Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.  -George Iles

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ask Dr. Gott

Fibromyalgia sufferer shares story

QI was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2000, but I have had the syndrome since 1997. My first doctor did not diagnose it. Instead, I was told to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and to meditate.

Then my managed-care nurse called and strongly recommended that a new physical-medicine specialist see me. At the same time, I took a home-study nursing class on fibromyalgia, as I had never heard of it before.

My new doctor diagnosed Piriformis syndrome right away. After my examination by the physical-medicine specialist, he asked how long I had had fibromyalgia.

I was placed on effective analgesia and sent to physical therapy, where I learned the exercises I needed to stretch and strengthen. I also had to alter my lifestyle so as not to overdo routine chores or other activities.

I learned to listen to my body and adjust accordingly. Amazingly, his diagnosis was positively confirmed after having to take a short, decreasing course of steroids for a bad sinus infection. The steroids decreased my fibromyalgia pain, as well.

So, because of a serendipitous set of circumstances, I am still able to work as a surgical nurse. I am also in my middle 60s. I see my specialist every two to three months.

Unfortunately, I am quite sensitive to the host of SSRIs and Lyrica and simply cannot function while on them. I find I can't work at such times, yet I choose to work because I enjoy it.

It is my suggestion that you further recommend to fibromyalgia sufferers that a good physical medicine or rehabilitation doctor can treat them and that physical therapy is certainly in order.

Also, I found that Tylenol and other NSAIDs usually have little or no effect on fibromyalgia pain. Current literature backs me up on this.

At work, I am on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) program for chronic diseases, and this protects me from losing my job.

You would be amazed at how many professionals, including MDs, fellow registered nurses and other health care professionals misunderstand what fibromyalgia is all about.

A) As you say, it is often misunderstood, and sufferers may have to put up with many hassles from family and employers who simply don't believe that the condition exists.

Fibromyalgia still isn't well understood, but many positive steps have been taken to provide sufferers with various treatment options to help handle the pain and fatigue that characterize this syndrome.

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