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Alexandra

Episode 92: Addiction, Dependency, and Withdrawal with Dr. Chelsea Liebowitz

In today’s episode, Tami is excited to be joined by Doctor of Pharmacy Chelsea Liebowitz, who’s here to clear up all these questions and more. As a pain patient herself, Chelsea spent years seeking answers for her chronic pain, and she knows your pharmacist’s vital role as part of your healthcare team.

In their conversation, Chelsea and Tami talk about what it was like growing up with chronic pain and the medical gaslighting Chelsea experienced, how frustration with a lack of answers led Chelsea on a journey to figure it out herself, the discovery that copper toxicity was behind a lot of her symptoms, it requires determination and grit for people with chronic illnesses to get answers, Chelsea’s training in pharmacy, how pharmacists help patients, why you should build a relationship with a small independent pharmacy, the difference between addiction and physical dependence, most medication is not curative – it helps you manage your symptoms, viewing medicine as a tool to help you accomplish what you want, Chelsea’s tips for tapering off of your medications, how to know when it’s time to taper off your medicines, how coaches can help you to heal medical trauma, removing the stigma of withdrawal, distinguishing between temporary withdrawal symptoms and still needing your medication, empowering yourself around potential side effects, Chelsea’s experience with medical PTSD, things doctors say and what they really mean, and more.

Note: This episode is not meant to be medical advice. Every person and every situation is unique. The information you learn in this episode should be shared and discussed with your own healthcare providers.

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Episode 91: Conditions Related to Fibromyalgia

Many of the symptoms people blame on fibromyalgia are actually due to coexisting conditions.

Too many people go too long with the wrong diagnosis, taking inappropriate medications, and following unnecessary protocols because their provider didn’t identify the correct cause.

This topic came up a lot in the last cohort of Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® training. As we went through the program, the students had many lightbulb moments and realized much more was happening than just fibromyalgia.

By getting to know fibromyalgia deeply, it becomes a lot easier to spot when those symptoms are from something else.

After living with fibromyalgia since 2007 and being a coach for over ten years, Tami often picks up clues in client conversations that indicate something else is going on. Today, she’s sharing a brief overview of some of the most common conditions that tend to get overlooked after someone has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

In this episode, Tami talks about how she spots the clues that something else is at play, the problem with the lack of training about fibromyalgia in medical school, symptoms of other conditions often get blamed on fibromyalgia, why it’s critical to identify and address the root cause of your symptoms correctly, clues she typically sees that suggest Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), respiratory issues, Sjogren’s syndrome, sleep apnea, thyroid conditions, lupus, mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, neuropathy, and other common conditions we see alongside fibromyalgia, why testing TSH alone isn’t enough to assess your thyroid function, what you need to know about chronic fatigue syndrome/ME and fibromyalgia, viruses and bacterial infections that have similar symptoms to fibromyalgia, and more.

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Episode 90: FDA-Approved Fibromyalgia Medications: Ask the Coach

“I’d like to try Lyrica, but I worry about if I ever had to come off. Should I try it?”

For today’s Ask The Coach episode, I’m answering this question sent in by Sarah in the UK.

When treating fibromyalgia, we have to attack it from two sides. The first is addressing the fibromyalgia itself and the amplification of pain signals; the second is treating the pain that your fibromyalgia amplifies.

In most cases, fibromyalgia medications are more helpful than harmful and can be a valuable tool to break the pain cycle.

That said, the question of medications is complex and impossible to cover in detail in a podcast episode. Tami’s primary focus for this answer will be on fibromyalgia medications that address the amplification of pain signals, how they work, and the most important aspects you’ll want to consider.

In this episode, Tami discusses the FDA-approved medications for fibromyalgia, the fact that no single drug is capable of managing all fibromyalgia symptoms, Tami’s two-pronged approach to treating fibromyalgia, the main goal of fibromyalgia medications, Lyrica’s history and previous versions, how Lyrica and Neurontin work to reduce our experience of our pain, common side effects of Lyrica, physical dependency versus addiction, how serotonin and norepinephrine affect pain levels, why the anti-depressants Savella and Cymbalta also help to address fibromyalgia symptoms, the mode of action of other anti-depressants that are sometimes prescribed for fibromyalgia, Cymbalta is known for being challenging to come off of, the importance of very slowly weaning off of medications, the gradual process Tami used when she was ready to come off of her medications, why we hear more stories about negative experiences, the fact that there’s no morality in taking medication, and more.

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Episode 89: Adventures Are Still Possible with Melissa Swanson

So often with fibromyalgia, we’re given negative news: there’s no cure, your life has changed, and the list continues. Once again, we’re on a mission to break that trend and show you that there are still adventures for you.

Tami is excited to be joined by Melissa Swanson to share the recent epic hiking adventure that, not too long ago, neither of them would have thought possible. Melissa and Tami met about eight years ago at the Leaders Against Pain Scholarship Training in 2014; since then, so much has changed.

In this episode, Melissa and Tami share what their fibromyalgia symptoms were like when they met, what it was like to have their sole focus be on getting through the day, why Melissa needed to wear sunglasses all the time, how Melissa’s bad knee acted as a trigger for a lot of other pain, the anxiety around having surgery and the potential impact it might have on your fibro, Melissa’s amazing recovery following total knee replacement surgery, the significant improvements Melissa experienced after joining the Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® program, Tami and Melissa’s recent hiking adventure to the middle of nowhere and navigating “steep but manageable trails,” the surprisingly light after-effects of Tami and Melissa’s adventure, what Tami and Melissa did to boost their recovery, Tami and Melissa’s recognition that they are doing better than they realized, the shifts that made the most significant differences on Melissa’s fibro journey, and more.

After their adventure, Tami and Melissa were blown away by what they could actually accomplish now with their fibromyalgia. We hope their story and journey will inspire you.

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Episode 88: Stories of Hope and Healing #5

There’s so much hope that comes from hearing the healing stories of other people on the fibromyalgia journey. Often, that’s where we first recognize that a better future is possible for us.

Today in our fifth installment of Stories of Hope and Healing, we’re sharing the inspiring stories of four recent graduates of the Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® program.

On average, this cohort of graduates has improved their FIQR score by 62%. In the individual interviews, you’ll hear each person’s journey.

In this episode, our graduates share how they’ve improved their fibromyalgia over the last few months, the considerable role mental health plays in their healing journey, why even coaches need coaches, a game-changing supplement to transform your sleep, the significant shift that comes from slowing down and being more intentional, why it’s necessary to dig deeper to figure out if all your symptoms are from fibromyalgia, the key insights they found during the program, and more.

We hope this episode inspires you, encourages you, and simply shows you that it is possible to feel better than you do right now.

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Episode 87: What If It Isn’t Fibromyalgia?

Don’t blame everything on your fibromyalgia.

Your pain, fatigue, sleep issues, and brain fog might not be from your fibromyalgia. We need to dig deeper.

Tami encountered this topic a lot in the last few months of the Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® training program. We’re not saying you don’t have fibromyalgia – what we mean is, sometimes symptoms can be caused by something else in addition to or instead of fibromyalgia.

Why does it matter? Assuming that fibromyalgia is the blanket reason behind every symptom, you might be missing out on opportunities for healing. By finding the true source of your symptoms, you’ll be able to get the right treatment to help you.

In this episode, Tami is talking about the common areas outside of fibromyalgia that might be causing similar symptoms. She shares why you should learn to read your labs, what it might mean if none of the typical medications are helping, common symptoms of mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), the huge difference a CPAP machine made for her, why Tami believes myalgic encephalomyelitis, also called chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS, is separate from fibromyalgia, the importance of testing for chronic infections, why advocating for yourself is essential, how a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach® can help you on your fibro journey, and more.

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Episode 86: From Dying to Better Than Ever with Julie Schiffman

Everyone can get better.

Even in remission, Tami feels that there is always something we can do to feel better on our fibromyalgia journey. And because we have to focus on taking care of ourselves, in many ways, we can get to a place where we feel better than the average person.

Tami is excited to share this interview with Certified Fibromyalgia Coach®, Julie Schiffman, where she shares her story of going from thinking she was dying to feeling healthier than ever.

In this episode, Julie talks about her long health journey and years of painful symptoms, her diagnosis with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome over 20 years ago, the mental toll of chronic pain, how to deal with guilt, frustration, and uncertainty around a vague diagnosis, Julie’s medication rollercoaster, finding hope for living a great life with fibromyalgia, why becoming a coach brought Julie so much healing, the confidence that comes with knowing you can control your symptoms, why Julie decided to become a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach® after completing the Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® program, what it looks like to do the best we can with the bodies we have, balancing helping others with taking care of yourself, the deep meaning Julie has found in her life since becoming a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach®, what it would look like to work with Julie as your coach, and more.

I hope you enjoy this conversation with Julie and that it sparks new ideas and brings you encouragement and inspiration.

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Episode 85: Is This Self-Sabotage?

To get better, we have to change.

Maybe you’re trying to make healthier food choices or exercise more. Maybe you’ve realized you need to be firmer with your boundaries in certain relationships. Whichever area of your life it might be, the closer you get to the edge of your comfort zone, the more uncomfortable it’s likely to be.

That’s where self-sabotage or Upper Limiting comes into play. The concept of Upper Limiting was made famous by Gay Hendricks in his book, The Big Leap, which Tami highly recommends. It speaks to the idea that as we reach the limits of our comfort zone, we start to do things to bring ourselves back.

Tami has experienced this and seen it a lot with fibromyalgia clients. In this episode, she’s sharing why we self-sabotage, how to figure out how you might be sabotaging yourself, digging deep into why you want to improve your fibromyalgia, strategies for developing a step-by-step plan that leads you out of your comfort zone, what it might look like when you’re sabotaging your fibro journey, the benefits of having help through this process, the importance of starting with self-reflection, how to find the support you want and need, and more.

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Episode 84: Stop Pressing Your Own Panic Button with Ramses Rodriguez

Many people with fibromyalgia also deal with a lot of anxiety.

With your nervous system stuck in fight-or-flight mode, you have a diminished capacity that can put you closer to the panic threshold. What that looks like in day-to-day life is that you might find yourself often pushed over the edge by something objectively small.

To help you learn more about managing anxiety and panic attacks, Tami is delighted to bring Ramses Rodriguez back to the podcast to share his expertise. Ramses has a great way of blending research and science with the down-to-earth and practicalness of someone who has lived through it themselves.

In their conversation, Tami and Ramses discuss his journey with panic attacks and anxiety, how anxiety impacted every facet of his life from career to relationships, how Ramses has gotten to a point where his panics are in remission, common symptoms of a panic attack, why it’s crucial to see a doctor if you think you have panic attacks, the key to getting your panics in remission, the physical toll of having anxiety, the metaphysical aspect of anxiety, practical steps you can take to bring down your anxiety baseline, exposure therapy for treating anxiety, why some breathing exercises make anxiety worse, the three major factors that cause anxiety, creating a regular practice to manage your anxiety baseline, the benefits of having a coach and a personalized strategy, and more.

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Episode 83: Take Back Your Life Book Update

A lot has changed in the seven years since my first book, Take Back Your Life, was released. I’m excited to announce that I have just expanded, updated, and released a second edition!

From a new chapter on brain fog to massive progress on my fibromyalgia journey, I’m excited to share this updated version with you.

To celebrate the release, I invited my friend, Ramses Rodriguez, to interview me.

In this episode, Ramses and I talk about the exciting changes you’ll find in the new edition of Take Back Your Life, why it was so important for me to include a whole chapter on brain fog, how I break down the science into practical tools for everyday life, the story behind the title of the book, how getting a health coach changed my life, red flags that might mean you need more support than your current doctor can provide, how a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach® can support you as part of your health team, and more.

I hope you enjoy my interview with Ramses and that you enjoy the new book. I’d love to hear what you think.

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