I wrote a few weeks ago about the ‘Doctor in the House’ episode which was about chronic pain and fibromyalgia which I finally managed to catch up with on BBC Iplayer last night.
For anybody who doesn’t know what this program is all about, it’s a documentary and in each episode a family invites a GP (Dr Chatterjee) into their home to investigate every aspect of their lives. They’re worried about their health, and they’re hoping he can solve their problems.
In Episode four Nicola has been diagnosed with ten different conditions, including fibromyalgia, ME, sciatica and depression. Her pain and exhaustion have led her to become reliant on painkillers and she struggles to get through the day. Can Dr Chatterjee help Nicola find the cause of her problems and improve her health so that she can enjoy life again with her three young sons?
In each episode there are two families involved and the second family is a lady suffering from stress and severe exhaustion and is at risk of developing life-threatening type 2 diabetes. As a single mother, she works two jobs as a car saleswoman and a nightclub bouncer whilst juggling the demands of her two young sons. Rangan must find a way to completely overhaul her lifestyle, including her diet, sleeping habits and work-life balance.
Although they are two completely different problems some of the symptoms overlap, in particular the problems with sleep. One of the first things Rangan suggested to the single mother was to buy some clip on blue light filter glasses which she was told to wear in bed at night when using her phone or watching tv. The blue light blockers are in a clip on flip up style stay on glasses and covers sight areas without blurring or changing hues with deeper Amber color. These glasses filter out the blue light from the tv, computer and phone that disrupts natural sleep cycles. As a chronic sleep sufferer myself, I was keen to give this a try but I didn’t need to buy them as my Kindle Fire had an option to change my screen colour at night to filter out the blue light. I applied the filter and I definitely had a better nights sleep.
Nicola wanted to sleep all the time and instead of feeling great after a walk she just wanted to lie down. This, in particular resonated with me as I am exactly the same. The Doctor felt that some of her sleep problems were due to her diet and they had to remove all junk or processed foods to see if that would help. Nicola went from bad to worse and at one stage told the Doctor she needed a break from him following her progress.
The Doctor was really upset about this but then went back a few weeks later with an idea of taking Nicola to a ‘Mindfulness Class’. According to the NHS Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.
“Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively.” “Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better.” Nicola wasn’t sure at first but then found it quite amazing and started using it regularly at home. Nicola was also told that they had found out from some of her blood tests that she definitely had a gut problem which was contributing to her overall health.
At the end of the program I could see the incredible results he had made with the single mum but I felt that Nicola although in a lot less pain, still had a number of health conditions to sort out.
Fibromyalgia sufferers are well to aware that we have a multitude of symptoms and problems so it can be difficult to know what to take, medication wise, but one thing that is clear is our main problem is pain and fatigue and there are not many treatments be it medication or otherwise that can sort this out for us. It is more a case of learning to cope with flare-ups and bad days.