Julia Sexton, 55, is a divorced mother of two and and administrative assistant for a charity from Gwent in Whales who developed fibromyalgia a year ago.
I started getting my first symptoms of fibromyalgia about a year ago. Before that I had no health issues at all and certainly none with joints. The only thing that had happened to me was that I had just gone through the menopause and they say that this can be one of the triggers for fibromyalgia.
Before I got ill I was a very active person, I did a lot of walking and I was also a very keen gardener.
I felt very young for my age and people were always commenting on how youthful I was.
But a year ago I started getting these strange pains in my legs. At first it felt a bit like pins and needles and then over the period of a few weeks it developed into a nagging joint pain in my ankles and knees. My legs were also very restless and at night it kept me awake.
After about a month I was starting to find a was in quite a lot of pain when I walked and the pain was spreading and getting quite rapidly worse week by week. Eventually I was hobbling rather than walking.
My hands also had started swelling up and I found I was dropping things and being very clumsy. The joints in my wrists started hurting and the pain spread quickly up to my shoulders and then into my spine.
I just had no idea what was wrong with me, I thought maybe I had flu or a virus. Eventually I went to my GP and had a blood test that came back clear. But when I described my symptoms and the fact she could see for herself how much pan I was in she decided to transfer me to see a specialist consultant in infectious diseases as she thought it might be some kind of virus or disease.
Unfortunately, the consultant was very busy and so I didn’t get an appointment for almost six months. During that six months my symptoms and pain levels got a lot worse.
My entire body has started to ache. At one stage it felt like my whole body was literally on fire. All my joints felt hot and aching. It was a kind of pain I have never experienced before, not even in childbirth. It you can imagine being slowly burnt alive that was how it felt.
I was really frightened about what was happening to me. My skin become so sensitive to touch, even if I touched my own skin it hurt.
By June I was barely able to leave the house and one day I just collapsed on my sofa and in that moment I seriously just wanted to die. Honestly, I just wanted to lie down and literally never wake up. I was completely traumatised. I felt like I was living in another world. I barely recognised people around me as I was in so much pain. I felt I was living in a different reality, it was weird, almost like a dream or rather a nightmare not attached to real life.
I took pain killers but they didn’t even touch the pain and if anything they made me feel worse and even less able to cope.
I was so bad I had to eventually take some leave from work just to try and rest. Even getting out of bed took all my energy.
I lost all interest in food and so I was barely eating. I lost a lot of weight as it was hard to even swallow food.
It was affecting my concentration too. I could not even focus on a TV programme for example. I also started losing my memory I would go into a shop and then forget why I was there. I would get to the checkout and I’d be speechless as I had completely forgotten what I wanted.
My whole personality changed. I felt literally like I was crying inside all the time. When people were there I tried to keep a brave face on it, but as soon as they left I’d often break down in sobs as I just found the pain so hard to cope with. I felt completely defeated. At times I didn’t even know who I was anymore. The pain was so intense it made me feel almost delirious.
Finally, I saw the consultant and he immediately diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, which I had never heard of before. He explain to me what is was and prescribed me a course of a medication called Pregablin, which is a very strong painkiller. I started on a low dosage but then had to quickly move onto a higher dosage as it wasn’t working. But after two months I had to stop taking it as I literally felt like a zombie.
I felt I was walking round but I wasn’t really there. I felt like everyone was moving around me but I was standing still. I felt dizzy and nauseous all the time. And it didn’t really kill the pain at all, so I was feeling the pain still plus also all these awful other symptoms.
I wrote to the consultant to tell him I was coming off the medication and he said he understood but there was nothing else he could do for me.
I felt completely desperate. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to carry on.
Then one day my daughter contacted me to say she had read about a cream called Celafen that had been used by other people with my condition that had really helped and she gave me the name of it.
I immediately looked it up on the internet and read all the reviews and blogs about it from other people with fibromyalgia who had tried it. The overwhelming opinion was that it really helped with the pain. There were a few people who said it hadn’t had much effect, but most people had said it had made a huge difference and had really helped them.
As I was suffering from fibromyalgia myself I felt fairly certain that no one would lie about what had helped them as its just too painful a condition for anyone to do that. So I felt there was nothing to lose by at least trying the cream. There were no other options available to me anyway and I was terrified of going back on painkillers again so I felt I should try anything that had helped others in my situation.
I was fairly amazed to be honest when after about three days of using the Celafen cream it twice a day I started to feel an easing of the pain in my legs. At first I thought I was imagining it.
But as the days passed, there was no doubt that the pain was gradually easing, It was not a sudden thing, it was just a gradually slow easing up of the intensity of the pain. Each day I found it a little easier to walk, and my joints started to feel less burning.
After about three weeks of using the Celafen twice a day I started to be able to sleep at night, which made a massive difference to both my pain levels and my well being as I hadn’t slept through the night or even more than a few hours straight for almost a year.
I have now been using Celafen for about three months and I would say my pain has improved about 40-50%, which is frankly miraculous considering its not a medication and is made from mostly natural ingredients.
I still have pain, but with twice daily use of Celafen it is now manageable. I can walk around without too much pain, I can sleep at night and I’m well enough to work again. My concentration and my memory has also improved.
Most importantly I feel a bit more back to old myself again. I am not 100% and still feel a bit detached but I feel much more able to cope now with the daily tasks of life.
Just feeling a bit more like myself again has made me feel so much more optimistic, even though my recovery is slow and there are still some bad days, over all my progress is upwards.
I can’t express how relieving it feels to have found something that can help me manage and slowly reduce the pain without having to take something that makes me feel almost as scared of its side effects as the pain of the fibromyalgia, like the painkillers I was on.
I know fibromyalgia is a very complex condition and the same thing will not necessarily work for everyone as it has for me, but I’d say it’s definitely worth trying this cream to see if it helps as for me personally it’s been a life saver, literally.”
Celafen cream in available exclusively from Skin Shop visit www.skinshop.co.uk