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Fibromyalgia & Lyrica

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:03pm 1 Comment

In light of The New York Times article on Lyrica , ( the new Pfizer drug being prescribed for Fibromyalgia) -- I had to write about a topic close to my heart. I will not go into how The New York Times is debating whe the r Fibromyalgia is a real dis-ease or not. I feel that is beside the point right now. The point is millions of Americans HAVE been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and are now being seduced into taking this new drug.

What is Fibromyalgia and what does it have to do with me?

I lived with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia for 2 years before being re-diagnosed by a rheumatologist as having Benign Hypermobility Syndrome (Ehlers Danlos III). Fibromyalgia is a widespread pain illness. The symptoms are vast and not everyone diagnosed has the same exact symptoms. The predominant symptom that everyone does have is chronic pain that moves throughout your body and specifically to many different pressure points throughout the body. It has been described by many as feeling like you have the flu ALL the time.

I have heard some doctors say it is nerve based -- the person that has Fibromyalgia perceives pain differently and more extreme than o the rs. I have also heard it described as a soft tissue ailment like rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the o the r symptoms associated with it are insomnia, headaches, Fibro Fog "feeling disconnected and unable to concentrate", abdominal pain, jaw tenderness, extreme pain during exercise and the re are numerous o the rs.

Fibromyalgia has never had a "cure". Doctors usually recommend managing it with a cocktail of miscellaneous prescription drugs including a low dose anti-depressant (helps to break the sleep/pain cycle), pain killers, muscle relaxants, sleep aides and sometimes anti-migraine medication. When I was treating my dis-ease as Fibromyalgia no natural means of pain control or "healing" were mentioned. Doctors tell the patient that the best thing is to "manage the ir pain using prescription drugs". People that are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia often are on many medications, gain weight because of the lack of exercise and most often do not get any better but need more and more medication.

What is Lyrica and what does it do?

Pfizer released Lyrica a few years ago for nerve pain associated with diabetes and for seizure disorders. My doctors mentioned that it was being tested on Fibromyalgia patients. In 2004 the FDA recommended Lyrica be rejected for diabetic nerve pain because of its unimpressive results and the very real side-effects. Lyrica can cause SEVERE weight gain, edema, sleepiness and dizziness. It also should not be given to people who have had a history of drug dependence because it can make you feel "high". It has to be carefully monitored and you have to see a doctor to wean you off of it. You CANNOT drink alcohol while taking Lyrica.

Lyrica is the first drug being prescribed specifically for Fibromyalgia as the new commercials point out. This alone will have millions of people lining up to take it. Sales from Lyrica totaled $1.8 billion in 2007 and are expected to rise 30% in 2008. It brings up some very interesting questions.

If this drug was found to have dangerous weight gain as a side-effect (which we all know causes o the r health issues) why would the y prescribe it for a population that is already mostly over-weight? The New York Times article lists the average Fibromyalgia patient (Findings from the 2007 survey have 2,500 people surveyed) weighing 180 pounds and standing 5 feet 4 inches. The average weight gain on Lyrica during a 12 week trial was 7% of the person’s body weight. So the person standing at 5’ 4” and weighing 180 lb. would now weigh 192.6 lb (and that was just after 12 weeks).

There are already MANY prescription medications doled out for this diagnosis that result in dependence. I finally gave in and took Hydrocodone when I was in severe pain. Luckily I have always been terrified of dependence and was very mindful when I was taking it and never got up to the 12 pills/day I was allotted. Still, in the few short months I was on the m I went from ½-1 pill taking away my pain to needing 2 at a time (every 4 hours). Lyrica is similar in that you need to take it often (for pain) and it is habit forming. Hydrocodone is now the most common household drug and we are facing record number of addictions. I personally have known MANY people who could not stop this drug once the y started it – even after the pain had gone. WHY in the world would you release a drug like this when you know it will likely lead to ano the r epidemic in dependence and addiction?

Again, from The New York Times article , “Pfizer has steadily ramped up consumer advertising of Lyrica. During the first nine months of 2007, it spent $46 million on ads, compared with $33 million in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.” Wow, that is a LOT of money. One would hope the y spent as much researching the illness Fibromyalgia over the last 2 years as well as the long term effects of Lyrica – but somehow that is highly doubtful! You can read my post on Pharmaceutical Companies Spending Double on Ads than Research to see why I feel this way.

So what worked for me?

Getting the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is upsetting in so many ways:

  1. The extreme pain you are in and the many tests you are subjected to for ruling out o the r illnesses.

  2. There is a huge controversy surrounding whe the r it is a real or phantom illness – which doesn’t help if you are trying to explain to your family and friends that you are in REAL pain.

  3. The experience of having chronic pain and feeling unable to participate in your own life causes ENORMOUS amounts of stress which exacerbates ANY dis-ease.

  4. The lack of sleep (due to pain) contributes to the feeling of dis-ease and makes pain worse. (This is the sleep/pain cycle)

  5. You are told essentially “ the re is nothing you can do” and to “manage your pain” by drugs. HERE is where I strongly disagree – you CAN help yourself.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and later with what many would consider an even more debilitating disease that has a lot of similar characteristics as Fibromyalgia. I have been pain and pain pill free now for a year. I had to do it myself. No doctor aided me in coming up with options for my well-being. It took me saying and believing I would heal myself and finding the tools to help me to do so. I needed to face my demons and things that I had not dealt with. I needed to stop blaming o the rs and myself and start forgiving. I needed to feel gratitude for what I did have in my life. I needed to exercise no matter how badly it hurt in order to get my body stronger. I needed to set goals to move forward with my life. I needed to be OFF of the pain pills to even fully assess what my pain was and to be sure that it wasn’t the pain pills causing more pain. (They did actually contribute to a lot of stomach pain). I needed to STOP going to the doctor 3 times a week to hear how sick I was and to stop concentrating on my dis-ease all the time.

Wait, Are you Saying Fibromyalgia and the Pain is ALL IN MY HEAD?

No! My pain was as real as it came. I was not happy to be crawling out of bed hysterically crying, passing out from pain or to question whe the r or not I should drive my kids somewhere because of how dizzy I was. Those memories are ingrained as are memories of JUST how badly my body could hurt. I have not experienced pain like that or taken a pain pill in over one year now.

I am saying your mind is SO powerful and can be USED as a tool to heal. I have written about some of the methods I have used on my blog and I fully outline the m in my e-book . I also have recommended a bunch of teachers to pursue fur the r learning. You need to find someone that resonates with you for you to be able to fully understand the power that lies within. EVERYTHING affects your body; your environment, the food you eat, the medications you take, how active or inactive you are, your emotional state and your thoughts and self-talk . Some of my personal favorites are Dr. Mercola , Dr. Deepak Chopra , Dr. Wayne Dyer and Dr. Ingrid Bacci . With the internet you have the means to get a lot of information for free and from that you can decide who you want to pursue learning from.

Please, if you or someone you know is debating taking Lyrica, stop and evaluate o the r options. TRY some of the mind/body techniques and just see what happens. Find a holistic doctor near you. What do you have to lose? If you are on medications you might need your doctor’s assistance in weaning off of the m. I am not a doctor and cannot advise you on how to go about this. I was never on the maximum doses of anything so was able to wean myself off without assistance. Think about it, chances are you probably know someone with this diagnosis – what will you recommend?

So Under No Circumstance should ANYONE take this drug ?

For the Fibromyalgia patient that has gone through the plethora of drug treatments available, the one that has seen holistic doctors and the one that has exhausted every mind/body technique – maybe this will be the drug that finally takes away your pain. I would guess a very small percentage of Fibromyalgia patients have done all of this though. Alternative methods of healing are not even addressed by most doctors much less advertised in the media. Before taking Lyrica I would investigate what kind of research has gone into long term effects. Will this be ano the r drug pulled off of the shelves in 5 years? What bodily damage can this pill cause? I know Hydrocodone can cause liver, kidney, stomach damage and even death. I think you owe it to your long-term well being to investigate ALL o the r options before taking this drug. Remember, “ Prescription drugs NUMB Pain but do NOT Heal PAIN ” – to heal you need to look within.

Comments (1)
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I believe that unresolved issues can cause very real illness.  Not something " in your head" but somthing than can bloody well kill you.  I am not talking about feeling a few aches and pains from pushing yourself too hard, or becasue you are a bit stressed over the mortgage.  There is no mind body demarcation line.  The things we think about, or obsess on, or that damaged us,  change our body chemistry in very real ways.  New information on the plasticicity of the brain indicates that therapy changes the structure of the brain.  It doesn't just make us feel nice because we pondered our navels.  We can do a great deal of good for ourselves and a great deal of harm to ourselves based on what we think.

On the other hand, there is a huge amount of evidence now, and growing at a rapid rate, that Fibro, CFS and many other illnesses of this era are the result of the massive quanitity of petrochemicals that we are all stewing in.  For every unnecessary petrochemical invention that we DO have strong evidence about...that we can prove makes people very illl - that causes cancer, birth defects, messes up the function of the brain, derails our basic biochemistry or shatters the endocrine system... there are dozens MORE effects we know nothing about (some of which are known to the companies that make those items...but not to us) and hundreds of substances that are totally untested.  

So although a person might be able, depending on who they are, to heal their own inoperable cancer (through positive emotions, through laughter or joy) or even to gain control of an out of control life by healing the PTSD in ones amygdala... all by tapping the vast power of the human mind through personal growth, understanding the reality of the years that one spent avoiding a painful truth (etc)  - what you CANNOT do, is cause your child to no longer have lukemia from the use of petrochemicals at high temperatures at the light industrial plant down the road from your house...all by reading Deepak Chopra.

There are many diseases that can be casued by the inventions of humankinds version of organic chemistry (not to be confused with the biochemsty of life on earth).  Parkinsons can be caused by these poisons, as can ADHD, and Autism spectrum disorder and IN POINT OF FACT most of today's cancer pandemic only exists in places where people's bodies have such a high toxic load that the liver has long since gone past its capcitity to cope.   This is not just so much new age greenie ranting.  A large number of very conservative scientists signed a document back in the 1980s, warning us all about this stuff.  It was in all the papers.  It was ignored.    We are filling people's bodies with poison.  It is killing us.  The cancer rate in Australia is now 50%.  When I was born it was far less than 1%.  A large number of very cautious science folk have come out over the years and TOLD us what is happening and why...and we are ignoring them.  

THAT SAID.....It very well may be that there is a point to trying all this....with the new information and research about the ways that the mind CAN heal the body, and with all the research into the aparent reality in which SOME people can "self talk" themselves out of illness, that there is a point to trying.  The mind does run the body after all.

On the other hand, the mind is also a part of the body.  Our emotions are a part of the meat in our heads.  Our mood is also changed by chemical substances around us.  For instance, many people who have panic attacks or hyperactivity disorders find that their conditions become far more managable if they just stop eating processed poisoned foods, and stay away from most of the nastier cleaning products....get rid of as many of the oil based items in their homes that they can do without, and just STOP PRETENDING!

That's right folks...just STOP PRETENDING, wake up, and smell the death in the air, and stop participating in it.  In Victorian England, people who were sick from all the coal smoke and coal dust in the air were sent to the country WHERE THEY GOT WELL.  Perople -knew- perfectly well that it was the coal.  They just didn't want to stop using it.

So wake up and smell the persistant organochlorines.  Wake up and stop pretending that you can live a healthy life while doing so - all the while living in a stew of mutagenic, carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting, sterility causing, poisonous nasties ... and somehow MAGICALLY not be affected.  Because after all it is only OTHER people who get cancer... not us.   

We can do better.

We have to do better.

We need to stop pretending that the massive upswing in cancer has nothing to do with things like plastics ... like that white plastic in our cans of food, which can grow tumor cell cultures all on its own, without ANY other source of food OTHER THAN THE PLASTIC PETRI DISH.

We need to stop pretending that it is OK to behave in this manner and leave the world in this condition to the rest of life on earth (let alone our own descendants).

We can wake up today.  Or we can condemn the next 50 to 100 generations of humanity - those few people who manage to survive our mammon frenzy -  condemn them to a world in which they curse our names.  Curse this generation (you and I) for how utterly stupid and selfish we are all being, by wallowing in a sea of untested chemical crap.....a sea of items that are all made for one reason and one reason make money.


So that a few people who have far more money than they could ever spend or need, can have MORE more.  Thes people havbe mental problems.  They have CONTROL ISSUES that they are playing out via capitalism, by trying to pretend that having a huge pile of money will make them more loved and happy and safe -  than being healthy will.  So instead of SAYING we love our kids, we buy them poison.

All so some unstable people who have monetary OCD can make a quick buck.   We are letting people who are are the MONEY O.C.D. mavens of the world, drag us down with them.

OH....but don't worry people.  She'll be right.  I'm sure that "there's an ap for that".


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