A little over a year ago, I started experiencing weird aches and pains in my body. First in my joints, then spreading all over. I also experienced crushing fatigue; I literally felt drunk most of the time and was starting to wonder if I needed glasses because everything was always slightly out of focus. I got tons of bloodwork done, was brushed off and handed a variety of medications, and was shuttled from doctor to doctor as no one was able to figure out what was wrong with me. Finally, almost 3 months after the symptoms started, I saw a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.
Fibro is a chronic pain disorder with no known cause or cure.
I was given a prescription for Cymbalta, an anti-depressant that is the only known medication to decrease fibro pain. It actually worked well for me at first, but after a couple of weeks the relief tapered off and the pain returned. By that point, I was feeling pretty hopeless and depressed.
I didn’t have the energy to enjoy anything, I spent nights lying awake with pain shooting through my body, and I was so frustrated with the doctors’ inability to give me answers and their impassiveness towards what I was going through. I had always toyed with the idea of seeing a nutrition counselor to make sure that as a vegetarian I was getting everything in my body that I needed, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least talk to one.
I got a referral from my boss to Ellen. In our initial phone call, she explained just how much what we put into our bodies affects our health and in turn, everything about our lives. For the first time in months, I felt like it was possible to understand my body and what was happening inside it.
That phone call was a turning point for me. It gave me hope. Working with Ellen has changed my life.
When I think of where I was last summer in contrast to now, the difference is staggering. Within a couple of weeks, my fatigue was gone, and the pain has become much more manageable. My diet is completely different now than it was when I was diagnosed.
I cut way, way back on sugar and dairy, and have essentially cut out gluten. Almost all of the food I eat now is real. This means, generally, eating food that is not processed and full of chemicals. When I do buy food from a box, I read the ingredients to make sure they are natural (and the less ingredients the better!). This also means buying produce from local farms and not the grocery store, where they are often doused in chemicals and have lost most of their nutrients from being shipped from far away.
Ellen works holistically, so we talked a lot about stress, where it comes from, and ways to combat it. We traced my stress triggers back to my childhood (and at this point I actually dumped the therapist I was seeing, because Ellen was way more effective) and began working on tactics to reduce it.
I started journaling consistently for the first time in years, meditating, taking baths, doing yoga, enjoying time outdoors. She introduced me to Eckhart Tolle, and after reading his book A New Earth I began to find spirituality again after years of being an agnostic-lapsed-Catholic. Generally I just began to slow down and take much greater care of my body and soul.
I could go on and on about all the individual benefits I’ve received from this process, but I have to say the largest and most important one is that I no longer feel like a prisoner in my own body. When I was first diagnosed, I felt like I had no control over what was happening to me and could do nothing to stop it. I was in a constant state of low level stress about what was happening to me.
Now on days when I have a lot of pain, I know it’s because I had too much sugar or not enough sleep or need to get outside for a while. Even when I can’t seem to connect it to anything, I have tactics that I know will help, and more importantly, I know that my body is trying to tell me something and I just need to be quiet and listen.
Fibromyalgia no longer feels like an overwhelming burden, but just a part of me. And it’s a part of me that has, in the end, caused me to make so many positive changes for my health that may never have happened otherwise.
Even if you don’t have any chronic health problems, I would very highly recommend working with Ellen. I don’t think there is a better decision I could have made for myself and my health after I was diagnosed, and I think most of the changes I’ve made will stay with me for the rest of my life.