Having a great care team is vital when you have a chronic illness. Who should be part of your team? How do you find doctors and caregivers that treat fibromyalgia effectively and that you can trust?
I spent a majority of my adult life trying to figure this out. My original primary care physician did it all and never failed me. I went to him for everything. He thought it was important to find out why I was having certain problems, unlike some doctors who only treat the symptoms. Just as my FM started to ramp up, he had a heart attack and had to retire early. I was devastated. I lost a confidant and an excellent physician. Little did I know how hard it would be to replace him.
I finally found an excellent primary after a lot of trial and error. But as my health began deteriorating, she was no longer able to keep up with my many underlying illnesses. After my FMS diagnosis, she referred me to an alternative medicine clinic. There wasn’t much she could do for me except for annual checkups and the occasional sinus infection.
The alternative medicine clinic was a bust. My insurance wouldn’t cover anything but the initial consultation. I couldn’t afford to continue. I was on my own!
I found that building a care team requires thinking outside of the modern medicine box. Exploring other types of care such as acupuncture, chiropractic, water therapy, and mindfulness can be very beneficial, both physically and psychologically.
Finding the right fit for primary care provider is the hardest part. They need to understand and know how to treat FM. They also need to be trustworthy and compassionate. We do not need to be judged or treated like hypochondriacs.
I think I’ve built a solid team of professionals. Besides my primary care, I have a great chiropractor, an amazing massage therapist, an expert physical therapist, and a wonderful and very knowledgeable nutritionist.
Your team may also consist of others outside of the medical field. My team also includes my hair colorist and stylist. They are both amazing women and great friends. They make me look and feel spectacular. Seeing these ladies every six weeks is like going to a therapy session. I can talk freely and confide in them. I love these ladies more than I can say.
So how do you find the right people for your team? Where do you look? I’ve found mine through various means. Some were referrals from family and friends, while others were found via coupons and deals.
I used Groupon and Living Social to find my acupuncturist and massage therapist. I tried four massage therapists at significant savings. Watch for specials and promotion codes that can save you even more. I bought a 90-minute massage for $22! Of course, I researched all of the practitioners before I made any purchase.
I’ve also found ideas from message boards and online support groups. Asking others who live in your area whom they recommend has also produced some great resources. I wouldn’t have stumbled upon them on my own.
You may also find care providers through your current providers. Your massage therapist may be able to recommend someone or may share office space with a chiropractor or acupuncturist.
I’m very fortunate to have access to free care at a wellness center. It’s well worth traveling more than 100 miles round–trip. The pain management program has helped me immensely. The doctors understand chronic pain and FMS. I was told my pain was real. I never had a doctor tell me that before. Most ignored my pleas for relief or made me feel like I was just after a prescription for painkillers. Here, they treat me with dignity and respect.
Finding the right care team is difficult, but it was the most important thing I’ve ever done for my health and well-being.