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Finding a way back to health after Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease

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fibromyalgia c772fb3536932530bacf1650955f21b7 Finding a way back to health after Fibromyalgia and Lyme DiseaseToday’s post is a testimonial from a client who had been dealing with chronic pain due to Lyme Disease and Fibromyalgia. She was referred to me for a consultation and has had excellent results after implementing a “Whole 30″ eating plan. I’ll let you read her story in her own words:

A lot of you are probably wondering why you should do a Whole30.  I wondered the same thing when I met with Ann in May.  As a full-time working mom, I figured it was normal to be tired, foggy, and achy all the time. Everyone can drink coffee at midnight and fall asleep a half hour later right?  (Um…if you can, I’ve been told that’s not a good sign…) 

The back story: A little over a year ago, one of my kids gently patted my head and pain ran through me like a lightning bolt. That episode was a wake up call because I realized I was in pain, foggy headed, and downing Advil and coffee like it was going out of style. After a couple of doctor visits, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and fibromyalgia. They treated the Lyme disease and started me on fibro medication. The meds helped somewhat, but were not a complete fix. Something had to give. Pain sucks! Chronic pain sucks even more! 
Enter Ann:   Ann was recommended to me not too long ago as someone who has had success in controlling autoimmune disease symptoms through dietary changes.  I reached out for a consult. She suggested two options when we met. Either try a Paleo diet, or really see what could be causing some of my issues and try the Whole30.  

Both seemed extreme. My thoughts went something like, “Whaaat?  No muffin on the run? How will I get the kids out the door? What about the Tagalongs in the pantry? Maybe I need to finish the box before I start this? Cut back on coffee? No wine? No way!“

In spite of my mind spinning with what she said, Ann made a lot of good points. I took her recommendations home with the thought of starting Paleo a few weeks down the road, slowly, by cutting out one thing, then the next, and so on.

Fast forward a week. On a business trip, I was sluggish, downing coffee like crazy, and just feeling blah. Ann’s words came back to me. No time like the present, right? I started my Whole30 that morning.

The first couple of weeks were interesting (OK – somewhat sucky) as my body adjusted to the lack of sugar and bread, and less caffeine.  I had headaches. I dragged. I thought, “Is this really worth it?  Why do I feel cruddy still? Where can I buy coconut milk in a can?”  

By the end of the 2nd week , things changed.  I was asleep by 11 most nights. I didn’t toss and turn in bed.  I woke up refreshed. Who knew this could happen?  

Add two more weeks to that, and the fibro fog lifted. Most (but not all) of my pain was gone. Tagalongs? Meh – they didn’t beckon like they once would have.  Coffee became a morning drink only because I was wired into the night otherwise. 
I am on Day 37 of my Whole30.  I can reintroduce foods that I haven’t had in over a month.  I’m not really interested in doing that because I don’t miss them, and I am pretty sure my body still has some healing to do. I am also hesitant to try (gluten especially) because of how my body may react.  These foods are now a decision instead of a craving.
All that to say, the Whole30 has made a whole lot of difference in how I feel. So, who knows, it could help you too!
If you are dealing with chronic pain, and would like to know more about changes you can implement to decrease inflammation, please contact me at 571-527-9192 to set up a consultation.
*Image from cdn.mdjunction.com
5 Comments
  1. Ann,
    Very inspiring testimonial.
    do you find that food consumption and the body’s response to this type of change in diet is consistent among all or most people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and or lyme disease?

  2. Hi Aaron,

    I do see consistent good results in the folks who have made these changes to their diet, and incorporated other lifestyle changes as well. I have seen positive changes for patients with RA, Type 1 Diabetes,fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and my own Hashimoto’s. There is some exciting research coming out of U of Maryland, where they are looking at the impact of gluten containing foods/drinks in other chronic illnesses besides diagnosed Celiac Disease http://www.celiaccenter.org/publications.asp . You can also read tons of testimonials just like my client’s at http://robbwolf.com/category/autoimmunity/ and http://whole9life.com/2011/06/the-whole30-a-z-real-life-testimonials/

    The results I have seen so far have made me believe that it is always worth a try, especially for a patient population that often fails to find relief from any other source.

    Ann

  3. Great Testimonial Ann. How much pain was she in, the light hearted nature of her writing doesn’t really describe it. I will definitely be sending you some clients for consults!

  4. Hi Erson,
    I will ask her if she would like to elaborate a bit more on the pain she had (type, location, how it affected her daily life) but quite telling that when her child patted her head, pain ran through her “like a lightening bolt.” I know from experience that (especially with children) it is difficult to explain that even a light touch or a hug can be painful. Of course, allodynia is different for each person; but, I am still more sensitive to “pats” and big hugs, and it is hard for me not to stiffen up in anticipation of pain, even though my symptoms have been under pretty good control for over a year. It is a good example of how a patient’s chronic pain begins to affect the family as well, when children are afraid to jump on Mom’s lap for fear of “hurting her”.

  5. In my testimonial, I had said that chronic pain sucked. It does, but my FMS experience goes beyond pain.  I am going to try to explain my FMS  symptoms and the associated improvements I have seen since doing the Whole 30.

    To start, the most recent FMS tender point test performed by my rheumatologist (pre-Whole 30) included pain at all tender points. After this test, I have had localized pain on those points for awhile after. My next appointment isn’t until August, so I will have more data on whether this is better later this summer.  

    I would describe my typical pain as a dull ache (except my back – more on that in a bit). This can affect me anywhere on any given day – it can be that my knees hurt or my hair – FMS aches for me are a bit unpredictable.

    I would also have shooting pain at the contact point where my kids pat, grab, or hug me with this dull ache afterward. This is much like the tender point test, but worse. This has gotten better in the last month. 

    The most predominant pain has historically been in my lower lumbar. Prior to the Whole 30, my entire back would seize up during sleep. Getting out of bed when waking up on my back is like watching a turtle trying to flip over. Since finishing the Whole 30, back pain is localized to the left side of my lower back. It is still stiff in the morning, but immensely easier to get out of bed.  I am hoping with more time this will continue to improve. On a scale of 1-10 Pre-Whole 30,  I would say my morning back stiffness and pain was a 7-8. It is probably a 5 now. This gets better and disappears after being up and about for a few minutes.

    Another issue was hand cramping in the middle of the night. This disappeared on the Whole 30. Previously, I would wake up with my fingers clenched to my palms most mornings. 

    My migraines have decreased in frequency. IBS symptoms improved also (although I would not have said so during the first two weeks of the Whole 30). The typical brain fog, while not painful, can be debilitating. As mentioned in the testimonial, this is much better already.

    Essential tremors (hands) seem to be improving as well, but have typically been worse during high stress periods. Things are a bit more sedate right now, so, I will have to see if this is better once the stress kicks back up.

    After writing my testimonial, I had an evening off my Whole 30+. I only introduced a bit of chocolate and 1.5 NorCal margaritas. I woke up with my hands clenched and back totally seized. This was after a month of slow improvement with my back and not waking with my hands clenched since before I started my Whole 30.  My IBS symptoms reappeared as well. Happily, things are back on track – but this was an eye-opener for me.

    I hope this helps to explain my experience with FMS and improvement on the Whole 30. I am happy to answer other questions you may have. 

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