Fibromyalgia ~ Physical Therapy & Exercise

This week’s guest is Sarah LaDow, the Fibro Butterfly. She’ll be sharing about physical therapy and exercise. She just started her own blog to help awareness of Fibromyalgia, MCS, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. She has found like many of us with a chronic illness that the chronic illness blogging community is so uplifting and encouraging. That is how we recently met, through Chronic Illness bloggers

She lives in Northern Indiana and works online because of Fibromyalgia and MCS. She has suffered from Fibromyalgia all of her life and with MCS and Rheumatoid Arthritis for the last 10 years or so.

Before becoming ill, she was a university professor teaching several courses online, but can no longer concentrate well enough to continue. She has no regrets – just moving her talents into other channels, like blogging.

Continue on to read her letter to explain how physical therapy and exercise are a part of her fibro life.

curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Hello, My friend,

the Fibro Butterfly on physical therapy and exercise
photo provided by Sarah

When I first became incredibly ill with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), I was told to avoid any and all contacts that might expose me to more perfume. I spent the year grieving in bed, and while I did, Fibromyalgia slithered into my muscles, stroked my brain, and stained my body. I suspect I’ve had Fibromyalgia since I was a young child, but I’d never fed it quite so well as a year in bed. It grew into a giant python within my body.


Getting a Diagnosis

When I confessed how I was feeling to my internist, I was lucky because he had suspected Fibro for a long time–we did the testing, and voila! I know many victims of Fibro wait years for a diagnosis, never knowing what is destroying them. And in a sense, I did too, since I’d never broached the topic with my internist. We also discovered that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis–the weights just kept coming!

We began trying medicines, but he insisted that I must also move those muscles. Come to find out, pretty much every physician on the planet wants those who have Fibro to exercise. Thus began my love/hate relationship with exercise.

The snake wasn’t the only thing that grew during my year of grief. I had become way overweight; I’d never weighed so much in my entire life. I’m quite sure the Fibro and the meds added to this weight, but I wasn’t helping.

So, now I was weighed down with MCS, Fibro, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and overwhelming fatigue. Every step felt like I was moving through wet concrete. Everything exhausted me and doing anything hurt. I would actually cry at the thought of physical therapy (PT). But I started anyway. I began PT at the local hospital. I was pretty sure I had died and entered into physical education h___.

 Physical Therapy Hurts

Right away, they wanted me in the pool with a special class for those with Fibromyalgia. I suspected the chemicals would hurt me, but I tried it anyway. I’ve always loved being in the water. It was wonderful to exercise in the warm pool water, but after therapy, everything in my sinuses was inflamed and swollen–I received two weeks on prednisone with an admonition to never go near the pool again. I was devastated. For those who don’t suffer from smells, the water is an excellent place to begin exercising!

Thankfully, the physical therapist was not about to give up–she moved me to other types of exercises, such as the treadmill, the bike, weights, and stretch and balance class for those with Fibromyalgia.

Stretch and Balance Class

I’m not going to lie; the first time I participated in the stretch and balance class, it hurt. Badly. But I didn’t give up–I attend that class twice a week. After just a few weeks, I was moving fluidly and not moaning in pain every time I moved.

On the days when I wasn’t in my assigned class, I walked on the treadmill and lifted weights (never anything above 20 pounds because if I did, I flared).

I’m happy to tell you that I have graduated from PT into what the therapist calls my “Guided Path”. I still do everything, but now no one is standing over me. All I have to do is check in once a month, and they weigh me, run blood tests, etc.

Losing Weight is Slow but Sure

I’m thrilled to tell you that I have lost some of the weight of Fibromyalgia–since I started last January, I have lost over 20 pounds. I am so proud of myself!

Flares still happen and sometimes time off from exercise becomes imminent, but I always go back as soon as I can. I find if I skip a day, my muscles know it and weigh me down with pain. I also still have to rest after working out, but this probably surprises no one. According to WebMD, exercise should lessen the fatigue of fibromyalgia. Sure, right. Hasn’t worked that way for me, but it might for you.

You don’t have to start with Physical Therapy– you can start exercising simply by walking around the block. Start with 10 minutes of walking–that’s what I did. I’ve now worked my way up to 45 minutes of walking. This isn’t the Olympics–start where you are and do what you can. Over time, you might find exercising helps you, too! Why not try it?

Your Loving Friend,

Sarah LaDow at The Last Days of Pompeii

Sarah's experience with Therapy and Exercise for Chronic Pain Share on X
curleque by Coffee at pixabay


Don’t miss any of the “letters” we are writing. Check out previous letters and subscribe to this series on the main “Letters to Friends” page.  If you know someone with fibromyalgia (and you probably do), join my Facebook page Fibromyalgia, Is it For Real?

About Sarah L

Fibrobutterfly describes herself: I have Fibromyalgia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Chronic Fatigue, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Right now, I’m a writer. I want to raise awareness for the diseases I have and to encourage others through an example to keep keeping on since suicide is the number 1 killer for people with my conditions.

View all posts by Sarah L

8 Comments on “Fibromyalgia ~ Physical Therapy & Exercise”

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey! I have a love/hate relationship with exercise, too (mostly because I don’t enjoy spending the time doing it 😉 ).

  2. Reading this reminded me of the things we often take for granted. I’m proud of you for the progress you’ve made and can tell that it has inspired you to keep moving forward.
    Blessings to you!

  3. I agree Sarah, I have autoimmune conditions including Fibromyalgia. Anita bought this post to my attention as we are page buddies this week at her Inspire Me Monday & I shared my post on “Listening” which is a challenge I am facing in my journey with FM.

    You’re welcome to drop by for a cup of inspiration.

  4. Visiting a chiropractor can help you deal with a number of conditions. In some cases, a visit to the chiropractor can take away the need for painkillers or at least reduce it.

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