By Lynn Phipps, Guest Columnist
In 2016, as a guest columnist for PNN, I shared my story of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and the offending ways I was treated by the medical community for having an invisible illness.
If my first column was about finding hope, then this one is about getting well and living well with fibromyalgia. I hope that you will be inspired by my story and know that there is a way for you to reclaim your lives from the devastating illness that is fibromyalgia.
For years I felt alone. I am not alone. Neither are you.
In 2003, I knew something was very wrong when I could no longer effectively do my job as a social worker. I was in constant pain, had a 24/7 headache and migraines twice a week or more, and could notfully concentrate. Insomnia and anxiety had me awake most nights.
Desperate to get well, I spent half of my paycheck on herbs, supplements, massage, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, Rolfingand Reiki. Nevertheless, I continued getting worse. When I could no longer afford alternative treatments not covered by my health insurance, my body crashed.
Having suffered from unrelenting migraines for months, my final career ending moment came when my back and neck spasmed, causing me to fall to the floor in my office at work. I remained on hands and knees for 20 minutes before being able to crawl to my desk to pull myself up.
I do not remember driving home, nor did I realize that moment signaled the end of my 20-year career as a social worker caring for those with disabilities (ironic, I know).
I was diagnosed by my doctor with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, severe headaches and migraines, light and sound sensitivity, depression, insomnia, anxiety and PTSD.
The Guaifenesin Protocol
Over the next decade, it became my job to research and find help for my condition. The problem was that none of the specialists looked at fibromyalgia as a cause for all that I was experiencing. And not one physician ever looked at food allergies or diet as a potential cause, even though I have a family history of diabetes.
That is significant because 44% of “fibromyalgics” also have a second and separate disease called hypoglycemia. Another 15% of fibromyalgics have hypothyroidism, another disease with overlapping symptoms, including fatigue, muscle pain and impaired memory, to name just a few. I am unlucky enough to have this grand trifecta of illness.
With nearly all hope gone, an internet search for headache specialists in northern California led me to Dr. Melissa Congdon, a fibromyalgia specialist. It was through her that I finally understood that the headaches and migraines were related to the fibromyalgia, and not whiplash from a car accident or a repetitive motion injury from work, as every doctor and specialist had assumed.
During my first appointment, my fibromyalgia diagnosis was confirmed by Dr Congdon. I was also diagnosed with hypoglycemia. Again, this is significant because about half of us with fibromyalgia also have hypoglycemia, with overlapping symptoms such as fatigue, pain and impaired memory.
In order to get our health back, these two separate diseases require two separate treatments: Dr R. Paul Saint Amand’s Guaifenesin Protocol and his HG Diet for fibroglycemia.,
The protocol requires taking the expectorant drug guaifenesin (Mucinex), which clears airways in the lungs and helps the kidneys reduce the buildup of inorganic phosphates in the body. The low-carbohydrate diet combats low blood sugar, which mimics many fibromyalgia symptoms.
Within 2 months of following the protocol and diet, I began to see improvement in generalized body pain, headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue and brain fog. After 20 months, I got “me” back, and so did my family.
Many people have mentioned that they do not want to follow the protocol because they have heard that it will make them feel worse. To this we say, “It’s pain with a purpose.” We strive for finding our own individual dose of guaifenesin that will leave us “functionally” worse, not incapacitated. As long as we do nothing, the phosphates will continue to accumulate throughout the body, causing fibromyalgia symptoms to continually worsen.
The Guaifenesin Protocol will clear the offending phosphates from our kidneys at a rate of approximately 1 year of symptoms in just 2 months. I was symptomatic for 10 years before starting the protocol and had reversed all of my symptoms within 20 months. By the first year on the protocol, I was off of all pain medication.
The 13 years that I spent bed-bound seem like a bad dream. It was quite an adjustment getting my health back after so much time. It felt as if I’d been existing in a semi-comatose state. While I’d been so ill, my mother passed from pancreatic cancer and both daughters moved out, graduated from college and started their adult lives.
I had physically been there for all of that, but with such severe fatigue and brain fog, it all had a feeling of unreality to me. Upon “awakening” I was shocked by my appearance, as I’d been only 38 when I got sick and had “awakened” at age 51. My husband and I had to get to know each other all over again. Luckily, we fell in love all over again.
After the brain fog and severe fatigue had cleared, I wanted to go back to work, but I knew that I could not be a social worker again. Many fibromyalgia symptoms are brought on by physical or emotional trauma. The stress of being a social worker ruled that out, so I decided to do something quite different. I put my years of watching HGTV while bedbound to use by becoming certified in home staging and redesign. I enjoyed a successful home staging business for 3 years before retiring.
I now spend my days educating others on the Guaifenesin Protocol, helping those still suffering from fibromyalgia get their lives back, too.