Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and M.E. all have one thing in common …. chronic pain.
The onset of these illnesses can be frightening and confusing and can leave you feeling like you are going mad! How can you have such debilitating pain and there be no physical trauma, no broken bones or ripped muscles? I can remember very clearly my first fibro related pain, it was in my right upper arm and shoulder, it came on very suddenly and if I forgot about it and rested my arm on the window edge whilst driving or forgot to put that arm in my jacket first, the searing pain could make me drop to the floor in agony. The pain became so unbearable I was convinced I must have done some real damage to it, so off I went to A&E convinced they would tell me I had a fracture or a torn ligament or such like. When the doctor appeared after looking at my X Rays and told me there was nothing physically wrong with my arm, I came to the conclusion either he or I must be mad! I was sent on my merry way and told to go to see my G.P. if it continued. Of course it continued as this was now going to become a huge part of my life and little did I know that this was only the beginning.
I stuck with the pain for another couple of weeks, convincing myself that it would disappear as soon as it had materialised but it just seemed to be getting worse, knowing that there was nothing physically wrong had me doubting my sanity one moment and wondering if it was something more sinister the next, so I made an appointment to go and see my G.P.
I was one of the lucky ones, my G.P. was very understanding and immediately began to ask me a whole host of questions that I couldn’t see the relevance of, how was I sleeping? What were my energy levels like? Did I have unexplained pain anywhere else? He examined me and started prodding and poking me all over and then uttered the words, “I think you have fibromyalgia”
I had never heard of this illness before and had a mixed reaction of thank goodness it has a name and I’m not going crazy to oooooh that sounds scary, is it serious! The look on my face must have said it all and my G.P. then explained that I would be living with this for the rest of my life. The good news though, he reassured me was it was controllable with medication as he started typing me a prescription and I practically skipped out of his office with it in my hand and to the pharmacy as my doctor had found the answer for me to lead a normal life, right? That was the moment my three year relationship with opioids started.
I had no idea really what I was taking, I was just desperate for some pain relief and soon the pain began to spread, at my worst I was spending three to four days a week physically unable to get out of bed and when I did I needed to walk with crutches, my legs were now exceptionally painful and I had a couple of quite nasty falls resulting in trips to A&E and although understanding, as soon as I mentioned I had fibromyalgia that seemed the golden ticket to usher me back out the way I came without any further investigation. Then began the merry go round of G.P. visits with my list of repeat items on my prescriptions getting ever longer and higher in strength until I was coming out of the pharmacy with controlled drugs stickers on my white and green paper bag.
Three years passed in a chemically induced blur of dizziness, fatigue, and nausea, clock watching until it was time to take my next round of pills, yet still I was in horrendous pain. I lost my job as I was incapable of getting there most days, more G.P. visits, Rhumatologist visits, injections and finally patches for the pain, yet still I had no respite, this was a very dark time for me with no light at the end of the tunnel, was this to be my life?
I was fortunate enough that it was at this point I met my wonderful partner Mark, whilst looking for a teaspoon as he was making a cuppa in my kitchen, he stumbled into the wrong drawer, my medication drawer and all the boxes sprang out at him like a jack in the box! With his extensive knowledge as a research and development scientist he was horrified at the amount of medication that I was taking and announced he was going to make me a range of natural products to help me deal with my pain, insomnia and fatigue. They worked so well that we couldn’t keep them to ourselves and that was the moment M.C.C. was born
I had no idea that the fentanyl patches that I was using were 370 times stronger than co-codamol and greater in strength than heroin! They were designed for patients that were receiving end of life care for cancer, in which case they worked incredibly well but were never designed for prolonged use and surely if I was still in the amount of pain I was in whilst using them, then without them it would be totally unmanageable right? This actually couldn’t be further from the truth.
Whilst opioids work fantastically well with acute pain , recovering from surgery, broken bones, torn muscles etc, chronic pain is a completely different entity. All pain starts as acute pain but after a while the pain receptors, chemicals and hormones in our body all start to respond to the pain differently and it is at this point it mutates into chronic pain. Tonsillitis and an allergy can both cause irritation and swelling to the throat but the treatment for both would be very different and this is the same for acute and chronic pain, they both respond very differently to medication. The NHS and Public Health England are now recognising this and are looking to reduce the amount of pharmaceutical opioids chronic pain sufferers are prescribed. They cannot just be stopped overnight as the withdrawals can be horrendous leaving patients having to be weaned off of them under supervision, so now as well as having to deal with the chronic pain issues they have to deal with all the complications caused by the opioids too.
M.C.C. are working with our local NHS Trust supporting people in the community to manage their symptoms holistically, a route that has been life altering for me personally and I feel that I now have taken my life back from the grip these medications had on me. We have a fantastic support group on Facebook, where we help hundreds of people daily manage their symptoms in a natural way called Fibromyalgia And Product Support By M.C.C . There is a way for you to take back control and here at M.C.C. we are dedicated to helping show you the way.