Emily’s story

Within one month of taking the homeopathic  medicine, the pain was completely gone.

Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition that causes severe muscle and joint pain. Singer-songwriter Emily Maguire shares how homeopathy has helped her manage this chronic illness.

It was when I was in my early teens that I first began to be troubled by  constant muscle pain and fatigue. I had constant pain from muscle  spasms that seemed to be moving around my body, burning sensations or  aches that could last for seconds, minutes or hours. Sometimes I would  get a flare-up and my whole body would feel like it was on fire.On bad days I had great difficulty walking and getting up and down  stairs. My arms and legs would suddenly seem to lose all strength or I’d  have what I would call a “wipe-out”, when I would be overcome  by  extreme fatigue and have to lie down wherever I happened to be, even if I  was in the street. Naturally, this made going out, even with walking  sticks, very unnerving. Other symptoms included an extreme sensitivity  to temperature – I felt better in warm weather and much worse when it  was damp and cold – bright lights and a feeling as if my skin was burned  or badly bruised.


Originally I was misdiagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a  type of chronic arthritis that affects parts of the spine, including the  bones, muscles and ligaments. I was prescribed a “Line 1” arthritis  drug for which I had to sign a consent form because apparently one of  the side-effects is death. Although it didn’t kill me it made me vomit  every day for the three months I was taking it.There followed what I can only describe now as years of  pharmaceutical experimentation as doctors and specialists struggled  unsuccessfully to find the right medication to alleviate my symptoms.  This included being prescribed nearly every pain killer licensed in the  UK. Although these drugs had little effect on the pain I was suffering,  my disturbed sleep was helped by taking amitryptiline.I was admitted to the Royal Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath  on three occasions, where I was treated with cortisone steroid  injections, but this only made the pain worse. Like many of the other  patients in the hospital the only thing I found that would offer any  relief from the pain was certain types of cannabis.It was in 2001, ten years after the pain first started, that  fibromyalgia was finally diagnosed. This was during one of my stays at  the Royal Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases where most of the other  fibromyalgia patients were in their 50s and 60s, as it is unusual for  someone as young as I was to have this condition. The consultants,  nurses and physiotherapists treating me were all extremely kind and  sympathetic, but their attitude was that fibromyalgia pain syndrome is a  chronic, incurable condition that I have to come to terms with and  learn how to manage: a distressing prognosis for someone in their early  twenties.Suffering from this illness inevitably has had serious consequences  on my life and development. While my friends were at university or  starting careers, I was registered disabled with my mother as my carer.   Over the years I’ve had to resign from two fantastic jobs (one in  publishing, the other at an arts venue) due to the illness. Trying come  to terms with having a painful and disabling condition that I would have  to live with for the rest of my life was very difficult for me, and  resulted in my suffering from anxiety, depression and other cognitive  problems.

An alternative approach

It was possibly this failure to come to terms with my illness that  led me to explore complementary medicine, and I must have tried nearly  every alternative therapy under the sun in attempt to find a cure. I  tried osteopathy, chiropractic, Chinese herbal medicine, aromatherapy,  hydrotherapy, magnetic therapy, a TENS machine, heat pads, yoga, the  Alexander technique, Tai Chi, reiki and more, but none of them had any  effect.Homeopathy, for some reason, was the last therapy I tried. This now  appears strange to me because my godmother had been cured of severe  depression at the NHS Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (now the Royal  London Hospital for Integrated Medicine) many years before and she’d  always said to me that I should go there as it is “not like any other  hospital”. A friend was similarly full of praise having been  successfully treated there for chronic gynaecological problems.I was referred by my GP to the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital in  Great Ormond Street and saw Dr Peter Fisher – my fourth consultant  rheumatologist. First he carried out some tests and confirmed the  diagnosis of fibromyalgia. He then started asking me extremely detailed  and varied questions about every aspect of my physical and emotional  life. Some of the questions appeared to be totally irrelevant to my  health and I remember particularly being taken aback when he asked me if  liked wearing roll-neck jumpers, which I didn’t. What this indicated  about me I still don’t know, but I do now recognise that he was taking  an entirely holistic approach to my health and my condition.The consultation lasted for over an hour, at the end of which Dr  Fisher prescribed the homeopathic medicine Ignatia; two pills to be  taken twice a week. At the time the only conventional medication I was  taking was amitryptiline to help me sleep and Dr Fisher was happy for me  to continue doing this, as he said homeopathic Ignatia wouldn’t react  with it.When I had my first appointment with Dr Fisher I had been in constant  pain for nearly ten years. Within one month of taking the homeopathic  medicine, the pain was completely gone.Since then I’ve only needed to use the homeopathic medicine  occasionally when I’ve felt that the symptoms could be flaring up again,  but this is rare.  But I have turned to homeopathy for other problems. I  use Argent nitricum (silver nitrate) regularly for anxiety,  particularly performance anxiety before I take to the stage.  Occasionally I use Lycopodium to help me sleep and have used Ignatia to  help with grief. Incidentally, my Australian mother-in-law uses  homeopathic medicines, with remarkable success, for treating the animals  on her farm.Last year my mother was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Initially,  her doctor got her to attend an extremely depressing outpatient clinic  where they were instructing patients on how to “live with the  condition”. She has since undergone homeopathic treatment and has been  restored to health.

Holistic healing

Although naturally I’m delighted by the improvement in my health  that homeopathy has helped to bring about, I don’t want to give the  impression that it is a “miracle” cure, as I believe strongly that the  lasting relief from the symptoms I suffered from for so many years was  the result of a combination of factors that brought about holistic  healing. These include achieving lower stress levels (I practise  meditation every day), a daily gentle exercise routine, taking the  amitryptiline to help me sleep, and living a more creative and thus  fulfilling lifestyle that has given me a sense of purpose. But the point  is this: by the time I saw Dr Fisher for the first time I was already  doing all these things and yet still suffering constant pain. Homeopathy  was like the switch that enabled all these other factors to combine and  finally turn the pain off. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Emily has recorded three albums Stranger PlaceKeep Walking and Believer  www.emilymaguire.com

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