Fibromyalgia & Rheumatoid Arthritis

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"I really believe that therapy has saved my life."

Fibromyalgia Rheumatoid Arthritis Myofascial Therapy Acupuncture Fatigue Sjogren's Syndrome chiroporactic Icing talk therapy

Story Transcript

My name is Sheila Wilson and I am 55 years old. I live in a small town south of Atlanta, Georgia, that's called Locust Grove, Georgia. I have only lived here for two years. I am originally from the Chicagoland area, and I lived there all my life. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1999. I had a car accident in '98. I think that probably precipitated the diagnosis with fibromyalgia. I did not get diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis until 2004. I'm not sure if I had it before then, but the fatigue and the pain, they were more than I could bear in 2004. Last year I was diagnosed with sjogren's syndrome, and that one's going to be a difficult one to work with. In 1999, I started with a chiropractor. I went to a physical therapist and I went to a massage therapist. Then I went to myofascial massage therapy and that was so wonderful. I was able to continue that until my insurance ran out because I had to change plans and I continued on that for a little while. I also have tried acupuncture and that did help some, too. I did that for probably a year and a half and once again, my insurance wouldn't cover it. And it's about $90 a session, and I just couldn't afford it. Once we've moved to the south, my pain, my swelling and everything that's associated with the fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis failed to get better. This past summer I started, getting the feeling that the biologic wasn't working again. So now I'm trying Simponi Aria. And I'm doing massage therapy and I'm doing chiropractic again and none of it is paid for by my insurance because we have really poor insurance right now. I have learned that ice is my friend all the time. No matter if it's winter, summer, ice seems to help with the pain and the swelling for me. I know some people prefer heat, but I have learnt that being out of the cold weather in Chicago has helped tremendously as well. It isn't as fluctuating so I don't have as many problems as I did in Chicago, other than it just stopped working. That tie up with Simponi Aria isn't working yet because I've been at it for just about four months. It doesn't look like it is to me, but the jury is still out.

I really have struggled. I do see a therapist every other week. I have seen him probably since 2004. And I really believe that therapy has probably saved my life many times. I know that everyone gets depressed and everyone is always feeling like, what? I'm not quite sure what I'd do as much as everyone else. I'm able to talk with my therapist. He provides me with great experience that he's helped out with other people with, but at the same time, he's always looking for ways that I can help myself. Not that he can't, but he wants me to rely on myself, to try to get this thing. I have only had one doctor for my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, and that was in the Lake Forest Illinois area. But when I moved to Atlanta I've seen three doctors since I've been down here simply because it's really hard to find somebody that you can relate to that understands your disease. I saw one that didn't believe I had RA because I didn't have a positive RA factor. And I saw another one that just wanted to give me pills and pills and more pills and the last one that I've seen, she's very sweet. She takes an hour with you every time you're there. She wants to help you, and she's always looking for ways to help you. That's something I think is very important, to have doctors and other health care workers that you feel you can work with that understand what you're saying.

The sjogren's syndrome has been a little harder for me. I have real dry eyes and no saliva in my mouth. That's caused dental problems. And I do see a dentist regularly but I still have lots of problems in that area. I have used PreviDent - a prescription toothpaste? Because my mouth has burning mouth syndrome, and the mint in the toothpaste just makes it ache. It's like it's on fire and I've learned that I don't eat pineapple. I don't eat certain things like kiwi that have a clear ability to put your mouth on fire just simply because it's better to not have that feeling for such a long period of time. I am on three different medicines for that one. I also have itching that's terrible at times on my arms. And like I said, I've used ice on it. I have creams, I have medicine and nothing works. I use it all in combination, and it helps most of the time.

My family - my husband especially, is pretty supportive. He doesn't understand how bad the pain is at times, but he could get probably frustrated that so many times I don't feel good or I'm not quite up to doing for a longer period what he wants to do. I have a daughter who is all right and has fibromyalgia. So she understands completely how I feel and what's going on. The other two, my son and daughter, they know that I'm sick , know that I have bad days. That's about all they really know. They really haven't taken the time to say, Well, what's wrong? Tell me about it and I haven't burndened them with it. Friends wise, I have lot of friends in Illinois, and I have been learning friends in Atlanta. We started at church that seems to help. Finding friends - that is a major part of staying mentally healthy. I think without them the Depression creeps in and then the pain gets really bad. I'm hoping that this year is going to be a year that I am more active, than I have been last year. I'm still staying really positive about that. And at this point, who knows what's gonna happen?