Fibromyalgia, Part 2: Donata’s Story

Published on 28th February 2017

Read Part 1 of the series first, to get the background on what fibromyalgia is and how it is caused by structural changes to the body.

I am mostly telling my story to show that it doesn’t take what most people would consider “serious” trauma (such as a severe car accident) to get to the point where one’s body gets messed up. Lots of instances of “small trauma” can be just as damaging, if not more so.

It took decades for my body to get screwed-up to the point where severe symptoms showed up – symptoms which I now would consider to fall under the spectrum of “fibromyalgia”. Here’s my story.

In some ways, I used to be a classic fibromyalgia sufferer. In other ways, I wasn’t. For one, I never had an official “diagnosis” or label stuck on me that said “fibromyalgia”. This, however, is simply because I never actually got tested. I didn’t know anything about fibromyalgia or that what I was feeling had a “name”. All I knew was that my body hurt all over from my late teens to my late thirties, all the time, every single day. My joints were stiff, I could barely move, I was constantly tired and couldn’t get enough sleep. Exercise wasn’t an option most of the time.

Luckily, I was a student and then a PhD student with a flexible schedule. I worked whenever I was able to work – whenever my body didn’t hurt quite as much, and whenever the brain fog lifted long enough to write a few pages of my dissertation. If this meant writing at 2am, that’s what I did. Most of the time, I just felt like crap. By sheer determination, I finished my PhD. The pain just kept getting worse, as did the chronic exhaustion. Naturally, everybody attributed it simply to “the stress of doing a PhD”. I was handed painkillers and sent on my way. So I never had an official diagnosis of anything other than “stress”. I now half-jokingly say that if I had had the energy to go out and get tested, I certainly would have been labelled as suffering from fibromyalgia.

Let’s look back at how I got into that place. First of all, I’ve always had “bad posture”. I had unspecified “problems with my ankles” between the ages of 4 and 7 – I was constantly twisting them. I was told I’d grow out of it. Eventually, I did. But then the knee problems started around age 8 or so. Again, I got told it was fairly common for girls and that I would grow out of it during puberty. I got given painkillers and exercises. By age 12 I suffered from back pain and had physio. I was given orthotics and more painkillers. Once I started puberty, I was on a whole battery of drugs to cope with that pain.

In my teens, the back pain and migraines got really bad. Enter different painkillers. Some helpful person told my family that it was beneficial for back pain sufferers if they went face-down on the floor and had a person walk up and down their spine. I begged my mum to do this. If you have followed this blog for a little while, you know that anything like this would exact a back-to-front force on the body, pushing bones out of place in a “forward” direction. “Forward” bones in the spine are a really bad idea, I explain HERE why. Yet I didn’t know this at the time. I stretched backwards, leaned backwards over the back of chairs (again pushing things forward), I hung off the end of my bed bending backwards, and I had more people walk on my spine. Anything to produce a satisfying “crunch” and to get me out of pain for a short while. I also got massages (again, more back-to-front forces on my body).

At some point in primary school an incompetent optician measured the distance between my pupils wrong by more than a quarter inch, causing me to hold my head at a funny angle and squint so I could see. Once this was discovered, they claimed that it could only get corrected over a number of years (the brain doesn’t cope with going from 8mm to 0mm, so we had to go slowly, a few millimetres with each new pair of glasses). Now I know that the basic premise of this is silly: make a correction exactly right, and the body doesn’t notice it – it just works. So the slow process of “reversing” the error actually prolonged and exacerbated the neuro-biomechanical damage…

Add to that a few falls – nothing that knocked me out or drew blood or required a trip to A&E. In other words, “nothing serious”. Just the usual childhood stuff. I catapulted myself down from the kitchen counter at age 6 months while strapped into the car seat. I fell off the monkey bars flat on my back at age 4. I slipped on ice and broke my wrist at age 12. I fell down the stairs once and landed on my tailbone, but it wasn’t broken. Nothing “serious” or life-threatening. No car accidents. No head injuries (except for several basketballs to the head to the point where my glasses broke. But since there was no bump, no blood, and no fracture, it can’t have been that bad, right?). Just the usual childhood stuff.

During my university years, I slept on questionable mattresses, including using a Memory Foam mattress for a year. There was also a year where I had a tiny desk and I kept bumping my knees into it. So I sat sideways at my desk for a year. And I kept wearing the orthotics.

Bad lifestyle choices. More trauma on the body.

On a recent trip home, I went back through my childhood photographs because I was curious to see when my structural / postural changes had become obvious. I was shocked to see my horrible posture already at age 6, age 4, and even age 2.

Fast-forward to 2006. I discovered traditional chiropractic shortly after finishing my PhD. Initially, I was thrilled with the results. Then they started becoming inconsistent. As with most traditional chiropractic methods, I was put face-down and people pushed around on my spine (pushing things more forward…). One fine day, my practitioner announced he had just learned a new method, and did I want to try it.

My first treatment with ABC™ left me speechless. I could breathe! I was standing up straight! A few months into care, I got rid of my trusty inhaler which I had been using for 15 years by that point to combat “chronic bronchitis” (caused by stuck ribs that weren’t allowing my lungs to expand). I was already looking into a career change and my practitioner encouraged me to learn ABC™ myself.

I thought the best way forward (excuse the bad pun) was to attend chiropractic college, and then to learn ABC™ afterwards. So I moved to a country where ABC™ wasn’t available at the time to start a degree programme which involved learning various traditional chiropractic techniques. Naturally, we practiced on each other during class. This meant getting put face-down during class, several hours each week, while other students pushed around on my back – in a back-to-front direction as that is what chiropractic colleges teach. A LOT of things got pushed forward during those years. And my body suffered for it. Eventually I got so dizzy that the teachers got concerned, but they had no answers. At that point I refused to let anybody touch me anymore.

The chronic exhaustion and pain symptoms increased. As the pulling on my brain increased, other symptoms joined in and my body practically fell apart: my thyroid blew out, I developed kidney stones, I had extremely low immune function and got sick every chance I got. There was only one way to deal with it. Only one way to survive: I had to change tracks and qualified as an Osteomyologist instead. And I finally realised my dream of learning ABC™. At an ABC™ seminar, I met Richard Phelps. Shortly thereafter, Richard invited me to join his team in Scotland.

I have now been getting treated regularly with ABC™ for almost 2 years. As with most fibromyalgia sufferers, my Unwinding journey has been anything but fun. I’ve had “forward unwinds” that were epic in how much they sucked.

But I’ve also had the most tremendous changes to how my body functions. These days I’m clear-headed most of the time (no more constant brain fog). Whenever I hit a “forward unwind”, old aches and pains show up in the most unexpected places and I whine. A lot. Because, like most fibromyalgia sufferers, I never just “go forward”, I “slam forward”. Simultaneously I am thrilled because I know my body is fixing that old ankle injury or that old hand injury or that old rib injury. For me, it is really important to relate unwinding symptoms back to old injuries, whenever I can. It helps me cope with the discomfort. Whenever I hit a “backwards unwind”, I am completely pain-free now. And the pain-free periods are increasing in length. Right now, my eyesight is improving significantly – my body is healing out of all the neuro-biomechanical damage induced by decades of wrong prescription glasses. I’d never have thought this would even be possible!

ABC™ has truly given me my life back. I have to follow the Sit, Stand, Sleep advice religiously if I want my body to function. I forget my seat wedge once, and I pay for it. There is still a lot of work to be done and I expect my journey to take several more years. Actually, I don’t think I will ever fully unwind – not as long as I am treating patients (being an ABC™ practitioner tends to be somewhat hard on one’s body). But I’m doing so much better than I was even a year ago. I am living testimony to how well ABC™ works on even the most screwed-up bodies. And my own journey helps me relate to what my patients are going through.

ABC™ has given me my life back. I am now helping other people get theirs back. If you would like to learn more about this technique why not request a free consultation?