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Sun, Dec. 14th, 2008, 12:13 pm
Get Well Before You Get Sick -- My Cure For Fibromyalgia

Image linked from MindBodyFocused.com

So the doctor says I may have fibromyalgia, and I certainly do fit all the classic symptoms. There's only one problem in my mind.

Fibromyalgia is not a disease. It's a syndrome, meaning a group of symptoms, and can have different causes. In my case, it was a nasty gastrointestinal virus that had me bedridden for weeks. Now my neurologist just calls it "post-viral syndrome" and I've been reading everything from the Merck manual to crazy quacks on the internet and I have only discovered one key difference between fibromyalgia caused by a virus and post-viral syndrome. Post-viral syndrome goes away. It seems to me like I have a choice of habits, and I can make this illness temporary or permanent. Jade does not back down from a fight, especially not one for my life.

A little background on this illness. Looks like it is primarily caused by lack of good sleep. Specifically, alpha waves disrupt delta sleep, and it is during this stage of sleep that your body heals neurons. If the neurons can't heal, they become super-sensitive to pain signals, and can even create pain out of nothing. This pain, in turn, makes the quality of your sleep even worse, and you suddenly hit a downward spiral. Many things can cause this initial sleep disruption, general poor sleep habits, pain or injury, stress, a virus or any kind of infection. Producing growth hormone as a child compensates when you are young because it keeps your muscles and tendons loose for growing purposes. However, when you age you don't grow anymore and, if you also don't stretch regularly, those muscles and tendons start to tighten up. This also contributes to pain. I've slept poorly all my life. It's just unfortunate I waited so long to start changing my ways. Most chronic illnesses are formed from a lifetime of bad habits, and the longer you let the illness continue, the harder it will be to reverse.

For smoking, when is the best time to quit? After your first cigarette or after you smoke four packs a day for ten years?
For eating, when is the best time to watch your diet? Before your first heart attack or after your quadruple bypass from a lifetime of Baconators?
I have had bad sleep for so long now that only medical intervention (i.e. doctors and probably medicine) is going to help me to change. But one has to remember that these are tools to change and not quick fixes. If I want to get better, I have to adjust my underlying habits and that is a hard thing to do.

This morning I made a daily checklist on my road to self-recovery. It includes everything I need to do to promote general health in all aspects of my life. Some key fibromyalgia points include a morning joint warmup and nightly stretch, plus a daily 30-minute walk and vitamins. I can beat this thing; I know I can.

And it all started with my 'happy place', that state of being which is neither happy nor a place. It's when I tell myself, Jade, you may be stuck with this thing forever, so you'd better start dealing with it right now. Seems fatalistic, but it is only when I think this that I stop avoiding the problem in the hopes it will go away on its own, and start dealing with the messy habits which led up to the issue in the first place.

Oh, and then I solved world peace. Seriously. I just haven't figured out a way to start implementing it yet.