"Can you Win the Fight Against Fibromyalgia?" By, Nancy Alexander
Yes You Can – Because I am…
Have you ever gone through something in your life that was so agonizing that you just don't enjoy discussing it with anyone, and certainly don't want to get into a discussion of its details? Hardly a day goes by without a customer asking me about a certain medical issue, because they want and need my help with this same issue in their lives. As they pour out their circumstances to me, I know how they feel. The problem is, I know exactly how they feel!
They may think that my problem isn't as debilitating as theirs is or that their condition is more serious than my own. But they are still interested in hearing what I have done to feel better, because inside they want to believe that that will help them, too. We all think our problems are worse than the next person's, don't we? Truth be told, if we all dumped our problems on the ground and could see everyone else's, we would probably gladly take ours up and go back home with them. But today, God is leading me to finally write to you and discuss truthfully what my life has been like for the last 30 years…with Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia. To most people, that is just a word describing a condition that they may have only heard about. You may have heard it affects your muscles…or was it the joints? Others may know it is an auto immune disorder. Most know that it involves muscle and joint pain to some degree. Some of you may think, if those with Fibromyalgia just took better care of themselves, they wouldn't have come down with it in the first place.
Sadly, most people (and still a lot of doctors!) do not know much about Fibromyalgia. Not too many years back, most doctors could or would not treat you because they knew very little about this disorder themselves. They tried to define it in terms they knew. Terms like "depression", the "blues" or "housewife syndrome", for pete's sake! Well-meaning friends and family would say, "Just give it some time" or "don't dwell on it…get on with your life." Can you believe I actually have heard those comments and more? And some of those came from doctors! Most everyone who has struggled with Fibromyalgia has heard the same, if not worse.
I was twenty-eight years old when this first hit me. The first doctor I went to — a very well known, respected doctor in town — actually had the nerve to tell me I had "housewife syndrome". WHAT IS HOUSEWIFE SYNDROME????? I wasn't stupid! There is no such thing!!! But he proceeded to start giving and trying every single anti-depressant known to man at that time. I felt soooo bad that I did exactly what he said with no questions asked. THAT WAS MY FIRST MISTAKE! Ladies…I do not make those mistakes anymore! I am responsible for my health, and I am the only one who can make it my mission in life to find the cause and eradicate it! No one else, no matter how much you like and respect them, has the time or the inclination to research this for you.
So, back to my doctor. Instead of helping me, by doing the only thing he knew to do, he made me much worse than I was when I first visited his office. After a while, not only was I trying a different anti-depressant every two weeks to a month or so, but I was also trying every muscle relaxer along with any other kind of drug he could think of.
I had gone from a healthy (or so I thought) young woman one week, to one who could hardly stand up to get off the couch or get out of the bed within a week. I was used to having lots of energy. Before Fibromyalgia, I took care of two children, was involved in my church, dug and planted my own garden, froze & canned vegetables, made pickles and jellies, cooked three meals a day, cut the grass, washed and waxed the car, painted the house, put up wall-paper, recovered my couch, and so much more. But this was all taken away from me within one week when this silent enemy attacked!
Along with the pain, muscle spasms and unbelievable weakness came what they then called "panic attacks". So…since no one knew what was causing all of my physical pain and muscle problems, doctors started treating me for panic attacks and anxiety saying that was the cause of ALL my problems. I do know that many people have panic attacks, but please listen! Some panic attacks are the result of other major health problems going on in your body that you have no control over and so, they go untreated. This major undiagnosed and untreated health problem, along with the stress that went along with it, caused my panic attacks.
Misdiagnosis and mistreatment of Fibromyagia was the norm years ago. I'm convinced that there are still many doctors who remain uneducated of its true nature, as well as much of the preventative and corrective measures that could help patients today. I started seeing my family doctor about 7 years ago. He is our friend and neighbor and told me honestly on my very first visit: "I don't know much about Fibromyalgia. As a matter of fact, I am sure you know much more about it than I do, but I am willing to listen to you, and refer you to any doctor you ask me to. And, I am also willing to try any treatment that your Internet research leads you to think might help." This is a very unusual response from a doctor, but was exactly what I wanted and needed. A doctor who believed me and was willing to let me assist in my own treatment. For those of you suffering from Fibromyalgia, I hope your own family doctor is that open minded. But to complete your treatment, you need to be referred to doctors who specialize in auto immune diseases.
More tomorrow…….. December 19, 2010
This subject is so painful and hard to write about, I must divide it into sections, so please excuse the fact that I cannot write it all at one time. I suppose I could have held onto this post until it was completed, but so many women are wanting a response from me, I just couldn't do that — so I will write as much as I can each day until you really know and understand how this "secret" disease affected me and how I researched and studied until I found the right doctors who knew how to help me.
I call it "secret" because it is. People whose bodies are attacked by this don't want to talk about it — or at least they didn't then. And, do you know why? I was ashamed…yes…my doctors had made me ashamed that I couldn't control what was going on within my body. If you have this, please do not be ashamed! Please do not be afraid to talk about it to your friends, family, loved ones, or anyone else who is truly concerned. It is not your fault! You did nothing to cause this malady to strike you! You ARE NOT losing your mind, as I thought I was for many years!
My husband did not understand…although he tried. He listened to what all of the specialists believed was wrong and thought I should follow their instructions exactly. It was so hard for him to believe that their drugs and their treatments were "killing" me. Do I blame him? NO, Absolutely Not!!!! How could I expect him to understand what was going on with me when I didn't know myself…when the doctors themselves didn't know what was going on! How could I explain this to him or anyone else when I did not have the answers myself. I just KNEW within my heart and soul that there was something seriously wrong with me — something that no one could find — and truthfully were not really looking very hard to find!
Their answer was still drugs.
I prayed to God…oh how I prayed to God! I pleaded with God: "Is there a lesson you want me to learn from this? If so, my mind is open and I am willing to do anything you desire for me. Have I not been a good enough Christian, a good enough mother or wife, a good enough daughter? What do you want of me? What do you wish of me? I will follow you wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do for the rest of my life. Oh Lord, please just cure me! Make this "silent killer" leave my body and let me get back to being the wife my husband needs, and the mother my children need.
Well, that didn't happen at that time. I can look back now at where I am in my life. I can see that God was pruning me, he was leading me, he was instructing me with whatever I had to go through to become the person I am today. I needed to go through the pain and the suffering so that I might have a ministry where I can understand the pain and needs of others like me. In my wildest dreams I never dreamed he would bring me an Internet business that would become the vehicle where I talk to and encourage women from all over the world!
Would I be here…right here…where I am today without all that I went through for 30 years? Absolutely not! Do you know that I can now thank God for His leading in my life to this very moment in time? Well, I can! Yes, I can thank Him that He gently molded me with His strong, loving hands so that I could become the person I am today. I would have never made it right here, right now, on my own — without Him. I thank Him every single day for the people I come in contact with, including some who desperately need encouragement.
Yes, God did answer these prayers. He began answering them many years later. During those extremely painful years, I went through much more than I have ever told anyone. In order to offer help and encouragement to those who are emailing me almost every day, it is time to talk.
My pain was unbearable. The clothes I wore had to be very loose — they hurt my body if they weren't. I couldn't sleep — or if I did, I was awakened by terrible nightmares and tremors. I was in bed for months… so many months, I can't remember how long. In fact, I have blocked out part of that time period…tried to forget it. I would guess it was close to 2 years. I couldn't sit up for very long at all because my muscles could not hold my body up. I couldn't take care of my young children, so as my husband left for work everyday, we had to get our boys up early so he could take the three of us to my mother's house. She took care of us while Steve was at work…until he picked us up on his way home.
There were many trips to the emergency room when my blood pressure spiked so high that I felt I was dying. I could only wear bedroom shoes because any other shoes used muscles in my legs which would become so weak I couldn't stand. I couldn't bear any noise — even the crackling of a fire in the fireplace made me feel like fireworks were exploding in the back of my head. So, two young children running around and playing were sounds that were terrifying to me, instead of cherished, memorable sounds that I should have LOVED as did most Moms. During these hard times, I went for five years not being able to even drive a car. After several years of this, I truly thought I would never have the life that I had always dreamed of and desired. I was angry at God but functioned as well as I could, so no one truly knew the pain and agony that was going on in my body, heart, and soul.
In my next post: healing, joy, pain relief, redemption…more miracles than I could EVER begin to describe to another living soul.