Book review of Life with Fibromyalgia

Book Review of ‘Life with Fibromyalgia’ (reviewed by Tasneem Kutubuddin)

Fibromyalgia is a neuro-musculoskeletal disorder, also known as an invisible illness. I was diagnosed in 2014 with the same and trust me, getting a diagnosis was one thing but finding a doctor who would help you with a pain management plan is another. I say pain management because there is no treatment or cure for fibromyalgia. Also, very few doctors were aware of this or even had any plan in place to help patients. In such a scenario, a book written intensively on this topic would be a blessing to many.

If I had to write a book on fibromyalgia, it would have been just like Dr Nanda Rajaneesh’s book ‘Life With Fibromyalgia’, but the difference between the two would have been that of credibility. Fibromyalgia is an often highly misunderstood disease where many people actually think the patient is faking it. So imagine a person from no medical background writing a book on it. Who would believe them? That is where Dr. Nanda’s qualification as a doctor and surgeon gives her an edge because this comes from a fibromyalgia patient who is also a doctor. A laparoscopic surgeon from Bangalore, Dr. Nanda was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2010 and this book talks not just about her journey but also gives an insight into the disease and the modalities used in managing it.

That being said, Dr. Nanda has, in plain simple terms explained the disease in a way that will help people from non-medical backgrounds too, to understand it. Being a doctor, her book is not for doctors, but for anyone who wishes to understand the illness better- be it the patient themselves, a caregiver, or a medical professional.

I couldn’t help but notice how similar our life’s journey has been when it comes to experiencing the first symptoms, being diagnosed and treated, and to the way it affected our everyday life and how it impacted us as a person. It resonated completely with me.

Also, for me, the book also affirmed how on point my research with fibromyalgia has been as I nodded in agreement at almost everything the doctor had to say, be it exercises, diets, and alternative therapies like massage and yoga. The beauty is how she has touched not only upon how fibromyalgia physically impacts the person’s well-being but also laid out all aspects of life that need to be approached in managing this illness, right from the diet, medication, exercise to the support of the doctors and caregivers.

I would recommend anyone who is newly diagnosed with fibromyalgia to read this book instead of wasting time looking for information on the internet from different sources. Am not saying here that don’t Google your symptoms. When I was diagnosed with this in 2014, there was very little the doctors told me about it, and trust me I learnt most of my pain management from Google or from support groups like Chronic Pain India on social media. But when you have all the information concisely presented in the form of a book from a doctor herself, then don’t waste your time. You will find everything in ‘Life With Fibromyalgia’.

Quite a few things in the book were an eye-opener for me- for example, the use of testosterone creams for pain reduction. Also, I came upon the Shiatsu Japanese massage here for the first time. The connection of hormones to fibromyalgia is again something most doctors don’t look into and I myself realized that there was definitely some link between how fibromyalgia presented itself with hormonal changes, after many years of my diagnosis. That was indeed a revelation.

It is very rare that you would get all this wisdom and knowledge from a single doctor while getting treated for fibromyalgia for I have noticed how each specialization has its own way of looking at the disease and frankly, apart from pain specialists no one else takes you seriously. And this is why a book like this makes a world of difference for fibromyalgia patients because it presents a bird’s eye view of the disease. I would urge doctors who are treating fibromyalgia patients to give this book a read so as to understand and treat their patients better.

I also like the fact how the doctor touched upon the treatment costs and insurance issues for sure, managing this comes with a price. There is no one-time treatment you see. For as long as you live you may need to depend on alternate therapies and since no two bodies are alike, everyone has to find what works best for them in the long run and most of this happens through trial and error. But what treatments to try are what this book will help you with.

Some things to add on

Apart from the things mentioned in the book, if I had to add anything from my personal experience it would be additional therapies of dry needling, cupping which have helped me along with the other therapies mentioned in the book. Another thing that has greatly helped me with my muscle, stiffness, cramps, and restless leg syndrome is the application of magnesium oil which I read up on early in my diagnosis. Trust me, this has been a great blessing and I would be delighted if Dr. Nanda would research on this and probably include the results sometime in the future in her next edition.

Along with the massage therapies, lymphatic drainage massages have also been greatly beneficial in helping with stiffness and inflammation, which I didn’t find a mention of either. But for a disease like fibromyalgia where the cause and cure are still under research, I am sure the world of medication will soon come up with a comprehensive treatment plan for this disease and I hope Dr. Nanda will be the one to break it to us in her next book.

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