When I began this fibromyalgia journey, I was hoping that I could manage my symptoms without the addition of one of those medicines that you see on commercials all the time. You know the one where the woman is wearing way to much makeup for a weekday and her home is way to clean to have Fibro. Then the announcer pipes in and quickly rambles off a million side effects including death and tells ME that I should talk to MY doctor about it. Thankfully I have one of those doctors that owns a television and she already knew about the medicines available to treat fibromyalgia.
Anyway, I was already taking Zoloft for my anxiety issues and after reading a few books on fibromyalgia I thought that maybe I could control it with some supplements that I had read could be beneficial. I stocked up on B12, B6, D and all the rest of the alphabet along with a few supplements that were marketed directly for people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I figured it couldn’t hurt anything other than my wallet. However, my primary physician knew better and started to wean me down off of the Zoloft in preparation for the next step. That is when my symptoms started to dramatically worsen.
I was a hot mess. I did not have any SSRI meds in my system and I was feeling the full extent of the disease. I couldn’t go to work, I couldn’t move, I was barely sleeping at night and I was in a constant state of misery. If I had any doubt in me that I didn’t have fibromyalgia it was swept away in a flood of pain and tears. I was a broken human that needed to tough it out a little bit longer to make sure that I wouldn’t suffer a reaction called serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a group of symptoms that can occur when you take more than one medication that works along our natural serotonin pathways. The excess amount of serotonin in the central nervous system can cause tremors, sweating, diarrhea, agitation and high body temperature. Or what I used to call in my grad school days, Monday.
It wasn’t until I saw the physiatrist that she started me on Cymbalta. At that point, I was a willing participant. I was started out at a measly 20 mg and she told me that if I was handling the medication well after 2 weeks that I could go up to 40 mg. Now if you have fibromyalgia, you are probably laughing at that statement as my friend laughed at me when I told her about my dose. After a week, I called my primary and told her that I was starting to feel a little bit better and asked her what she thought of my dosage. She was straight forward and honest with me and advised me to go up to 40 mg until the bottle was empty and then I could start at the 60 mg dose. Once I had reached the 60 mg dose, I was starting to see some real change. The level of pain that I was experiencing on a daily basis had decreased. I had a little more energy and I was in a better mood. Overall, I was a much nicer person to be around. My physician could see it too. I would walk into the office with a smile and I was cracking jokes again. The Cymbalta was helping but it was not the only medication that I was taking. I still needed some additional drugs for my pain and insomnia.
A few of the problems that I am currently experiencing are from the side effects of the Cymbalta. Some common side effects are nausea, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness and sweating. ( Sign me up, right?). My biggest issues right now are the horrible heartburn and absolutely NO sex drive. ( If you weren’t feeling sorry for my husband yet, then this is a good time to start.) Personally, I consider anything that affects what I get to eat as a serious side effect. My physician advised me last night that I should stay away from caffeine (tea), chocolate, spicy and greasy foods. That is basically my entire diet. I have also added on omeprazole to my regular routine. If things don’t get better in 6 weeks then I will be taken off of Cymbalta and put on a different medication. So stay tuned because it sounds like another exciting future blog post.
The thing that I want everyone to take away is that there is no one right way to treat fibromyalgia. It is important to have doctors that you can trust and a community that you can reach out to during this time. Hopefully you have a great support system and you will consider joining this community.