Welcome, spoonies and supporters
The Fibromyalgia blog is back is full swing.
With an accompanying vlog, my updates will not only include facts on living with fibro, strategies to cope but a personal perspective on living with chronic illnesses.
2020 has been a year many of us will remember for the rest of our lives. In times of stress, under which a pandemic certainly falls, we hold tension in our bodies that -when unresolved- can manifest as pain or discomfort.
Fellow spoonies out there will know that physical symptoms are not the only problem chronic illnesses cause. A number of factors come into play when holistically analysing this medical condition.
Fibromyalgia or Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a neurological condition that causes a variety of symptoms impacting the central nervous system, how it transports, receives and responds to brain messages.
It is more prevalent in women, with the average sufferer being diagnosed between 35-45 years old.
The NHS and other health organisations do not know much about this condition. Previously, there were debates surrounding the authenticity of the disease and suggestions of possible hypochondriacs among sufferers.
Levels of serotonin in the brain have also been reported as low in fibromyalgia patients. Serotonin is a brain chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) associated with a calming, anxiety-reducing effect. Patients with fibromyalgia have impaired non-rapid eye movement, or NREM, sleep phase, which prevents deep sleep (REM – rapid eye movement) and causes constant fatigue. The onset of fibromyalgia has been associated with psychological distress, trauma, and infection or illness.
Some healthcare professionals today are still unsure whether fibromyalgia falls under a musculoskeletal disorder, neurological condition or psychiatric care.
At the moment, a rheumatologist diagnoses most patients by testing the pain points common for the condition. Although the condition itself is not arthritic and does not technically categorise under this field of medicine. Post-diagnosis, patients are discharged back to their GP and referred onto a pain clinic.
My Fibromyalgia Journey:
I was diagnosed at 22 years old after 4 years of extreme sleep disturbance, chronic pain, mental health impacts and sensitivity. It is highly possibly that prolonged trauma during an abusive relationship triggered the onset of this condition, which is further effected by a personality disorder.
Prior to the diagnosis, I had increased visits to my GP surgery, already received multiple sets of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for other reasons, and a personal pain management routine where I self-taught yoga, Pilates and tai’ chi.
When I took up running, and lost three stone of undergraduate student weight, the symptoms worsened. The flesh around my joints (shoulders, neck, knees, hips, ankles, wrists, you name it) would swell and restrict mobility entirely.
After diagnosis by a rheumatologist, my GP prescribed me with a cocktail of medications: amitriptyline, cocodomol, tramadol, naproxyen & omeprazole .
Did you know Morgan Freeman is diagnosed as having fibromyalgia?
It had taken a five month wait to get the assessment at the hospital for the diagnosis. It took another five months to see the pain clinic. They advised me there was no treatment, and my only option was a weekly 3-hour-long pain management course which was unsuitable to my needs as a full-time working woman who had taken time out of her career path to manage her own pain. I felt I had learned and tried all I could in the years I had been experiencing symptoms. At this point in my journey I was on 2-8 Tramadol 50mg tablets, 4-6 max strength cocodomols and 3 naproxyen 500mg with antisickness tablets to counter act the side effects, just to function like the normal human being.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Cognitive & Eye
- Heart palpitations
- Poor circulation
- Unexplained weight changes
- Low immune system
- Noisy joints
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen lymphnodes
- Inflamed cartilage (particularly ribs)
- Headaches and migraines
- Tender breasts
- Migratory pain
- Nerve pain
- Muscle spasms
- Joint pain
- Tender trigger points
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TJD)
- Restless leg syndrome
- Variations of pain: stabbing, poking, burning, aching, etc.
- Night terrors
- Night sweats
- Disturbed sleep pattern
- Teeth grinding
- Difficulty falling and staying asleep
- Falling sensations
- Alertness or high energy levels at night
- Excessive sleeping
- Non-restorative sleep
- Cognitive fog
- Carpal tunnel
- Hypersensitivity (light/noise)
- Mobility and
- Spatial/directional disorientation
- Blind spots
- Poor vision
- Rapidly changing vision
- Unfocused sight
- Eye pain
- Speech difficulties: stutter, stammer, slowed speech
- Short-term memory loss
- Attention deficit and distraction issues
- Recognition difficulties
- Transposition of words, letters and numbers