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Podcast: Illnesses

Episode 125: How To Handle Health Discrimination and Harassment with Meredith Holley

“Taking action and being clear about what we expect does not have to be disrespectful.” – Meredith Holley

It’s very common for people with invisible disabilities like fibromyalgia to experience workplace conflict and discrimination because of it. From snide remarks to outright harassment, it can feel so isolating and even make your symptoms worse.

Despite that, most people don’t want to file a lawsuit. While it sounds so noble to have civil rights litigation, it’s a stressful process that often damages everyone involved. People want the tools and support to create a healthy workplace culture where issues are resolved so people can keep their jobs and receive the medical care they need.

In this episode, Tami is joined by attorney Meredith Holley to talk about speaking up for your needs and handling harassment and discrimination respectfully, whether it’s happening at work or at your doctor’s office. They discuss Meredith’s journey into workplace conflict mediation and communication coaching, her experience with sexual harassment in the workplace, arming yourself with tools to empower yourself at work, how workplace conflict can worsen your fibromyalgia symptoms, the three pillars of empowered communication and how you can use them to handle workplace harassment and discrimination, acknowledging the impact of harassment and our tendency to minimize its effects, the weight of experiences that our cultural values label as “little”, the concept of internalizing blame and responsibility for others’ actions, the importance of setting boundaries, the emotional impact of carrying labels and experiences related to disability, recognizing the choice to embrace or limit yourself in response to your health situation or workplace experiences, the initial steps of noticing and acknowledging harassment, the three steps for bystander intervention, strategies for handling harassment and discrimination with respect and self-focus, listening to your body and taking actions to ensure personal safety in challenging situations, the value of understanding the best ways to communicate with your healthcare providers, navigating challenges with requesting workplace accommodations, embracing open-mindedness and flexibility and a focus on desired outcomes, navigating the balance between self-advocacy and collaborative decision-making with healthcare providers, using professional expertise as a tool, resources you can access, Meredith’s message for you, and more.

If you’re experiencing workplace conflict, know you are not alone and did nothing to deserve it. There are steps we can take to ease the pain and energy drain. This is a problem that’s worth solving.

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Episode 123: Revealing Hidden Diagnoses Beyond Fibromyalgia with Dr. Isabelle Amigues

“You can only truly heal once you’ve accepted what’s going on.” – Dr. Isabelle Amigues

When you’re able to reflect on your fibromyalgia as a teacher, you stop fighting your body and put yourself in the best position to heal. Tami often describes fibromyalgia as the biggest gift life has given her. It’s a sentiment that can be difficult to understand when you’re struggling with getting through each day, but there are things you can do to move forward on your fibromyalgia healing journey.

For too many of us, when we received our fibromyalgia diagnosis, the doctor simply gave us the news and sent us on our way. What is omitted in that process is the fact that several rheumatological conditions can occur alongside fibromyalgia, and by treating those, you may experience significant relief.

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and your treatment is not working well, that’s a sign that something else may be going on.

Today, Tami is joined by rheumatologist Dr. Isabelle Amigues to talk about her journey from doctor to patient and why it’s crucial to have the correct diagnosis. In this episode, Tami and Dr. Isabelle discuss Dr. Isabelle’s struggle with early parenthood and recognition she was feeling sad and unfulfilled in her life, her stage three breast cancer diagnosis and how it changed her approach to medicine, reframing cancer as a gift that’s here to teach her something, why her diagnosis taught her to live with meaning and intention, the self-love that came out of Dr. Isabelle’s cancer journey, looking at fibromyalgia as a teacher and why Tami believes it’s the biggest gift life has given her, Dr. Isabelle’s appreciation for her patients and why it’s important to her to empower them, why she created a holistic practice, common conditions associated with fibromyalgia, symptoms that suggest something else may be happening in addition to your fibromyalgia, challenges patients face when seeking a proper diagnosis, why it’s often a good idea to have at least one visit with a rheumatologist, Dr. Isabelle’s message for you, finding the right doctor for you, a doctor’s role as a coach, listening to what your body needs, and more.

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Episode 103: Thyroid Disease and Fibromyalgia with Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

Treating your thyroid is a critical piece of managing fibromyalgia. It’s so crucial that Tami dedicates a whole week of the Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® training program to teaching about thyroid.

It’s also an issue that’s near and dear to Tami’s heart because it’s a significant part of her story. After years of classic thyroid symptoms being dismissed because her labs were “normal,” Tami was fortunate to discuss the problem with her fibromyalgia doctor, who ordered a full thyroid panel. That was when they discovered that she had Hashimoto’s, and treating it was a major step forward in getting her fibromyalgia under control.

Today Tami has invited her thyroid doctor, Dr. Kaley Bourgeois, to the podcast to talk about thyroid issues in fibromyalgia patients. In this conversation, Tami and Dr. B discuss what the thyroid is and what it does, what thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) signals, common symptoms of hypothyroidism, why Hashimoto’s is often missed, why Dr. B always includes thyroid screening for her fibro patients, how thyroid hormones are made, the role of T3 and T4 in your body, why it’s common for fibro patients to have issues converting T4 to T3, Dr. B’s recommendation to ask for a full thyroid panel with antibodies, huge differences between optimal versus lab ranges, treating thyroid issues, what you need to know about iodine, the three essential thyroid nutrients, considerations for thyroid hormone therapy, different medication options, why medicine needs to be individualized, your thyroid needs shift throughout your life, how to find the right practitioner for you, why most doctors aren’t well-versed in treating thyroid conditions, dietary changes to support your thyroid, lifestyle and nutritional factors to avoid, and more.

If you’ve ever had a doctor tell you that your thyroid is normal despite your symptoms, Dr. B is here to share why your doctor probably doesn’t know how to treat your thyroid and the steps you can take to move forward on your healing journey.

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Episode 97: Sjögren’s Syndrome and Fibromyalgia with Brenda Faverio

Around one-third of fibromyalgia patients also have Sjögren’s Syndrome, yet most don’t know about it.

Sjögren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune condition that affects the moisture-producing cells in your body. Today Tami is excited to share her conversation with Brenda Faverio, a graduate of the first Fibromyalgia Coach training class and one of the first Certified Fibromyalgia Coaches®. As someone with Sjögren’s and fibromyalgia, Brenda shares the insights she uncovered on her healing journey and the experiences of the many women she’s coached.

In this conversation, Tami and Brenda discuss what happens to the body with Sjögren’s Syndrome, common symptoms and associated risks of Sjögren’s, the overlap between fibromyalgia and Sjögren’s, Brenda’s journey to Sjögren’s diagnosis, her family history of autoimmune disease, how the Schirmer tear test works, the importance of a supportive and knowledgeable medical team, the evil sidekicks that Brenda experienced alongside her Sjögren’s, her experience with testing and treatment from a top Sjögren’s specialist, the massive car accident that dramatically increased her symptoms, Brenda’s fibromyalgia diagnosis, how Brenda found her “why”, transforming from a dutiful patient to a proactive patient, the importance of taking action in addition to education, how Brenda found Tami and the decision to become a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach®, why she believes it takes a village to get through your autoimmune healing journey, how Brenda keeps her Sjögren’s and fibromyalgia well-managed, building the skillset for managing your symptoms, red flags that suggest you should explore a Sjögren’s diagnosis, how fibromyalgia symptoms show up differently from Sjögren’s symptoms, first steps to take if you recognize Sjögren’s red flags, how you can work with Brenda, words of encouragement for you wherever you are in your fibro journey, and more.

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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 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 81: Befriend Your Nervous System with Sarah Kleiner

Befriending your nervous systems starts with recognizing the unique patterns that may not be serving you and empowering yourself while getting to a place of balance.

Tami is excited to share this conversation with coach and Somatic Experiencing expert, Sarah Kleiner. Sometimes these techniques can sound a little bit woo-woo or like magic but Sarah shares the science behind the therapy as well as practical tips you can try to begin to tune back in with your body.

In this episode, Sarah shares how Somatic Experiencing helped her on her journey with anxiety, people-pleasing, and burnout, why working it’s important to work on both mind and body, the science behind somatic experiencing therapy, how trauma impacts our nervous system, the importance of creating small moments of safety for the nervous system that are felt, not mental, why you don’t need to justify how you feel, the reason certain breathwork techniques may not be working for you, why calm may not be what your body actually needs, physical symptoms of nervous system imbalance, and more.

I hope you enjoy this conversation and that the information Sarah shares will not only give you some new ideas but, more importantly, that you will be very validated in how you feel in your body.

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Episode 79: Long COVID with Dr. Jessica Drummond

Long COVID, sometimes called “long haulers” or “post-COVID syndrome”, describes the lingering symptoms patients have after contracting COVID-19 and recovering from their initial illness. The experience of these patients often mirrors our experience with fibromyalgia and other conditions, such as ME/CFS.

In this episode, Tami talks with Dr. Jessica Drummond about her personal experience with Long COVID. You may remember Dr. Drummond from Episode 68, where Tami interviewed her about endometriosis. What you probably didn’t know was that she was dealing with Long COVID even as that episode was recorded!

As someone with a chronic invisible illness, you’ll appreciate and relate to Dr. Drummond’s experience. Even as a medical professional, she dealt with colleagues, friends, and providers who kept trying to figure out what she did “wrong”. Why does she have Long COVID when others don’t?

In this episode, Dr. Drummond shares how she contracted COVID-19, how the first seven days of her experience vastly differed from everything else, the ups and downs of her journey with Long COVID, the eight typical categories of things people with Long COVID experience, the various treatments and management plans she’s implemented to aid in her recovery, what it was like for her getting the vaccine while having Long COVID, and more.

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Episode 77: Fibromyalgia Treatment with Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

Tami interviews her friend and personal physician, Dr. Kaley Bourgeois (“Dr. B”). In this episode, Tami and Dr. B chat about what a Naturopathic Physician is and how it’s different from a regular physician, what functional medicine is and how it’s different from conventional medicine, how Dr. B’s mother’s lack of comfort with doctors led to an early passion for the work she does now, her approach to working with clients who have fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses, what IV therapy is and how glutathione is Dr. B’s “most favorite thing ever”, what medical ozone therapy is and how it differs from cortisone injections, things she frequently sees in her clients that often get missed by other doctors, Dr. B’s own journey with chronic pain, what she wants you to know about working with multiple doctors, her advice for people who feel hesitant to go to a new doctor for fear of repeating past experiences with doctors who weren’t a good fit, Dr. B’s suggested resources for where to do your own research, what being in fibromyalgia remission actually means, and more.

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Episode 68: Endometriosis and Fibromyalgia with Dr. Jessica Drummond

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus — the endometrium — grows outside the uterus. It’s one of the most common causes of pelvic pain and infertility. Many women with fibromyalgia who are experiencing pelvic pain, painful periods, and more may also be dealing with endometriosis.

Listen in as Tami interviews Dr. Jessica Drummond about what endometriosis is, how to distinguish between fibromyalgia pain and endometriosis, and how she addresses endometriosis in her clinic.

You may have fibromyalgia, but that doesn’t mean all of your pain is only fibromyalgia. Conditions like endometriosis are very treatable. Addressing these other causes of pain help to lower your overall fibromyalgia pain levels.

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