There is more than a little vulnerability involved when you have a reliance upon a certain treatment in order to maintain wellness.
I have experienced this many times over in the near decade in which I have been trying to live well with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I have had to gather information, learn about my condition, and learn to advocate for myself.
I have tried many of the physical therapies available. My heart has been broken a few times by enthusiastic practitioners who believe they can cure me.
In the last two years, I have found an amazing physiotherapist who combines acupuncture with deep tissue work, specifically for patients with fibromyalgia. She armed me with things I could do to help myself, supported me to adapt a Pilates routine to help strengthen my back and neck and we managed to reduce my visits to two-weekly (from weekly). At the same time, I had been making changes to my lifestyle and taking my battle for wellness in hand.
Little did I know that last year, there was something around the corner to throw me off balance.
I became pregnant.
Pregnancy has had huge physical implications for me. In the first trimester I was beset by worse fatigue than several years of chronic fatigue syndrome could prepare me for. In the second trimester I pulled a muscle in my hip and lower back. As the third trimester has dragged on, my physical limits are being severely tested.
Luckily, I have many coping mechanisms in place. But nothing could prepare me for the emotional impact of several weeks of deteriorating sleep, increasing fatigue and increasing pain. Unfortunately, this has been coupled with needing a new physiotherapist, due to mine also becoming pregnant.
I began my search by Googling those that say they do acupuncture and calling them to confirm. I turned up to an appointment with a physiotherapist, whose receptionist told me she does acupuncture, only to find she does dry needling instead. In desperate need of treatment, I continued with the appointment. But, in comparison to the whole-body, gentle effect of acupuncture, dry needling a couple of muscles did little for me.
The day before an appointment with a different physiotherapist, with whose receptionist I explained my situation and stressed that I needed acupuncture, I received a call from that physio telling me that she didn’t actually do acupuncture, it was dry needling. I cancelled the appointment.
Trying a different tact, I Googled physical treatments specifically aimed at pregnant women. And the prices alone were enough to deter me. Being on maternity leave with my family on reduced income, I cannot justify these prices – especially as I need treatments at least once a fortnight.
One of the organisations I spoke to said, “we do do acupuncture, but we call it by a different name, dry needling.” This made me angry. If I didn’t know exactly what I need, if I hadn’t already been through the dry needling phase, I might have been sucked in.
And that is one important finding of having fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome – I have to continually be my own advocate. Which is somewhat tiring when you are so sore and so tired that you want to give up!