- Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms or tightness, weakness in the limbs, and leg cramps
- Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
- Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
- Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and perforrming simple mental tasks
- Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Tension or migraine headaches
- Jaw and facial tenderness (TMJ Disorder)
- Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
- Feeling anxious or depressed
- Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
- Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)
- Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise
- The feeling of swelling (without really sweeling) in the hands and feet.
- Painful menstrual periods
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? If you are or a loved one, please read on. I just may have a answer for you!
March, 2004 something crazy happened to me. I was working as a Realtor during the BOOM and quite frankly, kicking real estate butt. Then, what seemed at the time, straight out of the blue, I hit the ground. I was fortunate for most of my life. I was never sick. You know the type, everyone around you was dropping like flies from the flu of the season and it never even touched me. Now all of the sudden every single symptom listed above hit me all at once. So I took what I thought would be a short leave of absence and made the rounds of specialists. I saw a neurologist, rhuemotologist, hematologist....I was poked, prodded, had countless blood tests, CATscans, X-Rays, MRIs. Then after three months one of the specialists started poking me in 18 different areas on my neck, back, arms and a couple of others I don't rememebr. What I do remember is feeling pain like I've never felt before.. He looked at me and said "YOU, Have Fibromyalgia." I said, "I have what?" He repeated the word and I looked at him as if I'd heard Swahili....FI-BRO-MY-AL JA...I REPEATED IT BACK....MY-FRO-BY-LA-JA? "No, Fibromyalgia." "Oh," I said. "What does that mean?"
The part that really got me down is that people started telling me that Fibromyalgia was just what doctors told you if they couldn't find the REAL reason you were sick. Then I met women who said, "I have Fibromyalgia, too! As they went off to play tennis, shop, and live very active lives. I jsut didn't get it. What ever was happening to me was real, excruciating and debilitating. I was pretty confused.
Well, as it turned out, six and a half years ago they had little idea of what Fibromyalgia was, how it was caused, why it occured and why I seemed to have every single symptom. He wrote me a couple of scripts, made a follow up appointment and sent me on my way. I Googled it as soon as I got home. There wasn't much information. I took the drugs and they made me totally loopy. Picture me with my face buried in my mash potatoes at dinner, walking into walls and slurring my words. Not a pretty sight. On my third or fourth visit I told the doctor I just could not take the meds, they were making me worse...so he fired me; NICE! I was already under pain manangement for a broken back and decided to ignore the MY-BRO-LIE-FAL-JA and just concentrate on my back issues. Funny thing, ignoring it did not make it go away. So I tried again. This time taking it seriously. Fortunately, my Pain Doc was pretty up on the latest Fibromyalgia information. This was when they had decided it was all in our head. NICE.
Here's the rub; I had just been married a month when it hit. I had a 11 year old daughter who was just starting Junior Hell...I mean High and a Mom who was so dependent on me it was, well difficult to say the least. My husband wanted the old, fun, active, money maker back. My daughter just plain needed me and Mom, well she was still dependent. I have one word to discribe my feelings F^ck!
Finally, the medical community realized it was not in my head, but a nerve disorder. Fibromyalgia some how tells the nerve endings there is pain where there should not be pain. That made sense. They discovered stress and lack of sleep makes it worse. The stupid thing is, it causes insomnia, so talk about a Catch-22 and stress was my way of life. I was in a bad way. Not to mention, the meds they thought helped had a reverse reaction, so there was nothing for me.
To make a six and a half year story short, I finally accepted I had this chronic condition...one that won't kill you, it just makes you feel like it is. I can't work. I was self-employed and didn't qualify for SSI or disability. And to this day, I suffer to the point of being in bed three to four days a week. I can't plan ahead, i can't make promises and I never know when it's going to hit and hit hard.
The great thing is there is always a silver lining. I get to stay home with my daughter, who needs her Mom, I'm a writer and now I have the time to write full time and just a week ago I met an amazing woman who is almost exactly in the same place I am with all the symptoms, so I finally have a really great friend who understands. That is a blessing.
Thanks for reading my story. I hope it helps. If I can be of any support, please, use me, I want to be there for those who suffer. Six and a half years was a long time wihtout someone to talk to.