It is possible to have fibromyalgia and be med free. My fibro journey started back in 1989 when my first symptoms appeared. Eleven years later I got my official diagnosis of fibromyalgia. I was initially happy (yes, really!) because I had been vindicated. What I had been battling for years had finally been recognized and it had a name!! After diagnosis comes a treatment protocol and cure, right?
I came back to earth with a bump when I was told there is no cure. The only treatment offered to me for all the pain, fatigue and IBS symptoms were strong painkillers and antidepressants. My answer to the doctor was a polite “no, thank you.”
Managing Without Meds
I had coped so far without drugs. At the time I was only 36. I figured that if I had to battle incurable fibromyalgia for the rest of my life, and I’d been managing without meds so far, there would be time enough for medication when I was older. I didn’t know whether my fibro would get any worse, but doctors told me it had the potential to put me in a wheelchair. I was absolutely determined that was never going to happen. I had fibromyalgia, but it was never going to have me.
Accident and Injury
In July 2016, I was involved in a car accident which injured both my neck and back. These whiplash injuries were incredibly painful and with my fibromyalgia, I was suffering pain on top of pain. Expecting that my injures would only be short term, I agreed to take the strong painkillers I was prescribed, although I drew the line at the amitriptyline. Alongside the anti-inflammatories and painkillers such as Codeine and Nefopam, I had to take medication to protect my stomach and was also prescribed Diazepam for the spasms.
Surprise, surprise. Nothing worked. Unless of course you count me turning into a sickly zombie. What it did do was show me how easy it is to get prescribed one pill. And then something else to counter the effects of the first pill. Then before you know it, you are taking a handfuls of tablets and experiencing a long list of hideous side effects. Which was fibro? Which was the medication? After three weeks, I said no more and stopped taking all the medication.
Gentle, Healthy Med Free Living
Today I am still med free. I manage my fibromyalgia with a combination of clean eating, gentle yoga, meditation and massage. And it works for me. I know my body well enough to be gentle with it when I have to be.
When I relay this information in some fibro forums, some people treat me like some sort of fibro fraud. they suggest that either I can’t possibly have fibromyalgia, or that it can’t be very severe. In their opinion, it’s not possible to have fibromyalgia without taking drugs.
It is possible. I am med free. I prefer to know that my symptoms are due to the fibromyalgia and not the drugs. Pain medication can actually have the opposite effect and in the long term can make chronic pain worse.
Is It True?
When I read of the myriad symptoms that fibro sufferers have with people struggling to sleep, muddling through brain fog to the point of not being able to hold down a conversation, constantly feeling sick and out of sorts, I often wonder if it is truly the fibromyalgia which is debilitating them. Maybe it is indeed the cocktail of drugs they are prescribed. I find it heartbreaking that our medical professionals are seemingly palming patients off with a heap of drugs without even really knowing what they are treating and certainly with no hope of cure.
I have one piece of advice to anybody that has recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia: look for alternatives before jumping onto the pill merry-go-round. There are other options that will allow you to be med free. I am living proof of that. For those already stuck in the medication loop, ask your doctor if there is a way to safely reduce the drugs and look to other, more holistic options for dealing with your condition.
The body can heal itself to some degree. I do more than survive. I thrive, and that suits me just fine for now!
Guest Post by Tracey Marinelli, www.fibrofantastic.com