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.  

Advertisements

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.

Working with Fibromyalgia 

Let’s be honest life does get much more difficult with Fibromyalgia and it’s hard for people to understand how it feels to have this condition.  I’ve had spinal issues for ten years and had chronic intermittent pain for 6 of those and permanently for the rest.  But I never ever imagined that I could feel so ill all of the time.  

It is only since I started mindfulness meditation that I realised that the pain is not constant, it changes and there are brief moments that I don’t feel any pain.  I do also believe that because our brains and bodies have increased pain sensitivity that we are used to feeling it therefore our brains and nervous systems continue to ramp up the pain.  When I meditate I focus on the areas that hurt the most, which is mostly where I have my fusion.  I slow down my breathing and focus on the area of pain and the area around it and I realise it’s not constant but changeable and I focus on what colours it reminds me of and what shape and contour the areas are.   We are often told by our doctors to ignore the pain and try to keep busy, I find this just stresses me out as I end up only focusing on the pain.  I find by using meditation to focus on the area and acknowledge the pain, making friends with it, realising it’s not constant I feel so relaxed, you can read more here.

Anyway let’s discuss working, some days I often wonder why the hell I put myself through the stress but I’d rather have a reason to get up than be at home depressed and worrying about my body hurting.  My job is very stressful, working with extremely challenging stakeholders and trying to manage my time to work within my limits.  I have had to toughen up and learn to pushback and say no, people constantly try to book long meetings, want me to travel to London (5 hour round trip) for something that could be done over the phone/screen share. There’s an expectation to always be online and work long days constantly attached to your desk, work through lunches and attend lots of meetings,which dramatically reduces productive time to do any actual work.  Meetings are also booked back to back so you end up running from one place to the next and always being late.  
Do not be afraid to speak up about changing your work environment and ways of working.  Here are some of the changes I’ve made to my working week:-

  • Don’t work excessive hours, listen to your body, my fatigue generally takes 48 hours to kick in.
  • Block out lunch breaks, what’s your contracted minimum lunch break?
  • Set your calendar so people know what hours you work.
  • Eat lunch away from your desk, unless you go for a walk at lunch!
  • Don’t be afraid to say no, not everyone’s priority is your priority, negotiate on deadlines.
  • Block out time in your diary to do actual work with a no meetings clause.
  • Switch off your phone and email when working on something to reduce distraction.
  • Book out meeting rooms or ask to work from home when you need quiet time to get stuff done.
  • Make action lists so you don’t miss any deadlines.
  • Don’t stress about things you can’t control, speak to a friendly face and share your concerns, you’d be surprised how helpful someone else can be when they look in from the outside.
  • Book meetings for 25 or 55 minutes giving you time to get to the next meeting and grab a drink or nip to the loo.
  • Make sure you take a healthy lunch and water with you as you need to eat to stay focused.
  • Make sure people factor in breaks to long meetings and especially lunch breaks as you need to rest and eat.
  • Keep weekend work to a minimum don’t let it become the norm.
  • Don’t just say yes to travel, always challenge the need for a face to face meeting, can’t it be done by phone/video conference or a screen share?
  • Have a rule of no meetings till X time, to give yourself time to prepare in a morning.
  • Have a rule of no meetings after X time to allow yourself a reasonable finish time.
  • Work from different positions, could you get a hydraulic desk, I have one and it really does help my back.
  • Block out time before and after meetings to prep or write them up to ensure you stay on top of things.

These are just some of the things I have put in place and I always find that if you’re honest with people and explain why you do the things the way you do, most people are reasonable and understanding.  The ones that aren’t you may have to enlist the help of your colleagues or just stick to your guns.

You are no good to anyone if you end up going off sick.  Many times in the past I’ve pushed myself too much and caused a flare up, now I have learnt the warning signs and I’ve even cancelled meetings as I haven’t felt well, explaining that if I don’t I’ll be off work.  

If you feel you aren’t getting the support you need maybe it’s time to have an honest chat with your boss about your condition or maybe look for another job.  I recently moved out of my old role which I loved as I couldn’t do it anymore, the expectation of being out on the road constantly was impossible.

Put yourself first always even if at first it feels uncomfortable, which it probably will as I know I did. 😉.  You can read more about working with Fibromyalgia here 

I don’t want to take morphine

I injured my knee by stupidly taking out my armour due to it being very hot 27 degrees on my bike training day.  I had a fantastic lesson and was feeling very confident for my test which I had booked in about 10 days time.  I was on my last practise run and came off the big motorbike bashing the inside of my left knee on the bike.  My leg swelled and I rested it, my leg went black but I thought it would heal.

I went to work in London and walked a short distance to my hotel as the weather was beautiful.  Half way back my leg was very painful and I could barely walk.  I checked into the hotel and struggled up to my room.  I sat on the bed and my leg swelled, the knee looked like it had a bone sticking out on the inside.  6 hours in A&E in London is hell,iv Morphine and gas to get an X-ray, no break but a ligament injury.  I was released at 2.30am on crutches wearing a leg brace for the next month.

Anyway the point of this story is that I’ve had to stop exercising and the use of the crutches has resulted in my fibro returning back to the levels it was at about 15 months ago!

Tramadol and Oramorph are not touching the knee pain so the doctor has put me onto Morphine tablets, they have helped but I’m still in tramadol withdrawal which is horrendous.

I am not staying on Morphine and the last few months of my increasing painkiller consumption has made me realise they are no good long term.  I don’t just have fibromyalgia and the my meds are to reduce the pain I have from a number of conditions, I only developed fibro due to the back surgery I had.  I have degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, endometriosis and pelvic congestion.  The pain I get from these conditions are made worse through having fibro.  Where do I go from here back onto Fentanyl patches?  No bloody way!!

First thing I’m going to do is speak to the doctor and ask them for medical help to get off these meds.  I’m going to revert back to the strategy I started last year; mindfulness yoga, meditation and very very slowly build lung up my exercise to interval training again plus I need to overhaul my diet.  Anyone with fibro knows how painful it is restarting exercising as the muscle aches are intense, nothing like anyone can imagine, it’s like having the flu but ten times worse!

Food is a very underestimated medicine.  Eat shit and feel shit!!  Fibro makes us very sensitive to food ingredients and if you read what you eat, some of the contents and unrecognisable.

Once I feel well enough to start exercising again I’ll post up what I’m doing and let you know how I get on with coming off meds again!!

Fatigue and muscle weakness and pain getting worse

Sometimes it takes a while to realise that things are getting worse with your health.   I’ve been attending Download Festival now for 9 years and I noticed last year I was more tired and achy but this year was dreadful.  I only managed to walk into the arena once each day and I had to spend the rest of the time sat in the van.  I missed all the headliners.  The Disability camping was moved further away to a better site but it was a 50 minute round trip to the entrance on a hill.  I could not walk that far so when I went back to the camper I was done in.  Now I’ve always been able to walk around the festival but this year it was different.  I have took the decision next year not to go and I am going to start working on my fitness levels.  

I read an article about a woman that started doing intense interval training and it was by no means easy but she managed to reduce her fibro symptoms so much that she doesn’t feel that she has it anymore. I do believe this is possible and I can only imagine how ill she felt and how much blood, sweat and tears she shed.  Now obviously this is not an easy task but if one person can do it then it is possible and not impossible.  I used to do high intensity interval training even when my back was degenerating and it was only when I stopped training that my fibromyalgia symptoms started to come out.  I even trained after my fusion and it’s only when I started to hurt I slowed down training that I started to get more ill.  The less you move the worse it gets. 

Our bodies are not made to be immobile we were naturally born hunters always moving around, but as time goes on our lifestyles make us more unhealthy.  We have tv to watch, cars to move around, processed and fast food.  Drugs we can take to mask over health problems.

I am a real believer that food and exercise being the only medicines I need.  All medications have side effects and are not good for the mind or body.  I tried to come off anti depresssnts last year and use s more natural alternative and I became so ill after 3 months I went back into them.

Painkillers are not good for the body either and you get used to them so end up either on maximum dosage or on something stronger.

I have never suffered from such debilitating fatigue or muscle aches and weakness until this year and it’s getting worse.  Some days I can barely walk at all and I’m constantly having to rest after everything I do.  I have to plan all my activities to the finest detail so not to overload my nervous system.  I cannot stand loud music or bright lights and have to wear earplugs a lot, which is fine I have no problems with that.  I get sunburnt easier and my skin swells up so I bought some natural sun cream.  My scalp started to itch and I bought some special shampoo which reduced the itching.

The fatigue and muscle weakness is extreme.  I find myself doing less and less and from what I have noticed the fatigue, weakness and pain is getting worse.  It is a battle of the mind as our mind tells us to do less as we hurt, but it is the wrong decision.

The less you do the weaker the muscles get, but it is much more painful to exercise as muscle pain can be very extreme with fibromyalgia.  When I used to regularly work out I used to hurt from the gym but I liked it as I knew I was getting stronger.  But with fibro the pain is sometimes so bad after working out that it can make me cry and my whole body throbs and every attempt to move is excruciating.  In order to get stronger I have to keep pushing so the pain from working out will last weeks or even months.  You have to start slow, I have managed to do 3 ten minute workouts on the power plate this week.  Next week I am going to build up to 4.  I am also trying to walk every day and I have stopped using the lift at work and take the stairs.
Next year I am not doing the Download festival and I am hoping to get back into interval training.  I want to test out the theory of regular exercise reducing fibromyalgia.  Exercise can help reduce anxiety, depression, increase mental alertness, reduce insomnia, reduce muscle weakness and aches and pains.  Over time it can also help with fatigue.  In the short term it will get worse but what have I got to lose, I hurt anyway whether I move or not.  I have felt a dramatic worsening of physical symptoms from doing less exercise so my moving less to ease the symptoms have made it worse.  The only way to change what we have is to do something different so that it what I am going to do.  Here is some good tips of exercising with fibro here 

Anxiety, Depression and Fibromyalgia 

Apart from fatigue anxiety is second on my worst symptom list, certain activities make it worse and I think I’ve finally figured out why, from my personal experiences.  When I am getting ready to go out, see family, go out for a meal or whatever we obviously have emotions of maybe anticipation or excitement etc and think with over fibromyalgia our over stimulated nervous system confuses these feelings and we internally confuse these feeling into feelings of anxiety.  I get panicky, breathless, heart racing and anxious.  Once you recognise this pattern it can be controlled.  Don’t let these feelings stop you from going out and living, it may feel easier just not to go out but then we are giving in to this condition.  Recognising the symptoms, learn not to fight it, but use relaxation techniques and deep breathing helps. 

What I have also noticed is that the sensory over load from loud music and busy places can also cause anxiety.  I had to run out of a friends house the other week as the music was too loud.  

I tend to use ear plugs now that are especially made for noise reduction.  You can still hear conversations but it cuts out the bass and loudness. 


Depression is a part of fibromyalgia caused by the loss of your previous pre-fibromyalgia life, loss of friends, suffering constant pain, stiffness, anxiety, itching, skin sensitivity, food and chemical sensitivity.  I stopped taking anti depressants last year and thought I was coping well but it hit me like a train.  I asked the doctor to go back on them but at a reduced dosage of 20mg instead of 30mg.  I feel so much happier.  It’s well researched that a low dose of anti depressants increases serotonin and can reduce pain.  Why do you think doctors prescribe Amitrypyline for pain relief at night.  I don’t use this medication as the side effects were not worth the positives of taking the medicine.  Read here for more info 


All medication cause side effects as they are designed to change how we think and feel so always weight up the positives against the negatives and make your own decisions. DO NOT TAKE MEDICATIONS JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE RECOMMENDED.  Not all doctors understand Fibromyalgia they are General Practitioners not fibro experts.  I gave up several medications last year and I can categorically state my symptoms have reduced.  It’s a personal choice so make sure you do your research and always give meds a minimum of 2 months to get the full effect. 

Citalopram and Fibromyalgia study here. 

Emotions Impact Pain

I never understood the impact of emotions on pain until I studied for my hypnotherapy diploma back in 2013 and then took a pain management diploma last year.  I also didn’t realise how changeable pain is, it isn’t constant and it is controlled by our brain.

When people have a bad accident the emotional state of the patient is critical to recovery which is why medics often give high doses of medicines such as ketamine to relax the patient so that they don’t really know what is happening, reducing the chances of going into shock.

When I went for spinal surgery I was quite emotional knowing it was a 5 hour procedure with a high risk of paralysis or nerve damage, I was shaky and trying to be brave but my consultant and surgical team understood how I was feeling.  They gave me IV Ketamine as they were setting up my heart monitors and getting the operating table ready as I had to lay face down for my operation, I did not care what they were doing to me I laughed hysterically as the drug took effect then fell unconscious, meaning I was not stressed at all whilst they were putting me to sleep.

After surgery I began to notice that the more I fought (in my mind) not actually fighting anyone 😂with the pain that came with developing fibromyalgia and recovering from surgery, the worse it got.

Fibromyalgia increases nervous system sensitivity as well as other other important roles it controls the messages that travel to and from our brain for pain management.  Have you noticed that when you’re sad, upset or in another ‘negative’ mood that pain feels worse, but if someone makes you laugh or you spot something that makes you smile inside the pain reduces, even if it’s a brief respite?  Have you noticed that when you wake up happy and the sun is shining that you wake up feeling less stiff and in less pain?  You might be saying to yourself ‘no’ but you do I assure you, it might not be for long but you will. 

I want you to try something for me, the next time you are feeling happy, are laughing, maybe you’re outside with your family having fun, just stop and do a mental scan of your body and compare it to when you have been in a ‘negative’ mood and I promise you your symptoms will feel much better, reduced, maybe give even forgotten about them!!

This does not mean it’s all in your head, pain is controlled through a complex system involving our nervous system which travels up to our brain through our spinal cord and how the pain is felt depends on the individual, emotions, past memories etc.  Some people can handle lots of pain.  Before my operation my twisting spine was very painful but I still went to work and the gym for 18 months and I had to have my painkillers increased to 20-25 a day until I begged the doctor to do something as none of them worked anymore and fentanyl was looking like the next option and no way was I quitting my job!! But now one little episode of pulling my back, a headache, banging my arm or whatever can quickly become so intense I can end up paralysed in pain or hysterical.

I had a very stressful weekend once dealing with some inappropriate behaviour of some I knew last year and the stress brought on a panic attack, something I’ve not had since I was 17.  I developed a migraine that was so painful I could not see, had to sit in the dark, my heart rate and blood pressure were off the chart.  No medication helped and the ambulance service rushed me to hospital for a potential brain scan.  I was horrified and embarrassed when we realised it was nothing more than a migraine.  Only the 3rd time I’ve ever had one and they had never been that painful, welcome to fibro.

Painkillers are a band aid for pain. Some are very effective but the brain gets used to them and more or stronger versions are needed, not a viable long term strategy for chronic pain.  My painful twisting spine was resolved with surgery but Fibromyalgia is in a league of its own as there is NO cure and not a pill that will keep the symptoms successfully under control long term.  

The nervous system is complex, feel free to read more about how it works here. I not only talk from being a qualified hypnotherapist and pain management therapist but someone who has Fibromyalgia.  I believe the messages/chemicals that are supposed to travel back from our brain to our nerves during pain do not work properly and no operation or pill is going to cure such a complex system.  Even if they did invent something to help at what cost would this be to our health.  All medications give side effects as they change our mind and bodies state.


I know some of you are desperate for a cure and hate having this condition and let me be honest I’d give a limb if I thought I could get rid of it but I can’t.  So I do the next best thing and accept it is part of me, fibro will never go away and me and my fibro (I’m thinking of giving it a pet name) have to coexist and get on.  Like you might have to with a naughty sibling or a demanding irritating boss at work.

Learn from your experiences; the most powerful skill you can learn is how to control pain, how to reduce the length of time a flare up lasts and how you react to both of these! 

My flare ups are rare and they don’t last longer than the same day they occur as I use my mind to help me get through it.  I can’t stop all flare ups as I want to live, I want to work, I want to go out with my family and I want to have holidays, but I can change how I feel about them.

My top tips for dealing with pain:-

  • Remember it will pass, pain changes and is not constant, it is like a volume control on a radio and you can change it in any direction you want.
  • Stay positive, if you are struggling then have a good cry and then do something to make you laugh.
  • Exercise helps and reduces pain long term whilst releasing endorphins like a natural anti depressant.
  • Stay away from fibromyalgia support pages that focus on negativity as this will NOT help you at all.  
  • Try yoga, not once but every day for just 5-10 minutes.  Have you ever met a miserable unhappy yoga teacher?  No of course not.  It’s relaxing and gives you focus and mental clarity.
  • Only temporarily increase painkillers then cut back asap.  Remember these are not the solution, they are a band aid.
  • Listen to music, meditate, undertake self hypnosis to lift your mood, clear your head, take you to your happy place 😊
  • This last one might sound crazy but I actually use my headspace app and focus my breathing through the area that hurts and it changes the pain.

One last thing do not sit and stew about the pain as this will feel increase the pain.  Talk to someone and if you haven’t got anyone you are more than welcome to talk to me 😁