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So, this time last year I had almost reached my goal weight.  No gimmicks, just a little moderation and common sense, and I was happy.  Then, three months before my wedding, I started a new medication.  I ballooned.  It took months for doctors to believe it was the medication causing the weight gain, and I was told the medication could take up to a year to flush from my system.  I tried everything.  I cut my calories and I started a regular exercise routine,  but nothing helped.  Currently, I am heavier than I have ever been.  I decided I needed a change.

A family member has had a lot of luck with Herbalife.  While I am generally skeptical of big programs like this I am an avid herbalist, so I researched.  You may all remember a while back, when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, that I formulated my own system of vitamins, enzymes, and herbal supplements to treat my condition.  Looking into this new program, my first goals were to find similar results for less cost and condense my complicated regiment.  My next goal, of course, was to deal with the weight gain.

So, I’m trying it.  This is a big step for me, as I’m not usually one for routines or programs like this, but I’m trying to suspend my skepticism and trust my research.  If it doesn’t work I’ll go back to my old system.  If it does?  You’ll all know about it.

Aloha

Go now, make a change for you!

 

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This is the first detrimental “sick day” I’ve had in almost a year.  Almost three years ago I came down with an illness that has yet to be named.  The “official” diagnosis was fibromyalgia, mainly because they just couldn’t find anything else.  A lot of my levels were borderline, but nothing was ever definitive.  In the span of two years I was in  he hospital at least half a dozen times not counting the times I was sent home from the Emergency Room.  A day like today would have ended with me in bed, a wheelchair, or the hospital.  This is a bad day. 

When this all started they gave me countless medications that did varying levels of nothing positive.  I stopped taking them.  Once they reached the current diagnosis the medication was even less helpful.  Most fibromyalgia medication is a differently dosed antidepressant of some form or another.  antidepressants make me suicidal.  Yes, I’m one of those people who actually gets the side effects listed in the commercials.  So, those were out. 

Eventually I had to take control of my health.  If no one was going to help me, I was going to help myself.  I started making a tea  blending catnip, valerian, and chamomile.  It works for rough days.  Catnip relaxes the muscles while chamomile works as an anti-inflamatory, and valerian helps with sleep.  It tastes like sewage, but with a little honey it makes everything temporarily stop hurting.  Considering the options that the source of my illness might rest in vitamin and nutrient absorption, I started taking a self-blended cocktail of vitamins.  Currently, I take 16 different supplements a day.  At the same time, when I start to have flare ups I stick to a gluten and casein free diet.

None of this is news to any of you who have read my early posts.  I posted this entire plan when I started it.  It was all a theory then, and a year later I’m having the first “bad day” I’ve had in a year, and I’m not in the hospital.  Is there still pain?  Excruciating.  Do I still hope we find the root of my illness?  Of course.  I have no idea what the long-term effects or current damage any of it is having on my body.  Hubby tells me quite often that he’s afraid of what may or may not happen with my health.  Just a year ago it seemed our lives were never going to be normal.  This year I’m working full-time and then some.  Even this “bad day” is not by far the worst.  I am blessed.

Go now, be healthy.

I had an entirely different post planned for tonight, but today something amazing happened.  I stepped out of a pharmaceutical fog and returned to my life.  Am I still experiencing symptoms of whatever it is that plagues me?  Of course, but I had no idea how detrimental the drugs I was taking to control a mere scattering of those symptoms had become until they raged their way out of my system.  Let me tell you about the last month or so of my life.

A few weeks ago the Cymbalta I was taking for fibromyalgia no one is sure I even have just stopped working.  One morning I woke up and could not move my arms.  I had flashbacks of the early days of my illness and now debilitated I was at that time and I started to cry.  After a year of fighting, was I really regressing back to square one?  I couldn’t be.  The Cymbalta had been helping; I was convinced.  I had defended these green and blue capsules when Hubby told me they were merely masking symptoms and making me crazy.  I simply denied these accusations.  Before the Cymbalta I threw a carton of eggs at him and threatened him with his own power drill.  How could this new, more mellow me be worse?  Sure, the medication made me uncontrollably sleepy a few hours after I took them but still gave me insomnia and mind racing at night, but it was helping the pain.  It was letting me return to work at least half the time.  How could this be bad?

Let me assure you, dear readers, I was not blind to the side effects that came with Cymbalta.  I had not been able to feel sex in months.  On a psychological level I enjoyed it, and my body responded to touch, but I just could not feel things happening in my body.  It was frustrating, but I was willing to accept it for the ability to walk.  Hubby sensed this, and the inevitable hardship on our relationship was evident.  In addition, sometimes I could not taste or feel my tongue.  I slurred through my announcements at work, trying to enunciate, cringing as I heard my incoherent mumble play back overhead.  I started biting my tongue and inner cheek, and the bags under my eyes darkened and sunk deeper into my sallow face.  Worst of all were my moods.  Cymbalta may have watered down my temper, but that just meant it fed my floods of irrationality and emotion without cause.  Hubby no longer wanted to be around me.  All I did was mope and yell at him.  I was miserable; everyone had to be miserable.  When Cymbalta stopped helping the pain, which was the only reason I was rationalizing the side effects, I stopped taking it.  I had been warned against quitting it cold turkey, but I was tired of feeling the way I was.  I was tired of not feeling.

The initial fallout was physical.  I was in pain for two weeks straight.  I got migraines, backaches, neck aches, gastrointestinal problems, and cramps all over my body.  I was constantly dehydrated and either slept for days at a time or could not sleep at all.  One morning I woke up to what felt like the flu.  In reality, it was my body purging itself of the last of the physical drug in my system.

Then it was time for my chemicals to balance.  Hubby could not talk to me without a fight.  I could not look at a book, a website, a TV show without uncontrollable sobbing and fits fo rage.  I screamed at Hubby, the animals, and inanimate objects alike for being in my way and frustrating me.  I hit walls and ripped up pieces of paper to try and control my temper.  I cleaned my house spotless trying to use up the extra nervous energy and anxiety the withdrawal was causing.

This weekend my system hit critical mass.  Experts will tell you that when your body is flushing itself of a toxin it will reach a point where you think you can not do it anymore.  You think you would rather just go back to the way it was with the toxin in your system rather than experiencing some of the worst pain you have ever felt.  That was how I woke up early Saturday morning.  I had a fever, chills, vomiting, and dizziness.  For two hours I camped in the bathroom praying I would pass out and forget it all ever happened.  All day Hubby and I fought about things I was blowing out of proportion.  He had been patient with me and my needs, but even he has his limits.  Two hours after we needed to be somewhere we were still curled up on the bed crying, trying to understand what was happening.  We were losing touch with each other, and something needed to change.  Eventually I pulled myself together and we headed to our engagement, but Saturday night and Sunday brought a whole new batch of issues.  I started having panic attacks and freak-out, and it grew exceedingly difficult for me to not start taking Cymbalta again.  I just could not imagine how this was ever going to end.

Monday I secluded myself to work through my emotions logically.  I weighed feelings against thoughts, and sorted out my inner file cabinet.  Yesterday I walked four and a half miles with someone I have let myself only half be myself with and learned that, yes, I can be loved, strong, and secure in myself and my marriage with her being a part of our lives, which is a post for another day.

Today I have been able to smile all day.  Today I have been alert and cognitive all day.  Today I had minimal pain despite my walk and stomach problems last night.  Today I may be slightly weaker, but today I am more stable.  Today something amazing happened.  I stepped out of a pharmaceutical fog and returned to my life.

It started a year ago. I had worked three double shifts in a row, and I contributed the lull in energy to exhaustion.  My blood sugar was not low, and I had eaten fairly well that day, but something was making me feel weak, shaky, and fatigued. Three days later the feeling had not yet gone away, so my husband and I headed for the Emergency Room at two in the morning. By the time we reached Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia I could not walk on my own. I was triaged and taken to a tiny curtained cubicle of a room where tests were run while I slept and Hubby read. Several hours later those tests came back with normal results, and I was discharged still unable to walk on my own. We felt helpless, but we were told I was in no imminent danger and that the ER had done all they could do. They were terribly sorry. From there the symptoms mounted. I experienced severe muscle pain and paralysis, fatigue, insomnia, migraines, brain fog, menstrual irregularity, weight and appetite fluctuation, weakness, extreme insulin resistence, and vertigo. My hair stopped growing and started to break, and my skin became severely thin, causing me to bruise and bleed on contact with even the slightest pressure. My heart rate began to average in the vicinity of 121, and even the shortest activities winded me. My temperament changed. The smallest problem would seem insurmountable. I would cry constantly, and I became irrationally and violently angry without warning. My marriage, my household, and my job were threatened by my worsening condition. A year later we have no more answers than we had when this ordeal began. Each test that comes back negative is added to the litany of diseases and disorders I do not have, which is a blessing and a curse. I have been tested for everything from Cushing’s Syndrome to Lupus, from TB to Addison’s, and still we have no clue why I continue to be sick. I have been in the hospital several times where they have accused me of being delusional, blamed all my symptoms on diabetes, or blatantly called me a liar. My husband has had to come to bat for me over and over as one of the few witnesses of how severely this has affected my life. I am still unable to work a full-time schedule, and our bills continue to climb as a result. People around me act like I just refuse to work, as if I like having to choose between groceries and rent. I was not surprised recently when I received the official “giving up” diagnosis of fibromyalgia. I was put on Gabapentin, which turned me into an instant zombie. Then I was put on Cymbalta, which helped the pain and emotional symptoms only for a short time. I am soon to be pawned off to a new team or specialists. I will see a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, and a neurologist before I am sent to a clinic for people with unidentifiable conditions. This post is NOT a ploy for pity or attention. It is an assurance to those who know me that I have not given up. Part 2 will give you a glimpse into the day I decided to take my diagnosis into my own hands and what I found when I did a little research.

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