If you’re here, there’s a good chance you have fibromyalgia. And if you have fibro, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with some other conditions at the same time. As if the myriad of symptoms associated with fibro weren’t enough, there’s something about it that makes you susceptible to other problems. For example, even though fibromyalgia is not officially classified as an autoimmune disease, it nevertheless is linked to them. Some research even shows that having autoimmune diseases makes you more susceptible to fibro.
So, if you’re reading this, then you or someone you love is probably trying to cope with lupus and/or rheumatoid arthritis as well as fibromyalgia. But wait, there’s more! You’re probably also trying to manage your migraines, IBS, restless legs, pelvic pain, depression, and even obesity. And let’s not leave out the constant juggling of treatments, medications, doctor visits, special diets, limited activity, and sleepless nights. I can keep going, but I’m confident you get the point. You’re also likely frustrated and depressed just being reminded of all the conditions you have to cope with every day.
The Department of Health and Human Services adds, “the health care system is primarily organized to provide care on a disease-by-disease basis. So when individuals see a number of specialists, the opportunity for confusion escalates.” This can be especially true when it comes to medications. For example, you may take a medication for your depression that sends your anxiety or migraines through the roof. The possibilities for chaos with medications alone are endless.
Try an Osteopath
The Association of American Medical Colleges provides a list of over 120 specialties and sub-specialties in Western medicine. On the surface, you might think that this is a good thing. It can be. But it can also cause big problems. Not the least of which is the concept of treating symptoms, rather than the actual problem. That’s because you have a root problem that manifests itself in multiple ways. It may appear to be one condition and several unrelated issues. When, in reality, they are all tied to the same problem that has yet to be determined. So, what does your specialist do? They treat the symptoms that are within their specialty.
But take a look at a different kind of doctor. Though still within the Western system of medicine, osteopathy is a different kind of practice altogether. Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine explains, “As guardians of wellness, DOs [Doctors of Osteopathy, as opposed to MD which stands for Medical Doctor] focus on prevention by gaining a deeper understanding of your lifestyle and environment, rather than just treating your symptoms.” Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. You see, an osteopath takes a holistic approach. That means, rather than simply treating migraines, for example, they are going to look at everything else going on in your body, your mind, and what’s happening in your life.
Visiting an osteopath can make a life-changing difference for someone trying to cope with multiple conditions. They are also trained to work with the body’s natural tendency to heal itself. And if you’re insistent on seeing a specialist, then guess what? There are more than 100,000 Doctors of Osteopathy in the U.S. who are practicing in every medical specialty.
Stop Criticizing Yourself
You know how you blame yourself because of being sick and tired all the time? Hopefully, no one has ever said such ignorant words to you. Although, having been through severe postpartum depression, I know that some of the most well-meaning people in your life can say some of the most thoughtless things to you. While I certainly do not advocate violence, there is a tiny part of me that thinks about punching them when I go back to those words.
But let’s get back to you and the hate-filled and thoughtless things you tell yourself. You know you do it, but you probably don’t even think about it. “It’s my fault anyway. I shouldn’t have….” fill-in-the-blank. Or a classic you might hear from others but would never dream of saying yourself (except you actually do): “This is absurd. I should just get over it, pick myself up, and get on with life.”
But here’s the thing: you’re a HUMAN. You didn’t cause this. Oh, you don’t believe me? So, you’re telling me that you woke up one day and thought, “Ya know, I think I’d like to spend the next several years in bed using medications that make me sick, having surgeries, and just stay in chronic pain.” Did you? No, of course not. No one does that because no one wants to suffer.
One chronically ill woman writes of her experience after finding Danea Horn’s book, Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Strategies for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness. She writes “that the idea isn’t that we have no control. The idea is to let go of asking “Why?” and instead focus on, “What can I do that’s useful?” And for me, I think all this analyzing has gone too far. The next time I get stuck in a worry groove asking “Why?” or “What have I done?” I’m going to gently tell myself, “Hey, you haven’t done anything wrong. You’ve already got the answer. You’re human.”