Real Patient Testimonials
The ability to share stories with others who suffer with fibromyalgia (FM), chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), and unrelenting fatigue (UF) is an important step on the path to wellness. We welcome and encourage patients, referring physicians, and staff to share their stories and hope.
My “new life” is so positive and filled with hope that I hesitate to stir up old memories of my battle with Fibromyalgia. For 20 years, I struggled with this mysterious affliction. My illness began as a series of flu-like symptoms accompanied by extreme fatigue, weakness and pain in my arms and legs. Everyday tasks became overwhelming and something as simple as lifting a carton of milk from the refrigerator became a major challenge. I had two elementary school-aged children who were dependent upon me as their primary caregiver and that fact was sometimes my only motivation for getting out of bed. In an attempt to provide them with a “normal childhood” I altered my lifestyle, eliminating any unnecessary activities so I could focus what little energy I had on their needs.
Every outing, chore, or event meant at least a day or two of recovery. I felt as though I was living a “half-life” and prayed that I would live long enough to see my children grow up. The burden of living as the “sick” family member made me feel guilty and depressed and I knew it was difficult for them to understand how I could be so sick without showing any outward physical signs. Out in public I wore my “happy face”. No one saw the real me who woke up in the morning dragging my aching and stiff body out of bed, feeling like I was 100 years old.
My search for a cure led to multiple doctors and a host of possible diseases. Could it be Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis, Lyme, Chronic Fatigue, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, or was it just psychosomatic? Too many tests, numerous drugs, repeated lifestyle changes, and many years of disappointment and lost opportunity finally left me feeling hopeless, with a huge distrust of the medical profession.
However, in March of 2004, I made a last ditch attempt to find help and visited the Fibromyalgia & Fatigue Center of Dallas. Dr. Kippels began in-depth testing which revealed a thyroid dysfunction and multiple hormone imbalances that contributed to my debilitating symptoms in a major way. Once these issues were addressed and under control, I began feeling stronger and more energetic. And, it was not long before I began to feel as though I had been given a second chance at life!
Taking control of a condition that had controlled me for 20 years is a powerful feeling. My first step was to start walking and just 9 months after beginning treatment, my grown children and I walked the annual Dallas 5K Turkey Trot. Since then, I have also enrolled in a class at the Community College to begin a new career path and have participated in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program in my community. My family is amazed at the “renewed” Michele they have in their midst. Even though I realize I must maintain an ongoing maintenance program, making up for that lost 20 years has become an exhilarating experience. I wake up each morning with a new vitality for life. Who knows what new adventure tomorrow might bring?
After searching for answers and finding only more questions, anger was the only emotion I could muster for the medical community and its poor standards of care. When I attended the educational seminar at Fibromyalgia & Fatigue Centers (FFC) I expected more of the same. But instead, what I encountered surprisingly restored my faith in the medical industry and even gave me hope.
Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, my struggle with Lyme disease and Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) hit me hard in January of 2005. My doctor diagnosed me with shingles, likely brought on by stress, resulting in Fibromyalgia (FM). I was shocked. I was in the best condition of my life and in my second season of triathlons. I became so weak and tired that I couldn’t get out of bed for more than a few hours at a time. As a stay-at-home mom, I woke each day to a list of activities that included: caring for my home and family, intense daily workouts, and volunteer work. As a family, we traveled frequently and enjoyed snow skiing, bike riding and hiking. But by this time, in order to function, I had to give up everything. I soon forgot what it was to wake up and simply live my life. Every minute of the day revolved around my illness. I sought help, but to no avail. Several doctors even suggested that it was all in my head.
Relationships became stressed as a result of my illness. My kids began to see and interact with me very differently, witnessing my fall from super mom status to bedlam, despite my best efforts. There became a major disconnect and many times I was in such pain that I didn’t even care. I was just trying to survive. My friends knew about, but didn’t understand my struggles. My husband was the one person who truly knew how sick I had become. His infinite patience and positive attitude were in great part the only reason I kept going most days.
My journey to wellness began when I attended the patient educational seminar at FFC. I had an appointment initially, but at the insistence of my then current doctor, who said it would be a waste of time and repeat tests, I cancelled it. The individual I spoke with at the Center suggested I attend the free patient educational seminar. The next evening, as I sat there listening to all the seemingly infinite list symptoms associated with FM/CFIDS and the possible reasons for the disorders, I felt a huge sense of relief. I no longer had to be the detective. There were answers and people who believed me and understood my suffering. Afterwards, I immediately reclaimed my original appointment.
The day of my first appointment, I could barely walk and was extremely fragile both physically and emotionally. I’ll never forget how one of the staff handed me a tissue and said, “It’s alright to cry. It’s part of the disorder”. They treated me with such dignity and I knew then that I had found the help I had so desperately looked for and none could previously provide. Three weeks later my life changed forever during my second visit. As we reviewed my lab results, the doctor explained that the test for Lyme was elevated and it was very likely that I in fact had that disease and not FM as previously thought. I remember the mixture of happiness and fear. Happiness from finally having a name for my illness and knowing I could once again gain control of my health and fear of knowing the battle would be ongoing.
Over the course of 9 weeks, I was given IV treatments and B12 shots regularly. The staff treated me as if I were their only patient. I continually came in with a list of questions to which someone always took the time to answer or provide an explanation. Throughout treatment, I have kept a journal about how I feel each day. It helps to go back on bad days and see how far I have come. Physically and emotionally stronger now, I realize my good days are becoming more frequent. That would not be the case if I hadn’t strictly followed my treatment guidelines. It gives me a sense of power to know that each day I am doing something to win the fight for my health. FFC saved my life! I am so thankful for the creation of these Centers and all that they are doing for treating patients like me who are suffering with debilitating conditions.
My story is like many others as fatigue has affected my daily life for almost 20 years until now. I had spent the last two decades needing two long naps a day just to function and would still become a pumpkin between 7 and 9 o'clock every night. Between my memory and other mental issues, I was truly struggling and couldn’t find any answers. Every Physician I had seen always ended up telling me that there was nothing physically wrong (go ahead, read between those lines!). Thankfully, I found some relief with a Chinese herbalist who used herbs and essential oils which helped me to at least function daily; however, I never felt truly “well” and found myself afraid to try anything but the safest formulas even under trained direction. I had become afraid of making things worse and had no clear idea what was truly wrong.
I finally was ready to try something different and visited the Fibro & Fatigue Center of Ft. Worth where with the blood tests in hand Dr Boulden tightened some normalcy ranges on different hormones, infections and other tests. I knew something was different about FFC, no other Dr had done that extensive amount of testing on me before. Dr. Boulden was able to TELL ME about MY symptoms just by looking at the blood work! I had finally found a Dr who actually realized that there was something physically wrong. Even before the blood tests had come back, Dr Boulden could see the issues and a clear starting point and began treatment. I was feeling improvement by my second visit.
The relief however is four-fold as the fatigue I suffered does have a hereditary factor and all three of my children had issues stemming from the initial problem so I decided to have them treated as well. It has taken awhile, but we have seen dramatic improvements not only with the obvious fatigue issues, but also in sensory sensitivity, temperament, and overall anxiety. The crowning bonus for us are the relationships that were once tainted by miss-assigned emotions and frustrations due to chronic pain and sensitivity are now mending on their own. More and more, as my body heals, our home has begun to reflect the kindness and patience we teach and the true love we have for one another. We are grateful for the new perspective that not only involves health but both mind and body. Many thanks go to FFC and Dr. Boulden for helping me in my healing journey.
“Something’s wrong with me. I feel like I’m dying a slow death.” These were the exact words I shared with my mother one Sunday afternoon as I sat on the kitchen floor crying too weak to stand to make a cup of tea. I knew it was bad when I began struggling to get up in the mornings for work. Once there, things only got worse as I found myself sitting in a fog unable to clearly think or remember the simplest things. I thought I was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, as this was not normal.
By the end of the day, I was so tired that dinner for my kids often consisted of drive through fast food. Cooking was impossible. My house was dirty with clothes either unwashed or sitting in baskets wrinkled because I didn’t have any energy to do laundry anymore. I spent my evenings and weekends lying on the sofa crying from the pain, fatigue, and brain fog. I felt completely helpless and I knew my kids were suffering. At this point, I could barely take care of myself and was having a difficult time taking care of my children.
My son soon began getting into trouble at school and was angry with me all the time. He couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t do things with him and began to think I was rejecting him and didn’t love him. I knew something had to change.
I had been to a half dozen doctors, all diagnosing me with arthritis and later with depression. It clearly wasn’t! They just didn’t know what it was and I was getting more desperate as my life slowly crumbled before me.
One day I decided to do some research myself and began looking online for answers. What I found was what I call now - a miracle. I happened to stumble across chronic fatigue syndrome and the Fibromyalgia & Fatigue Centers and called immediately. Shortly thereafter, I visited the Pittsburgh Center where they not only listened to me, but were able to provide me with information. I began treatment immediately and today I am no longer in pain. I don’t spend my weekends crying on the sofa anymore, but instead I am able to spend time with my family and friends doing the things I used to do. I have my energy back and most importantly my family. Fibromyalgia & Fatigue Centers literally gave me back my life.