Oct, 2010. We had no speaker at this month's meeting, but rather we had a discussion on a video put out by The Mayo Clinic and GAIAM, a company dedicated to the health and healing of people and our planet.
The title of the video is Wellness Solutions for Fibromyalgia and it is available at Amazon.com for $19.90 plus s&h. It would be less if you don't mind getting a used video. I recommend this video to any newly diagnosed Fibromyalgia patient for a number of reasons. And I'd like to share with you a "review" of 5 sections of the video so you can see why you may like to purchase a copy of your own.
1) Dr. Brent Bauer introduces you to the concept of integrative medicine. [This is invaluable to my way of thinking. This treatment approach has proven to be the most helpful of all in the treatment of Fibromyalgia - that's why my book, Managing Fibromyalgia-Getting to know your Aggravators, extols it's virtues!]
Dr. Bauer explains that integrative medicine is simply the best of both worlds of medicine. It utilizes both alopathic (or Western) medicine along with the 3,000 yr-old traditional methods of healing and treatment. This method of treatment combines prescriptions when necessary, with acupuncture or chiropractic manipulation or physical therapy or water therapy, or whatever your doctor thinks may be right for you. Both methods use a form of cognitive behavioral therapy and/or stress reduction--whether deep breathing, meditation, exercise or physical therapy.
[Note: you'll find that many medical doctors are not familar with integrative medicine. You may want to seek out an osteopath, a naturopath or a physician specifically trained in the integrative medical field. You can find one by checking online at http://www.wellness.com/find/integrative%20doctor and click on your state, or zip code, or you can google "integrative medical physician."]
2) Drs. Jeffrey Thompson and Amit Sood, both practicing at the Mayo Clinic, explain this complex syndrome and tell how it is diagnosed. Dr. Thompson explaines that there are no tests to diagnose Fibromyalgia, but rather it is diagnosed by the symptoms. The typical symptoms are overall body pain, tiredness/weakness and trouble sleeping. There is also an extreme sensitivity at any or all of 18 tender points. He also says that these 18 points are not exactly written in stone - there can be even more points. And there can also be fewer.
Dr. Thompson said that he's heard that some doctors tell their patients that "the pain is all in their head." He says that's quite true. ALL pain emanates from the brain, and so, yes, the pain IS in your head, but so is the doctor's own pain in HIS own head. This is actually a good thing, because the brain, in fact, is the most powerful thing we have to treat and manage our Fibromyalgia pain! Then he talks about why.
Dr. Amit Sood tells that there are environmental triggers, predispositions, poor sleep, stress and the ever present "overactive mind and underactive body" that can aggravate the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
He also says that most people when diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, or even before they are diagnosed, are fearful that their body is being damaged, which may lead to debilitation and disability. "But once they are assured that this is not the case--that there is no actual damage happening to their body--they are usually quite relieved and can better come to terms with their condition." [I believe he may be a bit overoptimistic here.] "Then," he continues, "they can then go about beginning their own healing and treatments in the form of exercise, stress management, sleep management and so on."
Drs. Sood and Thompson strongly emphasises exercise, explaining that even if you only begin by exercising 5 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes at noon and 5 minutes in the late afternoon (5-5-5), you will have exercised 15 minutes that day. As your body becomes accustomed to that amount of exercise, after a week or two, you can GRADUALLY add another minute to each of these and then another then next week and so on, until you can get in a half hour or more of exercise per day.
Both doctors stress the importance of spirituality, positive self-talk, positive attitude, humor, goal setting and pacing and much more, finalizing their contribution with the 5 most important TIPS for dealing with fibromyalgia: 1) reduce stress - learn stress management techniques like meditation, positive self-talk or even expressing your spirituality; 2) get restful, restorative sleep via your doctor's assistance or acupuncture, or massage therapy or other means - if you're not sleeping well, it's almost impossible for muscle pain to get better; 3) exercise every day, eg. yoga, tai chi, chi gong - but don't over do it, because that can increase pain; 4) pace yourself - do everything in moderation; 5) maintain a healthy lifestyle - eat lots of healthy fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and legumes, and enjoy fun occassions, and family.
3) Dr. Donald Hensrud takes you on a trip through the grocery store. This section is very informative, especially for those who are not familiar with the importance of diet and Fibromyalgia. He literally walks through a grocery store picking up foods to put in his cart, as he explains why this or that food is beneficial for helping pain and other symptoms. He also explains that we should be cutting back (or omitting) excess sugar, hydrogenated fats, coffee, soft drinks and the like.
Diet is indeed a very important factor for those of us with Fibromyalgia. Learning all you can about this one important factor can certainly help alleviate a lot of pain. [See my blogs below on Fibromyalgia and Diet with Dr. Corson, or with Cindy Cohen, RN.]
4) Rodney Yee takes you through a simple sitting meditation, where you sit comfortably in your chair and listen as he speaks-- soothingly describing how to relax. Then he describes a meditation while you are lying down. The visual background is a beautiful mountain meadow on a sunny day, and the music is so soothing and relaxing, that playing this section of the tape can literally melt away your stresses as you watch or listen. This is an excellent walk through a light, relaxing meditation. [For newbies to meditation,and others, you will find this to be very soothing and relaxing.]
5) Rodney Yee is also a famous yoga master. In the same beautiful mountain valley on a sunny day, he and two of his assistants demonstrate a number of simple yoga positions, called Asanas. He utilizes folded up blankets for the easing of the positions and a chair to lean on, so that none of the Asanas would be too strenuous or painful in any of the moves. These positions have been selected especially for Fibromyalgia sufferers and are not overly strenuous.
[Note: I have been practicing Tai Chi daily for 11 of my 12 years with Fibro and consider myself fairly limber for the shape I'm in. I had no trouble doing these Asanas, but for someone new, it may be pushing it a bit. I plan to stick with Tai Chi, thank you very much.]
This DVD is helpful in a variety of ways as you can see by the above description. And there's much more that I haven't covered. Telling about integrative medicine is very helpful too, and I highly recommend those who are newly diagnosed to look deeper into this method of treatment. And this video is helpful as a meditation aid or an aid to learning a few the yoga positions or even shopping at the grocery store! All in all, for beginners, it can be quite helpful.