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Freedom From Fibromyalgia

Freedom From Fibromyalgia
Freedom From Fibromyalgia - coverby Nancy Selfridge, M.D., and Franklynn Peterson

“Fibromyalgia is a mind-body disorder that will spread in epidemic fashion if it is not recognized as such. Dr. Selfridge and Mr. Peterson are pioneers and humanitarians, and I salute them for their courage and their devotion to the needs of people who suffer from fibromyalgia.”
From the foreword by John Sarno, M.D.

Free yourself from pain in just five weeks!

If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from fibromyalgia, you’re all too familiar with the excruciating pain, overwhelming fatigue, and, in severe cases, total incapacitation that this disorder brings. Here at last, from a physician who specializes in treating fibromyalgia, is a clinically proven program that can free you from pain and other symptoms in as little as five weeks — without drugs, supplements, or special diets.

Freedom from Fibromyalgia presents Dr. Selfridge’s highly effective mind-body approach, organized in a step-by-step, week-by-week program anyone can follow:

bulletWeek 1: Plan to heal
bulletWeek 2: Show your brain and body who’s boss
bulletWeek 3: Teach your brain and body to live with rage
bulletWeek 4: Time to start feeling really good again
bulletWeek 5: How to make freedom from fibromyalgia last

Filled with helpful examples and the voices of patients who have found freedom from fibromyalgia through Dr. Selfridge’s program, this book will put you on the path to lasting healing.

What the reviewers said:

"Physician Selfridge and self-help author Peterson are former fibromyalgia (FMS) patients who credit their recovery to a program based on the work of Dr. John Sarno (The MindBody Prescription). The authors believe 'rogue' brain chemicals are the culprits behind the all-over body pain of FMS. Since there are no pills to combat these chemicals, the authors have developed a five-week, self-directed recovery program based upon mind-body principles. The book is divided into three parts: 'Understanding Fibromyalgia,' 'Tools To Battle Fibromyalgia,' and 'The Five-Week Plan To Battle Fibromyalgia.' The structured program the authors have developed focuses on meditation, journal writing, and self-talk aimed at creating a psychological awareness of the emotions, thoughts, and feelings that produce pain in the body. The chapter on meditation is too brief, but the authors suggest additional resources to supplement their information. The writing style is positive and easy to understand, the charts and worksheets are helpful, and the information is based upon sound principles of behavioral change. A 'Notes' section serves as the book's references; a list of resources suggests books, web sites and Internet groups; and a list of tools for initiating the five-week program is provided. Recommended for all consumer collections."
Lisa McCormick, Library Journal. Health Sciences Lib., Jewish Hosp., Cincinnati Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Find out what our readers said

Click here to order this book from Amazon.com

Click here to order an autographed copy.

An excerpt from Freedom From Fibromyalgia:

Jean: I don't need a doctor, doctors invent illnesses that don't exist.
Berenger: Perhaps they do...but after they invent them, they cure them.
—Eugene lonesco


Come travel with us through the depths and over the peaks of one of the most mystifying sets of symptoms known to modern medicine: those of fibromyalgia. This disease is also among the most painful—whole-body pain without letup, without a pause. The authors are all too familiar with this pain, though we've been free of it for over two years. Each of us suffered with fibromyalgia over what seemed to be the longest, most tedious decades of our lives. Nancy has given birth to two delightful daughters and has had surgeries and has broken bones, yet her pain from fibromyalgia was worse. Frank has been divorced twice, but the stress and turmoil of those family wars was no match for fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia now rides on the backs of at least four million Americans, about 2 percent of our population. Many know what it's called; many are still undiagnosed, or diagnosed incorrectly with every malady from arthritis to tendonitis. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) repeats figures counted by the conservative American College of Rheumatology: three million to six million cases in the United States. Overall, 3.4 percent of women struggle with the illness, including about 7 percent of women between sixty and seventy-nine years old. Men are not immune; maybe they're just more reticent to come forward to have their symptoms diagnosed.

Fibromyalgia knows no racial boundaries. It also knows no geographic boundaries. Two percent of the world gets up every morning unrested and sore and goes to bed very early every evening still exhausted, still sore.

After a few years with fibromyalgia, the tears may stop flowing while the pain pounds on. On some days, in self-defense, the mind spreads a confusing balm over the brain that makes it seem as if the pain is subsiding. But it also seems to slow down thinking. Though doctors don't yet have a name for this common experience, fibromyalgia sufferers call it "fibro fog." When fibro fog comes on, the senses seem powered by a nearly dead battery. Our tongues feel thick and stiff, unruly; our eyes seem veiled in gauze. Coordination lapses. We drop things. We stumble, sometimes seeming to look like drunks. Our brains don't even feel as if they're connected to themselves. Words get lost. Memory skids. Thoughts seem to slow down and seize up.

Many of us welcome this fibro fog because it seems the only respite available from our near-constant pain—quicker than the lidocaine and methadone some doctors have prescribed, more relaxing than the spinal blocks others have tried. Yet when researchers try to find out exactly what causes the fog or how it works, they've found it elusive. Neuropsychiatric testing often turns up nothing abnormal or a vague increase in distractibility.

Nobody has ever directly died of fibromyalgia. But neither has anybody really lived with it. It takes over every life it enters. It may grudgingly retreat, but not far, when attacked with the best painkillers known to modern science. A common scene at a local fibromyalgia support group is the youngish fibromyalgia sufferer dragging her shiny steel hospital-issue intravenous sup-port. Day and night, it drips the soothing painkiller lidocaine into her veins.

Fibromyalgia can make people desperate. Probably the most controversial were the reported euthanasia patients of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Michigan's "Dr. Death," who were fibromyalgia sufferers seeking relief from constant pain. We should at least thank Dr. Kevorkian for believing that their pain was real; so many of his peers pirouette away, not sensing that a soul could be so exhausted, it feels it can't live another night with fibromyalgia. But we wrote this book to give fibromyalgia sufferers hope so that you'll choose life. We hope its message will inspire and support those of you who feel like you've been trapped in hell for years.

Fibromyalgia does strike some youngsters. Dr. Selfridge had it in her teens. But the average age of onset is in middle age. It mostly hits people who've led full lives, compulsively working at a career, having a family, and joining the PTA, often delaying the fun things for later. But once fibromyalgia hits, there is no later. The pain traps you in the moment, and as it digs deeper, the future can become too painful to contemplate.

Family and friends of fibromyalgia victims often go through another kind of hell. They watch the pain, helpless to make it go away, even helpless to distract the sufferer long enough to enjoy a bit of life. They hear conflicting stories from doctors, read conflicting stories in the popular press; they become conflicted, sensing the pain their loved one bears while once-trusted authorities declare that the pain isn't real, that the illness is all in the head. The fibromyalgia victim is often blamed and isolated, and sometimes divorced or abandoned. Alienated by prejudices, misinformation, and conflicting opinions by half-informed family members, doctors, social workers, and insurance claim adjusters, fibromyalgia sufferers find themselves shunted onto islands of isolation with only other fibromyalgia sufferers for company—and believe us, we're not often good company.

When you add up these sufferers and include their immediate families, at least 6 percent of the world's population live greatly diminished lives because of fibromyalgia—ten million to twenty million people in the United States alone, five hundred million throughout the world. In northern England, 11.2 percent of adults suffer with chronic widespread pain like that of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia saps an estimated $24 billion from the U.S. economy every year in lost wages. Up to another $4 billion is wasted on unsuccessful conventional treatments; additional millions are spent on herbs, massages, acupuncture, audiotapes, and underground medications. When Franklynn heard that there was no cure for fibromyalgia, he headed for the health food and vitamin department of a large supermarket with only one question: Should he start at the A end of the shelf or at the Z end? He grabbed a bottle of arginine. Within the year, he'd worked his way down to E, echinacea. That seemed to bring some relief, and he stuck with it for a while, increasing the number of pills over time. But after a few months the pain returned in full force.

Fibromyalgia is so tricky to diagnose that the typical sufferer spends over five frustrating and demoralizing years shuffling from doctor to doctor, from specialty to specialty Then, once diagnosed, there's usually another stretch of years as doctors and quasi-doctors experiment with a variety of uncertain treatments.

Dolores, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of two, a fine artist from Tennessee, had a throat infection, fever, extreme tiredness, and severe pains in her hips, knees, and ankles. Her family doctor, who found nothing, sent her to an infectious-disease specialist. Finding nothing, he sent her to a rheumatologist, and she ultimately saw a neurosurgeon, who recommended a spinal operation. A good friend's sister, a nurse, told her she'd be crazy to go through such a delicate operation when none of the doctors was sure what was wrong. But Delores was taking antidepressants, prescription painkillers, and a few pills she could neither name nor tell you just what they helped with. After three years of running through a maze of white coats and enormous bills, she was feeling desperate.

The sister recommended that Delores first visit Nancy Selfridge, a family practitioner outside Madison, Wisconsin. Dr. Selfridge had just recently brought herself almost complete recovery from decades of fibromyalgia pain through a plan she'd devised after reading Dr. John E. Sarno's insights into back pain in his book The Mindbody Prescription. She taught Delores her program—and in two weeks Dolores could use her knees, hips, and ankles without grimacing. She was able to quit one medication after another with her doctor's support.

Some think fibromyalgia is a new disorder. In truth, it's a constellation of symptoms that has been known since before the start of the twentieth century. Many in the media think fibromyalgia is what doctors call a status diagnosis, as trendy as getting your nose fixed or your tummy tucked. In truth, from 10 to 30 percent of all fibromyalgia sufferers are forced to survive on meager Social Security disability payments even though most of them are well-educated, intelligent, goal-oriented overachievers. Those virtues may in fact be their downfall, the prime mover or complicator that eventually triggers fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is physical. It's not "all in your mind," despite what many doctors have told sufferers. It affects portions of the nervous system, including the centers that oversee our involuntary reactions such as heartbeat and breathing. It may start there, in what's known as the autonomic system—but many researchers now believe that it starts somewhere else and heads there. While affecting the autonomic portions of our nervous system, it sends physical signals all over the body, triggering pain and other symptoms.

The pain is involuntary—and it is real. It can be measured. Some of the biochemical changes it creates in the body and brain have been documented in lab experiments and reported in medical journals. One measurable physiological effect of fibromyalgia is that the body's most painful muscles and tissues receive less oxygen than normal.

If only doctors could manipulate this reckless set of biochemicals, we might be able to cure fibromyalgia. Many researchers are pursuing this approach. What complicates the search for a cure is that there are at least a hundred unique biochemical messengers, or neuropeptides, that facilitate communication between brain and body. They all can create physical effects, including pain. Almost all of the hundred were discovered in our bodies only within the past ten years. So researchers have a long road ahead.

Part of a self-assessment chart found in Freedom From Fibromyalgia:

Assessment of Life Before Fibromyalgia

Answer on a scale of 0-10 (10 = most, highest, best)

  1. My overall satisfaction with the last significant job I had before fibromyalgia set in:
  2. My assessment of how well equipped I was to perform that job before fibromyalgia set in:
  3. My assessment of how well I actually did perform that job before fibromyalgia set in:
  4. How satisfying was the salary from that job?
  5. My expectations of advancement at that job were:
  6. How important was it for me to fulfill family obligations before fibromyalgia set in?:
  7. How do I rate the degree to which I did fulfill family obligations before fibromyalgia set in?
  8. The amount of pleasure I expected from my family before fibromyalgia set in:
  9. The amount of actual pleasure I derived from my family before fibromyalgia set in:
  10. The degree of pain I expected from my family (0 = most pain) before fibromyalgia set in:
  11. The degree of pain actually received from my family (0 = most pain) before fibromyalgia set in:
  12. The amount of fun I expected to have on my/our last vacation before fibromyalgia set in:
  13. The amount of fun I actually had on my./our last vacation before fibromyalgia set in:
  14. The degree of satisfaction I expected on my/our last vacation before fibromyalgia set in:

(continued in book...)

Assessment of Life with and without Fibromyalgia Before Fibromyalgia
(Part A)
(Part B)
After Fibromyalgia (Part C) Column 4 minus
Column 3
Follow-up after being freed from Fibromyalgia
Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5A Column 5B Column 6
1. Overall job satisfaction            
2. Potential job performance            
3. Actual job performance            
4. Salary satisfaction            
5. Expectations of job advancement            
6. Importance of family obligations            
7. Fulfillment of family obligations            
8. Pleasure expected from family            
9. Actual pleasure from family            
10. Pain you expect from family            
11. Pain actually received from family            
12. Vacation expected fun            
13. Vacation actual fun            
14. Vacation expected satisfaction            

(continued in book...)

This excerpt is copyrighted. Readers may print one copy for their own use. If you want to print more than one copy of any excerpt, or would like an article on another topic written for publication, email the authors by clicking here.

Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Judi K-Turkel, Franklynn Peterson, P/K Associates, Inc. 
3006 Gregory Street, Madison WI 53711-1847.  608-231-1003. 
Info (AT) BooksThatTeach (DOT) com.