my arrogance, I thought that I had dodged a bullet. That is, until that gun fired a second round and that one hit. Hard.
“Trauma-induced fibromyalgia” is what they called it. A few years back, I had some surgeries that took a while to heal. Too long, in fact. I had a knee replacement and a heel reconstruction from a fall that never really stopped hurting. The pain then moved to my back, wrists, neck and pretty much every other joint. And after an MRI, we found four bulging discs and stenosis.
Thinking it was RA, my wife and I went to a rheumatologist. He prescribed some things that I hope I never take again for the rest of my life. Every side effect listed in the worse-case scenario column, I went through. To that I’ll add that I understand the importance of mental health issues a whole lot better now. To clarify, I wasn’t suicidal. But I did have dreams about suicide that were completely against my nature. I was not myself. I stopped all meds the next day.
The pain was tough on every single area of my life. While my wife and daughter were super-soldiers through it all, it was still really hard on them. My sweet wife cried herself to sleep more than a few times. But like the purifying of gold, the strongest part of her remained. And she is gold.
Aside from my wife and daughter, the past couple of years have probably been the loneliest I’ve ever felt. I’m very grateful to my martial arts instructor and his sweet wife who know that relationships take effort. My buddies living across state lines are a huge comfort as well. And yes, my faith was tested. It passed with flying colors with no help from me.
We made some changes. We searched for a church that was relationally proactive. Tribal mentality is best circumvented. I’ve also made some dietary changes. It’s tough to stick to those but it really does help. I’ll share some of the changes I’ve made below. Speaking of sharing…why now?
I recently heard our local weather person say that we are called to share our story. That jumped out at me, but I’ve still been hesitant. Being an author, it’s easier to share with the written word. The words that I share do not judge. They simply look back at me and say, I am here. Always.
So what did I learn?
1. Get off the sugar. For me, that means pie. But it’s true that sugar drives inflammation.
2. Get off gluten. Lower the carbs. I know, it’s tough. I love warm-baked bread.
3. Have a support group. Yes, we should love unconditionally but there is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved. Reciprocal relationships are food for the soul.
4. Fight off stress. This is a huge one. Take care of yourself and don’t put yourself into any situation that will add stress to your soul. Stress really does ramp up inflammation. Stay away from toxic people.
5. Stay away from one-way relationships. “Love well” also includes yourself. So unless you’re doing something wonderful like feeding the hungry, giving money to the poor or working in a soup kitchen, respect yourself
6. Steer clear of impenetrable tribes. If you can’t be part of a group, find one that will welcome you in.
7. Move. It’s hard with all of the pain, I know. Just keep moving. Stairs, around the block, whatever. Take it slow. But keep moving.
8. Focus on the things that matter. There is so much that we obsess about that does not have a lasting value. Leave it behind. Enjoy the little things.
9. Be thankful. There are reasons. Find them. They are there.
10. Pray. I believe it really does work.
Getty Image by wavemovies