By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy
Of one thing I am certain…
is not the measure of healing
peace is the measure.
The specialist pokes and prods then inquires, “Does this hurt? How about here — and here?”
My response, “Ouch! It hurts all over.”
He sits down then says, “That fits with the syndrome all right. Get dressed and I’ll be right back.”
After the examination, the rheumatologist told me I had a chronic muscle disorder, fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), which is as common as rheumatoid arthritis and can be even more painful.
The term fibromyalgia comes from fibro, for fibrous tissues such as tendons and ligaments: my, indicating muscle: and algia, meaning pain. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, varying degrees of anxiety, depression, irritable bowel, vision problems, tension and migraine headaches. Fibromyalgia may also involve difficulty concentrating, light and environmental sensitivities, irritability, mood swings and insomnia. It is to the “hurt-all-over” syndrome because of the widespread body pain and stiffness.
The doctor went on to explain that there is no cure but she offered me a course of treatment including muscle relaxants, low-dose antidepressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain pills, sleeping pills and physiotherapy. I said I needed time to consider my options. I left with a firm commitment to finding a more natural way than taking all these drugs.
Taking Charge of my Recovery
In my work as a life coach, I encouraged others to look for causes rather than just make symptoms with drugs. Looking at my health challenge from this perspective made it difficult for me to believe that fibromyalgia is manageable but not curable. Members of the group seemed to define themselves by their fibromyalgia. As watch and listen participants seem resigned to a life of chronic pain and debilitating fatigue that worsens with age. Whenever a health problem comes into my life, I take a proactive approach. After leaving, one of the meetings I chose not to return and decided to use tried and tried self-health methods and whole person healing. I severed my association with them and carried on with an even stronger resolve.
After the appointment, I reject that idea, go home and start researching what some call “fibro” for short. Initially, I joined a fibromyalgia support group and gathered some useful information, but left after a short time. Most of the participants were more interested in managing rather than curing their disorder and that did not work for me. I live with the idea that more often than not the “incurable” aspect is the umbrella doctors’ use when they do not have other options.
Individuals with fibromyalgia frequently have a type-A personality. They are perfectionists, neat, compulsive, organized, time-oriented, tense and precise. I frequently overdid things and found myself feeling discouraged when flare-ups occurred. I world experience painfully tight muscles, lack of mobility, chronic insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, mood swings and extreme fatigue. However, I knew that one’s attitude toward pain makes a difference. So rather than mask symptoms or lapse into feeling sorry for myself, I decided to allow this condition to become my teacher.
Lessons in Balanced Living
David and I work together gathering information about the disorder and making proactive health plans for a full recovery. The fact that the physicians refer to it as a “syndrome” gave us hope. I go back to my yoga practice and the stretches and deep breathing is theraputic. Prayer, meditation and journaling provides insight and spiritual clarity. As an incest survivor, I knew childhood problems were likely contributing to my disorder.
David provides useful feedback about the cause and effect of my behavior and how overdoing it creates a flare up. Through time, we both concluded that fibromyalgia is as much a pacing disorder as a physical one. This realization was a major breakthrough. Through his eyes I could see my lifelong pattern of overdoing and overreaching.
Over the years my growth process assisted us in creating a self-health model called the Inner Dynamics System. It is based on the principle that the outer aspects of life mirror the inner landscape. Awareness, accountability and action are key aspects of empowered living and it was time tomake self-accountable choices for my health and well-being.
My next spoke in my healing wheel came with the energetic healing art of Reiki. It is powerful, non-invasive healing art that facilitates the energy flow to body tissues and promotes body/mind/spiritual/emotional baance. The sessions created a dramatic difference that I become a practitioner and used the techniques daily.
To support my body between the self-treatments I use magnetic therapy. Magnets open capillaries and increases blood supply to weak and inflamed areas. Long hot Epsom Salt soaks were soothing to sore muscles and ligaments.
As a sexual abuse survivor I had alifelong pattern of insomnia. The inability to sleep soundly exacerbated pain and stiffness. A naturopath suggested a combination of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, herbal relaxant, lavender essential oil on my feet and sleep-enhancing tea. I began reciting the prayer of serentity to asist me in releasing the buzzing brain syndrome. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Training my over-active brain to still points was challening. quiet has been quite a challenge. During the early stages of the diagnosis, I was learning some invaluable lessons in the importance of balace and pacing.
Developing the ability to relax into deep restful sleep reduced th symptoms dramatically and energy levels increased. Through time I was strong enough to cross-train and it includes light free-weights for strengthening ands and freeform dance.
Supplements and Diet
When I discovered that antioxidants help fibromyalgia, I increased the amount of vitamin E and C and included grape seed extract as well. A combination of ginkgo balboa and hawthorn helped clear the fibro-fog and improved my concentration. The herbs eyebright and bilberry improved my vision. MSN, glucosamine (GLH) and chondroitin have all but eliminated pain and inflammation, and improved the strength and flexibility of my muscles and ligaments.
The Naturopath changed my diet and I had to eliminate nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and peppers). They contain levels of glutamates can create inflammation for those who have a sensitivity, Some foods increase the number of parasites and yeast in the system and he put me on an eating plan without white bread and sugar.
I discovered the cleansing properties of liquid chlorophyll, acidophilus and sage tea with clove and added them to my regime.My diet was clean and I did not injest hydrolyzed protein, mono sodium glutamate (MSG) or aspartame.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after a car accident in 1991. Within a year I was living pain-free and the balanced living methods have supported my body ever since. Return visits to the doctor and physiotherapists indicate that the trigger points are not inflamed and I live symptom free. As long as I respect my body, pace, stay warm I remain healthy and strong. The diagnosis and required lifestyle changes were daunting at times.
However, the exprience gave more than it took because I learned how to live within my means in every level. Had it not happened I would probably be living my Type A-hard driving life without the the respect for my body that I know have. I continue to believe that in the end health is a persona responsibility and not a right. In many cases healing has little to do with medicine and as the Naturpath wisely pointed out medical model cannot heal us. We need to create the environment for the body to heal and with that approach it often does.
I learned this and so much more. I share the lessons, training in my book entitled it I Have Been There…A Testimony of Hope (www.ibtbook.com)nd. David and I share a commitment to assisting others in their quest for radiant health and empowered living. Check out the website for our personal development company Fresh Beginnings website at www.fresh-beginnings.com
This article was originally published in my column Perspectives on Healthy Living in the spring 2008 (Volume 15—Issue 1) of The Aquarian, (www.aquarianonline.com). I received permission from The Aquarian Magazine to share my published articles.