Going on holiday with fibromyalgia and spinal challenges

I used to go away twice a year prior to developing fibro, even with my back issues I still went away. Journeys are hell with fibro as this makes my back pain and stiffness worse.

One of the worst things is flying, especially long distance. The last time I did a long haul flight in 2015 it was awful. I was actually crying by the time we landed and spent most of the next 3/4 days in bed………

You might have to change your holiday routine, destinations, activities and duration. Try to cut out driving, you will cause yourself fatigue, muscle stiffness and pain for days to follow. Flying is extremely challenging. Queuing, sitting in uncomfortable seating, waiting, over reliance on processed fast foods and alcohol intake. All this amplified your fibro symptoms, along with night time flights robbing you of much needed rest. I now burn in the sun very easily, within minutes and my skin swells up. My forehead swelled last year…….

It’s important to chose your holiday wisely, stick to fresh healthy food, lots of bottled water. DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL IN THE DAY OR SUN AT ALL. In face the more you avoid it altogether the better you will feel. My skin is very very painful to touch on the torso when I’ve drank alcohol. You can read more about why our bodies hurt to touch after drinking here.

Top tips

  • Avoid long haul flights
  • Upgrade if you can afford it
  • Take extra medication
  • Stick to healthy natural foods, not processed.
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Take a heat/cold pad
  • Keep out the sun (be sensible)
  • Take a sun hat
  • Get someone else to drive if possible
  • Wear flat shoes
  • Keep walking to a minimum
  • Take time to rest
  • Try to go to bed and get up at the same time
  • Use organic sun cream
  • Take anti histamines
  • Use organic beauty products
  • Ask for mobility support at airports
  • Ask for easy access rooms in hotels
  • Allow time to rest before and after the holiday
  • Arrange for help packing, housework and shopping in your return
  • Book a holiday that is suitable for your needs
  • Don’t do activities that will exhaust you or cause you to flare up
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Feeling more hopeful

I’ve had a rough week as you’ll know from reading my last blog. It’s important not to let this get you down too much. Life is full of ups and downs isn’t it? Some of it brought on by my slipping into bad food routines, forgetting to meditate and introducing new routines.

  • You have to stick to a strict routine; get some decent fresh groceries delivered, use a hot pot to overcook food, put in boxes in the fridge to warm up.
  • Don’t over rely on meds, they can increase fatigue and even pain as your body gets used to them. Try alternatives such as cbd or cannabis oil (if you can get hold of it).
  • You must exercise, every day. This will reduce pain and stiffness. Break it into 5 minutes every hour if needs be. Go for a walk, have a stretch, whatever it takes, but no sitting all day……..
  • Take vitamins (high end, not cheap China made). Vitamin B12 injections and folic acid (oral) have been amazing for me so far.
  • Meditate, as often as you can. I like to use YouTube in the day, Deepa Chopra is great, I used this yesterday here. I also use the Buddhify app here. It is free.

I have actually got a good system going with little reminders in my phone to make sure I stick to my routines. If I slip I feel the repercussions, sometimes this happens within hours or days, but I can tell the difference in flare ups now; was it food, reducing meds, bad food, inactivity or overdoing things?

Tackling fibro and pain relief can only be done by establishing a good routine, finding out what makes you feel worse and stopping doing those things. Finding out what makes you feel better and continuing doing these things at the right intervals.

Every single day I wake up I hate myself and I hate my life. I practise gratitude; I lay in bed look out the window, put a heat blanket on my neck, drink coffee (filter made with coconut milk), think about positive things. What makes me smile 😊, it can be anything, it’s your life, don’t let people tell you what to be grateful about, it might be something material. I love my motorbike and I’m so proud I passed my 3 tests first time and have the bike of my dreams, I’ve not been able to ride it in 3 months 😂😂. But I will mines the blue one ☝️.

My little doggy

He cuddles me, licks my tears, follows me everywhere and sleeps with me too.

I don’t have many close friends anymore, I cannot socialise much and I needed to keep healthy, so I have just a handful that I see. That’s enough for me, they know how I feel and what I go through every day.

My family are great, my mum, dad, daughter and husband, very helpful.

I love nature and the Earth, we have lots of pets, which cost a fortune in electric and I sometimes curse them when I’m fatigued but I love them:-

  • Dog
  • 3 cats
  • Stingray
  • Tropical fish
  • Marine fish
  • Green day geckos
  • Pond fish
  • Anemones

It’s like a zoo!!

Do what makes you feel good and don’t let other peoples negative opinions away from your routine.

‘Normal’ people don’t get it!!

It’s hard to explain to people just how draining it is to have fibromyalgia. Unless they have had the flu they cannot imagine a flare up. Unless they have had a hangover or a viral infection for months on end, they cannot imagine how we feel every day.

Mornings are the worst; the headache, unable to open my eyes, muscle aches so extreme that for a brief moment I wish I hadn’t woken up at all. The fatigue; it’s like you’ve slept for only a couple of hours at most. Then when you do get up, I can’t stand long enough to do my make-up, hair or anything else. If I couldn’t work from home every afternoon I would have to resign from work.

I’d love nothing more than to ride my motorbike to work, but I don’t have the energy to get changed twice before work, then again after work to get home.

When I finish work, some days I don’t eat as I don’t feel well enough to cook, I can’t stand long enough or cannot face doing the dishes as too tired. I can’t go out anywhere or do anything at night as I struggle to function, working has zapped all my energy.

I’m ashamed to admit it but when I’ve had a bad flare up I have not even been able to bathe for up to a week, sometimes not being able to get out of bed.

People say oh yeah they are tired too. But this isn’t about being tired……fatigue is extreme, it’s painful in the muscles even and it’s very hard on your mental health.

I never in a million years imagined feeling so ill for so long. Getting a simple cold that can knock me off my feet for a week, unable to look after myself. Never mind give any attention to family or friends.

I have sunk so low in the past I’m ashamed to say that I wanted to die, as I could never imagine living like this for the rest of my life. Not just the fibro, but having 4 collapsed discs, one removed and fused (which is how I developed fibro in the first place), now my spinal column is being crushed by 2 of my neck discs and crumbling facet joints, it’s excruciating.

Life can be cruel, but life is also beautiful. I used to take so many things for granted. Now I have learnt to get joy from the simple things in life. Friends that were toxic I let go, I have passed on some of my household duties to members of my family. I pay people to do jobs around the home I used to do myself. I’ve also bought my dream car and motorbike as I know I will most probably end up not being able to use either; as I get older.

You see, life goes so quickly and I realised I cannot spend any more time being sad and depressed. I needed to change and educate the people around me. If these people cannot accept the way I now or how I have to live, then I will let them go, no matter who they are!

I console myself by the fact I am not going to die, I don’t have cancer and there’s always people out there worse than me. Life is amazing and even with fibromyalgia and my spinal issues I can enjoy my time on this Earth.

You have to dig deep into your soul and move into acceptance, move out of the ‘why me?’. There is always a reason why we develop fibro; illness, chronic disease, car accident, spinal issues, viral infection, mental health issue, the list goes on and on. It’s not always easy to figure out the reason why, but when you do you realise it’s not your fault. Why do some people get illnesses and others don’t?

Life is too short to torture yourself, yes I still get bad days when I cry, but most of the time I feel happy. No matter how much pain I am in, no matter how fatigued I am. Life is going by so quickly, don’t spend it feeling sad, so less of the things that make you ill and more of the things that make you smile. Get rid of the people that make you feel worse and surround yourself with positive people.

Processed food, poor food choices and fibro

I never expected foods to affect fibro as much as it does for me. We all know that fibro is all about how our nervous systems work. I like to think of it as a very sensitive short circuiting computer system. Our nervous system has its tentacles in everything in our bodies, whether it be physically or psychologically, read here for more in-depth details.

You already know that if you go on an alcohol and takeaway binge that you will feel tired and sluggish for a few days. With fibro it’s the same, only foods and drinks you never thought would affect you, will.

Diets don’t work with fibro either you must remove all potential food groups and stick to a basic diet of certain meats, all fish, green vegetables and seeds and berries plus no caffeine for 3 weeks. This is the purest basic paleo (caveman) diet there is.

You can only eat the pink foods above but as much as you want to for 3 weeks. For the first 3 days you feel absolutely dreadful as your body craves all the other stuff you have been eating and drinking. I had a bad migraine and had to take 2 days off work!! But then I felt fantastic!!

After 3 weeks you can try adding one food in a day for 2 meals; breakfast and lunch; if you feel well continue to eat it, if you gain weight the day after (water retention) don’t eat it again. If you feel ill; increased muscles pain or fatigue don’t eat it. If you only get a mild symptom that goes quickly then it’s an occasional food!!

These foods are what I started introducing first…….

The ones I crossed out I don’t eat anyway. The above foods have a high risk of you having a reaction.

I felt absolutely amazing on the diagnostic diet and lost 29 pounds in weight. But any food that causes a flare up, the reaction is so severe now it’s puts me in bed in agony, but it’s short lived as I don’t eat it again.

Foods I cannot eat without getting ill are:-

  • Anything containing large amounts of sugar
  • White rice or white pasta
  • Alcohol
  • White bread
  • Any processed foods
  • Eggs
  • Chicken unless it’s organic
  • Anything containing ‘E’ numbers
  • Anything containing gum
  • Anything containing MSG
  • High sugar fruit such as mango
  • No processed sauces, tins or jars

Foods I can eat rarely but never more than 2 days in a row:-

  • Anything containing potatoes
  • Indian takeaway
  • Brown bread
  • Brown rice or pasta
  • Nightshade foods
  • Crisps
  • Dark chocolate (above 85%)
  • Any diary
  • Plain vanilla ice cream

I can however eat any meat but not too much red, any fish, any vegetables and fruit that is not high in sugar. I can eat organic snacks such as fruit bars etc….. organic tins, jars and sauces.

I know some of you may think that you don’t have the energy to cook fresh all the time, but you have to get creative and overcook so you can save meals to warm up other nights, use a big slow cooker and let it cook itself. Or failing that get someone else to cook, my husband does all the cooking and when he’s away he over cooks foods and saves them into containers so I can warm them up to save my energy.

Symptoms that have reduced or in some instances disappeared:-

  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Monthly pains
  • Moodiness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Itching
  • Rashes
  • Brain fog
  • Insomnia

Etc

If I eat something my body does not like some of the symptoms above get so severe and come on within an hour of eating it, is very severe but lasts a shorter time.

What I did not realise is that due to me eating foods and drinking alcohol constantly this is why I always felt ill, could only sleep 0-3 hours a night and could not stop having bad flare ups, they were increasing and becoming more severe.

This is why diets or just cutting out one or two foods don’t work, you have to give yourself 3 weeks on the bland diet to clear out your system and remove all toxins. Then take another month to add one food in a day, not several at once. It’s not easy but I have had a better result from changing my diet than any pill I’ve tried and believe me I have tried them all.

Why don’t you try it? What’s stopping you? If you don’t do something different you’ll never change your symptoms or the severity of your fibro. You need to find what works for you and stick with it.

Am I a saint? No bloody way I drank gin this weekend, first time in 4 months and ate 2 takeaways but food I know I can eat such as lamb and fish. Yes I feel fatigued and have muscle pain but it will go……..

Why does this work? Because we absorb food into our immune system, glands and nervous system through our intestinal wall it’s that simple. Bad food makes you feel shit! Good food reduces symptoms.. …. read here for more info and try it out.

Success at improving fibromyalgia symptoms

It has taken me a couple of years of blood, sweat and tears to find out what affects my fibromyalgia. We all have similar symptoms and similar causes of flare ups, but we are all different and a symptom you may have I may not and vice versa.

Flare ups are caused by a number of factors:-

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Illness
  • Surgery
  • Certain foods and drinks
  • Doing too much
  • Doing too little

I have introduced a few things to my life that have made a positive difference:-

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Massage
  • Gentle exercise
  • Positive thinking and affirmations
  • Pacing my activities
  • Hot tub/hot baths
  • A healthier organic diet using 90/10 ratio; 10% being not healthy and organic 😂
  • A strict bedtime routine
  • Stretching

I made big changes to my diet which has made a huge difference and affected the following symptoms by either reducing or eradicating them completely:-

  • Removing tingling and numbness
  • Reduction and almost an elimination of anxiety
  • Reduction in insomnia
  • Elimination of diarrhoea and nausea
  • Improved by ability to cope with stressful situations
  • Reduced my negative moods
  • Reduced my fatigue
  • Loss of 25 pounds in weight

In order to find out what food affected me I had to go onto what is called a diagnostic diet for 2 weeks. I basically lived on hunter and gatherer foods and drinks. No caffeine, alcohol, processed food etc and the only meat and fish I could eat is what you’d be able to kill when we were cavemen and women, certain vegetables (green and cauliflower, I added this in as I love it) and berries, kiwi and seeds. The foods I could eat are highlighted in pink on this picture.

then I extended this for another week and could eat as much a liked!!

I got migraines, headaches, cravings and felt awful, the consultant explained it was down to withdrawals. After the 5th day I started to feel much better, in fact I felt great, had more energy and started to sleep more than my usual 3 hours a night!

After 3 weeks I slowly, 1 day at a time, started to introduce one food item a day, I ate it for breakfast along with the diagnostic foods too, then again at lunchtime and kept a diary of any reactions plus any overnight weight gain. If I had a reaction it was very severe and usually was a headache, numbness, tingling, fatigue, diarrhoea, muscle pain or weakness, or a combination of the above. I’d also put weight on overnight which is not actual fat but my body reacting to the food; water retention. I then waited till the flare up passed and continued to reintroduce food one at a time. The list of foods I tried after the initial diagnostic diet are in the picture below. All apart from the ones I crossed out as I had already stopped eating these some years ago.

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ome foods I can eat rarely as these do not cause a major flare up of symptoms but minor ones, are the following:-

  • Diary
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Low sugar items
  • Caffeine

Foods I cannot eat as they dramatically affect my symptoms the I had reduced or eradicated are the following:-

  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Any processed foods
  • Anything containing E numbers, MSG or anything artificial
  • Eggs (due to the conditions their parents are raised according to my consultant. Poor living conditions, fed a poor diet and given hormones)
  • Chicken (same reason as above)

I don’t eat a lot of red meat but love turkey nom nom. I also don’t eat many ‘other’ white foods like pasta or rice, opting for the occasional wholewheat option or substitutes, occasionally eating white potatoes and switching to non MSG organic gravy. We make all our own sauces now not ones that are pre-made unless free from additives and chemicals.

I can however eat crisps with no additives yummy and very dark chocolate 🤗.

Milk upsets my stomach but I can get away with a little bit so I use a substitute, oat milk is lovely and I can use coconut and almond but not soy due to hormone issues (cysts and Endometriosis). I can drink coffee as long as it’s not Jarred and it’s freshly brewed ☕️.

Alcohol makes me very ill apart from the odd gin but I quit last December as I really cannot see the point, whether this lasts all year who knows 😂. I cannot eat mango or bananas as they cause a mini flare as they contain too many natural sugars.

The worst reactions I get are from MSG and sugar. The fatigue and muscle pain are very extreme.

My consultant explained to me that once you go 3 weeks on a very bland diagnostic diet it’s like a reset to the system, so any foods you reintroduce create a much more severe reaction that I wouldn’t have spotted on my previous diet.

Am I an angel 😇 nope. I do still fall off the wagon but at least I can pinpoint why and this keeps me positive.

The other things I changed was my bedtime routine. I wear uv glasses as move away from the tv at least half an hour before bed to help calm my nervous system, increase my natural melatonin (blue light reduction) and reduce overstimulation of my brain. I meditate for 10-20 minutes before bed using my headspace app and headphones. I have about 5 different subjects on the go at once 👌🙏. This new activity has helped improve my mental health and negative thinking and helped me remove unhelpful thoughts 💭, I just tend to laugh at myself now. I do however allow myself the occasional cry 😭. As I find it helps clear my head and move on from whatever is bothering me at the time, there are no positives in bottling up negative feelings.

Immobility has worsened my morning stiffness and muscle aches and increased my fatigue so much I struggle to walk more than 20 metres or use the stairs in my house! You need to find the right gentle exercise and persevere. I used to be super fit and have muscles pre fibromyalgia, it took me years to accept that I can never train like that anymore. But it doesn’t matter as health has to come first. I find doing gentle interval training on my power plate works wonders for me. Yes I hurt a few days after, but I am going to hurt anyway 😂 might as well be hurting from doing something than doing nothing. Find out what works for you; walking, swimming, yoga, stretching, Pilates, biking, whatever, just don’t make the same mistake I have and stop moving. It’s better to ache from moving than hurting from not!!!!!!!!!

I started slow, just a few mins once a week and now I’m up to 5 mins 3 times a week and I will continue to increase this gradually. Everyone has to exercise to stay healthy, you will hurt so just slow it down.

Learning self hypnosis and NLP techniques is also important too, use positive language, behaviours and thoughts. I used to moan constantly but all it did was make myself feel worse. Now I focus on the positives, even on really bad days like today, I’ve been up all night with back pain but at least I’m still breathing and I have a 90 minute massage today and half day off work yay. Yes I’ll be struggling to walk tomorrow as the massage is painful the day after but it’s great for my stiff tired muscles and exercises them.

I know it’s hard and I know how you feel, you want to give up, but what is the alternative? Life is too precious so grab it by both hands, by the neck if you have to 😂 and start making some changes to how you live; keep a food log, try the diagnostic diet and eat healthier, use a pacing diary so you know how much you can manage before fatigue kicks in (takes me about 48 hours to kick in) get moving, train you mind like you would your body. If you don’t change your life you will never feel any different!

Take care and ask any questions as I am completely open and honest, no one knows how you feel but someone with fibromyalgia. You can improve your symptoms even if it’s not your primary condition like me. If I can do it so can you 👍💖

Diagnostic diet part 2 and Fibromyalgia 

As promised, I would send you an honest update on how my diagnostic diet is going.  I started before I spoke to the consultant and completely ditched all processed food, so nothing came out of a packet.  I lost 7 lbs in 2 weeks and felt so much better; less fatigue and reduced muscle pain.  

I went into the diagnostic diet for 2 weeks to cut down my diet to a very basic bland hunter gatherer type.  This basically removes all potential foods that could cause a reaction with my nervous system.


You only eat the highlighted foods for the first 2 weeks.  You track your symptoms and at first you feel worse; giving up coffee gave me a migraine.  I lost 12 pounds in 2 weeks!!  

After the first 2 weeks my daily headaches disappeared, my fatigue was reduced, my muscle pain went away and the nerve sensation issues I had like tingling, itching, pain upon touching disappeared.  

I was just coming out of a flare up when I started the diagnostic diet and my sleep was terrible; 7 hours over 3 nights.  I asked for 5 days worth of sleeping tablets and usually they take my sleep from 3/4 hours to 4/5 but this time they worked great.

It took about a week to get over stopping the sleeping tablets (this is why I don’t like to take them)! Now I’m sleeping much better, deeper and longer 5/6.5 hours. 👍

Switching to fresh food only I lost a total of 1 stone and 7lbs in a month and never went hungry.

My moods are better, less extreme and my menstrual cycle was less severe.  I haven’t had digestive issues either.

The next phase of my diet is to slowly start bringing in the rest foods not highlighted on the photo above, one by one and track symptoms.

So far I’ve been able to eat asparagus, grapes, veal, tuna steak and tomatoes.  

I’m still not able to exercise until I’ve finished the next month as this could skew the symptom tracker.

I can’t wait to restart proper exercising as I’m so weak, getting out of breath walking up hill or up or down steps.  I couldn’t even keep up with my 67 year old dad!

It’s not easy as you have to have willpower and you have to track everything; symptoms and weight, which will start to increase if my nervous system reacts to it.

I have a comprehensive stool analysis kit to do and send off but I need to wait till I get paid as it’s £160 for the analysis; 3 collections and I have strict guidelines to follow including mixing with liquids, dealing and posting lol.  I have a list of other tests to do too that I have to pay for as the NHS has refused, simple blood tests.

I am willing to do anything to feel better and the Airedale Allergy Clinic here have done more for me than the NHS have in over 3 years.  The NHS don’t have the funding or support to investigate or locate cures for conditions like Fibromyalgia.  The US are way out front in this area as it’s about making money and a cure or even medications or treatments would rake in millions.  GPs are trained to give us meds and there aren’t any specialists only pain or arthritic specialists available in the UK, we are sent to these for more band aid treatments for our symptoms.  What we need is locating and dealing with the root cause!! 


Feel free to ask me any questions!  Or join my page here for more insights and research sharing.  

My first consultation at Airedale Clinic

Airdale are a private clinic that specialise in finding out what chemicals and foods affect our immune systems and cause medical problems, treating the root cause rather than masking the symptoms with medications.  You can read more about the great work the clinic do here.

When I was tracking my symptoms with a log I found a number of things that affected my symptoms of fatigue and stress:-

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Over doing things
  • Food and drink
  • Chemicals 
  • Hot weather
  • Dehydration
  • Injuries and other painful medical conditions

But some of these things affected each other too, for example certain foods affected my sleep, an injury affects my fatigue etc.

The first consultation was done over Skype to reduce my need to do the 1 1/2 hour round trip to Keighley which I would not have been able to manage.  It was with the Co-Director Dr Apelles Econs, lovely man, very caring and understanding and very knowledgeable about autoimmune disorders and allergies.  He gave me a frank explanation of how fibromyalgia works and affects the nervous system and what can be done to improve symptoms.  I have attached my treatment plan for you to review below:-


I want to share my journey with you to allow you to see what I am trying and what improvements I have.  There is no cure for fibromyalgia and the NHS are only interested in giving us pills and potions to band aid over our symptoms, not to treat the root cause.

The initial consultation was £175 but you can’t put a figure on good health.  The GPs only know how to prescribe meds or do referrals to specialists, but in the UK there aren’t any for fibromyalgia.

I recently had a bad flare up due to injuring my knee falling off a motorbike in training, I actually fractured my knee and again it took 2 months under the creaking NHS to find this out, as I had to wear a leg brace for a month restricting my movement the immobility flared up my fibro and back pain to the worst levels I’ve ever experienced.  

My healthy diet lapsed due to laziness and I put on a stone in weight and felt dreadful.  You are what you eat after all.  I gave myself a kick up the backside and ditched the processed foods and lost 7lbs in 3 weeks, since starting my diagnostic diet as recommended by the Airedale Clinic I’ve lost a further 3 pounds in the last 5 days.  At first I felt lethargic, had bad headaches (gave up coffee), could not sleep at all and my aches and pains got worse.  But I’m now on day 5 and I’m feeling a little better, I was in another mini fibro flare up due to overdoing things at work but I feel the diet is helping me recover quicker.  The only problem I have right now is very bad lower back ache which is hurting every time I remain still, especially when sitting and it’s worse when I lay down.  The only foods I can eat are detailed below, highlighted:-


The diet helps to detect whether food is affecting my condition to track how I react to the natural diet. It is only for 2 weeks and quite frankly I would do anything to feel better, even as one person put it yes I would sell my soul.

This is one of the pages out of my diet book:-


I have also obtained my full list of tests and results to share with the clinic from the NHS and I have a list of potential tests should I want to go ahead with them privately:-


I have ordered the stool test to start with until I know whether I have had any of these on the NHS, which I doubt as the NHS wouldn’t treat the outputs of most of the above tests.

I have a follow up consultation on the 11th to discuss how I’ve felt the diet has gone and discuss next steps.  Thankfully sebsequent consultations are only £90.

I have bought a vitamin B12 spray as this vitamin can help with fatigue, aches and pains, the tablet form is not adequately digested by our systems, but the spray works best, the gold standard are vitamin B12 injections.


I will update you on my progress with honesty and complete openness.  Maybe there is something I am doing that you would like to try.

Please feel free to ask me any questions, my Facebook page is updated on a more regular basis and is available through my blog.