60 year old male. Health good; alert; physically in good shape for his age. Nothing organically wrong, all tests negative. Complains a lot! That was eight years ago. There is no point in detailing the aggravation of being told by your family physician that there is nothing wrong with you and if you hurt, take a hot bath, do more exercise and get involved with multiple activities so that you don’t dwell on the natural changes that happen to everyone as they age.
I used to joke with my massage therapists that they had a body on their table that was suffering from a bad case of rigor mortis. I would suggest that they might prefer me to be on a gurney rather than a comfortable massage table.
At the end of an hour they would invariably comment that they had now had their workout for the week. My muscles were hard and tight, my flexibility approached that of a corpse. And I was having pains so deep in the muscle tissue that it took all their energy to relax the outer layers of muscle so that they could get at the trigger points and apply either acupressure, ice, heat, ultrasound, electro-stimulation etc.
Although my pain was relieved, I knew full well that in a few days, everything would spring back into a state of spasm—no matter what activity, or lack of activity.
If I did anything fairly energetic, then for days afterwards I would be unable to function and simply want to sleep—as if drugged.
My eyes burned due to dry eye syndrome, so any work on the computer was punctuated by frequent enforced intervals to attend to my eyes and my body.
I could have drowned my sorrows in food, chocolate and alcohol, but for the fact that irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux disease (GERD) ruled that out.
Was I depressed? Absolutely not!
But my doctor put me onto antidepressants! And the impotence that this induced made me even more depressed and also woozy!
The situation was becoming intolerable, especially when my doctor smirked: “Oh, you are here again, Sid. What is it this time?” And when I was about to leave after the appointment, he tried to assure me that there was nothing wrong and I am perfectly healthy — but he could not feel my pain!
My ‘dry eye’ doctor referred me to my rheumatologist. That changed my life! After a number of blood tests and X-rays, I tentatively waited in his exam room while he studied the lab results and the x-rays. I prepared myself to deal with the next snide remark that was sure to come.
Instead, he was deeply thoughtful and his exam particularly thorough and then he outlined a series of office visits and the protocol I was to follow. He told me what I might expect and what could not be done about my condition. I asked him to repeat the diagnosis so that I knew I had heard it right and I asked for assurance that he would accept me as his patient. The relief was indescribable; it was not “in my head”; I was not delusional!
Very patiently and always with sincere concern, Dr. Kemple and Vesna Giurgief, P.A. (pain specialist), helped me understand the condition (FM), assisted me to deal with it and empowered me with all manner of coping mechanisms as we worked together to design and titrate my specific treatment program.
Three years later I now feel alive again. My energy level has improved and my outlook on life is positive. Each day is filled with a sense of joy and gratitude.
My advise to other fibromyalgics (FM):
- Change your doctor until you find one who treats you as an individual and not an epidemiological statistic.
- You will be able to adjust to your new FM reality if you do not treat this as a war. You are not fighting anything!
- Being angry and ranting and raving about it is like throwing rocks at fog. Whatever you do will not make the FM fog go away. Instead learn new techniques to move and see through the fog. Learn to be where you are and remember, “For things to change, you must change!”
- Work cooperatively with your medical team to change yourself, your way of living, your attitude towards life, time and the enveloping dynamic.
- Become part of this, not apart from this.
- Dissolve all perceived artificial boundaries and constraints; join hands, head and heart with all that makes your world.
You will change and then things will change!