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BEECHEY: There is no magic pill for Fibromyalgia

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The Canadian Arthritis Society notes that Fibromyalgia affects two per cent of all Canadians.

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By April 2021’s count that would mean in Ontario alone, 295,795 people have this debilitating disease and are suffering daily. Most of you reading this know at least one or two people with Fibro. Some people are housebound or even bedbound, many have little to no social life, as well as financial problems as they cannot work.

My name is Laurel and I have Fibromyalgia. The best thing about having FM is that it won’t kill you. The worst thing is, it won’t kill you.

The following information is from the Mayo Clinic with my comments added. Imagine a constant dull ache that can grow to monumental proportions. Think of a nagging or pounding toothache everywhere!

We awake tired even after sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is disrupted by pain, and other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. This can be mild to total exhaustion, which drains you like a bad case of the flu and you are too tired to do anything.

‘Fibro fog’ impairs our ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks, plus forgetfulness and slow or confused speech.

We all have other assorted symptoms and syndromes which can come and go: irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines and other headaches, interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome), temporomandibular joint disorder (jaw joint), anxiety, depression, postural tachycardia syndrome (dizziness or passing out when rising, fatigue, and nausea).

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Alas, there are many other problems that can hit and incapacitate us: swelling and/or ‘pins and needles’ in the feet and fingers; tinnitus (buzzing in the ear); extreme sensitivity to pain; bright lights, some foods and scents; stiffness, muscle spasms, dizziness and clumsiness. The list goes on and on. It is probably easier to find out what is not part of Fibro.

I was diagnosed 30 years ago, yet even today there are doctors who believe it is ‘in our heads’. There are no lab or imaging tests so if that is what the doctor orders, they don’t know the disease. Find a doctor that will help you.

There is no magic pill. Family, friends, and employers must understand that although we look healthy, we are not, and this will not go away like the flu. But with a whole family lifestyle change you can allow the ‘patient’ to salvage what they can of their health. Reduce the workload, allowing them to do what they can, and happily take over what they cannot. Reduce stress, which helps with their depression (probably from the guilt and shame of not being to do what they used to).

Help them make their body the best it can be to fight the Fibro. No alcohol, tobacco, vaping, or junk food. Only healthy foods, drinks and exercise.

Any kind of water exercises like swimming or aquafit helps cushion and protect your body, allowing you to strengthen it. Do any exercise you can like walking or pumping soup cans. Start small and build your body up. It is always painful at first but after a week or two at you will be amazed at the difference. Ask your doctor about it.

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I have managed Fibro with exercise for decades. Exercise solves many of the problems and is one of the most important things to keep doing. Even if it is that last think you want to do, do it! It is more important than the drugs.

Some of the anti-depressant drugs you get for Fibro can dull the brain, a big problem when are brains are already foggy, so be careful and work with your physician until you find the one right for you. Try and save the drugs for when you get older and really need them.

There is so much more to learn, so start researching. Join a Fibro help group. Talk with family and friends or share this article with people you know. You also call me 519-842-9416 if you wish.

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