I’ve had diagnosed Fibromyalgia for nearly two years now. Up until that point my options for treating any medical issues were very straightforward. If I injured my knee on a football pitch, the ambulance brought me to hospital and after the A&E team did their thing, I returned to see any consultants I was told to. If I had a cold, I reached for the Lemsips and rode it out. No matter what was wrong, there was always an obvious person to go to, and they fixed it.
In so many, many ways fibromyalgia has changed my outlook on lots of things and it has taught me to be patient and open in dealing with it. My fibromyalgia affects every system in my body and so the number of doctors and medical professionals I have visited is massive. There is no one thing that will fix me, there is no one doctor who can cure me and to manage my fibromyalgia in the best possible way, I have to combine the skills of ALL the medical folk and get on with things as best as I can.
After being referred to 8 or 9 consultants I’ve got used to the idea that the best way to treat my fibromyalgia is to take a multi-disciplinary outlook. I’ve also got used to friends and family suggesting people I should see, diets I should follow, exercise programmes I should engage in and supplements I should add into my daily routine. I like the fact that I have people who care enough about my well-being to pass on something they have heard or read and I never dismiss any suggestions out of hand.
That wouldn’t have been the case 3 or 4 years, I was so used to treating ailments a certain way I never wanted to stray from the obvious and take a chance on a different form of treatment. As I said that has changed because fibromyalgia stops you in your tracks and the only way to manage it successfully is to take a holistic approach and try to treat the whole body. This is especially important for me because of all the ways fibromyalgia interferes with my body.
Many people find alternative therapies very good for relieving pain, stress, muscle, tension etc. and I have to say I did too. I tried both massage and acupuncture and found great relief from both. Unfortunately these treatments don’t come cheap (or cheap enough) for me to afford to include them in my long-term treatment. I will always need to take medications to treat my fibromyalgia but massage in particular was a really enjoyable way to improve my symptoms. As a result I’m always trying to keep my eye out for an affordable treatment that I can use alongside my medications to improve my situation.
This led me to an interesting encounter yesterday.
There are many vitamin and mineral supplements people take every day and while they can have benefits, I can’t find the room in my budget for the magnesium, the vitamin d etc. that may help me out. I was however given the number of a famous herbalist in a neighbouring county. The initial consultation fee was extremely reasonable and with my newly open mind in tow I set off for his clinic yesterday. I did however have to cross the border into County Meath, the ‘Royal County’, luckily passport control let me through this time.
I filled in my details (why is the area for writing your illnesses and treatments always so bloody small?!), and waited to be called. I met with a really friendly woman who listened to my medical history, checked my ongoing medications and asked about my diet and levels of activity at the moment. I can safely say the medications took much longer to talk about than my activity levels!
After the consultation I was prescribed some mad looking beverages. These will hopefully, in time, work alongside my medications to increase my energy levels, improve my sleep quality and protect my immune system. Despite appearances they taste pretty good, in fact one of them tastes a little like iced tea which I’ve acquired a taste for over the years.
So here I am; one of the biggest sceptics in the world opening himself up to the possibility that a herbalist could help in the fight against fibromyalgia. I’ve got three weeks’ worth of these drinks to get through and then I’ll return to the clinic for a consultation with the main men himself. ’Nothing ventured, nothing gained’, but if you’d told me 5 years ago I’d be seeing a herbalist I would have dismissed you without hesitation. A little dose of life and reality will humble even the biggest sceptics.
So wish me luck and I’ll let you know how this latest experiment goes. I will give it enough time to see any changes it may bring; I just hope I can afford to keep going with it if the benefits are obvious. In spite of any improvements it may bring, it is unfortunate that the final decision will not be made on its’ effectiveness but its’ ongoing cost.