In my case, the answer is an emphatic yes!!
Throughout the 28 years of battling Fibromyalgia, this declaration that I am “med–free” has often resulted in my being condemned by fellow sufferers who doubt my diagnosis. Many have claimed that “I can’t possibly have Fibromyalgia if I don’t use medication” or “that my pain is not as bad as theirs.” I didn’t realize that this condition is some kind of mega competition.
It was for this very reason that I stayed away from any kind of online support groups. Invariably, the minute I shared my strategy for dealing with my Fibromyalgia which involved clean eating, gentle yoga & meditation, I was shouted down and accused of being some kind of Fibro fraud.
On diagnosis, my doctor offered me strong painkillers & anti-depressants, my answer was a polite….”err no thank you!”
It was not an option for me at that time. I had coped with the pain for 11 years when I finally got diagnosed and whilst it was no fun, I could function (most of the time). My reasoning was that I was only young…ish and there was potential for my condition to get worse as I got older. There would be plenty of time for medication later on! Thankfully, that time has not come – not for my Fibromyalgia anyway.
At the end of July 2016, I was involved in a car accident that injured both my neck & back – who would have thought that whiplash could be so painful? Expecting the discomfort to only be short-term, I agreed to take the strong painkillers prescribed by my doctors although I drew the line at taking the amitriptyline. Alongside the anti-inflammatories, I had to take Omeprazole to protect my stomach and Diazepam for the spasms.
Surprise, surprise they had little or no effect on my pain, so I agreed to stronger painkillers. Despite my protests that Codeine made me sick, they got prescribed – they made me sick. So, next came Nefopam. These turned me into some kind of sickly, zombie, so the doctor wrote a prescription for anti-sickness pills.
Finally, I understood – the rotten cycle that fellow sufferers sadly get into of being prescribed one medication and then several others to undo the side effects the first one is having on them.
Needless to say, I lasted on medication for about 3 weeks before I said no more!! My pain still dominates my day but at least my mind can function without the med-induced fog, I don’t feel sick all day and am not a victim to drug-induced insomnia.
For somebody who manages her Fibromyalgia holistically, I find it heart-breaking that our medical professionals seem to think it acceptable to palm patients off with a cocktail of medication without even really knowing what they are treating. Because let’s face it, many of them are quite ignorant of what Fibromyalgia is, with many even doubting its existence.
Equally, upsetting is other Fibro fighters disbelieving those of us who choose to manage our condition without going down the medication route. In many cases, some sufferers have no choice but to remain med-free due to other conditions such as kidney issues. I have hemochromatosis, which means I do have to protect my liver from excess overload from substances such as alcohol, rich foods, and of course medication.
I am a huge advocate that the body can heal itself to some degree. I thrive, not just survive.
I believe that my healthy lifestyle has enabled me to manage my symptoms to the point that I can function relatively well. Do I believe that the prescribed medication for Fibromyalgia has the potential to make the condition worse? Absolutely I do.
There have been many studies carried out that support the theory that pain medication can actually have the opposite effect and make chronic pain worse.
When I read of so many people struggling to sleep, suffering from brain fog to the point of not being able to hold a conversation, constantly feeling sick and totally out of sorts, I do wonder how many of their symptoms are truly Fibromyalgia or are the effects of the concoction of drugs they are being prescribed.
Having said all of that, I want to say that how I cope with my Fibro, in no way diminishes the struggles of others. I fully accept and respect that for many people, medication is their only way of getting through their day and dealing with this cruel condition.
I am no expert and can only speak from my own personal experience but if I could offer one piece of advice to anybody who has been recently diagnosed, it would be to look for alternatives before diving onto the medication merry-go-round. For those already stuck on that loop, maybe there is a way to reduce the medication and look to the other coping techniques which were suggested in the article.
I am living proof that there are other options…..and to the doubters, I say don’t judge. My Fibromyalgia is every bit as real as yours but my way works for me and that suits me just fine for now!
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