My Story of Recovery from Fibromyalgia
Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days. I still have flares. I’m not cured of fibromyalgia, but I had recovered. This is my story of recovery from fibromyalgia. It’s my story of how I got my life back and started living again instead of spending all day on the couch unable to do anything but attempt to distract myself from the pain.
Most days now I feel fantastic, at least 90% better than I did during the worst of my illness. I doubt I’ll ever see 100% again for several reasons, not the least of which is that I’m just older and we all lose a bit as we get older.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in May of 2010. Of course, as we all know when it comes to Fibro, that’s neither the beginning nor the end. When it comes to illnesses, I’ve had my share.
2006 – I had my tonsils removed after having strep throat every 2 weeks for a period of 6 months. During that time I also tested positive for Epstein Barre. I had a rough recovery from that surgery, but I was finally doing better, and felt pretty good throughout 2007 and into 2008.
In 2007 I got married. We were together when I went through the health issues in 2006 and he handled it well.
2008 – In June of 2008 I began the process to have orthodontic braces. I’d had multiple orthodontists and dentists tell me that my teeth were over-crowded. Earlier in the year, I’d had gum grafting surgery, and I was told that without braces I’d have to go through that again. From the first step of having the spacers installed in my back teeth, I had massive headaches. At first I went with the orthodontist’s answer that it was normal. “You’ll have pain because your teeth are moving”.
However, once the braces went on it just got worse and worse. I spent 2 months unable to do anything because the migraines were so bad. Each adjustment just made things worse. I was at the chiropractor three times a week, as that was the closest thing I got to relief. After three months and seeing no improvement I tried to get it through to the orthodontist that this was not “normal” pain. He just ignored me. I sought out help elsewhere and found a wonderful Dentist in Nashville, Dr. H. Clifton Simmons. I went to see him and he diagnosed me with TMJ. He suggested a treatment plan for TMJ and we went with it. The braces came off and we worked on getting my jaw back into alignment. Two years later I was back in braces and all went well.
The Beginning of fibromyalgia
I’d finally recovered enough from all of that to feel like I could try to do something again, so I went back to school. I made it through a semester and a half. Then in the spring of 2010 I got sick. It wasn’t much and I didn’t miss any classes. I just didn’t feel good. It felt like a mild flu, and I’d had it for a week before I realized I was actually running a fever with it. Once I finally recovered from that I never totally recovered. I realized I couldn’t keep up with the three classes I was taking, so I dropped the hard one.
Then, one morning, I woke up with both of my hands asleep (pins and needles). I commented about this to a friend and she begged me to get it checked out (it’s an early sign of MS and she has a family history of it).
Then around the same time the sharp stabbing eye pain and vision loss started. Just all the sudden my vision went wonky. I was getting halos on the streetlights and I couldn’t read the street signs from the same distance I had in the past. The eye pain felt like someone was stabbing me with an ice pick. I went to the Neurologist and he ran every test in the book and came back with nothing. I have a friend that runs the local Fibromyalgia support group and in talking to her I came to the conclusion that I may be dealing with Fibromyalgia.
I asked my GP about it and she admitted that I may be onto something. I also mentioned it to my Neuro and asked for a referral to a Rheumatologist. He gave it to me, and after I described what I’d been dealing with to the Rheumy he felt fairly sure that I was correct. My Neuro had already done every test that the Rheumy would have done, so he just tried the pressure points and then referred me to his Nurse Practitioner (who handles all the Fibro patients for the entire practice). Dr Tim (as I refer to the NP) knows more about Fibro than most Drs out there, so this is one case where I don’t have an issue seeing the NP.
I was lucky because I got diagnosed rather quickly, not that it did me a lot of good. Right away I stared on the road of meds, trying the anti-depressants, Lyrica, Neurontin, etc. I was already on muscle relaxers for the TMJ and had been on a mild anti-depressant for the headaches, but this upped the anti a bit. We went through them all and then some and I just seemed to get worse. The summer of 2011 I fell into a terrible depression; to the point that I almost checked myself into the psych ward. That was my low point. I ended up seeing a Psych who put me on other meds that caused bigger problems, landing myself in the ER with high BP, which resulted in having to come off birth control pills. It was just one thing after another, and all the while my IBS was getting worse and worse, too.
The changes that lead to my recovery from fibromyalgia
At the end of 2011, I was frustrated and willing to try pretty much anything. I happened to watch the documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and saw the improvement he had thanks to a “simple” diet change. I’d started seeing a new GI doc who was sending me through, yet another, colonoscopy and testing me for Celiac and Gluten allergies, etc. He said he didn’t think food had anything to do with my IBS, or that changing my diet would help. I decided to get myself checked for food sensitivities, anyway.
Instead of waiting for the results I jumped in with a New Years Resolution. I started 2012 with a week-long Juice “Fast” and created my own “elimination diet”.
After my week of just juice, I started eating fruits and veggies, then added meat the next week and then the fourth week I went to stay with a friend whose family is gluten-free. Throughout it all, I kept juicing every day. We were seeing a difference in the first week; my energy was up and I was feeling better.
Since then I’ve continued to avoid Gluten, as well as Dairy, Eggs, Wheat & Whey; all of which showed up on the food sensitivity test. I’ve eaten them all at some point and have been able to find how they affect me. Gluten is by far the worst food for me, and I’ve found that eating it greatly increases my Fibro symptoms, sending me into a flare. Without Gluten I’d say I’m 80% improved. It’s not perfect, but I doubt I’ll ever be. The others seem to increase my IBS symptoms, so I continue to avoid them, as well. I’ve had a few other issues since then including endometriosis (which I’ve now had 3 surgeries for) and chronic migraine recurrences. But, overall I’ve done well and in 2015 I finally graduated with my BA in Psychology.