I haven't done a full post about Fibromyalgia yet, or more specifically, my Fibromyalgia. I've touched on it a few times, but not in lots of detail.
Recent changes in my routine, and a new found motivation has found me currently upping my training and cleaning up my diet. The diet side is a pretty common thing to get in check when you’re regularly exercising, but for me it’s so much more than that. What I eat has a massive influence on my pain. Not just post training bumps, bruises, aches and pains, but full body, hands and feet on fire kinda pain.
This got me thinking that now’s as good a time as any to get talking about the big F!
NHS describe Fibromyalgia as a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. They state that as well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia may also have:
• increased sensitivity to pain
• fatigue (extreme tiredness)
• muscle stiffness
• difficulty sleeping
• problems with mental processes (known as "fibro-fog") – such as problems with memory and concentration
• irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Wikipedia's definition is pretty similar...
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure. Other symptoms include feeling tired to a degree that normal activities are affected, sleep problems, and troubles with memory. Some people also report restless legs syndrome, bowel or bladder problems, numbness and tingling, and sensitivity to noise, lights or temperature. Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Other types of chronic pain are also frequently present.
And Boots WebMD lists some of the glorious symptoms...
Fibromyalgia causes you to ache all over. You may have symptoms of crippling fatigue - even on getting up in the morning. Specific trigger points or tender points on the body may be painful to touch. You may experience swelling, disturbances in deep-level or restful sleep, and mood disturbances or depression.
Your muscles may feel like they have been overworked or pulled. They’ll feel that way even without exercise or another cause. Sometimes, your muscles twitch, burn, or have deep stabbing pain.
Some patients with FMS have pain and achiness around the joints in the neck, shoulder, back, and hips. This makes it difficult for them to sleep or exercise. Other fibromyalgia symptoms include:
• Abdominal pain
• Anxiety and depression
• Chronic headaches
• Difficulty maintaining sleep or light sleep
• Dryness in mouth, nose, and eyes
• Fatigue upon arising
• Hypersensitivity to cold and/or heat
• Inability to concentrate (called “fibro fog”)
• Irritable bowel syndrome
Numbness or tingling in the fingers and feet
• Painful menstrual cramps
• Poor circulation in hands and feet (called Raynaud’s phenomenon)
• Restless legs syndrome
• Fibromyalgia can cause signs and feelings similar to osteoarthritis, bursitis and tendonitis.
So let’s start with the pain. It’s always there. It never goes away. A delightful constant reminder. I’ve learnt to tolerate the ‘normal level of pain’, but then there’s the flare ups. These vary from me feeling a little worse, to physically not being able to move and my whole body feeling like it’s shutting down. Imagine that post leg day after burn, when you’ve lifted more than you’ve ever lifted and done more reps than you’ve ever done. Now multiply that by the biggest number you know. Now imagine that feeling everywhere – not just your legs and bum - your whole body, even your mouth, which makes eating fun.
It's like my body can't recognise or process the feeling of pressure against it. When I sit on a chair I don’t feel the pressure of my body against it, all I feel is pain and discomfort (now, imagine knee on belly - knee on belly squared!). I have to get plenty of rest to avoid severe pain flare ups but how do you rest when you can’t sit?
I have to balance my exertions with rest. But I want to train. I look after two children. I run a business from home. I keep the house in check. It’s a pretty big juggling act!
n the last few years I’ve realised how much my diet is linked to my Fibro pain. Things that cause increases in my pain are the standard offenders:
• Chocolate/sweets/sugary tasty tasty treats (sad face!)
• White potato/White rice/White pasta/Bread
So my diet consists of air and clouds! Basically I need some sort of Fibro meals on wheels! I need to keep my vitamin D up (Vitamin D deficiency can mimic some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia). I need to avoid additives and highly processed foods. I should eat more fish, but I’m not the biggest fan of the oily ones! I should cut down on red meat (I can hear Jon wince at the thought of less beef and bacon!).I keep away from caffeine where possible. And I need to eat all the vegetables! It’s not just about keeping my pain at bay, this all helps to keep my energy up.
On a serious note, Jon and I have made some really nice meals and luckily the little ones eat anything and everything so that makes things so much easier! But trying keep on top of all of it is very difficult!
I’m now training BJJ 3-4 days a week and I’m looking at adding in an early morning gym session soon. I’ve got my vitamins and protein shakes and Jon researched various supplements that can help too so I’m literally going to rattle and roll, but it all seems to be working so far. I’m still treading very carefully though – no matter how much I try and control my diet, and get my body used to regular training, it can all change in an instant. Flare ups can occur at any time – and they don’t care if I’ve eaten well, and rested lots.
But I’m more determined than ever. I’m going to get my body to where I want it to be both physically and for BJJ, and I’m going to give my girls a healthy and energetic mum, who can join in with anything and everything. It’s all about balance.
So wish me luck!