:: to the teeth ::   thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::
"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Monday, July 24, 2006
FIBROMYALGIA - what the heck is this thing?
last night i worked a shift in the hospital, admitting patients from the ER to the floor. a 55 yo woman came in with concerning symptoms of stroke. right sided facial, arm and leg numbness. her motor exam was normal and a CT of her head was normal, it didn't show any stroke, but CT's can be normal with a stroke so the standard of care is to admit these patients, watch them overnight, get an MRI, an ultrasound of the heart and an ultrasound of the legs to make sure everything is working okay. that's about a $10,000 work up.
i've dealt alot with chronic pain. upon taking a history of the patient, she revealed that she had fibromyaligia, chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety/panic disorder, depression, hypothyroidism and had a hysterectomy for fibroids, and most recently, her gall bladder removed for gall stones and pancreatities. she had tried a vast number of alternative medicines including acupuncture, herbs and remarkably, was not yet on chronic pain medications. she felt hopeless.
she had had a panic attack, one of her worst, the night her symptoms started and got scared because the numbness on her right side didn't go away.
what the heck is going on? what kind of illness is this? i don't believe she had a stroke. it was more like a peripheral nerve palsy. we got to talking, spent a good hour together. she had great family support, with about five really caring people in the room during the whole time. no easily identifiable stressors but then we got to NUTRITION. BINGO!. the woman is a coke fiend, not cocaine, soda. she eats mostly fried foods, still cooks in lard (manteca) an eats tons of sweets.
you don't learn nutrition in medical school. we are basically taught that food is calories, fairly interchangeable (carbs, fats, protein) and vitamins. we learn that study after study shows minimal benefit or harm with all kinds of combinations and permutations of these different entities. it's a mess from a physicians perspective. hard to advise on anything. even with diabetes, once the person has it we can safely say to avoid carbs but noone really counsels their patients at high risk that sugar might CAUSE diabetes.
i take a stronger stance. from my experience and lots of reading, this woman's chronic pain and fatigue make sense. and the failure of alternative therapies makes sense as well. teh most basic element in life, to sustain it and to promote health, is FOOD and WATER, followed closely by exercise. if someone is malnourished, you can give them all the drugs you want, it won't make them healthy, even if it makes their numbers look better.
this woman is profoundly malnourished. she has fed her cells on a diet of sugar and heavy, saturated fats for 45 years. it's simply the wrong fuel. i owe my education on nutrition not to medical school or residency training but to the many naturopaths, midwives and acupuncturinsts who have taught me how to see past the puree of processed research that compared plastic oranges to vinyl apples and sees no difference in outcomes.
by the end of our time together this woman was prepared to try changing her diet with the energetic and sustained support of her family. break the sugar addiction, remove the heavy fats, add in fiber and vegetables, clean out the liver and intestines (detox) and slowly begin to heal. perhaps i'm wrong, but for sure, that woman had hope, she had a pathway that she could follow, and one that didn't prey on her wallet or force her into a dependency role taking medications for the rest of her painful life.
Fibromyaligia, to me, is a combination of dietary disaster, sedentary life and complex stressors (emotional, financial, familial, work) that are unique to the United States of America at this point in history with our wealth, processed, non-nutritive foods, and car/TV/computer culture. speaking of which, i'm outa here. i need to go stretch and walk. before my chronic back pain gets any worse.
posted by andru | 7/24/2006 11:35:00 AM | |
hey andru, just got to this directly from technorati. you guys have a good blog! i do want to say, though, that cfs is real. r-e-a-l (dunno anything about fibromylgia). looks like your patient could use a change of diet, though! good for you for spotting that.
# posted by : 7/24/2006 2:13 PM
to be clear on my end, i do not doubt the realness of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue or psychosomatic illnesses or anxiety or depression or any dis-ease. it's my job to find and offer solutions to people's symptoms of discomfort.
thank, andru. i wouldn't group chronic faitigue and fibromyalgia, which, as even the cdc (gasp!) admits, are physiological syndromes, with psychosomatic or psychological illness. but i'm being picky and i know you are on top of this. good luck in giving succor to people with cfs, though. i wish diet did it, you know. there's plenty people with excellent dieting habits who still manage to be desperately sick.
# posted by : 8/06/2006 12:09 AM
In addition to that,here's helpful information for all fibromyalgia sufferers.