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Fibro Friday – A Tentative Wellness Plan

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m feeling pretty good today, and I’m looking forward to a warmer weekend ahead. I think that most states in the US are anticipating some sunnier, warmer days, and I’m grateful for that. This is a happy Friday for sure!

I recently shared my experience with the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test, as well as my thoughts about at-home tests and their effectiveness. I used the food sensitivity test as a way to gather intel on how my body works. I’m combining the information that I gathered from that test with the results from the myriad other tests I’ve had over the years. I’m thankful for historical data from LabCorp as well as my insurance company: there’s no way I could have kept physical copies of every single test or doctor’s appointment I’ve had over the past three years.

Regardless of where you are on your fibro journey, becoming an expert on your body is a fantastic place to start. I can’t recommend it enough: get to know your own body! It’s crucial for your journey.

Anyhoo, I have formulated a tentative approach to resolving my fibromyalgia pain for good. As evidenced by the food sensitivity test, I’m starting with a diet-based approach, since I believe that this will provide the most immediate relief (as well as other numerous health benefits). I’m starting small, so I don’t get overwhelmed by the process.

I consulted two other sources for information on how to design a “get well” plan. I watched a video from the American Herbalist Guild last year, and I’ve revisited it. This video features a lecture by herbalist K P Khalsa, who has a fantastic herbal/natural approach to treating fibromyalgia. The video also refers to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum’s approach (one of his most popular books, explaining his program for eliminating fibro symptoms is here). This video is a ton of information to absorb, which is why I’m rewatching in small, 20-30 minute chunks of time.

Additionally, I’ll be implementing dietary changes in line with The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, CN. Addressing nutritional deficiencies is key to any wellness program, so I’ll integrate some principles from this book and see how it goes. I’ll probably do a review on this book soon, so watch out for that.

I suspect I’ll feel major changes just by implementing the recommendations from the AHG video and the Beauty Detox book. I’m excited to embark on this journey! If you’re interested in seeing my YouTube video on this topic, you can view it here (I’ve also embedded it below).

That’s it for my Fibro Friday post! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

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Fibro Fridays – The Latest Fibromyalgia Research

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope you’ve had a pleasant week with minimal pain and lots of joy!

There are two things I want to share with this post. First, I decided to spend a little time reviewing the most recent fibromyalgia research. I usually get my fibro updates from mainstream news outlets or medical websites. But this time, I wanted to look at what has been published in medical journals during the past year.

Here’s the problem (*steps onto soap box*): most of the journals will charge you anywhere from $20 to $80 to access a SINGLE article. I understand that the publishers need to be compensated, but none of that money goes to the researchers (if I’m mistaken, please let me know in the comments below). Which is why I believe in contacting the researchers directly to ask for a copy of their research, and offering them some sort of gratuity out of appreciation. Many of them complete their research due to grant funding, and they often live off of stipends. And most researchers are happy to share their work for free, which is why I feel strongly that offering some sort of “love offering” is a good gesture. *steps off of soap box*

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, let’s get to the articles. There are two that I want to share in this post, and both of them can be accessed for free. The first article is all about T cells, the white blood cells that relate to the body’s immune response and how the body reacts to certain pathogens. This article explores the role of T-cells in the “neurological and inflammatory symptoms of fibromyalgia”. This is a long read, but enlightening if you have the time and interest to learn more.

The second article covers current pharmacotherapy options for fibromyalgia, as well as potential future research opportunities. This article does a great job of explaining how certain commonly prescribed medicines (personally, I take two of the drugs listed in the article) work on fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, insomnia and even depression and anxiety. If you want a thorough primer on how certain fibro medicines work, this article is a fantastic place to start.

Now, onto the second item. Last week, I posted about my Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test experience. I also posted a video about Everlywell on my YT channel. I received a comment that asserted that the food sensitivity test was a bunch of bunk, to put it succinctly. The commenter also provided a link to a doctor’s video, explaining why food sensitivity tests are unreliable. I must thank the commenter for sharing this with me. However, I had a host of other reasons why this test wasn’t a waste of my money. If you want to hear my explanation, you can check out the embedded video below.

That’s all for today’s Fibro Friday! I hope you all have a great weekend and take good care of yourselves. “See” you all on Monday!

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Fibro Fridays: My Everywell Experience

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope everyone is feeling well and having a great day or evening wherever you are.

As you all recall, one of my goals for 2021 is to minimize or completely eliminate my fibromyalgia symptoms. On this journey, I will do my best to learn as much as I can about my body so that I can formulate an approach that works for me over the long term.

On the quest to gather as much useful information about my body as possible, I purchased the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test. This is not an allergy test: it’s a test that measures how much your body responds to certain foods by testing your body for antibody activity. The science for this is fascinating, which is why I encourage you to check out the website for an in-depth explanation.

When you first receive your test, you have to register it on the Everylywell website. After registration, you can commence with doing the test. My test involved pricking my finger and saturating a blood sample collection card. After saturating the card, I sent it back to the lab in a biohazard envelope.

After waiting a little over a week, the lab sent me an in-depth report, explaining my results. I was moderately sensitive to 3 foods, and minimally sensitive to 7 foods. I’ll be using this information as a starting point for an elimination diet. I will add more details about the elimination diet in a few weeks, but for now, at least I know what I should exclude first.

I filmed a video with a lot more details which I will embed below.

Have you all done a food sensitivity test? How did that go? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

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Fibro Fridays – My Current Vitamin and Supplement Regimen

Happy Friday, friends! I’m looking forward to this weekend: I will be getting lots of sleep and doing some additional writing. Here’s hoping I can get a good chunk of writing done!

Since I’ve never shared many details about the medication, vitamins and supplements I take, I thought that would be a good think to discuss on Fibro Friday. I believe wholeheartedly that filling in nutritional gaps can improve fibromyalgia symptoms. It doesn’t mean that fibro is a nutritional condition, but having a properly nourished body can do wonders for us and our pain levels.

Let’s start with medication first. Though these aren’t particularly nourishing, these help with pain management and other symptoms. I currently take 900 mg of gapapentin daily: 300 mg in the morning, and 600 mg in the evening. I also take 10 mg of escitalopram in the morning, and 10 mg of amitriptyline at night. These help with my serotonin levels and the nerve pain and discomfort I feel. When my pain is too intense, I may reach for 10 mg of cyclobenzaprine (a muscle relaxer).

Now, onto vitamins! I take organic prenatal gummies from Smarty Pants. These taste really good and cover a lot of my nutritional needs. I also take a vitamin D3 supplement (I purchase one through Melaleuca’a Vitality brand). I also take chelated magnesium from Country Life, calcium with vitamin D3 from Nature’s Measure, as well as the Super B Complex by Nature’s Measure.

Lastly, I also take supplements. I use the Koala Pals protein shake by Melaleuca company. I also like taking Good Zymes (a digestive enzyme supplement) available through Melaleuca. Also, I really enjoy Pacifica’s beauty powders. After sharing information about my two favorite powders, I realized that Pacifica no longer sells them. However, I did find a seller on Amazon for the Slay All Day powder. I also really like Sambucol Elderberry gummies for immune support.

I also made a video about this, if you prefer to hear about the products as opposed to reading about it:

(This post contains affiliate links)

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Fibro Fridays – Pain Management Tools

Happy Fibro Friday! We made it through another week: let’s celebrate!

I’ve been trying some new pain management tools over the past few weeks. These have helped me with some of the chronic pain symptoms that come along with having fibromyalgia. I really liked these items that I’m sharing today, so if you have fibromyalgia, or if you experience chronic pain, these may be worth a try.

First, I have the Nayoya Acupressure Mat and Neck Pillow set. At just under $40 USD, it’s a great item to try for some pain relief. I was going to review it, but Deena of Adventures with Fibro on YouTube (YT) beat me to it! Her review was great, so I’m going to link it here, but I’m also going to embed it in this post.

Now, there’s another tool that I’ve enjoyed using, and not only is it effective, but it’s reasonably priced, too. This tool is less than $20 USD currently, and I’ve loved using it to relieve some of the nerve pain I experience. It’s the La Vie Lactation Massage Roller.

Before you get any ideas . . . No, I’m not lactating! This massager is gentler than many other massage devices, which is crucial when your chronic pain is intense. Here’s the review of the lactation massage roller that I posted on my YT channel:

If you’re curious about the variety of tools that may be needed for those that live wtih fibromyalgia or chronic pain, you should check out Olga Chronics on YT. She is so thorough, and she’s charming to boot. I really liked her video on mobility aids (which I’m embedding below). I don’t use mobility aids, but it’s good information for anyone that has impacted mobility due to chronic pain or fibromyalgia.

Do you have any tools that you can recommend for pain management? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

*Post contains affiliate links.

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Fibro Fridays: Aquatic Therapy

Happy Friday! We’ve been enjoying lots of hot, sunny days in central Virginia and, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve loved every minute of it!

Today is Fibro Friday, and I wanted to move away from discussing the pain and frustration of the condition, and move towards talking about ways to reduce pain and improve our quality of life. So I’ll spend a few weeks talking about treatments that work.

Of all of the treatments I’ve employed in my fibromyalgia journey, aquatic therapy was, hands down, one of the most effective. I spent two days per week in a heated pool, where I did careful stretching and conditioning exercises. The exercises were designed to stretch the muscles gently and to begin restoring flexibility and strength to previously stiff and achy body parts.

Water is a healer

After spending time in the pool, I noticed that my range of motion was better, and my pain was decreased. I won’t lie: those aquatic exercises EXHAUSTED me. I slept so well after each visit. But that was a good thing; as someone that experiences awful bouts of insomnia, a good nights’ sleep is a dream come true.

Along with the physical benefits of stretching in a warm pool, there were other unexpected positive side effects. I find that water stokes my creativity, so my mind felt clearer and rejuvenated after each visit. I also found my confidence in my body’s abilities growing with each session. You see, fibro made me quite unsure of what my body can do, since the condition significantly impaired my energy levels and range of motion. But the weightlessness I experienced in the pool reminded me of what I was like before fibro took its toll.

I haven’t gone to aquatic therapy since last year. My pain levels are far more manageable now so I don’t need this particular treatment any more. However, at the time, this worked extremely well for my pain, and I recommend it for anyone that is experiencing muscle discomfort or chronic pain.

That’s it for today! I hope you all continue to remain safe and take care of yourselves. Have a great weekend!

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Fibro Fridays: My Difficult Diagnosis Journey

As promised, I’m back to share with you my journey to diagnosis. I’ve discussed some aspects of this journey before, but I really wanted to share additional details of what was involved with getting diagnosed. It’s really easy for me to focus on the immediate months leading up to my diagnosis, but, in all honesty, my diagnosis was a nearly 5-year journey of doctors’ visits and frustrating experiences before I confirmed what was happening with my body.

I had two primary care doctors throughout the time that I’ve suffered from fibro symptoms. My first doctor didn’t see anything concerning on my bloodwork, but she believed me when I said that I felt unwell. She referred me to a rheumatologist for clarity (an appropriate response), because some autoimmune conditions cannot be determined from basic blood testing. I visited the rheumatologist, who seemed to understand that I was experiencing extraordinary stress along with physical discomfort. However, after completing one round of blood tests, she ended up dismissing my concerns (as you all may know, fibromyalgia cannot be determined by blood testing, which is why some medical professionals deny its existence). I was discouraged by my pain but also relieved that I was not suffering from an autoimmune condition.

I continued to battle my symptoms and found myself vacillating between less pain and more pain, but never experiencing a complete absence of pain. After the first doctor decided to retire from medicine, I started working with a second doctor, who repeated the blood work 3 years after my last round of testing. This doctor also didn’t see anything concerning on my blood testing, but she attributed my symptoms to stress and a demanding daily routine. She didn’t seem to believe that my physical symptoms were real and not easily remedied by minor lifestyle changes.

After having a horrible symptom flare, I knew that I had to take my health into my own hands. I directly contacted a rheumatology office that had good reviews and scheduled my appointment sans referral (I have a PPO for this reason: waiting for referrals can be frustrating). I had already been discussing my symptoms with friends, and more than one of them mentioned fibro as a possibility. I did a little research and was able to clearly communicate my concerns with the rheumatologist. Less than one month later, I had a diagnosis confirming that I was indeed suffering from fibromyalgia.

I “fired” my primary care doc and got a new doctor that was far better for me and my condition. I worked with several specialists and finally started to feel better for the first time in years. The journey wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I’m just glad that it only took me a few months from the time that I took control of my healthcare to get a diagnosis: for that, I’m fortunate. I know intimately how this process can take many years and many tears, and anyone suffering from this condition has my sympathy and empathy. This path isn’t for the weak, which is why some have labeled themselves “fibro warriors”.

If you have a fibro warrior in your life, please send them a little loving energy: this isn’t an easy experience, and many are doing the best that they can.

That’s all for this week. I hope you all have a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend. Take care!

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Fibro Fridays: Why It’s Difficult to Treat Fibromyalgia

Happy Friday, friends! Today’s post is one that I’ve been eager to write, because I feel that explaining this (from the perspective of someone living with fibromyalgia) may give a little clarity to others that are struggling with their diagnosis, or may help people that are unfamiliar with the condition to better understand why there is no easy “fix” for fibro.

Whenever you try to learn about fibromyalgia online or directly from a medical professional, there is generally a lack of consensus on the causes of the condition. The condition is treated as a bit of a “catch-all” category for a set of uncomfortable (to the point of painful) symptoms. This “catch-all” designation is one reason why there are still some medical professionals that continue to deny the existence of fibro (I already wrote a post touching on this topic).

In any case, the overall lack of understanding behind the WHY of fibro leaves a lot of questions regarding the HOW of treatment. Different root causes call for different treatment protocol. However, fibromyalgia can be linked to muscular, nervous and even digestive malfunctions, so most treatment is, at best, akin to a game of darts. Medical professionals will try to hit the “bullseye”, and many treatments can offer a level of relief, but it seems that no one has hit the “bullseye” of fibromyalgia – YET.

Prescription medication is one treatment option for fibromyalgia

There are many researchers that are getting closer to an agreed-upon definition of fibromyalgia, including its root causes. However, until consensus is achieved, we have an assortment of treatments that can be explored and that may have varying levels of effectiveness. Many of the most popular treatments include physical therapy, aquatic therapy, acupuncture, prescribed medication, nutritional supplements, lifestyle overhaul and lots of intentional self care (which is, by far, usually the most effective treatment [maybe I’ll write more about this in the future]), chiropractic care, etc.,. The trick to managing the symptoms is finding the perfect cocktail of treatments, along with having an excellent support system and medical team in your corner.

Well friends, that’s it for this Fibro Friday! I hope you all have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you on Monday. Take care!

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Fibro Fridays: Why It’s Hard to Get a Diagnosis

Happy Fibro Friday, friends! It’s been a fantastic week, and I’m positive that the weekend will be full of even more JOY and delight!

One of the things that I consider when reflecting back on my fibromyalgia journey is how long it took to get an accurate diagnosis. For years, I had symptoms of fibro yet it took me being completely out of commission (in bed for weeks at a time, unable to sleep for more than 2-3 hours, intense physical pain) before I got close to an accurate diagnosis.

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As it turns out, my experience isn’t unusual. In fact, most fibro sufferers take more than two years to get diagnosis. This statistic is appalling, considering the pain and diminished quality of life that we experience while we wait to get some clarity on what’s going on with us.

I have a few theories on why it takes so much time to be diagnosed. I’m sure that there are more reasons why this happens, but these are the reasons that I experienced, and I’m sure that many others with fibro can relate to at least one of these scenarios.

  • Fibro symptoms often mimic other conditions. Many times, primary care physicians (PCPs) will diagnose you as being depressed (which is a frequent comorbidity of fibro), having muscle strains, or suffering from a viral infection (again, this can often occur with fibro patients). As a result, the PCP, in an attempt to make a conservative diagnosis, ends up “under-diagnosing” (yes, I know that isn’t a word, but bear with me LOL!) their patients. And when this happens, it creates a delay in getting an accurate diagnosis.
  • Primary care doctors are hesitant to refer to rheumatologists unless there is conclusive test results indicating some sort of auto-immune issue. When having blood work done, your primary care may see unusual results . . . Or not. And if everything looks “normal”, they will often doubt that you need to be referred to a specialist. I have a whole story about this, and I will share it in a future post.
  • Some PCPs deny the validity of fibromyalgia. The vast majority of physicians believe that fibro is a real condition, but there is still a minority that aren’t convinced of the seriousness of the condition. If your PCP doesn’t believe that your condition is real, how likely is it that you will get an accurate diagnosis?
  • Some PCPs are very unfamiliar with fibro as a condition, and, while well-intentioned, they may overlook this common but still mysterious diagnosis.
  • Using a variety of PCPs, or having more impersonal relationships with care providers, makes it difficult to determine your “baseline” condition and what symptoms are truly abnormal for you. This is especially relevant for those that have milder chronic pain symptoms or higher pain tolerances. If you aren’t experiencing major, life-altering discomfort and inconvenience, it may not be apparent to a new physician (or a physician that doesn’t know you well) that you are experiencing abnormal pain.

These are just a few of the reasons why getting an accurate fibro diagnosis usually takes quite some time. Even though my symptoms were mild at first, they eventually intensified. It took me becoming incapacitated to get diagnosed, and even that occurred nearly two months after I was in bed for weeks at a time. My advice to anyone that suspects that they have fibro is to get a referral to a rheumatologist as quickly as you can (if you have an HMO), or, if you have a PPO (like I do) contact a well-reviewed rheumatology office and schedule an appointment yourself. It may take some time, but an accurate diagnosis and the right medical team can make a world of difference in your health and quality of life.

That’s all for this Fibro Friday. Have a fantastic weekend!