Having been diagnosed with fibromyalgia about three years ago, living with it so far has been challenging, discouraging, enlightening, and disheartening, all wrapped up into one big emotional ride. Just like with any disease, you really can’t know exactly what it feels like unless you go through the same thing, and even then, everyone that has it may have a completely different experience than you may have.
The symptoms of fibro are unexplained pain, fatigue, brain fog, sleep problems, and sometimes depression. Basically you are diagnosed by the unexplained pain after the doctors take a host of x-rays and blood work to rule out anything else that it could be that might have the same symptoms. I started out by trying to tell my doctors that I just hurt all over most of the time. I thought maybe it was just the effects of working on my feet all of my working life, but this seemed to be different.
I was sent for a few weeks of physical therapy trying to help my back pain. That didn’t seem to help much at all. Finally after so many complaints of trying to explain that it is not just one area, but my whole body was in pain, they started looking into fibromyalgia. I ended up switching doctors and she was great. After she did the famous ‘point’ test, the diagnosis was pretty clear, especially when I almost flew off my seat as she touched my shoulders, hips and ankles. It sounds very strange but those areas are tremendously painful for me.
You can now be diagnosed if you have widespread pain for more than three months when the doctor has already ruled out any other underlying condition. Once I was officially diagnosed, the treatment plan was devised between me and my doctor. However, her plan of action was not really mine. The usual treatment is experimenting with certain medications such as Elavil, Lyrica and Cymbalta, as well as others such as Tramadol or Neurontin. After trying a couple of them and not liking how I was feeling, I chose to forego the medications, except for maybe some prescription Motrin, and try a more nutritionally based approach.
Everyone that has suffered from fibro may not always have the exact same symptoms. My struggles may not be the same as everyone else’s experience. In fact, some people have it much worse than I do and some may have more minor symptoms than me.
The main pain areas for me are my shoulders, neck, hips, and my feet and ankles. The rest of my body hurts as well, but those areas hardly ever go away. I struggle quite a bit because I am still working over 30 hours a week…on my feet! There are days that I can barely walk out of work to my vehicle. I know of some people that have had to quit their jobs because of this condition. There is also what they call fibro fog. What does that feel like? Well, it feels just like your head and brain are in a fog. You can’t think or concentrate, and sometimes you just sit there not able to do anything. Fatigue is one of the things I hate so much. There are times that I feel like I can’t hold my head up any longer. That can really be a deterrent when trying to write.
English: Butterfly (Pieres napi) seen in Kronobergsparken in Stockholm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fibromyalgia can be a misunderstood disease mainly because people like me don’t really look sick and are still able to move around. I am pretty good at trying to hide how I feel while at work but when I get home, I collapse in the chair and am unable to move much. It really does affect your everyday life in a big way. Cleaning, shopping, and all of the everyday things only get done according to how I feel. There are so many other symptoms that can go along with this as well. Insomnia, bowel problems, anxieties, and so much more.
It really stinks to have fibro, but you know what? There are many others with this disease that are much worse off than me. I have never had days when I can’t get out of bed because of it. I am still able to work, while many have had to quit. I am still trying to find ways to deal with it every day that works for me. It is a difficult process, but certainly not impossible.
So, when someone says they have unexplained pain, it really is true. When someone explains that they have brain fog, don’t laugh. These symptoms of fibromyalgia may seem strange to everyone else but for the one going through it, it becomes a huge part of their lives that they may not even be able to explain themselves.
I am a lover of reading, tennis, animals, coffee, watching TV, a great piece of cheesecake, and sitting out on my deck. I have this secret, or maybe not-so-secret, infatuation with fairy tales. I love to shop for purses. but hate shopping for shoes and clothing. I have a couple of kids, 1 dog, 2 cats, and 1 parakeet.