This is an outline of my journey from living with incredible pain due to fibromyalgia to wholeness. There wasn’t just one thing that worked. I wish I could say I found the magic solution to fibromyalgia. And I’m not “cured,” not by any means. But I am healthier and happier than I have been in a long time. This is super long so I broke it down by topic. I hope it helps! And feel free to ask me any questions.
The timeline is a little messed up. I didn’t just do one thing and then the next. I started with one thing, added another, and then a few more.
It started with the prescription medications making the pain less, but the memory and brain fog issues worse. It started to become dangerous for me to drive, and since my husband worked out of town, I was the sole caregiver for our 4 children. I began researching – and keeping lots of notes! – herbal remedies. This naturally let me to the world of essential oils.
I started with a DIY muscle relief cream. The recipe has morphed over time, based on my knowledge and needs, but the base has always been the same.
1/2 cup coconut oil and 10 drops each of PanAway, Lavender, and Peppermint.
Other oils that I started adding to get better results are Lemongrass and Copaiba.
The first night, I rubbed this all over my legs just before bed and when I got up the next morning, it didn’t hurt to walk. I was amazed! I also use this after a big day, such as going to the fair, when I know my nerves and muscles will hurt afterward.
Once it didn’t hurt to get out of bed, I started to work on my sleep.
Good, quality sleep is sooo important. I think it’s even more important when you have pain that results in difficulty sleeping. I used to not be able to fall asleep and would lay in bed for HOURS, watching the clock and listening to my husband snore. Then, when I finally fell asleep around 2 am, I would be awake again at 4 am. I would lay there until around 6 am when I needed to get up to get the kids ready for school. Then, by 8 or 9 am, I was napping. I would wake up around 10 or 11, do a couple of minor chores, then go back to sleep. The kids would get home from school, and I would be awake again until 2 am. Repeat, repeat. It was terrible.
I created a good sleep routine, started diffusing Lavender, and using Sleep Essence. 6 months later, I started falling asleep at 11 pm and staying asleep until 4 am. Now? I go to bed around 9:30-10 pm and sleep until 6 am – unless the dog wakes me up to go outside or my grandbabies are here and they wake up. I get a solid 8 hours of sleep on the regular now.
Next, I worked on my gut. I kept hearing that whole health is in the gut. I had all kinds of stomach/gut issues. Constipation, diarrhea (sometimes in the same day!), noises, heartburn, cramps… and the doctor just wanted to medicate me. I learned before, though, that sometimes the side effects are worse than the issue.
I looked up the top culprits for gut issues and, no surprise, came up with gluten, sugar, and caffeine. There were others, but these were the ones I focused on.
I started by doing a 10-day sugar cleanse. Some people were super serious and didn’t eat anything that had sugar in it, including fruits. I just did no processed or added sugars. For this challenge, I started drinking Ningxia Red – an antioxidant nutrient drink. It helped with the withdrawal symptoms. After the challenge, I found I have more energy and less brain fog.
Then I started phasing out gluten. This one is hard for me because my entire family is a “meat and pasta” club. However, when I do eat gluten, I end up extremely tired within 20 minutes. I have a migraine within an hour, and all kinds of gut issues for 3 days afterward. I have not been tested for Celiac. Gluten-free products are super expensive, which was another hurdle for me. I use corn tortillas, make zucchini noodles, and chaffles, and eat a lot of real foods now.
Caffeine…oh my dearest coffee pot. We must break up! Well, sort of. I still have coffee, and black tea, but for a while, I didn’t. I did another 10-day detox for caffeine, but by accident. I was working out every morning (more on that later) and my heart rate wasn’t dropping. The trainer told me not to drink coffee in the mornings before class. So I listened. But by the time class was over, my body didn’t feel like it needed caffeine. Now I have tea on non-workout days and coffee once a week on the weekends.
I recently posted in my Facebook Group some more healthy eating tips and other valuable points.
I also take AllerZyme, EssentialZyme, and use DiGize essential oil. Ningxia Red helped me with gut things, too.
By this time, we were living in a small, single level home with only 2 steps instead of 3 flights. This one was probably the hardest of all to get going. When I first got sick, we lived on the third floor of an apartment building and there was no elevator. If I went grocery shopping, I would come home and have to crawl up the stairs. Literally, on my hands and knees. My dad made me a cane that helped when I had to be out for more than a few days. Yes, a 30-year-old woman walked with a cane!
Everything I read said that exercise was important to combat fibromyalgia. But how can I when it exhausts me and makes me hurt?
I started REALLY slow. As in, I would walk from the front door to the end of the driveway and back. Then the next week I would walk to the end of the street. Then I would walk to the end of the block. Eventually, I was able to take my dog on walks all over our little town and we walked about 3 miles every night.
I also re-started yoga. I loved it before I got sick, and knew the focus on being present in the moment would be helpful to my journey to health. The stretching, balancing, and breathing exercises both strengthened and relaxed my muscles.
I used a LOT of my homemade cream recipe, but now I will reach for pre-made things like Cool Azul Sports Gel, Cool Azul Pain Cream, Ortho Ease Massage Oil, Deep Relief roll-on, and CBD Muscle Rub. I basically reach for whatever is handy or what I think would work the best in the moment.
Stress can exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms. I had to learn how to set clear boundaries and expectations of myself and my family. I had to learn how to say no when people asked me for help – which is really hard because I love helping others! I can’t say I’m totally stress-free (is anyone?), but I can say I manage it better. I use StressAway, Calm roll-on, time-blocking, meditation, and exercise to keep the anxiety monster at bay. I also get regular massages and chiropractic adjustments.
Where am I now?
I still have hard days, when it hurts to move, my husband can’t hug me, and I just want to sleep. But those days are less than they used to be. Winter is the hardest, with the cold and dark, but I can cope with it now instead of staying in bed all day.
I work out 4-5 days a week doing kickboxing, weight training, and yoga. I also will go for walks or jogs, work in the garden, and play with my kids and grandkids. I can clean house and go grocery shopping in the same day! I write, edit, and run my business. I still have to write everything down, but now it’s just because I’m so busy and not because my mind can’t hold any information. I walked 12 miles in one day while in London. I feel stronger than I ever remember being.
True health and wholeness is not using or doing just one thing. It’s about looking at the big picture and all the pieces, sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. What worked for me might not work for you. The products mentioned above are the ones I use most often, but there are lots of others that I use to support my body and mind. I’m happy to chat with you and work with you to discover your whole health self!