Supplements: Good, Bad, Daily Decisions

opioids forfibromyalgia

Question: Are you taking any supplements for fibromyalgia? What about Opioids?

With all the discussion about the opioid crisis, I thought it would be great to get some feedback from other fibro warriors about opioid use. Heather Calvert has written to us on how she chooses her supplements and how she manages opioid use and determines if an opioid is even necessary.


Dear friends,    

I am so excited to say that today is a good pain day.  I woke up relatively refreshed and a little stiff, but not miserable.  I’m excited to have a good day and actually enjoy living my life!  This is the first day in several weeks facing the day did not involve a sense of dread and anxiety.  You see, the last few weeks I have battled my most severe fibro flare in years. The pain was excruciating, nausea and IBS are disruptive and embarrassing, and the fatigue is overwhelming. I’m 43 going on 103 on those days!  The best news is today I only have to take my maintenance meds for asthma, reflux, and allergies, as well as my usual supplements for energy and focus.

 First, I should explain that I absolutely despise taking medicine of any sort, especially those that affect how clearly I think or that result in grogginess (think about the “My cold made me do it” commercials).

  • Unfortunately, I have adult-onset asthma that started in my 30’s that requires one pill and an inhaler twice a day to prevent attacks. 
  • Second, I have GERD treated with a single pill each day to prevent the belching, nausea, and vomiting that occurs if it gets out of control. 
  • And of course, I live in the south where pollen season is our fourth season so practically everyone I know takes allergy medicine daily! 

Supplements for Fibromyalgia

My supplements are based on years of trial and error, and with the support of a great family doctor who listens and offers alternatives to prescriptions, I have finally discovered a combination that seems to help.  I don’t just willy nilly take random pills to see what happens!  My husband and I do tons of research and discuss ideas with my doctor before we try something new. 

D-Ribose for Energy

  D-Ribose is the difference between my having the energy and stamina to trek through an amusement park with my family and friends and me being stuck at home on the couch while everyone else has a good time.  Research shows D-Ribose was initially used for cardiac patients to help improve cardiac function.  It gives the mitochondria (energy producers) in your cells a form of sugar that is easily converted to energy.  I was skeptical at first, but it definitely works! 

Daily Supplement

My other daily supplement is Focus Factor, a blend of magnesium, B vitamins, and a whole bunch of stuff I can’t pronounce.  Originally marketed as a treatment for ADHD, this supplement fills my body with vitamins and minerals commonly deficient in fibro patients so I only have to take 2 pills twice daily instead of a handful of vitamins multiple times a day. 

So, a good fibro day means 4 pills with breakfast, 3 at supper, and 2 a bedtime.  Woohoo- that leaves room for dessert!

a good fibro day means 4 pills with breakfast, 3 at supper, and 2 a bedtime #fibroawareness #thisisfibro #chronicpain #opioidsforpain @heatherc Share on X


I know, I know – why am I excited about only taking 9 pills a day? 

Well … on a bad day, let’s just say there is no room for dessert! On top of my usual 9 pills, there’s a  myriad of what we call my “crisis” meds. 

  • Prescriptions for nausea and IBS,
  • muscle relaxers,
  • migraine treatment,
  • and the ever-controversial opioid for pain. 

Why do I choose to take an opioid in what is identified as an “opioid crisis” by the media? 

To be honest, I hesitate every time.  I choose to be an informed, cautious user.  In fact, I refuse to have personal access to my opioid medication.  It stays locked up in a small, fireproof safe that only my husband has the key for. 

In fact, I don’t even know where he keeps the key! When I think I am to the point where I need the “crisis” med, my husband and I sit down and discuss what other options I have already tried and how severely the pain is affecting my ability to function. 

We are well aware that abuse can lead to addiction and overdose.  We also know that with teenagers in the house, misuse is a high risk.  So, together we make the decision to keep it locked safely away and when to use it. 

 How do we know an opioid is absolutely necessary? 

To be honest, the pain must be completely and totally overwhelming me.  And I’m not talking the can’t get comfortable, no sleep, crying kind of pain.  I’m talking the can’t even make words, just barely groaning kind of pain.  The truth is, I should probably take it sooner, but a family history of addiction often clouds my judgment.  We know it was the right call when the pain eases and I am actually more alert and active, not in a medication-induced fog. 

 Being a fibro warrior tests your ability to think critically and creatively for solutions. 

The good: supplements with low side effects, finding a doctor who listens and is willing to try new things, prescription meds that are available for treating symptoms, a husband who is just as invested in my treatment as I am. 

The bad: fear of addiction that forces me to suffer more than necessary, cautiously treating a myriad of symptoms on flare days, anxiety that I may be viewed as a lazy, addicted, drug seeker. 

The daily decisions: never-ending research, choosing to face my fears even when I’m exhausted, trying alternative treatments, brutal honesty with my family and doctor. 

#Fibro – the life-changing, life-challenging diagnosis.      #Fibromyalgia #supplements #opioids @heatherc Share on X

Heather Calvert, Fibro Warrior

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About Heather Calvert

Heather shares her llife with her husband of over 20 years and their 16 year old daughter.  She stays active by teaching middle school science, working as a mentor for new teachers, serving as the ministry director for the senior citizen group at church, singing in the choir, teaching elementary Sunday school, and coordinating the Compassionate Catering teams to serve meals for grieving families.  A fibromyalgia diagnosis changed her life in 2011, forcing her to reevaluate priorities and energy expenditures very carefully. With God’s help and a scientific approach to researching treatment options, Heather is making the most of every moment!

View all posts by Heather Calvert

11 Comments on “Supplements: Good, Bad, Daily Decisions”

  1. Some interesting thoughts here Heather. I confess I often go through spells of taking my (mild) opioids four times a day out of habit. Interestingly though, because my pain has not been so bad recently, I reduced my dose to three times a day last week and I am on twice a day this week with no noticeable changes. I guess that means I don’t have an opioid addiction. I plan, over the next two weeks to phase them out completely and just use them in a flare up.

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey as a fibro warrior. I am stopping by from the link up. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  3. Thanks for dropping by, Susan. Proud to see that you are working to keep your opioid needs at a minimum. It’s hard when we are experiencing so much pain.

  4. Thanks for this great information! It truly is hard to manage the meds that are prescribed and the supplements that are necessary. What a great partnership to have with your husband for those days when the pain is unmanageable. Blessings to you!

  5. Susan, it is so hard to tell sometimes with opioids! I am happy to see you are conscientious about taking them – prayers you find some pain relief without having to super medicate – that’s a bad feeling too.

  6. Susan, it is so hard to tell sometimes with opioids! I am happy to see you are conscientious about taking them – prayers you find some pain relief without having to super medicate – that’s a bad feeling too.

  7. I cannot imagine being a fibro warrior without my fibro hero. Prayers for relief and hope and a good fibro hero!

  8. Everyone’s journey is different yet similar. I hope you found some peace and hope from my journey. Prayers for comfort and relief.

  9. I’m really thankful I found this! I’ve been starting to wonder if I should get back into taking herbal supplements. I have chronic back and leg nerve pain from disc injuries as well as anxiety and panic attacks. I’m kind of over taking prescription medications every day. Thanks for this list, I’ll have to talk to my doctor about these options!

  10. Glad you found us! Heather may chime in here, but I know for me managing prescriptions and supplements can get overwhelming. I’m forever adjusting my supplements because of financial needs. The thing about supplements is many times you don’t realize how effective they are until you stop taking them.

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