By Lynn Phipps, Guest Columnist
The year 2004 began for me a decade-long nightmare. Bedridden with severe body pain and disabled from 3 migraines per week, I lost my career as a social worker, ironically working with people with disabilities. I lived with severe pain and bone crushing fatigue daily.
Before I became ill, I didn’t believe in fibromyalgia. I was so wrong.
My diagnosing physician treated me with the standard medications for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, post traumatic stress disorder, migraines, anxiety, depression, and pain. None of the three FDA approved fibromyalgia medications worked. A combination of Norco and Butalbital taken every 4-6 hours managed the pain and migraines, giving me some ability to function.
Over time, I was able to take the pain medications less often, every 6-7 hours. I was taking care of my hygiene, my family and home again. The pain medications allowed me to move more, which is essential for managing fibromyalgia pain. I began exercise again for about ten minutes a day.
I remained his patient for 7 years until he yelled and humiliated me when I asked for a prescription for one migraine pill while out of town. I had forgotten to pack mine. He treated me like a drug addict and called me a liar. I was stunned, as that was the only time I had ever asked him for pain medication. I fired him.
Only one physician out of thirty was willing to take my case because it was so complex. I had to wait eight months for an appointment.
In the meantime, I was seen by a PAC (physician assistant, certified) at a local clinic. I also tried alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and herbal remedies. I tried hydrotherapy, saw countless physical therapists and chiropractors, all claiming they could cure me. Nothing worked. I was becoming fatigued to the point that I could no longer drive to my appointments. Discouraged, I gave up all hope of getting better.
I was referred to a pain specialist whose specialty was to find the nerves causing the headaches and cauterize them. The theory was that scar tissue would then form on the nerves, blocking the pain. It didn’t work. I was afraid at every appointment that he would stop prescribing Norco because he did not believe in pain medication. One year later, he did.
I couldn’t believe that a pain specialist would take away all of my pain medications. I hadn’t misused or abused them. I took less than prescribed. It was cruel. He helped me titrate off of Norco, because studies indicate they cause rebound headaches. He was right, but I was still in so much pain that I was not functioning. Two years with no pain relief had him referring me to a pain psychologist.
The pain psychologist determined that I was not a meanderer; that, in fact, my pain was legitimate. Vindication!!! He then changed my life by telling me that if I were ever to get well, I had to go to a larger metropolitan area.
A google search led me to an MD in San Francisco who specializes in treating fibromyalgia. A fibromyalgia patient herself, she understood my diagnosis. She explained that she got her life and career back after two years on something called the Guaifenesin Protocol, which includes taking an expectorant drug to clear airways in the lung. It was not a cure, but followed precisely, would reverse the fibromyalgia symptoms.
The basic principles of the Guaifenesin Protocol include finding the proper clearing dosage, eliminating the use of all salicylates (a natural chemical found in plants, as well as household and hygiene products) and following a hypoglycemic diet to combat low blood sugar, which mimics many fibromyalgia symptoms.
The Guaifenesin Protocol helps sluggish kidneys excrete the build up of phosphates, which are believed to be the cause of fibromyalgia symptoms, at a rate of six and a half times faster than without it. Over time, this leads to the reversal of fibromyalgia symptoms.
For the first time in three years, I felt hopeful. The doctor examined me and agreed with the fibromyalgia diagnosis, stating I was one of the worst cases she had seen. She also reviewed recent lab work, discovering that my blood sugar was slightly elevated. She suggested a hypoglycemic diet. Within 6 weeks of the diet, I had more energy and less pain.
I have been taking Guaifenesin and following a hypoglycemic diet for 14 months. Before I made these changes, I had 62 of the 68 most generally accepted Fibromyalgia symptoms.
I now have only 14 fibromyalgia symptoms. I am taking only four prescription medications instead of thirteen. I am off all pain medications. And I am no longer bedridden.
Lynn Phipps lives in northern California with her family. Lynn has a degree in social work and is currently helping fibromyalgia patients navigate the Guaifenesin Protocol at FibromyalgiaWellness.info.