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Military and Fibromyalgia
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I'm 25 and just recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.. I'm am an active duty service member and my unit doesn't understand what I'm going through.. My military PA (physician assistant/primary care doctor) acts as if he doesn't know what to do for me.. I understand the military is not sure what this disorder is all about but would it hurt for someone to google it??
I've watched myself quickly deteriorate, I can't even drive a car for more than 1 hour without feeling like I'm going to die.. Just recently I went to see another PA because mine was out, and i was complaining that my throat muscles had cramped all around and even the back of my neck and when i swallowed out was painful like i was forcing my throat to open.. The PA gave me cough drops and sent me on my way.. Along withthese issues my depression is starting to grow even more because my unit is leaving for deployment and I'm getting kicked out for this.. It is very upsetting to watch your platoon leave for deployment without you.. I just don't know what to do or where to start..
Posted on 07/11/12, 03:06 am
14 Replies | Most Recent Add Your Advice
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Reply #1 - 07/11/12  9:35am
" I'm not sure how the diagnosis came for fibromyalgia for you.

You may get more response putting this on the general discussion board.

Anxiety physical symptoms can add to the depression, fibromyalgia, and depending on what else is happening, can make you feel like you are saying.

Best wishes. "
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Reply #2 - 07/11/12  11:30am
" Jackson86 - Welcome to the board! Thank you for your service to this country.

Are you currently on any medication for Fibromyalgia (FMS)?

I think that I will just go ahead and give you a crash course on FMS and some basic advice. You seem like you need that at this particular moment.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes widespread chronic pain. It is correctly referred to as a syndrome. In some people, it can be triggered by high levels of stress, an accident, childbirth or surgery to name a few examples. The mechanism that causes it is not understood. There is no cure, but it can be managed by certain classes of prescribed medication. OTC medication such as Alleve etc is usually not effective.

FMS is recognised by the Centers for Disease Control, the National Arthitis Foundation and the World Health Organization. It is not a figment of our collective imaginations. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of doctors out there who think that people with FMS are hypochondriacs and/or flat out neurotic. They should be ashamed of themselves. A rheumotologist is the type of doctor who typically treats FMS.

There are three primary medications used to treat FMS. They are Lyrica, Cymbalta and Savella. It takes time and a lot of tinkering to find the right medication/s and doseage for each patient. Allow a minimum of two weeks when starting a new medication for any side effects to ease and to notice a change in your symptoms. If you can not manage the side effects, talk to your doctor first before stopping any medication. A key point to remember is that the longer a chronic pain cycle continues, the harder it becomes to manage or stop.

You should also be tested for a Vitamin D deficiency. This is a common problem among FMS patients and will also contribute to your overall pain levels.

You should also be on a sleep medication. FMS interrupts the deep sleep cycle with short bursts of high intensity brain activity. Your muscles require deep sleep in order to repair themselves from the days activities. No deep sleep means higher levels of pain. A medication like Amitriptyline is one of many choices. If you prefer a more natural approach, Calms Forte, Melatonin or a product called Mid Nite are all available at CVS or the Vitamin Shoppe. Make sure that you understand how to use these products and any side effects that may be associated with them. Managing the sleep issues that plague FMS patients is a critical part of treatment.

Diet is also important. If you use anything with an artifical sweetner, get rid of it. People with FMS are usually sensitive to food additives. Artifical sweetners and other things can make our pain levels much worse. If you need a sweetner, use a product like Truvia, or Sun Crystals which is made from the nontoxic Stevia plant. Also avoid deep fried foods or anything containing nitrates like lunchmeat or bacon etc.

I'd like to suggest that you order a book called "Fibromyalgia for Dummies." It is available online at Amazon. Like all of the dummies series it contains good, easy to understand information about this syndrome and how to manage it.

Depression is common among people with FMS. And it is no wonder that you are feeling so terrible given the lack of support from the military and your PA. Many of us see a counselor to work on coping mechanisms. The best type of therapy for someone diagnosed with a chronic illness is called "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT." That will give you the tools to feel better about your situation.

I really don't know what to tell you about managing the military infrastructure. I do know that they can be very uncaring with a diagnosis like this. I think that the "suck it up and get the job done" mentality clearly does not lend itself to a situation like this. Pain is subjective and not having an obvious issue such as a broken arm makes people doubt that there is a problem in the first place. Frankly, like the Gulf Syndrome, Agent Orange etc the military does not want to be on the hook for treating FMS patients. Stop beating yourself up for a health problem that you have no control over. It is not your fault that you are ill. It is not productive to continue down that path. Like many of us, you are going to have to be your own best advocate to get the type of care that you need. All of us have had to adjust and adapt to all of the changes in our lives due to Fibromyalgia. It is an ongoing learning process. You are not alone. Keep in touch and let us know how we can help. God Bless. "
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Reply #3 - 07/11/12  4:52pm
" Thanks Fantod.. I am currently taking Gabapentin 100mg 3x a day, and calcium tablets 1 x a day.. The rheumatologist did find my calcium was low and informed me I would have to take them pretty much for the rest of my life.. I talked to my PA and I requested to be switched onto Lyrica because when I was doing research on webmd, patients in my age group we so happy with the pros of the drug.. I was told that the military wont buy the drug because it is too expensive.. So now I'm working on getting someone to write me an outside prescription for it and see if I can purchase it from Walmart or Target pharmacies..

Currently Im awaiting to see a doctor because before I used to over sleep, (like 12 hrs a day) and still feel tired like I went on a 20 mile ruck march and now I cant sleep at all at night.. While I'm laying in bed my legs began to get the urge to want to move, I cant get my mind to remember anything and Im constantly having switch ups on my pains and areas.. I realized I have 3 different types of pains: hot fire burning pain, muscle tightening/cramping and achy joints all over.. Even my jaw muscle gets tight or cramps.. its the weirdest thing.. But I'm trying to hang in there until they can get something under control because my PA told me to wait a month and see how the gabapentin works then come back... Unfortunately it only helps the burning all over my body, but not all the time.. I get burning on my scalp also.. I guess there is no place that is safe other than my glutes, lol..

Im definitely about to look up the info you gave me Fantod and for the warm welcome, Thank you very much.. "
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Reply #4 - 07/11/12  4:54pm
" While in the military my husband knew a couple of people who had Fibromyalgia who were in the process of getting medically discharged. My husband suggested that you get on a "profile," keep all documentation and see a military lawyer (that should be free) to see if there is anything that can be done to be able to have your case presented to the medical board. He said not to sign anything...maybe talk to a superior that you can trust. The two people who were med-boarded with fibro ended up being "medically retired" rather than just "medically separated" with either 30 or 40% disability so they keep all of their benefits for life.
Good luck and message me if you want me to ask my husband any questions. He went through the whole med board process and is now in the process of getting it taken care with the VA. It's really a pain and frustrating! Take care! "
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Reply #5 - 07/11/12  9:13pm
" Hi there, I went thru all that with ptsd/ military sexual trauma. Number one advice, go to the hospital records and get an official copy done right away. They love to lose (shred) medical records. Send it to your parents address or family you trust. They cannot kick you out for something you got while in the service, service connected. Call up the local disabled american veterans and they will give you the best advice and they will stand up for you if the mil tries to court marshal. Don't be afraid to seek civilian care. Or civilian er. And that's more medical records for you to have. The best thing you can ask your primary is for a wavier. You have a diagnosis so you can always ask for a 2nd opinion, I asked to see my drs superior before they decided to take me seriously. Msg me if you want, I was suppose to deploy in 2004 and they tried to court marshall me, but I had the DAV and my records all there so they sent me to medical board instead. A whole different ballgame there. Best wishes to you! Oh and make sure what you tell the docs are in the file, they like to smudge those too. And ask for an ana blood test. "
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Reply #6 - 07/11/12  9:23pm
" They will put you on certain meds first because they have contracts with those pill companies. I tried that med and it made me very depressed and suicidal. Ask to be switched to something that won't cause you to be tired, since you are always tired anyway. They will perscribe lyrica if notthing else works. And again if they don't want to. Listen, then go straight to the top. This is your life and your military career. They may also try you on amitriptylene (spelling?) Or trizadone. Those will make you sleep for days. "
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Reply #7 - 07/12/12  10:51am
" Jackson86- It looks like you got some great responses from military people. I was hoping someone would come forward with some ideas of how to handle this issue. Thank you to everyone who stepped up to help. I'd strongly suggest that you follow these recommendations to maintain your benefits for life. FMS can be a financial bloodbath even with very good private sector insurance.

Lyrica would not be my first choice for a medication to treat FMS. The most common side effect is major weight gain. It doesn't happen to everyone but when it does the weight is very difficult to get off. I'd go with Cymbalta or Savella first before I'd even consider Lyrica.

If your jaw is bothering you, you should see a dentist about TMJ (now called TMD). You may be clenching and grinding which can cause a lot of damage to your teeth. This is one of the many "perks" associated with FMS. A custom bite splint will relax your jaw while you sleep. This is a far cheaper option than having to pay to all of the damage from clenching and grinding. Also TMJ can cause pain in your neck, shoulders, upper back, arms and hands. It can also cause headaches and balance problems (think of your head as a gyroscope).

Getting sleep issues under control is critical. Go and get some OTC remedies while you are waiting to see the doctor. Calms Forte, Melatonin or a product called Mid Nite are all available at CVS or the Vitamin Shoppe. Make sure that you understand how to use these products and any side effects that may be associated with them. It may take some time but these should help with your overall pain level. Part of the reason you can not remember anything is due to lack of restorative sleep. The rest of it is commonly referred to as "fibro-fog."

Fibro-fog is a very common complaint among FMS patients. Everyone is affected differently by this issue. I'd suggest that you consider getting a supplement called " phosphatidylserine" also known as "Neuro-PS." My nutritionist recommended that I use this supplement. It seems to help quite a bit. If I am over-tired, nothing helps.

For muscle cramping and twitching, you can use Malic Acid. I take 825mg twice a day. It comes in pill form and you can find it at any decent helath food store or the Vitamin Shoppe. I take it in the morning and at night before bed. It sounds like you may have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) as well which is another one of those blasted "perks." Malic Acid may be helpful with that too.

Again, if you have not been tested for a Vitamin D deficiency, get a blood test for it done. This is a very common problem among FMS patients and will make your pain levels worse.

I'm really sorry that you find yourself in this situation. And, it appears that the military is really dragging their heels about treatment. It is bad enough that you are ill and having to cope with that let alone trying to figure out how to circumvent getting kicked out with no benefits. Keep in touch and let us know how you are doing. "
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Reply #8 - 07/12/12  11:15pm
" # leenie00:: I went to mental health the day of writitng this post.. At mental health, they kept asking me where my profile for FMS was at and I told them that my PA told me HE cldnt write one for me, but the providers at physical therapy was suppose to write me a profile.. Mental health wasnt having it.. The called the commander to investigate what was going on.. I went to see the commander today to talk about why I was at mental health and now he has a clear understanding of whats going on and my PA finally wrote me a profile because my SFC got in the LT behind and made him pay attention because I was going to complain to higher chains about him and no one wld be able to save him then..

# iroclove::: Im about to go to JAG tomorrow because this was ridiculous what I had to do today.. I went to sick call and seen the PA after my SFC talked to him.. The PA addressed that he didnt appreciate me going around telling people that HE wasnt taking care of ME.. but when ppl asked why things are missing out of my records, they always say the PA is suppose to take care of that, so basically he isnt doing his job.. I believe he doesnt know anything about FMS because he told me I cld take MOTRIN for the pain, when you look on it clearly says NSAIDS dont work effectively..
So today I went online to webmd and printed out the info sheet and highlighted everything that the PA said that was wrong and highlighted the drugs I shld be on and gave it to my SFC and CDR.. Since the PA had open up a can of worms by being disrespectful to me about my condition in a room full of sick soldiers im going to write a sworn statement at JAG in the morning and Im writing an email to the POST COMMANDER about the situation.. This LT is going to hate my guts because his "promotable status" is about to be gone..

Im also talking to a med board person on the side to make sure that I get into the process and she told me how to handle the situation so this problem can be recognized by the Post Cdr..

#fantod::: I've been tested and came back positive for vitamin d deficiency and im taking calcium tablets daily.. I also just got prescribed ambien for sleep (sooo hope this works) and thanks very much for the help, I've shown my supervisor your comments and advice..

Thank You guys for the support very much... "
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Reply #9 - 07/16/12  12:17am
" Motrin eh?? Lol I don't miss that. The VA rheumatologist told me to take tylonol. They have to go by their books. Taking motrin or tylonol for a chronic pain, non-inflammatory illness... come on now.. most doctors know better. I'm glad to hear they are listening. Keep us posted. "
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Reply #10 - 07/17/12  1:54pm
" BRAVO! You rock! "

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