The Importance of Keeping a Symptom Journal

I took my first dose of Guaifenesin on January 14, 2015. I was terrified.

It is common knowledge that when the excess phosphates begin clearing (leaving the body through elimination), it's uncomfortable. I heard someone use the term “boot camp” because for the Guaifenesin to work, we feel worse (at first). 

Worse! Who in their right mind would wish to feel worse?

Someone who knows that feeling functionally worse for a while is worth the end result of reversing the debilitating symptoms of Fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue, regaining our health, being a part of our family’s lives, having a social life, and for many, getting off of several medications, disability and returning to careers. 

As it turns out, I was one of the 5% of "Guaiers" who feel pretty good when starting the protocol. Within months I had renewed energy, had started helping care for my 87 year old Mother In Law, was cooking again and walking daily. I felt so guilty for feeling good that I didn’t tell anyone but my doctor.

I started by taking 300 mg of Guaifenesin twice daily for one week. This is the clearing dose for about 20%. Three days after starting the Guaifenesin, I experienced some some telltale “clearing” signs. I slept all day which was quite unusual as I could never fall asleep during the day, even without having slept more than 4 hours through the night. I felt an all over pressure in my head, my ears were popping, I was shaky, nauseous, had excess saliva and a metallic taste in my mouth for several days.  

This is why keeping a journal is SO important. 

Here’s where I went wrong. I had such extreme fibrofog that I did not recognize that I had found my clearing dose at 300 mg twice daily. I followed the protocol, which states to increase to 600 mg twice daily after one week if not feeling distinctly worse; I assumed that meant feeling like I had extreme flu-like symptoms or unbearable pain. That can happen, but the aforementioned symptom changes are also evidence of finding the correct clearing dose.

Still, I was doing relatively well on 1200 mg daily. I had hours and sometimes days of feeling well. I certainly felt better than most newbies on the support groups. I was no longer bedridden. I showered daily, my home was clean, I was compiling Hypoglycemic recipes and cooking 4-5 nights per week. I was even helping some newbies on the protocol.

I continued being mapped by Dr Congdon and was continuing to clear. We made the decision in July of 2015, six months after being on Guaifenesin, to increase it by 300 more mg per day. I did so for a total of three days before becoming indescribably ill. I immediately dropped back to the 1200 mg daily dose, but I never regained ground. 

By February of 2016, eight months after experimentally increasing my dose, I gave up hope that I would ever feel better again. I even secretly questioned the Guaifenesin Protocol. However, I had gained so much ground during the first six months that I knew it worked. I couldn't understand why it wasn’t working now. 

I felt as badly as I had before starting the Guaifenesin. I was not able to keep up with our home, missed many appointments, including the ones that helped, such as Chiropractic and Myofascial massage. I became embarrassed by the amount of people I apologized to for missing yet another appointment. One physician refused to treat me for missed appointments. I became lethargic, depressed, non-communicative with family, could care less about my hygiene because just standing and brushing my teeth was exhausting. I became 80% bedridden again and lacked the will power to fight. 

I  became angry from feeling so awful. I gave up on the Hypoglycemic diet, I started drinking in the evenings to get a break from feeling bad, and I had no interest in all of the tools that had helped me survive being bedridden for 10 years before finding the Guaifenesin Protocol: guided meditation, affirmations, prayer, stretches and walking. In fact, pep talks pissed me off. I was in deep trouble and people just didn’t get it.

I began wondering if life was worth living anymore, so I called my therapist who had been a great help to me in my twenties. Just talking to her on the phone refueled me enough to try to get out my next blog. 

Oh, wonder of wonders!

It was while reviewing my symptom journal for this blog that I discovered I have been taking double my clearing dose for 14 months.

Wow! It’s such a relief to know what is wrong! I’m going to be ok. After speaking with Dr Congdon, the plan is to give my body a two week break from Guaifenesin and then start back at 300mg every 12 hours. I won’t feel like this forever!

Please, no matter how lousy you feel, keep a symptom journal and review it from time to time. At the very least, it will provide proof of your progress.