Living Well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know

Overview

From the author of Living Well With Hypothyroidism, a comprehensive guide to the diagnosis and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia--vital help for the millions of people suffering from pain, fatigue, and sleep problems.

Recent studies indicate that 3 to 6 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia--a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. This terrible condition is often accompanied by chronic ...

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Living Well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know

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Overview

From the author of Living Well With Hypothyroidism, a comprehensive guide to the diagnosis and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia--vital help for the millions of people suffering from pain, fatigue, and sleep problems.

Recent studies indicate that 3 to 6 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia--a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. This terrible condition is often accompanied by chronic fatigue syndrome, a persistent and debilitating sense of exhaustion that is estimated to affect 800,000 Americans--twice the number of people with multiple sclerosis. Yet there are no official blood tests of diagnostic procedures that can confirm that yes, you definitely have these conditions, and in fact, a whole segment of the medical world doesn't even believe these two diseases actually exist. In addition, the few books that are on the market tend to focus on single solutions or eschew conventional and pharmaceutical approaches, which could alienate readers who use conventional medicine in whole or part. In her trademark accessible, easy-to-follow style, patient advocate Mary J. Shomon integrates the latest findings regarding these misunderstood conditions. Highlighting the pros and cons of the antibiotic, metabolic/endocrine, hormonal, musculoskeletal, and many other approaches to treatment, Shomon explores the fads and viable alternatives--both conventional and alternative--and provides helpful, clear solutions to help sufferers of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

At various points since 1995, Mary J. Shomon has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Since then, she has transformed her health challenges into a mission as a nationally-known patient advocate. She has worked for more than 20 years in writing, advertising, public relations, and communications and is the founder and editor-in-chief of several thyroid, autoimmune, and nutrition newsletters, as well as the internet's most popular thyroid disease website, www.thyroid-info.com.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060521257
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/2/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 792,802
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Diagnosed with a thyroid disease in 1995, Mary J. Shomon has transformed her health challenges into a mission as an internationally known patient advocate. She is the founder and editor in chief of several thyroid, autoimmune, and nutrition newsletters, as well as the Internet’s most popular thyroid disease website, www.thyroid-info.com. She lives in Kensington, Maryland.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword xiii
1 Introduction 1
2 Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia 15
3 Risk Factors and Symptoms 36
4 Risk Factors and Symptoms Checklist 64
5 Getting Diagnosed 80
6 The Role of Infections 104
7 The Immune System 123
8 Endocrine System, Hormones, and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis 140
9 The Brain, Pain, the Nervous System, and the Heart 160
10 Sensitivities, Allergens, and Toxins 174
11 Nutritional Imbalances and the "Guai" Protocol 186
12 The Musculoskeletal Connection 195
13 Sleep, Biopsychology, and Stress 214
14 Finding and Working with the Best Practitioners 233
15 Creating Your Plan 261
16 Finding Hope 294
Resources 311
CFS/Fibromyalgia Experts 351
References 363
Index 383
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First Chapter

Living Well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know

Chapter One

Introduction

Better than a thousand useless words is one single word that gives peace.

-- The Dharnmapada

As I started the process of writing this book, I was confused and overwhelmed. For several years, I had been studying everything I could find about chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia. I read more than fifty health and medical books, a thousand medical journals and magazine articles, and two thousand personal e-mails from people with CFS and fibromyalgia. I heard from dozens of experts from around the country. And as I sat down to write, I struggled with a fundamental challenge: All the books, articles, experts, and patients rarely agree on the answers to even the most basic questions.

What are the symptoms of CFS or fibromyalgia? Are CFS and fibromyalgia actually the same disease? How do you get diagnosed? Why would some doctors suggest that CFS and fibromyalgia are just "fad" illnesses, and all in your head? Do you need blood tests or not? What are some of the triggers? Is it stress? Nutritional deficiency? Toxic exposure? Infection? Can you ever get better? What treatments are best? Should you follow a holistic, natural, or alternative medicine approach?

Or forget holistic, should you go totally conventional and take prescription antidepressants, prescription sleeping pills, and prescription pain relievers? Is it all really about an underlying endocrine or thyroid imbalance, and are hormones the answer? IIs the solution the guaifenisin protocol, or is it detoxification? Is exercise helpful or harmful? What about your diet and vitamins? Could psychotherapy be the solution? Could you be dealing with a virus, a bacterial infection, a stealth pathogen? Should you have surgery or is the real answer yoga, cranial manipulation, or trigger point therapy?

One patient, BJ, struggled to get a doctor to take her Seriously.

I find doctors simply are not interested in this illness. There are no dramatic treatments so there can be no heroes.

While there may not be any heroes, there are some experts who are standing out, taking risks and offering more than just the standard fare, when it comes to CFS/fibromyalgia treatment. But whom should you believe? Should you listen to Dr. Teitelbaum, or Dr. Cheney, or Dr, St. Amand, or Dr. Lowe, or Dr. Bell, or any one of the other US and fibromyalgia experts? Should you listen to your own G.P., or your rheumatologist, or your internist, or your infectious disease specialist, or your chiropractor, or your holistic M.D.? Will you be able to find a doctor, who cares about you?

Just trying to sort through this all gave me a huge headache. (Headache, by the way, can be a symptom of CFS and fibromyalgia, depending on which expert you consult!) But in my case, headache was a symptom of information overload and confusion.

I know that you can relate to what I'm saying. For those of you who are in the throes of CFS or fibromyalgia right now -- whether you're struggling to get a diagnosis, you've just been diagnosed, or you're a long-term traveler on the road to better health -- a headache is the least of your problems. Not only are you suffering a variety of symptoms, which may include total and utter fatigue and exhaustion, difficulty or impossibility concentrating, and debilitating pain, among others, but on top of it all, if you're going to feel better, you have to take charge of your own health and learn all about CFS or fibromyalgia yourself! And all this while you struggle with conditions that, despite their very real and demonstrable existence, carry an outdated stigma not seen with other conditions. With CFS and fibromyalgia, there will always be doctors, family members, and friends who dismiss you as lazy or suffering from a psychosomatic illness, or who assume that if you'd just pull yourself together, you'd feel better.

You probably feel confused, as I was, by all the conflicting information, and overwhelmed by all the options you have and choices you have to make. And more than most conditions, CFS and fibromyalgia require an educated, involved, and empowered patient.

The hardest part is that you need to tackle this huge challenge at a time when you're most likely feeling sick, exhausted, fuzzybrained, and in pain.

Talk about a wrong time to try to delve into a complicated medical topic! Learning about and tackling chronic illness may seem like more than you can handle, especially when it may be overwhelming to think about performing even the most basic activity, such as getting out of bed or brushing your teeth.

You may also be surprised at what a stigma CFS and fibromyalgia still have. You're going through it, so you know from firsthand experience that these are very, very real conditions. You didn't dream this up, wish it upon yourself, or develop some psychosomatic syndrome, and you can't just think it away, buck up and feel better, or "get over it" by sheer determination.

Many people-including some doctors-still think that chronic fatigue syndrome is the yuppie disease, and that somehow you bring it upon yourself. The problem is, people who think you bring it upon yourself also seem to think that you can easily will it away.

Others think that rather than real, diagnosable diseases, CFS and fibromyalgia are actually psychosomatic and due to laziness, malingering, or some inherent emotional or character weakness.

This is amazingly discouraging when it's coming from friends, family, and coworkers, much less your doctors and practitioners.

It's hard for some people to believe you are sick, and this is one of the most discouraging aspects of US and fibromyalgia. You probably appear well, even if you are quite ill and unable to function. The fact that these conditions are not visible contributes to the lack of respect you may experience from others ...

Living Well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know
. Copyright © by Mary Shomon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 10, 2011

    A thorough a helpful resource!

    If you or a family member have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia, buy and read this book! Some chapters are highly technical. Even if you skip those, you will gain important information. The section on supplements was especially helpful!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2004

    An Excellent Resource for CFS and Fibromyalgia Patients

    Mary's latest book in her Living Well series is a must for patients diagnosed with CFS or Fibromyalgia as well as for anyone with similar symptoms of chronic pain and fatigue. Mary's explanations are easy to understand and she offers a wealth of practical advice. Her readers will become both educated and empowered.

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