Pharmaceuticals and their side effects: You have other choices!

When I first started experiencing Fibromyalgia symptoms, after the birth of my second son, I thought for sure I had a debilitating disease that would (based on the pain level) mostly certainly cause death. I could barely get out of bed in the morning, had terrible difficulty taking care of my newborn son and going to work was more than just difficult, it was almost impossible. I am sure everyone thought it was all in my head because no one could diagnose my problem: Fibromyalgia has no outside physical symptoms and cannot be seen on x-rays. But just because no one could figure out what was causing my excruciating joint and muscle pain did not mean that I was a Hypochondriac, it just meant that I didn’t have a diagnosis. After countless hours of research, I KNEW I had Fibromyalgia.

Once I saw a Rheumatologist, who finally diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia, he proceeded to write out a prescription for four pharmaceutical drugs consisting of:

  1. A muscle relaxer;
  2. An anti-inflammatory;
  3. A pain killer; and
  4. A low dose anti-depressant.

At the time I was breastfeeding my son and politely declined the prescriptions. I asked what my options were and the doctor handed me a pamphlet about Fibromyalgia and said “You will need to exercise every day and research other people with Fibro to determine how you will be able to find some relief,” and then sent me on my way. When researching Fibro treatments, the No. 1 treatment is “take your medicine as prescribed.” (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2011.)  Yes, my Rheumatologist diagnosed me, and that was a relief, but the only real treatment he could offer me, besides “exercise daily” was pharmaceutical drugs. Even if I wasn’t breastfeeding, I wouldn’t have been interested in masking my symptoms with drugs or dealing with side effects of the drugs. The whole pharmaceutical package I was offered was a vicious circle of taking a drug to stop one problem, while causing another problem, which would require yet another drug. This is what many people face every day of their lives because they don’t know where else to turn.

After months of research and talking to everyone I knew about their knowledge of Fibromyalgia, I started to put the data together. Here is a list of my supplementation plan:

Here is a list of my exercise program:

  • I currently take two yoga classes per week (one for strength building and 1 for stretching and relaxation),
  • I attend one TRX personal training class,
  • and I work out in the gym alternating cardio and weight bearing exercises most other days,
  • I also power walk/jog whenever I can and my mini trampoline is one of my best friends.

I attend a community acupuncture session and get a full body, deep tissue massage, both about once per month and I see my chiropractor for regular adjustments and physical therapy when needed. Also, I spend a great deal of time and money on eating a well-balanced diet, with as much organic, all natural ingredients as possible. I avoid ingredients, as much as possible, known to cause a variety of problems including impairing the immune system, such as:

  • high fructose corn syrup;
  • hydrogenated oils;
  • GMO “frankenfood”;
  • artificial colors,
  • artificial flavors,
  • and preservatives.

I eat homemade food as much as possible and whatever pre-prepared food I eat, I make attempts to see the ingredients list before I eat it. Sometimes a little “bad” food is inevitable, but I try to keep it down to a very bare minimum.  I have even recently started avoiding gluten as much as possible because current research is showing that gluten has inflammatory properties which certainly exacerbate IBS; but may also cause further problems with Fibromyalgia.

The point is that I was not a hypochondriac, I did have a real problem, but the only way a doctor knew how to treat me was with pharmaceuticals, which come with side effects. I knew there had to be a better way to treat myself. So after proper research to find the right lifestyle to include daily exercise, proper nutrition and supplements, and utilizing things like yoga, meditation and deep breathing to keep my stress levels down: I am one of the few people who live with low levels of pain/discomfort from Fibromyalgia. Yes, maybe good genes helped me to bounce back but bad genes gave me Fibro in the first place.

Here are some alarming statistics regarding Fibromyalgia:

  • More than 5 million people suffer from Fibromyalgia and approximately 80-90 percent are women. (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2011.)
  • Approximately 25 percent of all people with fibromyalgia are receiving disability payments. (Yu, 2006.) Millions of others simply live with debilitating pain on a daily basis and have no other alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.

I believe this is because Fibro sufferers have not been properly educated or have not researched to find a treatment plan that includes proper diet, nutrition, exercise, supplements and stress reducing techniques.

As proven by the Centenarians (those who live 100 years or longer), the key to longevity is a healthy lifestyle. Common themes among those who live over 100 years include eating a nutritious diet with mostly fresh fruits, vegetables and a small amount of protein of fish, chicken or pork (Sigelman and Rider, pg. 556, 2012.); regular exercise and limiting or avoiding things like smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. (Sigelman and Rider, pg. 355, 2012.) Continually challenging our bodies AND minds is also an important factor.

If we want to live to 100 or even just live a long and healthy life, with as little pain as possible, it seems apparent by the data I have presented here that diet, nutrition, supplements, stress reduction and exercise are very important factors. I am living proof that these things really do matter and if I did not put sufficient effort into these important factors, I could easily be overweight, unhealthy, stressed out and perhaps disabled. Paying close attention to my diet, nutrition, supplementation, low stress levels and exercise has given me a lifestyle (and yearly checkup) that is closer to a healthy athlete than a 47 year old woman with Fibromyalgia, Tendonitis and IBS.

I do not have to guess whether these factors make a difference in my life…I know they do.

Do you have a story about your plight with a health issue that you worked through to overcome without pharmaceuticals? Please share your story! Also, if you have any comments to share, please leave a comment, I would appreciate it!

M.

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