Sherry, fifty-eight, lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband. They have three adult children. She has both FM and CFS, and has participated in Muscle Balance and Function Development training.
I was diagnosed with FM at least twenty years ago, early on, when it was still called “fibrocitis.” I had a brand-new young doctor right out of medical school, and she had a friend who was a rheumatologist. It was one of those coincidental things: because they were both so young, they knew something about it. She didn’t know how to treat it, but she referred me to the rheumatologist and he diagnosed the fibrocitis. He gave me a lot of helpful hints; a lot of them kept me on my feet.
About eight years ago, I was slipping so fast it was unreal. I began to lose cognition; I couldn’t make change anymore; I would show up late for my own art shows. I caught a bad virus, too. I spent three or four weeks with a high fever. I think that kicked off the CFS, because I never came back to full capacity after that.
Just recently, I’ve started a movement therapy program called Muscle Balance and Function Development that stresses total body alignment and mindful breathing as a way to strengthen the body. I now have less pain and more strength in my body as a result of doing these exercises. I started slowly and built to an hour a day, and it’s really changed how I feel. Before I started the program, I never made any morning appointments, period. It had to be almost life or death. I’d sleep till noon every day. But now, after religiously following the movement program, I’m awake at 9:30 A.M. every day, and I take much less pain medication than I did before.
Exercise has made a world of difference in my life. I have a full routine of physical therapy exercises I do, along with movement exercises every night before I go to bed. If I stop exercising, within a week and a half my right knee would collapse and I would probably fall somewhere, so I have to keep doing it.
My FM and CFS are getting worse as I get older. But I’m better off now, because I have learned how to manage my illness and because I exercise. To any new diagnosed person, I would emphatically say this – you have to have an exercise program. No matter how badly you feel, no matter if you think you can’t do it, your body will deteriorate if you don’t do it. You will lose ground if you do not exercise!
Source: Skelly, Mari, and Helm, Andrea. “Alternative Treatments for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” Hunter House Publications.