When I hit my lowest and went to my doctor, he wanted to prescribe me Cymbalta. I refused it. I had already researched the FDA-approved medication for Fibromyalgia (FM) and was terrified after reading the many horrible reviews. (Cymbalta reviews) I talked to my family. I cried and refused. I was actually scared.
I’ve since realized why. My mom was hospitalized for the first time in Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital in my sophomore year of of highschool in 1980. Her second time, that ended up being a permanent situation, was only a year later. She was being treated for bipolar and schizophrenia with very serious medication. All I could imagine was being in the zombie-state that I remembered from my visits. Scared me silly. However, on December 7, 2018, I knew that I couldn’t handle without some help I agreed to go on a low dose of 30mg of Cymbalta.
Before resorting to prescribed medication, I did try many suggested remedies: yoga, Reiki sessions, a chiropractic session, professional massage, supplements, hot tub, heating pad, myofascial release, over-the-counter pain relievers, Tapping (EFT), and diet changes. I didn’t try pain-relieving shots (like Lady Gaga has) nor acupuncture (due to insurance not covering it). Some definitely helped, others were positive experiences but didn’t seem to change anything, a few didn’t do anything, and one actually hurt me.
- Yoga: I had practiced yoga for some time but hadn’t been doing any for the past couple of years due to my hour drive to work which led to a 10 workday. On the weekend of Thanksgiving break, I went to a local yoga studio on the recommendation of a friend. It was for a two-hour breathwork workshop. That one visit made a huge impression on me. I knew I found a healing place, a welcoming place. This practice with these people and this teacher has been the single most helpful thing in combatting my Fibromyalgia (FMA). I’m going 2-5 times a week. My insurance does not cover this.
- Reiki: After the breathwork class, I decided to sign-up for three Reiki sessions with the owner of that yoga studio who is also a Reiki master. Much of her approach in her studio’s ambiance, class structure, and her overall life philosophy ties into this system. After some sharing of my situation, I laid down supported by pillows and covered by a blanket and weighted eye pillow letting my eyes fully relax. After the session, I felt good. Not pain-free, but not painful. I felt positive and light. I haven’t gone since mostly because of its cost. I do believe this led me to a deeper look into my emotional state which has definitely helped heal and grow. My insurance doesn’t cover this.
- Chiropractic Session (no link due to not recommending): I only tried one, so that probably tells you something. The website listed FM as one of the conditions they could treat. After the neck crack (I realize there’s more than one type of chiropractic treatment), I ended up hurting way worse than when I had arrived. Won’t be going again. My insurance did cover this, but I still had a fairly large copay. *Since I first wrote this, I have gone to another chiropractor. She spent an hour going over my history. Then, she to spin Xrays and came up with a plan. A medical-massage was included from that point on after each 15-minute session with her. The two combined really loosened my neck and shoulders which had been plaguing me for months. I paid $30 out of pocket for 15-minute chiropractic correction and hour-long medical-massage. That was such a wonderful deal!
- Professional Massage: I found a business card for A Bridge to You Massage Therapy hanging up on our yoga studio bulletin board. The professional masseuse came highly recommended by my fellow yogis. The atmosphere, music, and massage bed felt as if I was in a warm cocoon in a field of flowers-which is saying something since it was in the deep part of January. Claire uses some Reiki during the session besides the wonderful, calming massage. She talked about how a gentle massage (unlike the bruising deep massage I had been frenetically doing to my legs and arms) brings the neuro-system from sympathetic to parasympathetic in about 20 minutes. This helped me tremendously for about a week during some of my hardest times. I would go once a week if I could afford it. My insurance doesn’t cover this.
- Tapping/EFT: In mid-February, as I was researching ways to calm down the pain through meditation, I stumbled on The Tapping World Summit 2019 the first speaker I listened to was Iyanla Vanzant, and after, I did the tapping session. It did work to calm down the pain. I’m not fully sure I believe that tapping on the meridian points is what makes the difference, but I do know it helps. I think it was because of the mindfulness/meditation one does through the tapping.
- Supplements/Diet Changes: So, I did an elimination diet, not as scientifically as I should have by adding in two foods instead of one a couple of times. After a week of being off of all: egg, dairy, gluten, caffeine, sugar, nuts, corn, tomatoes, citrus, alcohol, processed foods… It was tough, but sure learned unique ways of making pretty good foods. The problem was, I really had no findings with the exception that I already knew I am very lactose intolerant. I’ve kept off of dairy, caffeine (mostly), lower in sugar intake, and lower in any processed foods by a good bit. Adding in supplements was really pushed by many: turmeric, ginger, vitamins D, B12, and E, SAM-E, and magnesium-malate. The only ones I’ve kept are D3 and magnesium-malate (the # of pills and the cost was just too much to maintain and I really didn’t find a difference with or without.) A doctor (who I have come to respect and trust) has said in his written article that the only supplements he’d recommend are magnesium and SAM-E. I stopped taking the SAM-E because it made me too jittery; however, it did help with fatigue and brain-fog.
- Heat Therapy (Hot Pad and Hot tub): These have worked pretty well for intense short-term relief. My husband and I had always dreamed of a hot tub at our new home. When I got some refunded money from the state, we bought a six-person tub. That was fall 2018. I was diagnosed at the end of November. What kismet!
- Over-the-counter Pain Reliever: The only pain reliever that seems to help me is Bayer: Body and Back pain reliever (aspirin w/caffeine). I’ve tried ALL the other types. Just didn’t do anything. I have also tried CBD via capsules and gummies. I really didn’t find any difference. I did feel more groggy, so I stopped. I haven’t tried marijuana (it has just been legalized), but I’m not opposed to it if I should need it and it helps.
- Myofascial Release: This helps. I do this fairly regularly after heating pad to simulate massage. However, it can be easy to make it too intense. If I do it too forcefully, it can cause a flair in me.
I tried most of these things before agreeing to take 30 mg of Cymbalta daily. I went up to 60 mg after four months. I have now weaned down to 30 mg again after 3 months and am going to try to be off of it entirely in one month. I will then see if I can manage my pain and other symptoms with the new techniques I’ve learned through my 10 week FM Bootcamp training I had at Mary Free Bed (more on that later).
There are a lot of suggested treatments for Fibromyalgia. One can go broke trying all of the things people say work. It’s confusing because what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. Finding what our best path is a game of trial and error.
What are your guiding factors for whether or not to try something? Have there been things that definitely work for you? Have you wasted money on anything?