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Fighting Fibromyalgia and Sharing the Knowledge

You may recall a few weeks ago I shared about what a coach is and why I became one. I shared about how my mission is to help other people improve their quality of life and thrive despite fibromyalgia. For several years I have been showing you how I fight fibromyalgia and now I want to help you do the same thing.

Today I want to share with you my programmes – Kickstart Your Fight Against Fibromyalgia.

These are for you if you would like to sleep better, calm your central nervous system, make the most of your energy, manage your pain and craft your vision of “thriving despite chronic illness”.

I want to also ask you a favour – if you know someone who is struggling with fibromyalgia could you please share this with them? I so wish these programmes existed when I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other as a 20-something person with nothing more than my heat pack and pain killers that hurt my tummy and didn’t help much. I definitely had no one who understood. I created these programs while remembering what I would have wished for, if I knew what to wish for!

woman punching: fighting fibromyalgia

Kickstart Your Fight Against Fibromyalgia 1-1 Sessions

The traditional coaching model where we sit down one-on-one and you set the agenda, we make goals and work on them. For 45 minutes at a time we focus on you and your well being journey – we discuss where you are at, your goals, what you are trying and would like to try and fine tune your plans with someone who has been where you are and gets it. We use the six key areas to fight fibromyalgia as our framework. Check out my work with me page to see how you can request your complimentary consultation.

“It [coaching] was like a reset point, where Melissa helped me to focus on the goals I have by breaking it down into smaller goals.” – A client

Kickstart your fight against fibromyalgia one on on sessions

Kickstart Your Fight Against Fibromyalgia Membership Program

This is the self-study or group option. As soon as you sign up you will have access to all of my best resources to help you plan your fight against chronic pain and fatigue. From the Fibromyalgia 101 Foundational Micro Courses in the six key areas to fight fibromyalgia to the Mindfulness for the Chronic Life course to help you manage the central nervous system over activation and the many bonus resources that come with it. For the group options – you simply up level your membership to premium and gain access to the exclusive Kickstart Your Fight group.

“Melissa has a wealth of knowledge and tools to help others along with a passion to help.” – A client

Drop me an email at melissa@melissavsfibromyalgia.com. Or Schedule your complimentary chat if you would like to ask any questions, let me know your goals and be sure that these programmes might be a good fit for you.

To get an idea of how I work you can:

I would be so honored to walk alongside you in your journey.

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Coaching for Fibromyalgia: Why a Fibromyalgia Coach?

Have you heard about the concept of using a coach to help you with your wellness goals? Specifically a coach to support you in your journey fighting fibromyalgia? In this post I summarise why, benefits, what life coaching is and isn’t and how to choose one.

Why a Coach for Fibromyalgia?

Struggling with pain, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog and the host of other symptoms that come with fibromyalgia can mean daily life is difficult enough without trying to figure out how tackle these symptoms.

If I had had someone who could have said “I believe you. Here is a place to start. How are you, really?” My journey would have been much shorter. I would not have lost the entirety of my twenties to the fight.

Have you heard of the analogy of most health services being an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff? I envision coaches to come and walk beside you from the top of the cliff down the (tricky) path on the other side.

Benefits of a coach for those with fibromyalgia

Benefits of Fibromyalgia Coaching

Dr Liptan promotes the concept in this article…because she knows a doctor cannot possibly help put the jigsaw puzzle together with you in their tiny allotted appointments. She also discusses coaching with Tami Stackelhouse (founder of the International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute) in this video.

An article about a study on health coaching in 2016 states that “Telephonic coaching has been found to be an effective means for behavior change while also providing a convenience for the patient and clinician. Appel et al.”

In the study, nine patients participated –
At the conclusion of 12 months results included that Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire scores improved by 35%. Illnesses interference in function was reduced by 44%.

The benefits:

  • Fill the gap in the current healthcare system that people with fibromyalgia are falling through – helping patients to enact what doctors suggest but don’t have the time to show them how to do
  • Reduce the time it takes to put together a wellness plan
  • Increased functionality (you do more)
  • Decreased impact on your life
  • Support
  • Understanding

Coaching is

A partnership between coach and client where the coach supports, encourages and provides accountability while the client works toward their goals.

In future models healthcare for chronic illness is likely to include partnerships between client, doctor, physical practitioners, coaches and more. The current healthcare system where patients rely on doctors is not working. We have to realise we have control and start working collaboratively.

Coaching is not

Therapy or the coach taking control for the client. The only expert in your body and condition is you.

Why I Chose to Become a Coach Specialising Fibromyalgia and Mindfulness

At the beginning of this year, I was wondering what to do next in my career. With three small children and fibromyalgia it was becoming clear that I could no longer balance work, life, health and making the resources I have made to help others fight Professional_Coach_Logofibromyalgia. When I visualised my ideal job, it was fibromyalgia coaching! Except that it took me a while to put the pieces together.

I have since studied to become a Certified Life Coach and Certified Mindfulness Coach through the Transformation Academy.

I am supremely passionate about helping others take control of their healing journey – because I believe self-efficacy is vital. We make small decisions all day every day which add up to impact our quality of life.

How I work

We work together to set your vision for what “thriving despite fibromyalgia” means for you, set goals and I will walk beside you as you achieve these.

I provide research, advice on how to find more information, my personal experience and help you work through the information and your own goals and ideas.

My philosophy is very positive but realistic. I have done the work myself and dragged myself from miserable and barely coping to thriving despite the fibromyalgia and I expect anyone who works with me to be ready to do the work.

In short, I empower you to take control of your healing journey.

Coaching for fibromyalgia

If You’re Considering Working with a Coach

Go through their blog, books, products, videos etc. To see if their style gels with yours. Coaching generally takes place over a longer term period, unless you have a smaller goal so you want to be comfortable with the person you choose.

Ask yourself what you would like to achieve – I am able to help you break big goals down into manageable chunks but we do need to have reasonable expectations.

Where Can You Get More Information?

My blog has around 200 articles. I have two Facebook groups you are welcome to join – Melissa (you) vs Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia. I have written two books – Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia (affiliate link) and Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia (affiliate link).

Have a look at my Work With Me page – you can sign up for a complimentary chat where we discuss what your goals are, how I could help and if you are in a good place to begin coaching.

Curious about coaching for fibromyalgia?

Will I Still be Making Resources?

Absolutely! I will continue to write my blog posts and run my groups! How much I can do might look different while I have three children five years old and under, but I will continue to do my best.

What if I am Not in a Place for Coaching Right Now But I’d Like Some Help?

Go through all of my resources as listed above including the blog (over 200 posts) and Facebook groups (two).

Try Fibromyalgia 101 Foundational Programme or Mindfulness for the Chronic Life programmes. These are completely self study at your own pace offerings.

Have you ever worked with a coach for fibromyalgia? I’d love to hear your experience.

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End of Year Health, Life and Goals Review Plus Free Printable to do Your Own

If you’re a planner and an analyzer like me, you’re probably applying this to your chronic illness journey. And it’s about that time of year to start our evaluations.
I like to treat myself like I’m a human in addition to having a chronic illness, in other words I don’t focus solely on the illness. So part of my year end round up includes questions like:
My Year End Review, Goals for 2019 and Your Free Templates

End of Year Review

What was my top five for this year?

  1. Going to a Celine Dion concert (this was a bucket list/life goal!)
  2. Publishing Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia (this was a bucket list/life goal!)
  3. Managing to work 24 hours despite two tiny children and early pregnancy
  4. Starting my Etsy shop 
  5. Going to Hawaii

What did I learn?

End of Year Review snip
Click image to get your free template
  1. Improved my (amateur) graphic design skills
  2. About SEO (through a course on Lynda.com)
What was my low five?
  1. Severe pelvis issues in pregnancy
  2. Having to stop work (due to above issues)
  3. Not being able to exercise (due to above issues)
What happened in my health journey this year? What did I try, what improved and what got worse?
  1. LDN really helped me to cope despite a pregnancy, two tiny children, a part time job, severe pelvis issues and life.

Planning Ahead for 2019

Goals to carry over to next year?
  1. My general sense of pacing limits – don’t get pushed back to work too soon or too much.
End of year review and planning ahead
Click image to get your free template
New Goals
  1. Survive the first year of being a mama of three!
  2. Start a Virtual Assistant business so that I can work from home and use less childcare for tiny children.

Things I want to Learn

  1. More digital skills

Things I’d Like to Try for My Health

  1. I’d like to redo some old experiments now that the Low Dose Naltrexone is making such a difference with sleep, I feel some things might have more effect now.
As I like to do I made myself a template with these questions and you can sign up for a FREE copy of My End of Year Review here.
If you are game, come and join the Melissa (You) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group and share pictures of your filled in sheets!!

 

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Fibromyalgia: Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain-based illness of unknown origin and cure. It effects approximately 3-6% of the world’s population. It is said to effect far more women than men, but there are definitely men who suffer with it too. It appears in-discriminatory in race, education level and socioeconomic demographics.

I have struggled with this illness for most of my life. I have also put a lot of work into my wellness journey. In 2017 I was the most well I had been since I was 17 years old.

Fibromyalgia Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

For the concise, all in one place story of my journey and all that I do see my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia. Please note that this is an affiliate link, if you make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

For a brief run down of what Fibromyalgia is, the symptoms and some treatments see below.

What is Fibromyalgia?

On the University of Maryland Medical Center website, Fibromyalgia is explained in this way: “Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons; fatigue; and multiple tender points on the body.”

And on the same page, they list the signs and symptoms of Fibromyalgia:

  • Widespread pain and stiffness
  • Fatigue [and]/or trouble
    sleeping
  • Paresthesia (tingling)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Heightened sensitivity to noises, bright lights, smells
  • Depression
    Headaches
  • Pain after exertion
  • Memory lapses/difficulty
    concentrating
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Hemorrhoids

However, the trouble is that Fibromyalgia seems to be very unique to each person: how it comes on, what symptoms are present, what helps said symptoms.

There is also a debate as to whether trigger points are present in Fibromyalgia or part of a separate issue called Myofascial Pain Syndrome. A lot of the above symptoms overlap with a lot of different conditions.

Some Associated Physiological Abnormalities

Research has found alterations in neurotransmitter regulation, immune system function, sleep physiology and hormone level control. A lot of research suggests that Fibromyalgia is the result of central nervous system dysfunction – specifically an overactive nervous system, stressing and exhausting the brain (Dennis W. Dobritt, Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview).

Getting Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia

This great article from Fibro Daze explains why it takes so long to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the process and the Widespread Pain Index and Symptom Severity Scale.

Long story short, it takes a long time to be diagnosed – years on average and multiple doctors – because it is a tricky illness with no widely accepted test and because a multitude of other illnesses must be ruled out. This is particularly difficult because Fibromyalgia tends to co-exist with a multitude of other conditions. It is a disease of mimicking and misdiagnosis.

Fibromyalgia: Definition, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments.

Treating Fibromyalgia

There are a multitude of treatment options on offer. Some of them help a little, some help a lot, some help one person a lot and another person a little – therein lies the difficulty.

I have been sharing my journey for the past several years because I want to help you cut down the time it takes you to find what helps you. I have carefully researched, trialed and written about all of the treatment options I have tried.

There are few certainties in treating Fibromyalgia but here are some from a seasoned Fibromyalgia fighter:

  • Treatment will require multiple options
  • One option can help me incredibly and you not at all and vice versa
  • Sleep is king. Tackle sleep first. With medication if you must. This is a widely agreed finding from key doctors who treat Fibromyalgia including Dr Liptan, Dr Teitelbaum and Dr Vallings.
  • You can impact your quality of life.
  • Coaching can help you on your journey. See how you can work with me here.
My growing list of fibromyalgia treatments
Come and get your free list of treatment ideas

Treating Fibromyalgia: Manuals

I wrote about My Top Five Books for Fighting Fibromyalgia in this post. Start with Dr Teitelbaum and Dr Liptan – both of these doctors have Fibromyalgia themselves and treat people with Fibromyalgia.

What Works for Me

My Top Three Treatments to Fight Fibromyalgia
What Works for me: 9 Things to Fight Fibromyalgia
My Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia One Year Experiment

Treating Fibromyalgia Naturally

Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible – Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia
Natural Pain Relief: Supplements for Fibromyalgia Energy
Essential Oils for Pain Relief and a Pain Cream I am Loving
Natural Pain Relief: Supplements for Fibromyalgia Pain
Natural Pain Relief: Herbs for Infusion or Tea for Fibromyalgia
Giant Meditation Post
Yoga for Fibromyalgia with Handy Links

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia

Check out “pregnancy” and “parenting” in the categories box (below or beside this post)for articles to help you have the best pregnant possible despite Fibromyalgia.

All My Articles on Fibromyalgia

Look at “fibromyalgia” in the category box for all of the articles that I have created to help you fight Fibromyalgia. You may also like Fibromyalgia 101 Workshop as an introduction to fibromyalgia, diagnosis, and treatments, this is a free workshop that introduces you to the Fibromyalgia 101 Foundational Micro Course program.

My Journey: 2019

As of 2019 I am currently enjoying my third postpartum period. Both the pregnancy and this time have been so much more tolerable thanks to LDN and all the things I have enacted to be more well. I am so thankful every day.

I am hopeful and I am excited as to what the future brings as I finish the time of my life where I am up at all hours of the night with babies.

My hope for you is that you keep fighting for yourself. Don’t wait for a doctor to do it for you. But do work with your doctor, find another if they won’t.


For more information

Try my FREE micro course You vs Fibromyalgia: Arm Yourself with Knowledge: it is a six section micro course designed to get you started in your journey.

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Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points and Fibromyalgia: Definition, Diagnosis, Triggers and Treatment Options

Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is a term I came across in 2017, when a physiotherapist finally explained that this is what was causing my severe neck issues. In this post we go through what it is, examine if it’s part of Fibromyalgia, and my at-home treatments.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points, Fibromyalgia, Definition Diagnosis Triggers and Treatment Options

Definition of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

A good definition of Myofascial Pain Syndrome that I have come across explains it as: “hyper irritable spots, usually within a taut band of skeletal muscle or in the muscle’s fascia that is painful on compression and can give rise to characteristic referred pain, tenderness, and autonomic phenomena” 1

Are Trigger Points Part of Fibromyalgia?

There is often confusion between the tender points characteristic of Fibromyalgia and trigger points. This article discusses the differences and similarities and provides a chart for distinguishing between the two.

The propensity for medical professionals to throw every symptom into the Fibromyalgia basket set me back for a decade. If they had realised prior to 2017 that my neck pain was really caused by trigger points, then we could have begun working on them sooner. These tiny hyper irritable spots have caused me over ten years of sleepless nights and 24/7 pain that nothing completely relieved.

Whether or not one wants to accept trigger points as part of Fibromyalgia or separate, research has noted that where trigger points are present in those with Fibromyalgia, the treatment of trigger points relieves the Fibromyalgia symptoms associated – such as pain in that area and fatigue.

Diagnostic Criteria for Myofascial Pain Syndrome

MPS does not have universally accepted diagnostic criteria, so it also does not have reliable statistics as to the prevalence. An estimate, using data around musculoskeletal pain in general puts estimates of myofascial pain as a patient’s primary complaint at 30%. 2

Other posts you may like:

Tools to Fight Fibromyalgia
My Top Three Treatments to Fight Fibromyalgia
9 Inexpensive Items I Use to Fight Fibromyalgia (including items I use to treat trigger points)

Causes or Contributing Factors for Trigger Points

  • Fibromyalgia or other conditions, especially inflammatory ones
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Postural (including bad ergonomics at the computer)
  • Trauma to the area
  • Excessive or lack of exercise
  • Emotional stress
  • Fatigue
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Excess weight

Treatment for Trigger Points

The above quoted literature review (2) discusses general treatments for MPS: aside from eliminating as many aggravators of the condition as possible (like proper ergonomic posture at computers), treating any other present diseases, the treatment usually includes NSAIDS (usually stated as unhelpful for Fibromyalgia), heat pack, and acupuncture applied by a specific methodology.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points, Fibromyalgia: Definition, Diagnosis, Triggers and Treatment
Some treatment options

In my case, I found that placing acupuncture needles into the trigger point (gently, without aiming for muscle reactions like in dry needling) and leaving them in for 10-15 minutes followed by neck mobilisations and tractions, provides the best relief I have found. By going to a physiotherapist to do this every three weeks, in addition to my home treatment plan, is the best way to treat the trigger points. But they always come back. We have made some progress over the past year, but they are always there and re-triggered rather easily.

Whatever may work for you, it is likely to be multi modal – involving a few treatment options, including pharmacologic and alternative approaches.

My At-home Treatments for Trigger Points:

  • Heat: heat pack, hot bath or shower
  • Topical creams: Essential oil blended pain cream, Deep Heat
  • Trigger Point Massager cane for self-trigger point activation (you can use your fingers or thumbs but mine get too sore for the level of pressure needed)
  • Rest/pacing
  • Stretching
  • Limiting computer time and using good ergonomic set up
  • Medicines: Brufen, when they get to spasm level then a muscle relaxant

Video on self treatment

https://youtu.be/ViVrUAH-gSU

Personalised help

Would you like to work with me to help you tackle myofascial pain syndrome? I offer personalised one on one coaching to help you take control of your healing journey!

Your turn: Do you have trigger points too? How do you treat them?

  1. Travell, JG, Simons, DG. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction. The Trigger Point Manual: Upper Half of Body, 2nd edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore 1988.
  2. Overview of soft tissue rheumatic disorders Author:Irving Kushner, MDSection Editor:Zacharia Isaac, MDDeputy Editor:Monica Ramirez Curtis, MD, MPH Literature review current through: Mar 2018. | This topic last updated: May 12, 2017. on UptoDate.com

For more information:

Sign up to my newsletter list and receive access to my free resources page with micro courses, workshops, templates, reports and more to help you fight chronic pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia and fibromyalgia. I’d love to have you on the team!

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Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia Survey

Since I have written up my one year experiment conclusion about low dose naltrexone (LDN) and Fibromyalgia, I have developed a bit of an itch to share my knowledge. I want others with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia to hear about this potential treatment option.

To this end, I am creating an eBook about LDN for Fibromyalgia.

I believe that patient-evidence (this term, which I love, was coined by Julia Schopick in her book Honest Medicine) is very important – that’s your voice, not the researcher’s voice (though, I will include research too).

Low dose naltrexone for fibromyalgia project

If you are on LDN could you please take some time to fill in this survey for me? Please do send it on to anyone you know taking LDN for Fibromyalgia. It is my hope that we receive a wide number of audience responses to really show the breadth of experience with this medicine.

For my previous posts on Low Dose Naltrexone see:

Low Dose Naltrexone: An Experiment

Low Dose Naltrexone: Update 16 Weeks

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), Fibromyalgia & Me

My Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia One Year Experiment

I also reference LDN in both of my books, more so in the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book coverJourney Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia book – because it is a big part of why I was able to write this book.

Affiliate note: Please note that the link to my book is an affiliate link, if you make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you have any questions, please do use the contact page and send me an email. Or come along and join the Melissa (you) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook page and ask me there.

Here is the survey link.

 


For more information and to stay up to date:

sign up to newsletter

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Fibromyalgia Flare Up, What Is a Flare Up and How to Cope

A flare up is a temporary exacerbation of symptoms in a chronic illness. A fibromyalgia flare, for example, is a period of time when one or more of the symptoms of fibromyalgia gets worse for a time.

Sometimes it can be tricky to tell you’re in a flare as it can be a progressive worsening that lasts for a period of time such as postpartum. Other times you just wake up feeling like you were hit by a bus. On yet others if can feel like you just slide into being unwell, unexpectedly during a normal day.

Fibromyalgia Flare Ups, What is a Fibromyalgia Flare Up, How do I cope with one

Possible triggers for a fibromyalgia flare up

  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Hormones
  • Weather
  • Lack of sleep
  • Overdoing it
Some people are able to accurately pinpoint their triggers and try to avoid them. For others, like me, it tends to be a confluence of events but mostly my overdoing it.

My key tip for coping during a flare is having your plan in place for what to do. 

My second key tip is to remember it will pass, and in the meantime you can do things to help yourself.

Fibromyalgia flare up planning

When my symptoms were much worse and I had flares more regularly I had a list of things I could do in ascending order of ability. I utilized this during the early and later parts of my pregnancies. In trimester one, in the midst of those weeks of intense fatigue and nausea my go-to was an audio book of Pride and Prejudice. I know the book well enough that it didn’t matter if I lost focus or fell asleep while listening with my eyes closed.

I have also found that it helps to have a few reminders set up for things that comfort me (I tend to forget even the simplest things that can help me during a flare). I will just wilt away and wonder why. Whereas if I get onto it early I can head off the worst of it.

It also helps to just immediately follow a plan rather than dwell on the severity of my symptoms. It is very easy to panic that these symptoms will never fade back to manageable levels or that the gains I have made over the past several years might be gone.

In order to help you do this, I created My Chronic Illness Flare Planning Kit which is a printable set of plans to help you make your flare plan ahead of time. It includes:

  • My Pain Relief Plan
  • My Medicine List
  • My Flare Plans
  • My To Read List
  • My To Watch List
  • My Support List
  • Bonus: Natural Pain Relief Mechanisms List

To get you started on your plans, here’s some posts that might help guide you:

Tools to Fight Fibromyalgia

9 Inexpensive Items I Use to Fight Fibromyalgia

Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible – Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

Here’s what some people in my groups said they do in a flare…

“Try and get home to my heat pack as quick as possible. Rest.”
“I alternate between heat and ice.  I don’t find ibuprofen or creams help much, though Tiger Balms is a nice twenty minute distraction from the pain.  Epsom salt baths don’t really help me either — actually make me feel irritable unfortunately.  Also, I’m strange in that going for my regular walks usually makes me feel better — just for the length of the walk though, then the pain returns.”
“Sleep…a lot lol. And lots of baths/hot showers.”
“Take something for pain. Sleep. Do as little as possible.”
“Snuggle up on the sofa with my quilt, pillows and teddies. Watch TV and cuddle my cats. That’s how I deal with a flare haha xx.”
Your turn, will you share your tips for coping during a flare?
My growing list of fibromyalgia treatments
Grab your free list today!
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My Top Three Treatments to Fight Fibromyalgia

If you’ve been fighting fibromyalgia for any amount of time, you likely know there’s a multitude of therapies to try and that there’s rarely one magic bullet.

Fibromyalgia is an illness of unknown origin or cure and there are debates as to whether it will eventually be classed as autoimmune and/or progressive.

3-6% of the world’s population is has a vested interest in finding a cure. Until then we can only try to wade through the treatment options to try.
My Top Three Treatments to Fight Fibromyalgia.png
My posts about other treatment options
Today I’m sharing my top three treatments to fight Fibromyalgia- as a person who’s been fighting it for more than a decade, who’s been researching for several years and who wrote a book about all I do to thrive despite this illness.

1. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

This was something I found back in 2015 and followed the research for some time before I asked my doctor to try it. As I documented in the posts linked below, I began in April 2017. It took nine months for effect and now I can’t be without it.

My One Year Low Dose Naltrexone for Fibromyalgia Experiment

It is not a magic fix for me but the results are astounding. You see, for more than 10 years I hadn’t slept well (read: in one hour blocks with great difficulty, every night was a fight) and the LDN actually helped me to sleep in two, three or four hour blocks. This is miraculous for me and I believe the sleep is what helped the rest. Read the above posts for the full experiment and outcome.

What I love most about this medicine is that it is not a typical medicine and does not have any of the nasty side effects that most medicines prescribed for Fibromyalgia have. The worst I experienced was vivid dreams when I was titrating up to find my ideal dose. It essentially tricks the body into producing more endorphins, there is research theorizing that people with Fibromyalgia suffer from endocannabinoid deficiency. I believe it took nine months for me to see effect because my body was slowly healing from a deep sleep deprivation behind the scenes. This leads me to believe that LDN may be the only way to address an insufficiency that currently has no other satisfactory treatment option. I certainly prefer it to pain killers that have many negative effects and few positive ones.

2. Heat

If I had to choose one heat treatment, it’d be my heat pack. I use it first thing in the morning to get going, a couple of times during the day, in the evening and when I get into bed. It’s my go-to treatment. I use it mostly for my neck, but I also use it for the symphysis pubis disorder I experience in pregnancy.
I also use:
  • An electric blanket in my bed for my entire back.
  • Hot baths
  • Hot showers
  • Deep heat rub

3. Yoga/Meditation

Meditation is part of yoga, so it may be cheating to name both, if you really want one it’d be a hard call, but yoga would win and only because LDN helps me to sleep at night.
Yoga is a multi-use tool. I adore the ability to mold it to what I need: one pertinent stretch or pose (cat and cow all the time), a few poses to hit one issue (cat and cow, forward bend and eagle for the back) or a full flowing sequence (sun salutations).
It’s stretching, strengthening and calming for the central nervous system.
Meditation has been a lifesaver since I realised I could experience deep rest to help counteract the lack of sleep. The effects have been profound and I share that in my post about meditation. I am so passionate about it that I incorporate mindfulness and meditationinto my coaching programmesand offer one off sessions to teach meditation.

So here are my top three plus ways to fight Fibromyalgia

  1. Low Dose Naltrexone
  2. Heat
    1. Heatpack
    2. Electric blanket
    3. Hot bath
    4. Hot shower
    5. Deep Heat rub
  3. Yoga/Meditation
What are yours?

Request a session
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How to Manage Brain Fog and Fibromyalgia

There’s a pernicious symptom of living with Fibromyalgia that can fall into the background of the twin peaks of pain and fatigue. Something that affects our everyday lives and we may not even realise it is a thing.

how to manage brain fog and fibromyalgia. what brain fog is, how it manifests and how we can fight it

Brain fog, fibro fog, or cognitive dysfunction (a very unattractive term, but there it is.)

It can strike during any conversation, any task, any time.

I can’t do confrontations because the stress causes me to forget how to stand up for myself. All the words or well-articulated statements I’d have written down become buried in fog when I try to access them in the moment. Even subjects I’m well researched on become minefields when reaching through my memory for the information. Which is part of why I write everything down.

There’s been a thousand conversations where I’m reaching for simple words that blew away a moment before I want them. There have been even more times when I say one thing when I mean another.  Sometimes I know I’ve done it, but often I don’t. Occasionally I’ll realise later.

As someone who loves words and writing it’s more than a little upsetting.

Brain fog was thought to be another thing that is all in our heads, however, “a 2015 study in Arthritis Care and Research found that fibro fog is a real issue. In a study of 60 individuals – 30 with fibromyalgia and 30 without fibromyalgia – researchers found various impairments of attention and memory in fibromyalgia patients when compared with healthy controls. What remains unclear is what is causing the cognitive challenges.” Reference: Fibro Fog: Sleep, brain dysfunction likely culprits for cognitive difficulties associated with fibromyalgia on Arthritis Foundation accessed here

It is thought as many as 50% of Fibromyalgia patients struggle with it, perhaps more.

Brain fog has been theorized to be caused by poor sleep, the nervous system being off-kilter, stress and anxiety, and pain severity. Though, they really don’t know the cause yet.

Here’s the ways fibro fog can manifest:

  • Clumsiness/loss of spatial awareness
  • Losing words
  • Mixing up words
  • Forgetting things
  • Confusion (I’ve never experienced this but see how it could occur)
  • Overwhelm (too many competing sensory inputs)
  • Becoming easily distracted

Here’s some things that help minimise fibro fog:

  • Get the best sleep you can get (something I have found and is supported by the literature – sleep really is king to managing Fibromyalgia symptoms)
  • Pace activity and rest
  • Manage pain
  • Give yourself time and understanding

These are not small things for us to do. I spend a lot of time working on good sleep and managing pain. However it’s far better to what it was when I was at my worst. I go through all of these things in my course You vs Fibromyalgia and help you make plans to manage pain, sleep and pacing, so do come and join us now (the early bird offer disappears on 18th August 2018) if you would like help in these areas.

Here’s some ways to combat fibro fog and the effects:

  • Lists, write it all down – even before I was diagnosed or had any idea of why life was so much harder for me, I planned religiously and had lists upon lists.
  • Routines, automatic pilot can be useful
  • Explain it to those around you often – I often tell my family that there is nothing more dear to me than a person who mercifully adds the right word in their own head for or me or gives it to me gently.
  • Check your medicines are not the culprits – sometimes our medicines cause as many issues as they solve, it’s good to be aware of what their side effects are so we can mitigate them.

Brain fog is just one of those things that come with chronic sleep deprivation, pain and fatigue, but there are many things we can do to compensate for it.


You vs Fibromyalgia, my research and your plans.

This is an excerpt from my eCourse You vs Fibromyalgia: Helping you Fight Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia – do come along and join us to if you want to learn to fight.

 

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You vs Fibromyalgia Equipping You to Fight

I am super excited to announce that I am running You vs Fibromyalgia: Helping You Fight Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia full eCourse!

 

You vs Fibromyalgia eCourse my research your plans to fight chronic pain chronic fatigue and insomnia

While my micro course You vs Fibromyalgia: Arm Yourself with Knowledge is a free introduction to some of the modules in the full course, it isn’t exhaustive. This course has a lot more information, so if you’re ready to dive in for more and create your own pain management plans, trial some sleep tips, learn about low dose naltrexone for fibromyalgia and more – then come and join us!

If you learn only one thing from anything I ever write, I hope it is that you can impact your quality of life. I have made a huge difference to my quality of life through research and personal trial and error. But it took a lot of time. I want to save you that time.

See below for my brief introduction video about You vs Fibromyalgia

I have just enough time to run this course before baby comes in November, so it won’t be offered again until next year.

The stats of the course aka what you get

  • Seven modules with
  • Short video lessons
  • Templates to make your own pain management plans, a sleep diary, a list for keeping track of the things you’d like to try and a form for working out how you could create some space and make the most of your life despite fibromyalgia
    information sheets
  • The workbook – with all of the lessons, information sheets, templates, heaps of extra reading with space for notes!

Between this course and my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia (affiliate link) and my free resources pages – I am content that I have shared everything I can to help you not suffer as long as I had to. Obviously I am not a doctor and there are often more issues than just the fibromyalgia at play. A doctor and medicine definitely have their place in treatment, but I want to also share all of the things you can do yourself – today – to fight the fibromyalgia.

Yes, I am just as ecstatic to join the journey!