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Case Study Issue 109: Fibromyalgia - My Experience

by Angela Mathis(more info)

listed in case studies, originally published in issue 109 - March 2005

It was a hot afternoon when I was driving home from work. I looked up and did not know where I was. I had driven by my turn and on my way to I don't know where. Luckily, my mobile phone was next to me. I proceeded to call my husband and he was able to guide me home. This happened several times after. Once I even forgot my home number. I had to call a relative.

Some other subtle things were going on...occasional headaches, dizziness, fatigue, aches, weight gain, bloating, etc. So those dreaded doctor visits began. You know the ones where they run test after test and they all come back negative. Well yeah, I was very happy the tests for Lupus, MS, Thyroid disorders, and so on, were negative, but I knew something was wrong. The doctors started looking at me as though I was crazy and, guess what, I started believing them. So, you already know what's coming next...doctors wanting to prescribe depression medications and psychological testing.

Finally, I was referred to a rheumatologist and he told me that I had a condition I couldn't even pronounce much less spell… fibro what? He went on to tell me there were no specific tests to take to make sure fibromyalgia (FM) was what I had. It's almost like the process of elimination, if you don't have the other dreaded illnesses, then you might have FM. He explained to me about the tender points. He then told me it's all about diet and exercise. This is what I did not understand. My husband and I rarely ate fried food. We did have a healthy eating lifestyle and I did exercise. In months prior, I put on a lot of weight and exercise, which was not doing any good. I saw this rheumy about three times and each time he emphasized diet and exercise… that was the key to dealing with fibro. I did not buy it.

Well anyway, I managed to come across another rheumy. During the initial visit, he took a lot of time talking to me about the stigma around FM. I found out he had actually wrote articles and a book on this illness. There was even a pain management programme available. Of course, depending on the type of insurance you have, there might be a fee.

Well, I did not stop there. I did have that psychological testing that was mentioned. Findings were very hurtful. Tests showed a decline in my mental ability… probably due to a physical illness. The psychologist wanted to help me adjust to my new life and realize my life as I once knew it was gone. Guess what? I was not ready to do that.

In the meantime, my aches and pain were getting worse. During the winter months, I could barely walk when I got out of bed. Everything popped and neck, arms, legs, ankles. My ankles hurt when I went for walks. The headaches got worse along with the dizziness. My vision was not good, especially depth perception. While driving, cars looked like they were closer to me than they actually were. I started having problems concentrating. I would often forget what I was doing, sometimes causing me to walk up and down the stairs several times. Even getting dressed was a chore.

The worst part of it all was that there would be good days and I would think that things were getting better. Wrong, they were followed by bad days. It was almost like my body sent a delayed signal to my brain. For example, usually someone knows if they are getting tired. Well, not me. Sometimes I don't realize how tired I am until it's too late. I could feel the fatigue hours later or it could even be days later.

My last attempt… try alternative medicine. Wow, I had found someone who really understood. She also had me do some saliva and stool tests. Findings proved that I was allergic to dairy foods, soy, yeast and sugar. She put me on a strict anti-inflammatory diet for 20 plus days. Wow, my extreme bloating, that I have not mentioned to you, went down. I even appeared smaller. She also found out that I have Candida and my cortisol was elevated. The high cortisol was probably why I could not sleep well at night. This alternative medicine doctor has really earned my trust now. I began trying supplements… a lot of supplements. Some of which made me sick. You know that story. I stopped taking them.

I am learning to cope with this condition. No matter what doctors say, I know that I will be rid of this dreadful illness. I feel like sometimes we go through challenges to make us stronger and put things in perspective. I get much enjoyment waking up to the birds chirping, seeing the spring blossoms come up or the full moon. Simple things are now my pleasures. I know there is some purpose in me being diagnosed with FM and I'm just trying to listen for instructions on how to carry it out.


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About Angela Mathis

Angela Mathis lives near Charlotte North Carolina with her husband and may be contacted via

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