Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Theory on What Gave me Fibromyalgia

**I was healthy before, but now I'm not. What happened in between?**

I won't go into too much detail. This blog is not about my past, I'm not writing this to have a pity party on the web. I'll just put in bullet points some of the key events which I think may have contributed to my illness.

Stress – ENEMY #1. To me, the biggest contributor to my illness trailed back to stress. Family/personal stress that lasted for more than 5 years prior to my diagnosis; work stress that accumulated over my 3 years of investment banking days…and then I generally became a high-strung person that would get stressed over EVERYTHING. Obviously, I never had a specific health issue. After numerous tests, my doctor finally asked me if there was anything stressful in my life – I thought about it, and I went straight to a psychologist. It's still an on-going process.

Physical exertion – unlike my healthy past, I started getting easily tired, lethargic and achy after a long hike, walk or a night out with friends. Moreover, recovery took longer than usual (2-3 days vs. 1 day or less).

Unhealthy diet – I used to eat everything, mostly unhealthy foods. I always liked pasta, steak, fries, sweets etc…. vegetables were not a significant part of my diet. I really never thought of eating healthy. I also never took vitamins or other supplements. Just old habit of abusing and being unappreciative of my health.

Fibromyalgia, according to the articles out there, is highly related to stress. I would even say (and this is my personal opinion) fibromyalgia is 80% related to stress, and even depression. I do believe that for a while I was depressed – and all the years of stress and depression, unaddressed and unspoken, had been buried under my chest and started manifesting itself through actual physical stress. Who would have thought it.

It was like a slap in the face, the face (i.e, my own face) that used to blow off the theory that mental stress could lead to physical pain.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Discovering Fibromyalgia - definition, discovery and dealing with it.

**Fibromyalgia is....and I found out about it because... **

I was diagnosed with it back in 2002. I believe i had it before then, it just took me over 2 years to actually get a diagnosis. Starting in 1997/1998, i started having problems with my health - it was a shock to me because I always used to be such a healthy person. I never missed work from being sick, I really never had the flu or the cold too often... In the beginning, i just thought i had the flu, feeling so achy all over my body, which made it impossible for me to get up in the mornings. Then i started getting the "flu" a little too often...as often as every other week! I was cancelling social engagements with my friends so often that my friends started making bets if I would make it to a particular event. I started missing work a lot more.

My life was being changed by these weird, frequent "flu"-like symptoms. I didn't know what was going on. Every time I was sick, I went to my doctor and whined about my symptoms. I must have gone through so many tests, including tests for Hyperthyroid (I was losing weight fast in the beginning, my heart was beating fast, or it felt like it was), liver disease, ulcers, migraine, etc...you name it, I got tested for it. Fortunately, i had none of those. But my symptoms were so frequent and not knowing what it was frustrated me so much that i had wished I was finally diagnosed with something. But no. Finally, my doctor suggested that i may have something called "Fibromyalgia." I had never heard of it back then.

I found a clinic in the UCLA Medical Center (East-West Medicine) that specializes and only treats fibro patients. I submitted my symptoms and they "qualified" me for treatment...at my first appointment with them, the doctor diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. I was official then. Finally, something to blame. :-)

Although there may be something to blame on, fibromyalgia has no cure. It's not a disease per se, but it is more like a collection of symptoms, which as a bundle cannot be catagorized as any particular disease. According to various articles, it is more mentally triggered through stress (accumulated over a long period of time) and is even related to depression.

**My usual symptoms**

I read that fibromyalgia symptoms vary from person to person. My most frequent symptoms are severe achs in the ankle, wrists and tightening up of my shoulders. When i say they "tighten up" I mean the muscles really tighten up, knots just roll up together like rocks and i feel paralyzed. Usually my legs weaken and i feel like i can't use any of my leg muscles. Aside from the physical symptoms, I do tend to feel lethargic, almost to a depressing degree. On a normal day I am a very happy, active person. I'm positive, i'm social, i'm just ridiculously happy. However, when the physical symptoms kick in and i'm laying in bed in pain, it feels like the world is closing in on me and I just feel really really down on myself. It is both a physical and mental battle, as I wait for the pain to subside. It usually takes about a day or two for myself to feel better. On a good day, it just takes half a day. On a tough one, it's a two-day streak of misery.