Cheryl Kowalewski is an RN with fibromyalgia, who teaches the Guaifenesin Protocol devised by Dr. Paul St. Amand, an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine from the Fibromyalgia Treatment Center in Marina del Rey, California. Here is Cheryl’s story:
I was 45 years old and very ill in 2004 but was unable to get a diagnosis of any kind in Canada. I was told by a Rheumatologist, “All you need is to get a good night’s sleep and it would all go away.” When I told the Rheumatologist that I thought I had fibromyalgia, I was told, “No, I checked you, you know, you just need to take better care of yourself.” I had a poor memory at that time but I remember those words like they were said yesterday! The physician was smirking throughout our meeting. She seemed to think my situation was very funny. I left the office in tears.
I had read the book, What Doctors May Not Tell You About Fibromyalgia by Dr. Paul St. Amand and Claudia Marek. I was sure I had the disease. My husband helped me to get to the Fibromyalgia Treatment Center where I was not only diagnosed with fibromyalgia but also with hypoglycemia. From Dr. St. Amand and his medical assistant, Claudia Marek, I learned all about my two diseases which are often seen together. I also learned that fibromyalgia and sometimes hypoglycemia are reversible. I started the hypoglycemia diet and the guaifenesin protocol as soon as I got home.
The protocol was not easy in the beginning. In some ways with the hypoglycemic diet, I felt better right away. My daily panic attacks stopped completely. Panic attacks are an acute sign of hypoglycemia. There were other days when I was feeling quite worse; however, I knew this was all part of the clearing process so I carried on as best I could. I kept telling myself that my disease was progressing in the right direction now and that it would take time but I would get better as Dr. St. Amand had promised.
Within eight months, I could get off the couch for about eight hours. I would have to rest in the evening. Within 2 1/2 years I returned to nursing. Work was tough in the beginning but I knew with time it would get easier so I kept working and I continue to work four shifts/week. I am one of the slow responders to the protocol but now have reversed my disease about 85%. I feel so blessed to have met Dr. St. Amand and Claudia. They gave me my life back. I remember Dr. St. Amand telling me that when I was better I should spread the word so others would be helped as well.
The Birth of Fibrofree
In 2005, my sister told her friend about how I was treating my disease. Her friend was only in her 20’s but was having trouble getting out of bed some days. I taught her and her mom about the protocol. Together they went to the Fibromyalgia Treatment Center and then she started the protocol. Her mom asked me a few times if I would come to her house and teach the protocol to some other sufferers that she knew. I was hesitate at first to commit. I knew it would be more work for me but finally I did agree and once a month I would go to her house and talk about the protocol to others. I met some very sick and desperate people during that time and my committment to help these people became stronger and stronger. When it came to getting the word out to these sufferers, we knew we were barely scratching the surface so I decided to put a little ad in the Edmonton Journal advertising our meetings. When I told an editor about our story, she agreed to write an article on the protocol and our group. Immediately after that, I had over 200 emails asking me how they could get started. We needed a larger room!
As of 2012, Fibrofree has over 200 members. Most of our members on the protocol have had great improvement with their disease. In 2004, it was very difficult to get a prescription for guaifenesin. I remember accompanying a member to her 2nd appointment because she was denied the first time. Now, most physicians will write prescriptions for guaifenesin. That’s a big step in the right direction! We have had two conferences here in Edmonton with Dr. St. Amand and Claudia Marek. One in 2008 and another in 2012. We are successfully getting the word out to the public but physicians are a little slower to respond. To date, we have taught about 40 physicians. Some physicians are referring their patients to us. I believe as their patients improve, the word will start to spread between the medical field. It’s only a matter of time!