I updated my Fibromyalgia History page today and wanted to make note of that here. I know there is a lot of interest in fibromyalgia and thought my most recent experience would be important to add.
I have thought for many, many years that hormones are the key to fibromyalgia. Observing my own life convinces me that, if and when a cause is found, it will involve hormones, especially estrogen and stress hormones.
I have taken estrogen for many years, but like many women my age, had begun to be concerned about the risks that accompany hormone replacement therapy. So after my last visit to the gynecologist, we had decided I should wean off the hormones. I decided to do this in August since I did not have many plans for the month that might be disrupted by side effects like hot flashes, etc. I diligently followed the plan and took what I thought would be my last pill on August 31.
August turned into a difficult month, with increasing pain and fatigue. But September, when I had no hormone replacement therapy at all was exponentially worse.
September brought more pain than I had had in many years. The fatigue was incapacitating. Depression became nearly impossible to resist, even for this most optimistic of women. I slipped into lethargy, inertia, total fibro fog. It was a month of non-existing.
My husband finally called the GYN to ask if the hormones could be the problem. It was the only thing in my routine that had changed. I myself did not recognize it until afterward. I was useless. My GYN, skirting “privacy” issues, had the good sense to tell my husband that, if it were his wife, he would suggest that she go back on the estrogen and call her doctor for an appointment. That’s exactly what I did.
Within a week of going back to estrogen, I was back in the land of the living. By the time I got to the doctor’s office, I was able to think and function again. Needless to say, I won’t be willing to give up taking estrogen again. My doctor concurs – some women absolutely need the hormone more than others and I am one of those. I told him I’ll take it until the day I die, even if that’s sooner than it would be if I stopped taking it. I prefer a short, enjoyable life I can recall to a long, painful, mindless existence.
I am still, in January, working to get back to where I was before I stopped taking the estrogen. I still have more overall pain than I did before and the fibromyalgia flare-ups occur more frequently. The difference is that I can control it with the means I was using before – when I was off the estrogen, nothing was controlling the pain, etc.
I also went back to my favorite self-medication over this time period. Carbohydrates. Needless to say, I gained a “few” pounds trying to ease the pain – mindlessly, of course. It was only in hindsight that I realized what was happening. So it’s back to the healthy eating and attempts to exercise (walking).
There’s one other thing I’ll do until the day I die. I’ll tell everyone I can that fibromyalgia is linked to hormones!