Updated May 7, 2013
My name is Cheryl and I am now 47 years old. Life has not been easy for me, but I thank my husband, George, for helping me through many of my most difficult recent times. We have been together for 6 years and married for 3 years. For the past 4 years I have been in constant physical pain – and George has suffered from the verbal pain I have inflicted on him by not suffering in silence. I think it is sometimes harder for the people who have to live close, than the person who is in the actual pain.
I have been a very physically active person all of my life with horseback riding, archery, and motorcycling three of my favorite sports. I remained well until March of 1998 when I was injured entering data into computer at work – they called it “repetitive strain injury” – After 4 straight hours of typing my right arm went into spasm and froze up. Then the pain spread into my neck, shoulder, and eventually down into my lower right leg where I had a sciatica-type pain. I had been walking 3 miles a day when this happened, but afterwards I had trouble getting across the room. The sole of my foot was tender to the touch. The pain affected my overall health. I was exhausted to where I could hardly do anything – to walk across the room was a major effort. The more I tried to be active, the worse I felt. Even with all that fatigue I had trouble sleeping. George says I slept, but it seemed to me like I was up all night. In May of 2001 I stopped work all together and went on medical disability.
In September 2001 a physical medicine specialist diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. He recommended muscle relaxants, antidepressants, exercise and involvement in a fibromyalgia support group. I tried muscle relaxants, but I didn’t want to get hooked, and I didn’t really feel any better. So I refused to resort to powerful drugs to control the pain. I found some relief with Aleve, 2 tablets twice a day. I also tried massage with some relief. Even though my chiropractor has been very supportive, I can’t say her treatments have made a difference.
The pain and disability dominated my life and took a serious toll on my relationship with George. I was bitchy all the time. George is one of those strong, quiet, supportive husbands most women would love to be married to. But everyone has limits. Finally, George gave me the ultimatum, “Do something or leave.” You can imagine how bad things must have gotten for him to reach this level of unhappiness and frustration. His other quality, that eventually made all the difference in my health, was that he had been raised most of his life as a vegetarian – he very seldom ate meat now as an adult and oily foods upset his stomach – and he was also very physically active. So it was natural that he kept encouraging me to look in these directions for help.
I had purchased “The McDougall Program – 12 Days to Dynamic Health” in 2000 for my mother who had been diagnosed with atherosclerosis. My mother said she was too old to change her eating habits so the book went on a shelf. She passed away in May, 2001. I had forgotten about the book until we were packing to move into a different house in March, 2002. I started reading the book and discussing the McDougall diet with George. With the pain from my injury getting worse, we decided a change of diet wouldn’t hurt.
I went on the internet at www.drmcdougall.com and read about the Health Clinic/Spa Program in Santa Rosa. After reviewing the information, George and I agreed we should try the Program, after all, he already knew he felt better when eating only vegetables and fruits, and nothing else I’d tried lessened the pain. We arrived in Santa Rosa on July 26, 2002. I must admit, I didn’t hold out much hope for getting better – but at least I could say that I had now tried everything.
Even though the food was delicious and we were absorbing lots of wonderful information about our bodies, I was beginning to think we’d wasted our time and money coming to this program because the pain was still there. I was about to admit to myself that I might have to resort to powerful pain killers as a last resort. Then the eighth morning of the program I woke up at 5:30 AM — lying in bed, I felt something was wrong, but I did know immediately what was different. I must have laid there for about 15 minutes or so before it dawned on me: THERE WAS NO PAIN. I didn’t say anything to George yet because I thought I might be dreaming. I turned on the light and looked at my hands and feet. THEY WERE NOT SWOLLEN. Remember I’d been in constant, never-ending pain since 1998 and now there was NOTHING!! I told George, “Look, my hands and feet aren’t swollen and I don’t hurt!” I got out of bed and stood up and poked myself in the arms and legs, but NO PAIN.
As of this writing, October 19, 2002, I am still free from the pain caused by the fibromyalgia and still following the McDougall Diet. There are side benefits too. My top weight was 145 pounds in January of 2001. Since July 26, 2002 I’ve also lost thirteen pounds – going from 138 in August to my present weight of 125 pounds. I haven’t been perfect on the diet, but when I’m not, I pay. For example, one night last week my 29-year-old daughter brought over a package of M& M’s. I couldn’t stop with just one – so I ate the whole package. The next morning I was in pain and my eyes, face, hands and feet were swollen again. So guess who’s in charge of my health now? Everyday I seem to be making better choices and as a result I feel better now than I have in years, even before 1998 and my injury. I think this is a miracle. I have many people to thank for this, but especially my husband, George, who has been by my side every moment through the good times and the “not so good times.”
Cheryl M. Lambert
Now Cheryl can pick the days she feels well and those days she is willing to be sick and in pain. You likely have the same choices, but may not know it. People come to me with health problems that are a mystery to them and their doctors – and at times I have no idea what is wrong with them or whether or not they will get well with a healthy diet and lifestyle. But, my response is always the same:
“Why not find out if you are incurably ill or not. Follow the program I suggest for a while – say 4 weeks – and see what happens. Follow the advice strictly so you know whether or not there is relief to be had. If you do resolve your problems, then at least there is someplace you can go to feel good. When you know this for sure, because of the positive experience, then you are in charge of your days. You may not always make the right choice, but you are in now in control.”
Chronic pain is usually due, at least in part, to an unhealthy diet. I expect people with headaches, stomach aches, muscle pains and arthritis to improve dramatically with a change in diet. Especially, when there is no obvious cause for their pains – such as an injury or noticeable disease. Many times, this pain relief is due to stopping the cause of the problem, like with inflammatory arthritis (see my web site, www.drmcdougall.com, “Diet: Only hope for arthritis.”) Other benefits come from the generalized anti-inflammatory effects of a healthy diet. There are also changes in brain chemistry, such as an increase in the neurotransmitter, serotonin – this substance having pain-relieving affects on the nervous system.
Many people suffer with chronic pains and travel from doctor to medical clinic to alternative practitioner looking for help. They sometimes think, “If only they knew what I had, then I could get cured.” Unfortunately, when it comes to chronic pain, this is rarely the case. Doctors name most chronic painful conditions by noting similar signs and symptoms that fit your problems into a category (a group). Unfortunately, having a name brings the patients no closer to knowing the cause or finding the cure. Consider, you are now told you have rheumatoid arthritis, or Lupus, or fibromyalgia. Your doctor does not know the cause of any of these illnesses, and the treatments, regardless of what you call it, are the same: NSAIDs (pain killers), muscle relaxants, and if you keep complaining, tranquilizers and antidepressants.
For those who look further, and especially for those who understand the fundamental importance of diet, there is real hope. I believe the cause of most of these problems is an unhealthy diet – this is a good thing to believe because diet is something tangible, that you can change. On my web site you will find 24 studies on the benefits of diet on inflammatory arthritis (2 more studies have since been published – see on my web site “Star McDougaller – Jean Brown.”). People with fibromyalgia have been shown to greatly benefit from a vegan (no animal products) diet in two recent studies:
Kaartinen K. Vegan diet alleviates fibromyalgia symptoms. Scand J Rheumatol. 2000;29(5):308-13.
Donaldson MS. Fibromyalgia syndrome improved using a mostly raw vegetarian diet: An observational study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2001;1(1):7.
Before you give up, try something that is cost-free, nontoxic, highly effective, self-administered and beneficial to all aspects of your health: a plant-based, low-fat diet (maybe a little exercise and clean up a few bad habits too). Like Cheryl and George, you will not be disappointed.
Some of you will want to follow the McDougall Program on your own with free help from our web site, or with the aid of our books and tapes. However, those of you who are very serious and have the time and money to spend 10 days with us will find our live-in program in Santa Rosa, CA the fastest and surest way to accomplish your goals – permanently. Visit other sections of our web site for more information about the McDougall live-in program.