Public Service Announcement

Once, a long time ago – I was about 12 years old - someone asked me what arthritis pain felt like. After great deal of thought, the best I could come up with was said it felt like being inside a ball of used cotton, greasy and gray and containing a great deal of slightly dulled glass splinters. Later, I came up with a number of other types of arthritis pain, but most of the time, that's what it felt like to me. However, there is one good thing about arthritis pain: if you sit still and take medication, chances are you can get it turned down.

Four years ago, I developed fibromyalgia. And it's a sonofabitch., requiring completely different and opposite coping mechanisms to deal with the pain. Sitting still will make you feel as if Medusa’s glared at you and are slowly turning to stone. Very painful stone that does not respond well, sometimes at all, to painkillers. It's got something to do with your pain receptors going wiggy and instead of being 'on' proportional to the level of the injury (bumping your foot against the furniture hurts less than breaking your ankle), they get turned up to 11 at the slightest provocation and stay wide open. Pressure gets interpreted as pain, a cool draft makes your muscles seize up and speaking of muscles, they’re always tense - spasms on top of spasms on top of spasms (that last one got interpreted by Dragon as “topless batsman” – I love this program!) and the only thing that breaks the cycle is keeping ridiculously warm or some form off muscle relaxant.

Which brings me to the point of today's post. A post that has a hopefully limited audience.

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV and own no stocks in any pharmaceutical company. But I have discovered a medication that is the equivalent of seeing a divine being in your living room. For the past year, I have used cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) at bedtime and it has done wonders in terms of ‘resetting’ my muscles overnight - as long as you start relatively anew in the morning, it's easier to stay ahead of the pain. However, although it's been working, there's been limits, especially now that it’s colder. About a month ago, my rheumatologist gave me a prescription for drug called gabapentin (neurontin). Originally used to control seizure activity, it is also used for nerve pain, migraines and the like, but in much smaller doses. A few weeks ago, I took 100mg before going to bed and woke up relaxed in places I didn't know I had. Places that had apparently been tense for months, maybe years. And for the next two days, I had little, maybe even no fibromyalgia pain. After one tiny little capsule. Unfortunately, I developed an apparently somewhat rare side effect that is highly unpractical for me (merely looking at a glass of water made me run to the bathroom - impossible when you need someone's help in that location), but I'm keeping it around for emergency purposes and investigating alternatives.

If you have fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor about this medication. It will blow your mind.