Got a text from a dear friend of mine, seems someone she loves as been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. When we were finally able to connect by phone she asked a lot of good questions. It got me thinking that addressing these questions could be helpful to individuals diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and to the people who love them.
I know this is off the subject of home businesses and being an entrepreneur however, since many people have health issues that lead them away from traditional J.O.B.’s this could be beneficial to you or someone you know.
When you suffer from Fibromyalgia a change in weather, not enough sleep, too much stress, illnesses, injuries, the way you eat, too much exercise, or not enough; all effect your body. They play a big part in your decisions of what you can and cannot do. They affect your pain tolerance, your emotions, and your ability to sleep, think, and function. This is common. Suffers can choose to not go the traditional medicine route and deal with the inevitable pain on their own or choose to take the anti-depressants routinely prescribed by physicians. Note: Be aware that anti-depressants, which are prescribed for the pain caused by inflammation, can cause depression. There are some natural alternatives for pain. Fibromyalgia will affect every area of their life.
The greatest detriment of having Fibromyalgia is what it does to the person; who they are on the inside. Who they are is still inside their body. What they dream of and desire to do hasn’t changed. Their body, however, refuses to cooperate. They may not be able to even walk yet they don’t look sick. When you talk to different people with Fibromyalgia you’ll find that their symptoms can vary, causing more confusion for them in the beginning, because they are not only in denial; they are often already dealing with other medical issues. To top it off their friends, family, and doctor are usually confused or in denial as well. So what can you do to support and better understand this mysterious chronic disorder?
Here are some useful ideas for you along with some helpful information. First, I’ll give you a list of possible symptoms your friend or loved one may be experiencing and a snippet about Fibromayalgia. Second, I will address some ideas of what you can do support them and finally, what they can do for themselves. I will address most of my article to friends and family who want to support the person in their life who suffers with Fibro.
*Note, not all these symptoms will apply to everyone with Fibromyalgia. Common signs and symptoms include:
Widespread Pain Morning Stiffness Fatigue Vision Nausea Sleep Disorders Urinary and Pelvic Problems Weight Gain Dizziness Chronic Headaches Cold Symptoms Temperomandibular Joint Disfunction or TMJ Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndromes “Fibrofog”: Cognitive or Memory Impairment Skin Complaints Chest Symptoms Anxiety Trouble Breathing Depression Muscle Twitches and Weakness Memory Loss: Is it real? Myofacial Pain Syndrome Difficult (and/or heightened) Female Issues
Reference Link to the Fibromyalgia Website where I obtained the above list. This is not an exhaustive list. It does, however, show how diverse Fibromyalgia can be. Although most whom suffer are female (about 80%) it also affects men. Fibromyalgia is linked to trauma and chronic stress; resulting in depleted adrenal glands. A proper diagnosis can be determined only after other possibilities are eliminated.
The following information is taken from WebMD:
“Investigators are constantly looking at various explanations for the occurrence of fibromyalgia. Some, for example, are exploring hormonal disturbances and chemical imbalances that affect nerve signaling. Other experts believe fibromyalgia with its deep muscle pain is linked to stress, illness, or trauma. Still others think there is a hereditary cause or say there is no explanation at all. But while there is no clear consensus about what causes fibromyalgia, most researchers believe fibromyalgia results not from a single event but from a combination of many physical and emotional stressors.”
Fibromyalgia Tender Points
This picture is taken from Health.com. Another site to check out regarding Tender Points is WebMD. Testing the Fibromyalgia Tender Points is very useful in narrowing down rather or not it is Fibromyalgia.
The most important thing you can do to support someone with Fibromyalgia is to remember who he or she was and to remember that person hasn’t changed. In addition be supportive, not judgmental, about their behavior. They may look great but they are in pain. They may forget and make, sometimes-serious mistakes that never would have happened before. These mistakes can be as simple as their failing to make a call they promised to make, missing an appointment, or forgetting to thaw meat for dinner. They can also be more serious, like a bill not getting paid; effecting your credit rating. Your response affects both of you. Negative comments are discouraging and unproductive. I guarantee they feel helpless and confused. Once they get things figured out they may ask you to help them remember. They may go through a period of time where they seem like their old self again and you’ll both put your guard down. In time they will begin to find the pattern of how their body reacts to weather, stress, activity, sleep or the lack there of and food.
You may find you’re frustrated when they can’t keep up with you or they cancel plans because they’re adjusting to the change in the weather. Weather greatly effects their pain level. They may decide they are going to just act like nothing is wrong and end up in bed for a few days. They may decide the pain is too much so they are going to give up and not try. You may become confused when they aren’t producing results, the house is messy, work isn’t getting done, or they act spacey unable to finish a thought or even almost black out (I call it graying out). They may not be able to spell or perhaps they stutter. To add to the confusion this can change in a time period as short as a conversation.
Loving and caring belief in them is key to their “growing through” the new lifestyle they are being pushed into. Encouraging them with understanding words, while being aware not to use belittling words and comments, which are always counterproductive. Helping with heavy dishes or taking over jobs that they once did, without having to be asked, will give them a sense of your caring and will give them hope and a belief that they don’t have to do this on their own.
The basic areas of their life that will, in my opinion, need to be addressed first and foremost are: Nutrition and Exercise, Pain Management, Stress Reduction and Management, as well as Learning to Accept and Emotionally Adjust to being the new you.
- Nutrition and Exercise: I recommend looking into Raw Food and Macrobiotic diets. Think healthy! What will work for each individual will depend on them and their symptoms. This link will take you to a great article by Colette Bouchez, continue to click to the next page on this site for tips on what foods to avoid. Here are some Do’s and Don’t's: Do’s–Low saturated fat, lean meats, and poultry and a diet high in the fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t's–Artificial foods and additives, sugars, caffeine, yeast and gluten, night shade plants. Nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD says, ”When your body is healthier overall,” says Heller, “you may be better able to cope with any disease, and better able to respond to even small changes you make.” Walking, aqua aerobics, and stretching are very good modes of exercise for someone with Fibromyalgia. Exercising will help you. Find a balance though. Overdoing can put you in bed. Wendi Pett is a fitness expert and coach. She challenges everyone, “If I told you that by using your own body’s resistance alone, you can build the body of your dreams, would you believe me? You can drastically improve your strength, flexibility and endurance without ever taking another trip to the gym! No matter how busy your schedule is, I’ve taken away all your excuses with my simple, yet highly effective Visibly Fit technique. I’m so excited to help you meet your fitness goals!”
- Pain Management: Kent Holtorf, MD, is the medical director of the Holtorf Medical Group Center for Endocrine, Neurological and Infection Related Illness in Torrance, California. He says, “A high potency vitamin supplement as well as supplements containing omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids — which are also found in foods such as fish oil, flax seed, walnuts, some fortified cereals, and eggs — are the “good fats” that have been shown to have an impact on inflammation.” Click on this link for more ways to help with pain. This link is an excellent source. Massage therapy and chiropractic care along with heat and ice treatments have been known to increase productivity while decreasing pain levels. Many alternative care providers specialize in or are aware of Fibromyalgia. Acupuncture is also recommended and is worth looking into.
- Stress Reduction and Management: Often easier said than done this step is crucial. We are not always able to reduce our stress load; so we must manage ourselves within time. Block schedules are beneficial as they allow us to see spaces of time where we can schedule relaxing or quiet moments. Reading, soft music, mineral, sea salt or Epson salt baths, a walk, a drive, or even a good movie (one that is not loud or upsetting). Family support with this step will have a huge impact on rather or not they will succeed. Even if they are determined to try, if you believe they are being lazy or lead them to believe their breaks are unacceptable it will only increase their stress; exasperating their Fibromyalgia.
- Learning to Accept and Emotionally Adjust: Accepting Fibromyalgia only comes after facing the fact that you have it. There are the usual steps of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. These steps are natural for both the one who has Fibromyalgia and the people who love them. How difficult it is to go through each step and grow beyond them will depend on your personal makeup. How we look at life and what we believe about what life brings our way. Are we someone who acts or reacts to life’s challenges? It is normal to vacillate between stages as you move forward; the only real danger is if you become stagnant.
The person suffering from Fibromyalgia will not be able to get away from their new world. On the other hand, if someone you love is living this new reality you have the option of turning your back on him or her or lovingly supporting and believing in them. You have the opportunity to “be there” while they try to figure out who they are in the midst of their own confusion. Be truly present. Don’t forget what they use to be able to do. Find ways to help them take what they already love and know and turn it into something new, for example, someone who was once an athlete could become a coach.
In closing, I would like to ask you to think of every human, every man, woman, and child as a multi-faceted diamond. As you view this diamond from one side you see specific colors; blues, gold, lavender. As the light changes you see different colors. Aqua and sea foam green. Now imagine your disappointment if the light moved and the colors in the diamond fades, appearing dull. Fibromyalgia changes what you see (mostly in regards to their physical abilities), but it does not change the potential of the diamond to shine, even glisten. Turning the diamond can bring you a whole new perspective causing it to not only glow but to glisten. You may find a new respect and a greater love for the one who suffers from this painful, debilitating, and misunderstood disorder than you ever imagined. Be willing to open your eyes and remember who they were, while allowing them to become a new version of themselves.
I am not a doctor nor am I trained in medicine. This article is based on information I have read and researched, and my observations. It is not intended to be medical advise. Please seek the advice of a medical provider (preferably one that is familiar with Fibromyalgia or better yet, find someone who believes alternative medicine is a viable option) for positive steps toward taking back control of your health or guiding someone you love.