Yesterday at around 4:30 p.m., I received a phone call from Harry Douglas, the host of a nationally-syndicated radio show. The first thing he said was: “This may seem like a strange request, but stick with me, Doc. I want you to be on my radio show, Car Concerns Radio U.S.A.” I laughed. Really? “I know it sounds strange, Doc,” he said. “But I talk all the time about car’s engines and tires and so on... but the most important piece of any car is the nut behind the wheel.” It turns out he also does shows on things that affect drivers, and wanted to do one on fibromyalgia.
“When do you want me on the show?” I asked.
“How about tomorrow morning at nine?” he answered.
So now it’s 8:43, and I’m quickly finishing up this blog, because I just KNOW someone is going to call in (it’s a call-in show) and ask me how to treat fibromyalgia. So here are my Six Secrets to Living Better with Fibro.
Before I get into them, may I say that, although no one has ever proven the ability to CURE fibro, fibromyalgia CAN be treated. Again, not cured… but certainly treated to the point that people feel better than they did.
There are six secrets, because there is no ONE THING that reverses fibro. You can’t just shove a couple of cinnamon sticks up your nose, wait 5 minutes, and expect to feel 98.2% better. And all those books that claim that all you need to do is start this or stop that and everything will melt away... well, go back to my cinnamon stick example. Sure, SOME people DO respond beautifully to a given drug or therapy or dietary change (especially the small percentage who are gluten sensitive). But MOST DO NOT. For the vast majority, feeling better with fibro requires several things. Here are the six I think are MOST IMPORTANT.
The SIX SECRETS to doing better with fibromyalgia are these:
(1) Learn as much as you can about what fibromyalgia, including what it is and what it isn’t (do you remember all those myths I told you about at the start?); no one likes to fight in the dark; truly knowing what you are up against and climbing out from all the lies, misconceptions and misunderstandings is a HUGE first step.
(2) Educate important people around you, so they can be more supportive (some doctors are even open to being educated, if the source is legitimate. True stories: one patient gave her disbelieving doctor a copy of my book and received a letter of apology from him a week later; and a lawyer in England was gifted with one from a woman fighting for disability payments, won the case, and now gives FREE copies to ALL his clients).
(3) Recognize that the management of fibromyalgia is not usually a single, simple thing, like a little pink pill you take twice a day, or avoiding sugar, or bathing in coconut oil. Long-term results with fibromyalgia usually require a combination of approaches that include things your doctor or other health care professionals can do for you, AND things you must do for yourself, like lifestyle, dietary, and attitudinal changes, as well as carefully increased activity and exercise
(4) Here I’m largely going to repeat what I just said, that doing better with fibro requires things that YOU must do. Don’t rely totally on your doctor or your therapist or anyone else. In fact, the more you can do for yourself, the more control you have over your own health.
(5) Don’t overlook or let others other treatable conditions that often co-exist with fibromyalgia, like tendonitis of the heel causing foot pain, which might result in you being unable to walk but can often be treated with a custom shoe insert +/- occupational therapy +/- a short course of an anti-inflammatory drug; this is where having a conscientious and fibro-educated doctor or therapist is a HUGE plus.
(6) Keep a sense of humour - this might seem silly, but the fibro patients I’ve seen do best are those who still can laugh, even when they hurt. Perhaps my favorite patient of all time was a man who had terrible fibro but loved to laugh. Every time I saw him, he’d tell me about how the last thing I’d tried with him hadn’t worked, and then would start telling me a couple of good jokes he’d just heard. One day after about a year of trying one thing after another, he came back and something HAD worked. He was feeling better than he had in years. The last time I saw him he was volunteering at a local railway museum 20-30 hours per week and “loving it”. This time, he was doing so well we hardly had to talk about his pain or fatigue at all. But he STILL had a long list of new jokes to tell me.
Dr. Kevin White
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Note that, in recognition of National Pain Awareness Month, all through September, my book is selling for $18 off the cover price through the publisher, Wortley Road Books. Get your copy now before the price goes up again.
Kevin White, MD, PhD is a world expert in fibromyalgia research and treatment, a staunch fibromyalgia patient advocate who tours Canada, the U.S. and Europe educating people about the realities of fibromyalgia, and the multiple award-winning author of Breaking Thru the Fibro Fog: Scientific Proof Fibromyalgia Is Real. Visit him at http://thefibrofog.com. His award-winning, best-selling book is available as both a printed soft-cover and eBook at http://amazon.com and bookstores.