I do not have any medical training, but I do have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. At the beginning of this journey, I was also a border line diabetic and roughly 100 pounds overweight.
I am tired of reading stories that offer us no hope – when I know for a fact that it exists. So I am offering you my story to show you that there is hope and a way through the fog.
Over the last twenty years, I have gone through two very trying, abusive relationships, had two wonderful girls, and spent 12 of those years trying to balance the day-to-day trials of being a single mom. Just when I thought my life had finally sorted itself out, I developed a sinus infection and was on antibiotics for a long period of time.
Over that time I became more and more fatigued, and my shoulders felt like they were trying to climb up to the top of my head. The overall body pain never left and I could not think clearly anymore. It was like a permanent fog had settled inside my head and I kept gaining weight.
My vision was affected, so I had to stop driving in the evenings. Sometimes on really bad days I wouldn’t drive at all. It was just an effort to drag myself out of bed long enough to do “mom” and “wife” things, never mind trying to effectively run the national non-profit I was deeply committed to.
I truly believed I was dying.
“You’re not dying,” says the doctor, “You have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.”
The medication the doctor prescribed reduced the pain and cleared the mental fog enough that my ability to think and function returned for fleeting moments. Any improvement, although minor, I was very grateful for.
My mother thought I was just being “lazy” and was quietly disgusted with what she saw.
“What is wrong with you? Straighten up! You need to push your way through this!” she told me.
One day, I was pushed past the functioning point – and fell out of my chair from exhaustion.
“What are you doing on the floor?” she exclaimed, totally shocked at what happened.
So I explained again.
“The doctor says I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. She can’t fix it, only prescribe medicine that may or may not help control the pain and fatigue,” I said.
“That’s it? That’s the answer? That can’t be right!” my mother replied. “There has to be something else!”
After she left, I sat there playing those words over and over in my head. She was right. There had to be something else. 43-years old and half dead – useless to my husband, children, family and unable to meet the commitments I had made to my non-profit. Stuck on the couch like a zombie.
There had to be something else. And I was going to find it!
I have a friend, who is an excellent Naturopath – so I went to her. She said I was lucky.
Lucky? You’re kidding, right?
She explained that, in simple terms, my problem was a direct result of diet, past life experiences (high negative stress) and an A-type personality (I can sleep when I’m dead). My body was too acidic and I needed to learn how to find some balance in my life. The alternative to developing fibro and other related problems was terminal cancer. And if I didn’t make some changes soon, I was likely to develop it.
She told me I could learn to manage my diet and re-balance my PH with a little help. She referred me to a lady that did food sensitivity testing. I learned I was sensitive to potatoes and MSG (bye bye vodka and Chinese food).
It’s a matter of understanding yourself, your day-to-day needs and finding a way that works for you to ensure that you get the nutrients that your body needs to function properly. If you don’t believe me – start by removing all dairy, all wheat (gluten), yeast and ALL processed foods from your diet for four weeks. I hear you groaning – but humour me – you will be glad you did.
One other thing that is very important, find a product that stops the poor sleep cycle. I use Melatonin or a prescribed non addictive sleep aid. To heal, you have to feed your body what it needs and let it rest.
I stuck to the foods I could eat and after a year or so, improved to the point where I knew approximately what days would be bad and which would be good. So I could, in a limited fashion, start scheduling events, speaking engagements, working days and family days.
Let me remind you – because I forgot – that balance is the ultimate goal. I overextended myself again and my body fought back. I was soon headed to zombie land with 15 of the 45 pounds that I had lost.
I refocused on my diet, but saw little improvement. In fact, over the next year, I slowly declined almost back to the point where I had started. My children were rebelling, my husband growing more frustrated, and I was sinking further and further into depression.
First, I reduced my work load. Next, I accepted the facts of life: I had a disease that could not be cured. I had to stop fighting it and find a way to manage it.
I spent the next several months trying to figure out how I could manage my disease and get my life back. I knew that I had to find or create for myself a system that would meet ALL of my needs. Once I found the right combination, my overall health and mental well-being improved tenfold in less than 3 weeks.
Finally, after four years of searching, I am pain free and my husband keeps reminding me to walk, not run. Fatigue? Fog? What is that? I feel that God has given me back 20 years.
So my advice to you – DO NOT GIVE UP – accept the fact you have a disease that is directly affected by the food you eat and the stress in your life. The doctors can only treat the symptoms, not cure the underlying problem. You have to do that.
Each one of us is different, so there is no one answer. Identify the foods that you are sensitive to and stay away from them. Investigate anything and everything that is out there (carefully) – you have nothing to lose. You have a choice – you can be a zombie or you can effectively manage your symptoms and get your life back.
Once you try this, you will start to believe you can succeed. You will, by process of trial and error, be able identify other foods and additives that are not for you.
Try my suggestions. I truly believe they will help you find your way through the fog!
Pyper Unitt lives in a village 100 miles north of Toronto, Canada.
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The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.