Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fibromyalgia Rehab Program - It's Worth a Try

After many years of not knowing what was wrong with me, I was finally diagnosed, this time last year, with fibromyalgia. My rheumatologist asked me if I would like to participate in a fibro rehab program that has proven quite successful in helping people manage their fatigue and pain. I said, "why not?"

I did a quick search (very quick) to see what I could find about fibromyalgia rehabilitation programs. I didn't find very much. Some institutions offer group therapy, where people work on management skills. There was also a study that looked at a fitness rehab program. Those aren't for me, I thought. And I found a study that said that there weren't enough studies done to see if a multi-disciplinary program, similar to the one I am entering, does any good at all. (Multidisciplinary rehabilitation for fibromyalgia and musculoskeletal pain in working age adults)

I was warned that there was a long waiting list, about 18 months. A few weeks after my doctor sent off the request (he had filled it out on the spot during my consultation), I received a letter stating that my application was in progress and I would be hearing back sometime soon. Not long after that, I received a phone call from the coordinator and I knew that the ball was rolling. In December, I was told that I had a spot in a session that would begin at the end of February 2012.

Yesterday, a year after my diagnosis, I had the initial evaluation. I met with a physiotherapist and a kinesiologist, who had me do some simple tests. I walked up and down the corridors at my own pace for six minutes. The kinesiologist had one of those rolling measuring tools and walked beside me to see how far I could walk. Then they had me go up some stairs carrying bags to mimic groceries, go up and down a ramp, a step ladder, pick up a pen off the floor, and then walk a straight line. I could never walk a straight line. I always used to joke that if I was drunk and I was checked for impairment, I would likely be able to do it for a change.

After the evaluation, I met with the therapist who will be in charge of my case for the nine weeks. The program involves meeting with professionals to work on exercise tolerance, pain management, nutrition, stress reduction, and so on. Their goal is your goal. I have to write three goals that I would like to accomplish by the end of the program. For some people, it is to be able to go out for a bike ride, for others, to be able to do their housework or go to school and attend all the classes. My goal isn't certain yet.

The pain isn't unbearable for me. I guess I am one of the lucky ones. For me, the issue is more the fatigue. Then again, even lower level chronic pain does contribute to fatigue, so it needs to be managed too. So, now I have to think - what do I want out of this program? I will be attending two mornings a week for nine weeks. Luckily for me, the facility is only a 10-minute walk from my house, or a very quick bus ride on cold wintery blustery days.

For those who are interested in the program, I'll be updating my progress along the way.

1 comment:

Pippa said...

Here's to a happy and helpful experience!