I share my personal story of how I defeated fibromyalgia with the hope to empower those who suffer from chronic pains every day, who persevere to search for a natural fibromyalgia cure, and who battle their illness and never give up.
I firmly believe that you deserve to have access to all the information out there that could be helpful to your condition. That’s why since the day I started this blog I knew I had to write about my experience of beating a very severe case of fibromyalgia. I want to tell you that it’s all possible.
Please bear with me as this is going to be a slightly long story – a story in which I had come close to dying and losing hope. Having gone through this, I am now extra grateful for having regained my health back. This experience also gave me new perspective on how to take care of ourselves to prevent future illnesses. For these reasons, I felt compelled to share my experience, in order to help others to fight fibromyalgia and to recognize the power of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The Perfect Storm: How did it all start?
In January 2012, I gave birth to my second child, then my health went downhill pretty quickly in the few months after.
But prior to 2012, I already had a few very exhausting years: having my first child, keeping up with an IT career, buying a new house and moving. We were fortunate to be financially stable, but we weren’t fortunate enough to have much help and support from extended families. I was going through an extremely stressful legal process (from 2010 to date, still on-going) to sponsor my mother to live with me in Canada, but it was not successful. I was burnt out and stressed out. My health was not in the best shape – over 2 pregnancies, I developed digestive problems that often caused me so much bloating and stomach pains that prevented me from eating. I had some achy joints after having the first baby, but it didn’t prevent me from living my life and it eased up on its own after a while. With weakened immunity as a sleep-deprived mother, and constant toddler germs, there seemed to be never-ending sickness for me that couldn’t go away fully before I caught another round of infection and my coughs lasted months on end. What did I do about my less-than-ideal health? I thought I was doing my part attending all the doctor checkups, and there wasn’t anything offered to me by the doctors to improve or strengthen my health. Did I take matters into my own hands to seek alternative care or to slow down the pace of my life? Not much. Aren’t we, as mothers, all pushing our limits and ignoring little signs that our bodies are taxed out, because we simply don’t have the time to care for ourselves, and worse – progress and achievements are valued more than self-care in our society?
2012 soon turned out to be the toughest year ever in my life: My postpartum body was weak and I had a mountain load of work to do to set up the new house, take care the new born baby and my then 2-year-old toddler. My father-in-law passed away 2 months after my second child was born, and as a result my mother-in-law needed more help from us, mainly from my husband but I was left with more to deal with on my own. I worried a lot about my mother-in-law’s financial situation. I tried to squeeze in more work around the new house than I could handle every day. And there was still no hope to bring my mother into the country to help me, with our continued trying. Mentally, I was at my wit’s end. I then had a fall-out with a relative as I desperately needed to stay away from toxic people in my life. Physically, I was quite drained out as I had been exclusively breast-feeding. (Mother’s body naturally prioritize nutrients to our children even if it means depleting our own storage.) Ever since my second baby was born in January, I felt constantly cold in the frigid Canadian winter. My wrists and shoulders were hurting whenever I lifted the baby. My hips were hurting probably since the 3rd trimester. It was amid this chaos that both of my knees started to hurt too – really bad. I didn’t know then, but it went on to become a serious health crisis for me in the next few years. The onset of my knee pain wasn’t the first sign of my health issues, but a turning point, because when walking became painful, I felt significant difficulties managing my daily tasks. Around April to May of 2012, I started to seek help from my family doctor and a chiropractor/physiotherapist.
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It hasn’t been easy for me to get to this point of sharing my private life on the internet. However, I decided to write out the above events with honesty, because I think the story is important for the readers – there are clues and real examples of what trigger illnesses. These are also important data for the studies of chronic illnesses and pains.
I don’t mean to say I was in the worst situation or I needed sympathy.
I do want to call out that there is often a combination of physical and mental components behind the onset of a health crisis and the continuation of chronic health problems. When you look back onto your own health issues, perhaps you had also experienced that tough patch in your life, similar to this “perfect storm” to me, that just pushed you over the limit of your body’s capacity.
There were also other clues such as my weakened digestive health and frequent infections for setting off my health crisis, but more on this later in the section of “The Cause of Fibromyalgia: TCM Explanation”.
The Diagnosis and Fails of Western and Conventional Medicine
1. Chiropractic Mis-diagnosis
When I started seeing the chiropractor/physiotherapist in the spring of 2012, he told me confidently that my joints were “injured” from the heavy work of carrying the baby. In his words, “everyone is an athlete”, so he advised me to “ice my knees” daily to bring down the inflammation. This treatment he prescribed was very puzzling to me at that time, because coming from an Eastern background, my intuition told me a hot compression should be applied in my situation, to improve circulation and promote healing. I felt cold compression on the other hand is an overused westernized approach. I didn’t feel I had an acute injury. I had a wide-spread chronic pain. Even if I had an injury, in my understanding, icing should only be appropriate within the first 24 hours. I raised this question to him, but he insisted that heat would make my condition worse and I must ice my knees instead. This should have been my first cue to not go through with his treatment plans, but after he boosted about his education and specialty in sports medicine with much confidence, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and went with his suggestions, in my state of vulnerability and despair. After all, chiropractors are considered natural doctors in the western world.
Over the weeks I was seeing this chiropractor, he provided other treatments to me including the TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy and acupuncture. I want to be very clear here that the kind of acupuncture you receive from a practitioner having taken a few months of technical training in acupuncture is fundamentally different from the acupuncture you receive from a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner with years to decades of practice, experience, and understanding of the art of Chinese medicine. I am fairly certain that although my chiropractor was practising a treatment modality from Chinese medicine, he didn’t have in-depth understanding of how Traditional Chinese Medicine works.
I couldn’t tell if the TENS therapy had any effect on my pains. Even if it was helpful, for the widespread pains and the severity of my pains in 2012, the TENS therapy was insignificant.
The acupuncture did provide temporary relief. Even the kind of “local acupuncture” (just around the pain area) with less than 10 needles, from my chiropractor who doesn’t understand Eastern medicine, provided much more relief than TENS therapy. However, the relief was short-lived. I would experience a few hours of much reduced pain, but the pain always returned. The positive effects of the acupuncture kept me going back to the chiropractor and feeling hopeful, but I soon realized that he didn’t have the skills or knowledge to treat the cause of my chronic conditions.
During these few weeks, I had also been taking a Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplement he recommended and following his instructions to apply daily icing. Not only did the icing not ease my pain, it had made my conditions worse, to the point that I had to stop seeing him and go back to my family doctor for a referral elsewhere. I felt there was a fundamental mistake of treating me as if I had a sports injury. I felt my constant pains weren’t understood at their roots by the chiropractor. At the time I stopped treatments from him, I had developed visible chronic swelling in my knees resulting in limited range of movement in addition to the pains I originally went to see him for. Losing my mobility was becoming a serious concern.
2. Helplessness of Conventional Medicine
When my pain conditions worsened under the treatments of a chiropractor/physiotherapist, my family doctor became concerned. Usually chiropractors and physiotherapists are family doctors’ first line of recommendation for pain related issues. In order to figure out what specialists I should be referred to next, I needed to go through some testing. At this point, I was put through for blood tests, x-ray, and ultrasounds.
The problem was I was losing precious time. When my mobility and range of movements started to decline as a result of the pains and swelling, it quickly lead to a vicious cycle. The less I was able to move, the more swelling I developed, which lead to more pain I was in, and therefore the less I was able to move. By June 2012, my husband had to push me in a wheelchair to visit my family doctor and to attend ordered testings. It was becoming too painful for me to use the stairs in my own house – I say this as a mother who had gone through 58-hour and 29-hour painful labours respectively and insisted on 2 completely natural births without epidurals. If I could push through, I would. But at that point, I had significant problems even moving around in my own house. I couldn’t force my joints to do more than they could bear either, as it would cause more swelling. We hired a care-giver to take care of the baby and cook for the family. My toddler was already going to the daycare. I was bed-bound, using crutches to get to the bathroom, and felt like I was 110 years old.
My blood test results came back normal, which means there was still no conclusive diagnosis from my family doctor. I was finally referred for an MRI in July 2012, but the wait time was 2 months, meaning I wasn’t going to receive the MRI until September 2012. I asked to be sent to a rheumatologist, but since my blood tests showed no indication of rheumatism, despite the obvious inflammation in my joints, I could not get referred until I had further MRI testing results. Even if I did get referred, a rheumatologist would have been completely useless in my case anyways, which I eventually found out many months later.
Seeing as how I was already using wheelchairs to attend appointments, I desperately asked what else could be done to help. My family doctor prescribed strong NSAIDs for pain relief, which wasn’t effective when I took them and I grew very concerned about the side effects and irritation on my stomach. Based on my past experience with pharmaceutical drugs, I had too long a list of negative experience from my 20s to feel comfortable taking medication for a long period of time, so I stopped.
In July 2012, my conditions deteriorated quickly by the day. I lost most of my appetite due to stomach aches, slept poorly, and my atrophied leg muscles were visible to the eyes. My weight dropped to under 100 lb from 120 lb post labour and continued declining, which was very concerning. I am 5 foot 6 inches tall, so at less than 100 lb I was feeling extremely weak. I had no energy left to get out of bed even if I didn’t have the pains. But being in bed all day didn’t make the pains any less either. My body hurt so much from lying that I had to sleep on the hardest mattress in order to get some rest. The swelling was getting worse, and the pain was spreading wider too. Even my toes, neck, elbows, fingers, and face started to hurt. I could no longer straighten my legs or bend them for greater than a 15 degree angle, and most of my other joints developed some degrees of swelling. I was getting tinnitus, worsened headaches, pains in my chest and soreness in the uterus, and chills all over my body in the middle of the summer. I cried a lot being in complete mental distress and started to lose my memories. I was getting numbing and tingling and would lose sensations in my arms and legs completely during my sleep – those were scary moments when I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night and realized that I was partially paralyzed.
Deep down I knew very clearly, at the rate my illness was progressing, it was life-threatening. Even if I didn’t die from this, I would have become permanently disabled by the time I could get my MRI in September. My very optimistic husband even said to me that, “you have to live, even if they chopped your legs off.” I told myself I couldn’t die, I had to live for my two little children. We needed something drastic to happen, right away.
By then, I had reached a very low point feeling completely helpless from the conventional health care system. I realized that instead of waiting for my family doctor to come up with a diagnosis and a referral, I had to listen to my own intuition to find the treatments that’s right for me, on my own. I considered many other alternative methods and naturopathic medicines, but either based on my past experiences and understanding I didn’t feel confident they were “powerful” enough for the severity of my condition, or I had tried and they weren’t helpful. As many Chinese and holistic-minded people would have done in my situation, in July 2012, I started treatments with Traditional Chinese Medicine, a system of many thousand years of history that I felt I could put my trust in. I didn’t know if I could be cured for sure, but I felt going with Traditional Chinese Medicine was my best shot.
3. The Incurable Fibromyalgia
Now skipping over my pursuits for treatments in Traditional Chinese Medicine and fast-forward to September 2012, I finally had the MRI done on my two knees. Although I had wide-spread pains and swellings all over my body, it wasn’t feasible to have MRI on all my joints, understandably.
As soon as the MRI results came out, my family doctor called me in for an earliest possible appointment. The urgency was due to the finding of the MRI (as of September 2012), as I was told by my doctor that the report showed irreversible joint damages.
Note that at this point I had undergone 2 months of treatments using Traditional Chinese Medicine. Although I was still in pain and swelling all over the place, the severity had reduced. I still couldn’t carry objects or take the stairs, but my knees were able to bear my body weight as I walked very slowly, and all my joints (neck, shoulders, wrists, knees, etc.) had gained bigger range of movements. So if my MRI in September had gotten me an urgent appointment at my family doctor’s office, my results would have been much worse in July was I able to get an MRI then.
My family doctor was delighted to see my functions starting to return under TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) treatments, but still very concerned about the prognosis of my conditions. She was finally able to refer me to a rheumatologist, and suggested that what I had was fibromyalgia.
I finally saw a rheumatologist in early 2013. The whole appointment lasted less than half an hour, basically consisted of her asking questions and listening to my description of the pain, reviewing my reports forwarded from my family physician, and then confirming that she agreed with my family doctor I had fibromyalgia. She ordered a few more tests and told me she would see me if needed. (I never saw her again.) According to the protocol that fibromyalgia patients are under the care of family physicians, the rheumatologist released me from her practice with a handout explaining what fibromyalgia is. Inside the 3-page handout, it says there is no cure for fibromyalgia.
If you have looked up the definition of fibromyalgia, you would notice that fibromyalgia does not usually indicate joint damage or detectable on MRI. During my conversations with medical doctors among my friends and family, it was suggested to me that “my diagnosis perhaps had missed the mark”. Although I met all the fibromyalgia symptoms (widespread pains, mood issues, digestive issues, sleep issues, memory issues, migrating pains, light and scent sensitivities, worsened pains from exercise or prolonged sitting and flare-ups in cold environment, etc.), my onset appeared to be much more severe than a typical fibromyalgia patient. However, since the doctors I consulted with didn’t have a more appropriate disease label to assign to me, they declared what I had was fibromyalgia. The doctors never ever suggested what they thought the cause of my fibromyalgia was or even tried to investigate the combination of factors that brought on my symptoms. To me it didn’t really matter any more what our conventional health care system called my illness at that point – a disease label without a true understanding and an actual treatment plan had little merit.
Over the next many months, my family doctor referred me to 5 other rheumatologists for a second opinion on the previous diagnosis, and my case was refused every single time without the specialists even meeting me. The logic behind this was – I didn’t meet the screening criteria as a rheumatic patient based on existing evidence and test results, so there was nothing the specialists could do to help me; as the rheumatologists were already super busy with their existing patients, they would rather not waste time to see me who wasn’t a fit for their practice.
My family doctor felt very sorry for my situation. She offered me medication to treat neurological issues and anti-depressants (i.e. Lyrica, Cymbalta), as these drugs may have benefits against fibromyalgia conditions as I was told. I turned them down for they would be damaging to my immune system, and were full of side effects that overlap with my fibromyalgia symptoms. My past experience had taught me that pharmaceutical medicines do more harm to me than good.
I had learned to trust my intuition to filter advice, especially from someone who does not understand my illness. However, the fact that I followed my intuition to turn down medications, combined with a vague diagnosis, came back to bite me as my insurance company refused to honour my short-term disability claim. However, I am confident that not accepting the medication was the right decision for my health.
By then I had also learned a few other things:
- “Fibromyalgia” is a blanket term for a widespread painful condition of unknown cause. The diagnosis of “Fibromyalgia” is based on the absence of matching to other illnesses.
- The medical experts in our conventional health care system do not have a cure for my condition. The medications offered to fibromyalgia patients aren’t designed to treat fibromyalgia.
- As the illness is defined by a set of symptoms, rather than causes, it’s no surprise that there isn’t a cure for fibromyalgia. The method of disease classification prohibits a universal fibromyalgia cure to be developed.
- Wait time for important testings, seeing a specialist and reaching a diagnosis is too long to provide timely help to patients. They could potentially delay treatments by providing patients a false illusion that there will be answers to their health problems.
- Doctors spend too much precious time on determining a disease label rather than providing actual cure and improvements to patients’ health.
My family doctor eventually referred me to a 10-week program to learn how to cope and live with fibromyalgia at the SunnyBrook Hospital’s Chronic pain clinic in Toronto. How sad it is that our health care system just “sentenced” all these people like me to live with pains for life!
On the other hand, I had been using Traditional Chinese Medicine the entire time by the time I was accepted into the pain management program in February 2014. I had recovered to the point I could travel by myself to attend the hospital classes, reversed the joint damages (see image below), and completely eliminated all swellings.
I believed if I could have made this much progress, there is a fibromyalgia cure for me. And I was determined to find my path to defeat this illness.
The Cause of Fibromyalgia: TCM Explanation
I vividly remember the first visit to my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor on July 17, 2012. I was driven there by a friend who then carried half of my weight to help me into the doctor’s home practice.
The doctor took my pulse and examined my physical signs and symptoms. Within 10 minutes of seeing me, she gave me the diagnosis of “postpartum wind”, which means I was affected by “wind” during postpartum time. Wind is an ancient way of describing the external conditions that bring on a cold or flu (because back then people didn’t know about viruses), today it can be generalized to infections. Wind is also reflective of the common fibromyalgia symptoms that “like a wind” the pains often migrate in the body from one joint to another, and the pains often worsen when patients are exposed to wind, dampness and cold.
In hindsight, I realized that having a baby during the coldest time of the Canadian winter wasn’t the best timing for this particular illness and icing my knees was absolutely the worst thing I could have done. (See section “Chiropractic Mis-diagnosis” above.)
Even before I started treatments using traditional Chinese medicine, I had heard of “postpartum wind” as it is a very well-known illness in the eastern culture and I knew that in my native country the opinions of the general population towards this illness is “incurable”.
Such fear of the illness isn’t without good reasons. Postpartum women’s bodies are the weakest therefore open up to external invaders. Once the infection takes roots, it can affect very deeply into the joints and organs when the body’s defence system is so vulnerable. That explained why my conditions deteriorated so quickly. It also explained why I felt my life was being threatened – because my organs had been affected by the infection which could take down my entire system very quickly. It’s extremely difficult to get rid of deep chronic infections while having to build up the immune system from such a weakened state.
Notice that, in contrary to conventional western medicine, the classification of illnesses in Chinese medicine is based on the cause of the illness rather than symptoms? You may have a less severe fibromyalgia that didn’t start postpartum, therefore you might be diagnosed by TCM for “arthritis caused by wind and dampness”. Or you may have another form of fibromyalgia (remember fibromyalgia just means pains of unknown cause?) but given a different diagnosis in TCM that I have no knowledge about. It really is case by case looking at the root of the illness. Here I am only talking about the cause of my fibromyalgia.
The process of understanding diagnosis in TCM is also a process of de-indentifying with diseases. (A friend of mine said this recently so I will borrow her word.) Following western conventional medicine, we so easily fall victim in the pursuit of a disease label and letting that label define our existence. I have seen and heard stories of people with chronic mysterious symptoms (often autoimmune illness) never finding a cure, while their diagnosis changes every year as the illness progresses. To truly understand explanations in TCM, we have to accept that no matter what illnesses we have at the moment, what really matters is the kind of imbalance that is happening within our body and how to bring ourselves back into that balance.
There were 2 points my doctor emphasized over and over again, which later on through my own experience of the treatments, I recognized as the guiding principles in my treatment plans.
- There is a Chinese saying that “10,000 illnesses start from a flu (infection)”. A core theory in TCM is that untreated infections can manifest into a variety of chronic and more severe health problems depending on where the infections take over within our body. Later on I learned that this theory was written in a classic TCM textbook Shang Han Lun: On Cold Damage (more details on wikipedia) as early as 200AD, detailing the treatments of a collection of conditions as different stages of flus (infections). It was eye-opening to hear this theory for the first time in 2012 but it completely made sense to me as I truly felt I had a constant flu that my body wasn’t strong enough to defeat. In recent years, I hear more and more naturopathic and holistic doctors recognizing infectious diseases (an example is Epstein-Barr virus) as the culprit of many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, such as Hashimotos, lupus, MS, rheumatoid arthritic, neurological disorders, cancer, heart diseases and diabetes. My TCM doctor pointed out that for years my flus and infections weren’t properly treated and over time it had damaged my health; as soon as my immune system was down, the infections had the opportunities to invade deeper into my body.
- A good doctor’s first priority is treating the digestive system. This is another core principle of TCM: among the 5 organ systems (heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney), spleen representing the digestive system is the foundation of all others. The reason is fairly obvious that without the nutrition provided by our digestive systems, other organs will not thrive. My TCM doctor pointed out to me that my digestive issues had preceded my current health crisis for a long time, and it needed to be among the first priorities to address. Again the importance of digestive health is something we hear more and more in recent years among the natural health community, specifically that our digestive system represents 70-80% of our immune system and there are all sorts of links between gut health and other illnesses.
Treatments Using Traditional Chinese Medicine
My TCM doctor recognized the danger of my condition but still believed that my illness was curable which provided me so much hope in the darkest time of my life. She told me that some of my symptoms would get worse before getting better during the treatments, but I had to have faith in her approach. Now looking back with all the knowledge I have today, I was extremely lucky to have met her who had a life-time of experience practicing TCM and seeing some of the toughest cases from major hospitals to rural China.
In contrary to western medicine where we go to different specialists for problems in each part of our body, all treatments I received under TCM were provided by one doctor. This is because traditional Chinese medicine treats our bodies as a whole no matter what illness is present. I will summarize my treatments into the following categories.
- Treatment Schedule: I was put on a schedule to see her every other day immediately, including weekends. This schedule over time reduced to 3 times a week, 2 times a week, once a week, then as needed. I followed TCM treatments exclusively for a little over 2 years.
- Custom Prescription Herbs: At every visit, my pulse and overall conditions were re-assessed. Based on the signs of my pulse and current conditions, I would be given a custom prescription of raw herbs to take home at the end of my treatments. The custom prescription typically consisted of 30+ herbs, and I was given just enough to last until the next visit. Readjusting custom prescription herbs every other day allowed us to focus on the biggest problem and priority at any given time as my health situation changed. I won’t be able to tell you the exact herbs that was used. Making custom prescription herbs is a serious art in traditional Chinese medicine. Even if I could understand what was used on me, what would be given to another person with the same illness can still be different.
- Acupuncture: I received acupuncture at every visit. Acupuncture was used not only for pain relief; it was also effective at reducing swelling, opening up the meridian channels, tonifying internal organs and relaxation. The needles were applied on my entire body from head to toe, even in the abdomens. There were usually 20-30 needles on me during each session and the acupuncture points in use were determined by the most painful area of the body and the biggest problem to tackle.
- Cupping: I received cupping at every visit following the acupuncture. Cupping is an ancient therapeutic method applied on the surface of our skins that can stimulate quite deeply into the tissues using negative air pressure. In the old days, the suction was produced by heating the air inside a glass cup and then letting it cool on the skin. In modern days, an air pump is used to create the suction while heat is produced from an infrared lamp which is therapeutic on its own. There is also a distinction of dry cupping vs. wet cupping. Dry cupping will produce a bruise mark of blood under the skin, while wet cupping incorporates puncturing of the skin using tiny needles therefore some of the blood will be suctioned out of the skin in addition to producing a bruise mark. The method using air-pumped suction cups and infrared heat lamp combined with wet cupping was the type of treatment I received. Most people compare cupping to a deep massage. In my experience the effect of cupping is so deep, it is not what a massage can achieve. Cupping was mainly used to remove stagnation and blockage in my body, as well as to reduce pain and swelling.
- Massage and Scraping: I also received massage and scraping therapy (Gua Sha) from time to time that mostly worked along the lymphatic drainage system, and to prevent further muscle atrophy. Scraping therapy can be easily practiced at home using a scraping board.
- General Approach: The following is summarized by me rather than statements from the doctor. I believe the general approach below was what guided my custom prescription herbs and sometimes influenced the use of other therapies such as acupuncture, cupping and scraping.
- In the beginning of the treatments, the 2 highest priorities were: i) reducing pain and swelling so that I could start using my muscles again; and ii) healing my digestive system so that I could take in some nutrients. Some strengthening herbs were also used. Luckily, it was in the middle of hot summer so it wasn’t the flu season.
- As the cold weather approached, I experienced my first season of the horrible fibromyalgia attacks: worsened symptoms and migrating pains on cold and rainy days, and many rounds of very serious flu. Whenever I had a flu, the treatments were always focusing on the flu as the first priority. From fall to winter to spring, more than half of that time I was on flu-fighting herbs. As I healed, each subsequent winter became easier than the previous one.
- After my digestive function and mobility returned, the focus shifted more towards strengthening herbs for my organs and joints. In between flus were times we worked on building up my immune system, so that the next flu would be less severe and easier to fight off.
- Working on the Mind: Chinese medicine does not separate the mind and the body. During the hundred plus acupuncture and cupping sessions I went through, my doctor chatted with me, listened to me, told me stories and encouraged me to think positive thoughts for my healing. Looking back now, she was working on my mind so that I would believe the seemingly impossible. I am glad she did and gave me the confidence to get to where I am today with my health.
There are other common sense and lifestyle tips I won’t write about in detail here, because they have been written quite extensively by others, such as practicing good sleep hygiene, staying active with low-impact exercise (eg. swimming), getting good nutrition (I learned this recipe from my TCM doctor, also in the post I touched on the kind of diet I was on during my worst year), etc. I just want to point out these seemingly basic common sense practices are important parts of healing emphasized by TCM during treatments. Speaking from my own experience, it’s absolutely not easy to stay on track when you have got insomnia, chronic fatigue and digestive issues. My attempts failed all the time. But there is no choice, these are things we must put efforts in and keep on trying.
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Living in this modern era, we are extremely lucky to have access to so many tools and wisdom to heal from our health problems. It would be inaccurate to mislead my readers into thinking that all the progress in terms of my health were made solely by Chinese medicine. However, I must give credit to Traditional Chinese Medicine for healing over 70% of my fibromyalgia symptoms and for helping me overcome severe chronic pains and life-threatening health crisis. It was also the first and toughest 70% of the healing. Without TCM, I wouldn’t be in the position to feel that I had the time to explore other options or even feel strong enough to try other methods. What I have learned during this time of pursuing TCM treatments was even greater than what have been accomplished.
Near the end of my little-over-2-year exclusive treatments using Chinese medicine, the improvements started to plateau. As you may know TCM therapies can make very slow progress and still be very expensive. I will assure you that I live in a real world and I also need to take care of my finances.
There are other options out there that work faster or cheaper for smaller health issues, or sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break to practice more self care – I knew I had homework to do on my own. I was faced with yet another crisis of insomnia after I defeated severe pain conditions. It wasn’t easy to overcome anxiety and insomnia, and here are the 5 things that helped me the most.
We also live in a world with more toxin exposure than hundreds to thousands of years ago. My body gave me signs that I had a toxin overload, and my intuition told me I needed to do more than just herbal detox, whether it’s Chinese herbs or those herbal detox kits you buy from natural health store or a detox therapy at your naturopathic clinic. This topic deserves a separate post on its own about the most effective detox I ever did – it gave me amazing results and got rid of many of my stubborn and mysterious symptoms, and lingering fibromyalgia pain. I believe when our body is no longer over-burdened by toxins, we have the natural ability to heal.
On one hand, we work on detox, on the other hand, we must eliminate as much exposure to toxins as possible. All the recipes on my blog use clean ingredients with a focus on nourishment and healing. While many of us try to pay attention to what we eat, we often overlook what we put on our skin – conventional personal care products often contain chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and heavy metals. Our skin is our largest organ. After a long journey of healing myself internally, I am making clean personal care a priority. You can find in my safer skincare group on Facebook my favourite clean products for the whole family.
Today I am completely pain free. I no longer meet the criteria for fibromyalgia in any way. I can eat, sleep, run and do everything with my kids. I am trying to build my blog into a real business after the illness ended my IT career – when one door closes another door opens. I still have minor health issues, but I have a “toolbox” full of “tools” including TCM to help me, and I continue to learn everyday.
I remember so deeply when I first went to see my doctor of Chinese medicine, she told me: “When your postpartum wind is cured, your health will be better than before. What happened to you isn’t a completely bad thing, after this you will learn how to look after yourself and your family in the future.” As I am writing this story 5 and half years later, I know she was right.