Monday, May 4, 2009

Facing Fibro: Naturally

Facing FibroI was diagnosed with fibromyalgia just a year ago, so I am quite the fibro newbie. That said, I have a little, very uneducated theory. Just my own little opinion. I welcome all (gentle) redirects.

My theory is this: Prescription fibro drugs don't really work.

Not only am I totally uneducated about this, but I have no proof at all, having never tried any fibro drugs. I really have no basis in fact for my theory whatsoever. So if you like, please disregard it completely and chalk it up to my independent nature and stubborn naivety.

But here's what I've observed: People who take fibro drugs have just as much trouble with flare-ups as I do. I've yet to meet a fibro sufferer who doesn't get smacked over the head with fatigue when they encounter a stressful situation. Or who doesn't have to rest for an entire day after overexertion. Or who doesn't wake up with unexpectedly burning muscles every time the barometric pressure changes. Drugs or no drugs, the attacks come, relentlessly, debilitatingly. (My husband made up that word just now, according to Wiktionary.)

I have two reasons for avoiding fibro drugs:

1) I have no prescription insurance. So I have no means to acquire fibro drugs without costing my sweet husband billions of dollars for something that I really think won't work very well for any viable length of time anyway. Not going to go there.

2) My fibro friend, a 20-year sufferer, upon finding out that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, made a point to seek me out and tell me, unequivocally, "Don't do drugs."

She said over the past 20 years, she'd tried every fibro drug on the market, but they only ever helped for a while, until her body got too smart for them, so she kept having to change to different drugs, up her dosages, do special experimental treatments, etc. The worst part, she said, was that when she was medicated all the time, she, as her husband put it, "lost her spark."

Well, well. I sure didn't want to lose my "spark." So taking the advice of the first fibro friend I encountered, I decided then and there to see if I could manage fibromyalgia without drugs.

So far, I think it's working. Like I said, I've never tried any fibro drugs, so it's quite possible I could be feeling tons better than I do, but my stubborn self seriously doubts that.

I shared that giant, obstinate disclaimer to share this: Here's how I manage fibromyalgia without prescription drugs.

1) Vitamins. One of the primary treatment recommendations for fibromyalgia is a strict, hefty vitamin regimen. I take a super nifty 10-in-One Liquid Multi Formula that pretty much covers all the bases. I think these vitamins alone account for two-thirds of my success in managing fibromyalgia. (Note: Also check this out. It helped me lose fifty pounds.)

2) Fruits and Veggies. My body just really likes fruits and veggies. They make me happy. Like water to parched ground.

3) Water, Water Everywhere. I try to drink about a gallon of water every day, and I'd say the biggest benefit to my giant water intake is increased energy. Water is my favorite beverage. Especially with ice and a dab of lemon. Yummy, yummy.

4) Activity. I won't say exercise, because fibro activity really isn't what our society defines as exercise. In fact, it's antithetical to the basic premise of exercise because fibro warriors aren't supposed to get their heart rates up too high. But we are supposed to stay active. To put it simply, if I get my heart rate up too high, I bring on a flare-up. But if I sit sedentarily in my chair all day long, that brings on a flare-up too. The key is moderate (i.e. totally unproductive in the weight-loss realm) movement. I try to stay moving.

5) Sleep. When I get enough sleep, I have good days. When I don't, I have bad days. I'm not supremely responsible in this area. I forfeit health for alone time frequently. What can I say? I have two small boys. But the principle is sound, even if I rebel against it.

6) Joy. I truly believe a heart at peace gives life to the body (Proverbs 14:30a), and a cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22a). I absolutely have super down days, and I absolutely struggle to find joy in the midst of pain. In fact, I'm totally incapable of a cheerful, peaceful heart in my own strength. I cannot manufacture joy.

But hear this:

Job 8:21 ~ He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.

Psalm 5:11 ~ But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.

Psalm 16:11 ~ You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.

Psalm 28:7 ~ The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.

Psalm 30:11 ~ You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.

Psalm 86:4 ~ Bring joy to Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Romans 15:13 ~ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jude 1:24-25 ~ To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

It is Almighty God, my Abba, who infuses me with joy. And His joy gives life to my body.

There you have it, folks. My fibro management program. When I do even a few of these things consistently, my flare-ups are less frequent and less severe. And when I do all of them, I can even spend a day engaged in activity that would normally induce an attack, and wake up the next morning with enough strength to get out of bed.

And thrive.