Okay, so the legal disclaimer first:  I'm not a doctor and haven't even played one on TV.  I'm not qualified to make a diagnosis or to recommend treatment.  I can, however, tell you what I've tried and give you places where you can research and decide for yourself.

I have fibromyalgia syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome.  There's some debate whether these two diseases are actually the same, the diagnosis depending on which symptoms manifest the hardest.  For details on Fibromyalgia, check out this WebMD site.  Basically, when you have fibromyalgia, you feel very, very, very tired, have joint pain and stiffness, have frequent insomnia, depression and tender spots that feel a lot like bruises.  There are other weird symptoms that many people get--certain patterns make me dizzy, as does being around a lot of glass (like at a china store).

Chronic fatigue syndrome (WebMD has a site for that too), has some similar symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, muscle aches, cognitive function problems, sore throat, tender or swollen lymph nodes, non-arthritic joint pain, headaches, depression and unrefreshing sleep.

The causes of these two illnesses is still a subject of debate.  One doctor I saw theorized that it was a combination of stresses to my immune system as I grew up and that eventually, I had the one stress too many that broke the camel's back, so to speak.  I am the poster child for this theory. Stresses include: massive doses of antibiotics (I had pneumonia when I was two, then chronic ear infections as a child), mercury toxicity (which theoretically came from silver-mercury amalgams in my teeth), mononucleosis (which I had in college), allergies (which I had since childhood), and life stresses.

I've tried lots of  doctors and treatments for these conditions--vitamin  IVs, snake oil (I'm not sure what was in that IV), antidepressants and acupuncture.

I have trouble taking antidepressants.  Most of them cause my heart to beat rapidly and irregularly after about a week's use.  The rest have no effect.  Lyrica worked great.  I tried it about two years ago and hadn't felt that good in fifteen years.  Sadly, it can cause weight gain, and that's exactly what it did to me.  I can't afford to get any heavier, so I had to stop treatment.

The thing that has helped me the most is acupuncture.  My acupuncturist, Iva Lim Peck, has helped give me a good quality of life.  She uses several techniques--traditional acupuncture to balance the body systems and relieve pain, NAET (Nambudripad's allergy elimination technique), NET (Neuro Emotional Technique), and herbs.  I haven't found a way to describe how NAET and NET work without it sounding like BS, but you can check out their websites linked above.

Basically, NAET eliminates allergies.  Yep.  After the treatment for a specific allergy, it was gone.  I used to be allergic to food.  Pretty much all food.  And the air, or at least all the stuff in it.  I had so many allergies, we didn't realize that allergies were my problem because I had no obvious triggers. There are no shots for food allergies.  Doctors will tell you to avoid the food you're allergic to.  That was pretty much impossible for me.  I just avoided the worst ones (raw fruits and veggies and corn).  I lived on allergy medication and still had frequent sinus infections (for which I took more antibiotics and further weakened my immune system).  After several years of weekly NAET treatments, I have almost no allergies.  My husband was skeptical at first, and was taking shots for his airborne allergies (ragweed and pet dander).  Eventually, he saw that my allergies were going away and his weren't.  He finally broke down and went to Iva.  Before NAET, he couldn't be in the same room with a cat or dog without an immediate sneezing attack.  We now have two cats and no problems.

NET is even farther "out there," but I've had good success with it.  Several times I've had chronic pain (knee, ankle, back) that nothing else worked on.  After an NET clearing the pain was gone within a short time (from immediately to three weeks).  The theory is that emotional baggage associated with past events is "stored" in our bodies and can cause pain or unexplained emotional reactions.  Over time, I learned that if I have unreasonable anger or resentment toward someone, I probably need an NET clearing.  The results are amazing.  It feels like a burden has been lifted that I didn't even realize I was carrying.  Usually , the anger or resentment is a misplaced feeling about some other event that may have little or nothing to do with the person.

The other thing that has helped me is belly dancing.  It promotes strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health.  I also gained some control over a body that frequently leaves me feeling helpless and frustrated.  And belly dance comes with a cool outfit.  You can't say that about most exercise. Many recreational centers and YMCAs offer belly dance classes.  Local dance studios might also offer classes that won't break your budget.  You might just make some new friends too.

A recent addition to my arsenal is tumeric.  I take capsules because the spice is very bitter.  I take four in the morning and four at night and it has all but eliminated the tendonitis I started experiencing a few years back.  Good news is it's a cheap supplement that you can buy at Walmart.

Links to my favorite sites:

Author Friends:
Linda L. Donahue
Rhonda Eudaly
Dusty Rainbolt
Selina Rosen
William Ledbetter
Mike Resnick
Lawrence Watt-Evans
Walter Jon Williams
Esther Friesner
Shanna Swendson
Gloria Oliver
Margaret Bonham
Laura J. Underwood
Bill Allen
Robert Brown
William (Billy) Eakin
Melanie Fletcher
Tim Frayser
Beverly Hale
Gary Jonas
Brian A. Hopkins
Lee Killough
Katherine Kimbriel
Tracy Morris
Lee Martindale
Bradley Sinor
Glenn R. Sixbury
Dave Smeds
Mel Tatum
Mark  W.Tiedeman
Jeff Turner

Artist Friends:
David Lee Anderson
Kevin Hopkins
Brad W. Foster
Rocky Kelley
Allison Stein
Matt Taggart
Frank Wu

Other Friends:
Ann Loggins Pet Portraits
Stuart Jones, Photographer
Babes with Blades

Publishing Houses:
Yard Dog Press
Baen Books
Benbella Books


World Fantasy Con

Belly Dancers:
Visions in Dance