Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fibromyalgia and Me: A Semi-Concise Retrospective, Part 1 of 3.

Having grown up holding my breath, my whole fight/flight/freeze system was pretty tender already. I think that each major emotional upheaval in my adult life just caused the skin on that system to become more and more fragile, until one day the final emotional hit came that tore through that thin skin altogether.

Year 1. April 2005.
I am doing a program at home that’s a combined upper/lower body set of exercises involving 5 pound hand weights. Suddenly, where I’ve been easily able to do 10 repetitions, I can only do 3 before my muscles simply won’t move anymore. Suddenly, on my first trip down the stairs in the morning, the bottoms of my feet seem filled with rocks. Suddenly, my solid nights of sleep become fewer and fewer, and my body is achy and stiff on waking. I have a few driving experiences where I turn a corner in a perfectly familiar neighborhood and ask myself, "Where am I?" I’m exhausted all day long—every day. What is happening??

I find myself pushing my doctor to actually test me for possible medical explanations. Her answer, (with a look of embarrassment for me,) is that "Sometimes when we deal with our emotional/mental issues, these other pains go away." JUST TEST ME PLEASE.
I am doing my own research online and in the library, and there’s a cluster of medical issues including Fibromyalgia with similar symptoms. It appears to be the least deadly of the bunch. I convince the doctor to test for all the others to rule them out (or not), and finally get her to do the thumb pressure test set up by the American College of Rheumatology on the 18 “tender points” associated with Fibromyalgia.

"Oh." My doctor looks up at my face as she presses lightly on places that made me flinch in pain. "You do seem to have Fibromyalgia," she says in surprise.
This has only taken 10 months, as opposed to the many years that others have suffered with Fibromyalgia before getting a diagnosis. I count myself fortunate.

Thank God I am already seeing a therapist. She helps me stay sane during this time.
Year 2. 2006.

More reading and more reading. More horrible days of exhaustion, my body feels heavy, like gravity has gotten stronger. More full-body pain, some days burning like fire, other days a flu-like aching.  My spirits head to the pits of Hell. I give in to the silly question of "Why me?" when I already know the more realistic question is "Why not me?" We are broken people in a broken world. Our bodies break down. Things go wrong.

I have a sleep study, and find out I do have sleep apnea. Maybe using the cpap machine will solve the poor sleep/waking up exhausted issue.
 It doesn't. Why not me?

to be continued...

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