Over the past week or so, I’ve noticed that my left side has been increasingly painful, weak and feeling almost like it’s not really mine. It has been a while since my fibromyalgia (fibro) flare ups have got to this level. I’ve not really been doing anymore than I usually would, and I’ve not really been any colder than I usually am. It might be that I’ve been more stressed than usual, but I’m mostly certain that I haven’t. So I’m not entirely certain what I should put this most recent and increasingly prolonged and super painful episode down to.
I recall that last time my left side played up like this it was a few years ago, I know the first time was before my fibro diagnosis, and no one would believe me about how painful or disembodied my left side, mainly my arm, felt. Looking back I can say that most of my pain has always been more on my left side than my right, and that it tends to focus mainly around my arm, shoulder and back, but the shoulder and back pain tends to flow through to my right side a little as well, though not as noticeably as on the left.
I must say that it I regularly avoid sleeping on my left side and tend to prefer the right side of the bed because it feels very strange if I do sleep on my left side. I have read before in several places, not that I can remember where, that fibro can often present with more weakness and pain on one side of the body than the other.
I have found the best way for me to deal with my fibro pain is by keeping as warm as possible, so in the winter I generally tend to wear thermal layers under my every day clothes, I also wear two pairs of socks, one pair thermal boot socks the other pair normal, but both have to be knee high. I have noticed that my pains are a lot less in summer months. Which is one of the reasons I do prefer summer and warm weather. So when everyone else is complaining about it being far too hot, I’m usually thinking thank goodness we have warm weather. Additionally, my best friend, who I’ve known since college (just over 11 years now), also has fibro, but isn’t as sensitive to the cold.
I have seen various doctors about my fibro, when I first saw a doctor about my pain and tiredness I was 14, and after several tests I was told that it appeared there wasn’t anything wrong with me. So I left feeling stupid, and unhappy. Between this and my diagnose of fibro when I was about 17, I noticed I had a problem with the circulation in my hands, and was diagnosed with Raynauds Phenomena. It wasn’t until I was 21 (I’m now 28) that I felt I could return to see another doctor regarding pain, tiredness and weakness, and this time it was causing me a serious problem, as I was coming up to the final year of my degree. After numerous tests, the same as before and numerous X-rays, again, I was sent to a Rheumatologist. This is where I was told that one of my blood tests showed up a marker for Lupus (this was never explained), followed by being poked and prodded and then being told that I have fibromyalgia.
I have to say that being told that all the pain, tiredness, weakness and feeling generally unwell actually was something and that it had a name was a little bit of a relief, because it meant that I could explain what was wrong without having to make a huge explanation including all of my symptoms. But when I was diagnosed I discovered that there are a large majority of doctors who are narrow minded and refuse to think of fibro as anything other than being “all in my head”. So I was initially referred to a pain management clinic, which I found beyond useless, in fact the first method meant to help me feel better actually made me feel sick beyond belief. And when I managed to get another appointment it turned out to be with a different doctor who was of the mindset that fibro wasn’t real.
After this I was referred on to counselling and prescribed amitriptyline. I tried the amitriptyline, only to discover it did nothing other than cause me to have numb patches on my legs, which I don’t believe to be a good thing. During this period I was waiting for my counselling referral to come through. So I started going for short walks, which once a week I increased the length of slightly. I noticed that my pain and weakness was a lot less that it hard been. And I think that this, a combination of certain vitamins which I’d started to take (vit D, calcium, magnesium and B vits complex), plus going vegetarian contributed to my going into remission from fibro for about two and a half years. It wasn’t until after my remission started that I was contacted regarding counselling, so this I never took up.
Since my fibro returned, I saw a doctor who was really good with fibro, who managed to make it possible for me to carry on going to work, but with a change of duties, which made it possible to manage my fibro a little better. He did however say that he wouldn’t recommend any medication to treat my fibro, as there are so many side effects it might make it harder to manage at work if I were to take any. Although I am not vegetarian anymore, I am now have a milk free pescetarian diet. I find a high vegetable diet helps me keep my fibro symptoms mostly under control, having experimented with returning to an omnivorous diet after a year of vegetarianism, I slowly moved to my current diet and feel happier and healthier now than I was as an omnivore. But different lifestyles suit different people.
I know that some sufferers of fibro take various pills and potions to keep their illness under control, I guess if they work for them that’s a good thing. Everyone is different however, I personally don’t like going to the doctors, or taking medicine, I prefer to try and cope on my own, I guess I can be quite stubborn. I know that everyone manages pain differently, and some find it harder to function without relief. I think that anyone who suffers from fibro, ME, lupus, or anything like that regardless of whether they have to take medication, deserves a lot of respect for doing what they can to get through a day. I know how hard it can be to just get up in the morning.