Fibromyalgia a Diagnosis that Changed My Life
It's a life changing illness; Fibromyalgia appears suddenly without any notice. One day you wake up feeling aching all over. You notice things are different but not sure why.
Wondering what you did the day before, maybe stretched a muscle or slept incorrectly, you are in chronic pain.
As the day progresses, the pain does not subside. You take an aspirin or pain killer and head on your way. Trying to perform the normal activities of your day, but finding that is too difficult. A migraine sets in, the muscles in your neck and shoulders feel like you have whiplash and that pain keeps moving now into your back, hips and legs.
You feel like you've been hit by a truck.
Learning to deal with Fibro
Fibromyalgia came knocking on my door over 12 years ago. It didn't occur because of something I did or something I ate, it was hiding below the surface. Then one day, it woke up and pronounced itself. "Here I am! I'm awake and ready to begin my course, I'm taking over."
The journey through Fibromyalgia has not been easy. I have had to change my thinking, my diet, my exercise and my life. I became painfully aware that things I once loved to do were going to be a struggle. I had to learn all over again, like a baby learning to walk for the first time. Falling down and getting back up, I redesigned my way of living.
Through trials and errors I learned what worked and what didn't. I learned through pain and through suffering. Some days I had to learn anger management and sometimes I learned to cope with grief.
There is a grief associated with a long term illness. There is a death in the lifestyle once lived. There is a heavy load of anger that comes with this disease as well. Misunderstandings and feelings of disability overpower your thoughts at times.
After numerous doctor visits and a variety of tests, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Ruling out other illnesses such as lupus and MS, Fibromyalgia became my twin sister.
During the early days of my disease, I researched. Learning and studying everything I could find about Fibro.
"What do you call that again, doc? Fibro-my-al-gia." It was a long word which didn't mean anything to me, except pain.
Coping with Fibromyalgia
A disappointing situation occurs when you have to say no to your family. Confused with emotions families can't see the pain. They see a change, they notice the lack of energy but they can't feel the pain. So a person with Fibro pretends everything is OK. They don't want people to feel sorry for them. They put up false faces, ones that grin as the pain pierces the body.
Limitations are bound and pain takes over. Adjustments need to be made at home and at work. Balancing job related tasks takes on a whole new meaning.
With my background in interior design and ergonomics, I knew proper posture and I knew body mechanics. That was easy, I told myself. Making adjustments at my desk allowed me to continue to work. Most employers were accommodating. I didn't tell coworkers. I never wanted special treatment, but there were days I simply wanted to hide in the copy room. Those days when the pain could be seen on the face, when the tension tightened around my eyes and my smile was frowned. At that time, people noticed but people didn't ask. Some assumed I was having just a rough day at work.
It was an eye-opening experience for me when I found out a coworker had Fibromyalgia. During a small conversation, I had a found someone who I could relate to. She had Fibro for 10 years and she gave me tips. Learning from someone else made all the difference. She gave me hope. I wasn't alone.
Taking Fibromyalgia with me
What have I learned in the past 12 years? Recognizing that I'm not alone with this disease has greatly impacted my attitude. I know my limitations. I still struggle daily but I found acceptance. The following suggestions may help others:
- Create boundaries. Know when to say yes and that no is equally acceptable.
- Learning how to read your body is crucial. Understanding the flare ups and recognize them at onset to take action and overt an unmanageable full flare up.
- Stay involved with the awareness. New treatments are on the rise. Fibromyalgia is getting recognized. Doctors are being educated and pharmaceutical companies are researching options.
- Give yourself time to balance. Life throws unexpected curve balls; learning to adjust is a daily exercise. Allow yourself that time to bounce back.
- Everyone talks about healthy lifestyles with 1) eating right, 2) getting a good night sleep, 3) maintaining proper exercise, and 4) reducing stress. These things are recommended for mostly everyone, but for people with Fibromyalgia it is a requirement. Be smart.
I have also learned that I will have setbacks. There will be those days when I will suffer in pain even after I followed my golden rules. I know I will not always escape the pain.
What I want is to give back, to support others with this message. Do the research. Talk to your doctor. Get in a good support group if that is what you need. Talk about it with friends and family. Fibromyalgia not only affects the sufferer but affects the loved ones as well. It changes the lives of everyone involved.