Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Life With Fibromyalgia - Part Four

This is my story and is in no way intended to diagnose, treat or advise anyone on Fibromyalgia or any other medical disorder, only a qualified health professional can do that. 

My frustration had mounted to new heights when I happened on a link to a video done by a Dr, a Chiropractic Neurologist, who claimed to specialize in Fibromyalgia.

Part of me thought, ‘Yeah sure. Are you going to try and tell me it’s all in my head or how many more supplements/medicines I need to add to what I already take or how if I only exercised more I wouldn’t have Fibro in the first place?’ And the other part of me, the one I listened to that day, thought, ‘What do I have to lose besides a few minutes of my time I’ll never get back if it turns out to be bogus, but what if it gives us some answers, maybe a new direction? What if this guy is for real?’

The clear, concise information on what Fibromyalgia is, and isn’t, was given with compassion and a knowledge that filled me with hope again. A Google search later I had found we live close enough to one of the nine Chiropractic Neurologists there are here in Canada.

I thought I’d been put through tests before being diagnosed, but that was nothing compared to the twelve page questionnaire covering every system in my body and rating how well it was working (or not) that I had to fill out before my first appointment. Again I gave a complete account of my medical history and had more tests conducted by this new Dr.

My husband and I walked through the door of the Dr’s office, myself a nervous wreck expecting to have tender points pressed, and within minutes were put at ease. His assurance that there would be no pain for me in any way during the tests being performed held true.

I didn’t understand how the tests he did could possibly relate at the time to my situation, I think because they weren’t invasive, but as we were finishing off the first appointment, he loaned me a book and  asked me to read the first three chapters before my next appointment and we’d discuss it then, that he was sure there would be ‘light bulb’ moments for me. And he was right.

This book, which I read in its entirety (I couldn’t put it down) explained food intolerances/allergies/sensitivities, particularly gluten, and the connection to autoimmune disorders. Not just gluten’s connection to Celiac Disease. It was eye-opening to read documented information with explanations on how this is possible, and some Fibromyalgia symptoms started making more sense to me.

My follow-up appointment was scary, to say the least. The tests/information told him that I was/am Insulin Resistant/Pre-diabetic/Reactive Hypoglycemic, was Celiac (like my father before me) or was heading that way (but further testing would be required to be certain), had Leaky Gut Syndrome - or both, my adrenal glands were fatiguing (no surprise there!). But the worst part of what he told us was that one lobe of my brain was functioning for all of the others that had weakened and it was tiring fast. 

I wasn’t the worst case of Fibromyalgia he’d seen or treated but I was one of them. He agreed to take me on as a patient and wanted to start as soon as possible. And we were all set until he laid out the therapy/schedule/cost for us up-front (so we’d know what to plan for).

At that point I felt like that huge weight that was lifting off my shoulders was crushing down again, but we agreed to think it over before making a decision. For me, it was way out of my comfort zone financially, with the appointments themselves, the gas driving to/from twice a week (45-60 min one way) and time off my husband would have to take for those days (I couldn’t drive).

Sitting, having dinner together and talking it over, I discussed this book with my husband and we agreed that I’d go gluten-free while we sorted the financial stuff out. If it made a difference, great, if not, well at least it gave me something constructive to do in the meantime and three days later I embarked on this gluten-free journey.

Two days into a GF diet and I was sold. I had more energy, less pain, much less brain fog, vertigo episodes were lessening in frequency and severity, and it all continued to improve over time. But oh how I missed ‘real’ bread and on day ten I gave in and tested it out with a sandwich.

The next morning I regretted it when I woke in body-wide pain, brain fog, vertigo, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Back to a GF diet for me and have only once since purposely had something with gluten to see if I’d still react, or more like, how much could I get away with before having a reaction. And for me the truth is, none. I can now tell when I’ve been ‘glutened’ as I like to call it. In my case it affects my brain for two or three days after ingesting (on purpose or being cross-contaminated) it.

I still crave wheat, that hasn’t stopped yet and I’m not sure it ever will go away entirely. Walking past the bakery section of the grocery store makes me miss fresh baked ‘real’ bread, cakes and cookies even more but with the vast improvement I’ve had in my health after fourteen and a half weeks GF I won’t cave to the craving.

My brain is much sharper, quicker to respond mentally and physically; the broken finger feeling I had for over a year was gone after two months of GF; I’m no longer waking up each morning feeling like I was beat up in the night; my sleep pattern is even better; I can type AND remember (unless I’ve been ‘glutened’) what I wanted to say; I’m actually tasting my food now which still makes no sense to me, but there it is.

With all of these improvements, and many more that I haven’t mentioned, it makes no difference to me whether I would be considered gluten allergic, severely intolerant or just sensitive. Whatever title you want to give it, it means the same thing. I can’t have gluten. And no amount of medication added to my regime would’ve fixed or changed that fact.

I'm not saying that the therapy/treatment plan the Dr set out for us wouldn't have worked as well, I have no way of knowing that. Nor am I saying that I won't at some point go for those treatments/further testing but for now this has made such a huge difference in my quality of life I see no reason to take it to that level. But I do have him to thank for the information that guided us down this path. 

I have a new family Dr, for who knows how long or how well she deals with Fibromyalgia, but in the meantime, I will stay gluten-free. 

And now, onto dealing with the Insulin Resistance/Pre-diabetes/Reactive Hypoclycemia...

To be continued at a later date...

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