“My mornings were awful, just awful. It would take me forever to get going and I still had no energy. I didn’t care whether I got dressed out of my pajamas or not, and that was so unlike me because I was a social person and I liked to go out to lunch with friends and do things. I didn’t even want to talk on the phone to anybody.” — Read more of her story below.
This excerpt is from one of my Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia Teleconferences.
Good evening this is Dr Rodger Murphree, TheFibroDoctor.com, author of Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Thank you for joining me tonight for my weekly Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia teleconference. I look forward to your questions this evening. I’m a board certified chiropractic physician and board certified nutritional specialist. I’ve been in private practice for the last 24 years. For the last 18 years, I’ve specialized in fibromyalgia.
For a number of years, I owned a very large integrative medical practice on the campus of Brooklyn hospital here in Birmingham, Alabama where I had 5 medical doctors and very large support staff, who worked with me. In 2003, I sold that practice, that was when the first edition of my book first came out and I’ve been practicing solo ever since. My practice is now about 95% phone consults, I get to work with patients throughout North America.
Tonight I’m really fortunate because I’ve got one of my favorite patients who’s going to be joining me here in just a minute to share a little bit about her story. I do this periodically, have some of my past and present patients come on the line to share their experience with using the protocols that I’ve developed over the last 18 years, using a philosophy known as functional medicine.
In the conventional medical world if you get diagnosed with fibromyalgia, then more than likely you’re going to wind up on 6-12 different medications and there’s a place for that. I’m not anti-drug by any means, but what I am, is anti-wrong drug, too many drugs and drug only because with fibromyalgia, if you just are treating the symptoms and you’re not trying to find the causes, trying to correct their hormonal deficiencies – low thyroid, adrenal fatigue … if you’re not trying to correct those things and you’re just providing medications to cover up the symptoms whether that’s a pain pill, a sleeping pill or something to help with your energy like Adderall or Provigil, then you’re missing the boat because with fibromyalgia, there’s so many symptoms associated with this syndrome.
It’s really not an illness or a disease, as much as it is a syndrome made up by a bunch of different symptoms. Because of that, the way conventional medicine is practiced, if you go to your family doctor or to a rheumatologist or neurologist, oftentimes you’ll see all 3 or maybe even more before it’s done, you’ll get a different drug every time you go back to see them, because long term, traditional medicine alone is a dead end for fibromyalgia.
It’s just the way it is, and that’s why most doctors in the conventional medical world choose not to treat fibromyalgia patients. They often will refer them out to a specialist like a rheumatologist. What happens is over the years, people get very frustrated and they think that there’s no hope for them because they only know one way and unfortunately that’s the conventional medical approach – many people fall through the cracks and they never get better, so people get very disillusioned with that. They may try to take natural supplements or some type of multi level marketing product that comes out that’s the latest thing.
Eventually they find that this rarely results in any big health breakthroughs, so they get discouraged with that too. They can get so broken down and so despondent that they just give up. That’s why it’s important for me to have some of my patients come on the line and just share their story.
I’d like to welcome Peggy on the line, Peggy if you can hit star 6 that’ll bring you on the line.
Peggy, thank you so much for joining me tonight. I really appreciate you taking time to come on the line.
Peggy: Thank you, I’m very thrilled to be able to share my story and hopefully help other people. You’ll have to stop me because I can take up your whole hour telling you how wonderful it is.
DrM: I appreciate that. Tell me where you were 3-4 years ago, how this started and then what led you to me.
Peggy: Actually I believe that my problem started as a result of an accident. I was rear-ended and ended up having neck surgery, I think from the trauma of that I started not feeling as well and just felt like I was going down. My energy level was not very good but I’m also an a-fib patient, so I mentioned it to my cardiologist and he said, oh the 2 beta-blockers that you’re taking zapped the energy and that’s the excuse. I went through that a couple of times and then he said, I’m going to send you to a rheumatologist and this was the leading one in my city. I went in and he talked to for about 5 minutes and said, ‘you don’t have fibromyalgia.’
At this point, I didn’t even know what that was –I’d heard the word but didn’t really know anything. He said you don’t have the personality to have fibromyalgia, and I thought what kind of personality are you supposed to have to be sick like this? Anyway he sent me on my way to the sleep clinic, which I’d already done. I just kept getting worse to the point that I had no energy to do anything, and I am a former first grade teacher and I was used to going out. I’m retired from there and started selling real estate and was loving everything, enjoying my grandchildren and it just got to the point that it was an effort to get up and get dressed. I quit my job because the thought of going out, I just couldn’t even think about that. I kept going to my GP, did the test for MS, lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, this and that and everything kept coming back okay.
Finally, I had gotten so desperate and so depressed, everything in my life had changed so I went in one day and when I walked in, I burst into tears and said, ‘something is wrong with me, we’ve got to find out.’ That’s when he said, ‘I think you have fibromyalgia. Let me write you a prescription.’ I think that was Lyrica, I’m not sure but it was something new … I took it that night and I was so sick, I could hardly stand. I thought, this won’t work so I called him back and told him I couldn’t take it. My problem is, I also can’t take very much for pain and I was just so full of pain – my shoulders, joints, everything. I started searching and I had someone tell me about this doctor in Florida who was supposed to be a fibro specialist. I go down there and he takes all the blood tests, and he was of the opinion that fibro was caused from viruses- from 4 particular ones. When I got tested for the viruses, my tests came back and said I had all 4 of them, so I thought that’s my luck.
He puts me on a very strong drug and in about 4 months, I never hear another thing from him other than to just take this drug, and I end up in the hospital because I could not even get out of the bed by myself and I ended up having blood transfusions, stayed in the hospital for 6 days and it was a result of that medication.
DrM: Famvir, an antiviral …
Peggy: Yes, and he never even called back. I just thought, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to turn. I had a friend who Facebooked me and said, look at this and listen to the consultation phone call from this doctor in Birmingham. I did and I liked what I heard, so I started listening to it every week. I got the book after the first night, read the book and I thought, this sounds good and it makes sense. Although I was a little skeptical of vitamins and whatever, but it just made sense to me … Fortunately I was able to near enough that I was able to make an appointment and go see face to face, eyeball to eyeball.
I will say that the one thing that stands out in my mind from that visit was, I asked you, Dr Murphree, ‘do you think I have fibromyalgia’ and you said to me, ‘I don’t know if it’s fibro or not, but even if we call it Peggy’s disease, we’re going to find out what’s wrong with you.’ I was so impressed that somebody cared enough to see what was wrong with me, and that was it. When I came to you, I was at the bottom because I didn’t know where I was going to turn or what I was going to do.
DrM: When we first started working together, tell me how low was your energy, how much pain were you in? I know you were having trouble with your sleep … what were the symptoms you had when we first started working together?
Peggy: I was in constant pain with my shoulders and arms especially. I was limited in how I could move, my walking was terrible, my knees hurt, every joint … in fact the rheumatologist asked me where do you hurt, I said all over and he laughed. But that is exactly right, I hurt all over and I could not sleep. I would toss and turn and about daytime, I would finally get to sleep, and then I felt horrible the next day. My mornings were awful, just awful. It would take me forever to get going and I still had no energy. I didn’t care whether I got dressed out of my pajamas or not, and that was so unlike me because I was a social person and I liked to go out to lunch with friends and do things. I didn’t even want to talk on the phone to anybody, I didn’t have any energy at all. That’s where I was when I came to see you.
DrM: You felt real low too, which was unusual for you to feel down. That’s not who you are.
Peggy: No, I was very depressed and my friends would call and say I haven’t heard from you, you haven’t called. Sometimes if I saw on my caller ID if it was a good friend or whatever, I would tell my husband to tell them I’m asleep or I can’t come because I literally did not like having a phone conversation. That was very unusual for me.
DrM: What do you think was the biggest thing we did … what was the biggest turnaround, what do you think that was?
Peggy: I think the first thing was trying to work on my sleep, and then I started taking your package and then some extra things. When you did all the tests and they came back, I didn’t know that I’d ever been tested for all those things.
That was very impressive, the fact that you had something to know what you were doing and nobody else had even done that, so I was impressed by the fact that you cared enough to take all the tests what was going on and where we needed to start. It started with the vitamins and adrenal cortex, and those things that you saw from my test that were right for me. I did not feel that I was being treated one in a herd, it was an individual person that you were concerned about, me and my health. I had to work and experiment some with the sleep, but my energy is back on and my granddaughter and I have been cooking all day, and I could never have done that probably 6 months ago. My depression is better … I will have to say, it wasn’t an overnight thing and sometimes when people are going, they think if they take the pain medicine it quickly relieves their pain but then it’s right back, so what have you done?
You did discuss with me that it would take a while – I didn’t get that way overnight and I was not going to going to get better overnight and I had to be patient, but I could start feeling a difference in just a few weeks and I had enough faith to know, this is going to be the right thing for me.
I immediately started sleeping better with the sleep package that we were working with; we had to experiment with others and change them around a little bit … even my cardiologist the last time I went, which I have to go every 6 months said, ‘oh Peggy, you look like you feel so much better and your whole appearance looks better.’ Then he said, you’re just still taking one of the beta-blockers that I prescribed for you to take two a day? I said yes.
Remember when I was having all the pain and we were looking for everything that caused the pain and that was a side effect from one of them, and he said ‘you’re the only patient that only takes one of those a day and you’re doing great on them.’ I have eliminated some medications and my pain is to the point that I only take Tylenol when I have to.
DrM: Do you mind sharing your age because people are going to be floored when they hear your age?
Peggy: I just had a birthday, I’m 71.
DrM: People will hear the vitality in your voice and they’re shocked. The reason why I point out your young age is because you weren’t ready to give up. I don’t care what age you are, you’ve still got a lot of life in you. Your body wasn’t cooperating and I think you’ve shared that in your questionnaire with me that you wanted to do all these things, but your body wouldn’t let you, but you were proactive and made these changes.
Peggy: There were times in my mind, this is where I got so depressed that I felt like my mind was saying, you can go get dressed and do so and so. Then I would get up and my body would say, oh no you can’t do that … it was an almost traumatic thing for me because I thought truly there was some way I could. The other thing that’s so impressive is that I talk to you every 2 weeks, and I don’t know of even my doctors at home that I know personally, I see in 6 months. But I just felt that this has been a way to connect with you and for you to know what is going on – even though it’s on the phone, it’s just like being there talking to you and really that has been wonderful.
DrM: I appreciate that. I think we really did off to a rocky start …
Peggy: Yes, we did.
DrM: It’s not unusual, I have to be candid about that sometimes because it’s not an exact science- there’s the art and the science. We had some adjusting to do, I think you had some issues with nausea and some of the things that we were doing, but we turned the tide. One of the things that has made the difference which was interesting to me which I see this a lot and I assume, I can’t remember for sure but we found that you were anemic, and even though that’s showed up in your blood work a few times, no one I guess has really addressed it. That was a surprise to me because when you’re low in iron, you’re just going to feel run down.
The other thing was you were taking Synthroid and even though your regular blood work looked normal, you’ve got some symptoms of low thyroid that just weren’t adding up. When we did some of the specialty tests, we found out that your Synthroid was not converting into the active T3 so we started you on over the counter thyroid with a little hesitation on my part quite frankly – we have to be real careful what we do with it, but she’s done great and I really appreciate your confidence in me because that could have backfired, but I think it’s really been the catalyst to move us forward.
Peggy: You were very upfront with me and you told me this might not work, this might work. You always let me know that there was a possibility that for me … what works for normal people never works for me.
But you always were so upfront with me about this and it was never just ‘let’s do this and this is going to take care of the thing’. You let me be a part of letting you know how I feel, what I think was working and what didn’t work, and I think that’s a good relationship.
DrM: I do too. In signing off, what would you like to share with the listeners who are tuning in tonight or maybe listening to this as a recording?
Peggy: I would love to say, if you have any hesitation please just listen in on the phone consultations on Tuesday, that’s what I did for several times and you will hear a lot. Then if you can, get the book and read that. I wasn’t going to start any medication or anything after just reading the book, before I talked to you so I would just say, please give it a try, please think about it, please listen to what Dr Murphree is saying because it makes so much sense. I just read all the time about people that are taking all these pain pills, diet pills and everything, they take them for a while and then they either get addicted to the stuff or it helps a while, they come off it and they’re right back in the same shape – that’s not what I wanted and I really feel very strongly that you have the answer for helping many people. I can’t say that it’s going to be for everybody but it is certainly worth trying it, because it’s so much better and the side effects from the drugs are so bad and I think a lot of people don’t realize how bad they are … I would encourage anyone who is hesitant at all about calling you or reading the book or talking to you, please just take that step and do it. If it doesn’t make sense to you or you don’t like it, you’ve not done any harm but you certainly could gain lots and lots of good things from doing it. I would encourage you to please take that step and try it.
DrM: Peggy, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming on the call tonight and I feel blessed that you and I have a relationship. You’re a special person and I’m so glad that I’ve become a part of your life. Thanks for joining me tonight, I look forward to talking to you soon.
Peggy: I didn’t mean to take all your time but I loved it. Thank you Dr Murphree.
DrM: Thank you. As you heard, I had to point out Peggy’s age because she’s 71 – you can tell she’s got so much vitality and so much life in her. She said she’s been cooking all day and she’d been at her grandkid’s house taking care of her. When I met her, she shared her story about everything she had done in the past and of course, I knew her age because I took her history but looking at her, I thought that’s somebody who was much younger that their body had broken down and they really didn’t know where to go, what to do and I think she shared that tonight. Peggy’s a wonderful testament that you can just get healthy, that’s really got to be your primary goal. You’ve got to get healthy because that’s the only way to reverse these fibromyalgia symptoms-you must find and fix the causes of the symptoms, not keep covering them up with medications.
Drugs can be helpful, no doubt about it and she’s on a couple of medications she will never be able to come off of because of her atrial fibrillation issue – I know that and she knows that, so that’s not anything we would ever mess with, the atrial fibrillation, you just can’t. So there’s a time and a place for the medications, but what I see time and time again is there are so many patients out there who are on half a dozen to a dozen medications, and they don’t even know if the medications are helping because they don’t feel a lot better. They still have a lot of symptoms and many of those medications are creating side effects that mirror the symptoms of fibromyalgia, so you don’t know is it the fibromyalgia or is it the medication.
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