Someone posted this graphic on Facebook. I have tried many times to explain this to people. That my pain is higher than typical. I don’t know why but it is. My baseline or normal includes pain. I ALWAYS hurt. Every. Single. Minute. I never drop below a 4. Never. A 4 is a good day. Think honestly a minute about how you might be acting at a 4. Compare. I don’t want admiration. I just want understanding. Understanding of what I go through. Understanding of what I feel. That’s all. Jus a little understanding.
So, there are many things to hate about Fibromyalgia. I could spend all day talking about them, but, instead, I will focus on one of the things I hate most. That is the big fat question mark over the rest of my life. When I got sick I had a plan.
I was nearing the end of my Bachelor of Arts in Education degree. Then I was going to teach while getting my Masters in Special Education. Each summer I would travel to one of the places on my travel bucket list. Once my youngest graduated high school, I would be working in Puerto Rico at a deaf school one of my professors had started there.
I had a plan and I was well on my way to achieving my goals. Then I got sick. I was unable to student teach and, while I did get to graduate with my degree, I was unable to get my teacher certification. It doesn’t really matter much right now, because my health has continued to deteriorate until the point where working is impossible. The arthritis and fibromyalgia pain in my back and hips is so bad that I cannot stand or sit upright more than an hour or two each day. I cannot walk very much either. Some days I cannot walk at all. My legs are weak and give out on me.
I have filed for disability and been denied again and again. So right now I spend most of my days in bed, alone, bored out of my mind. I try to keep myself busy by coloring, crocheting, watching TV, reading, working puzzles, blogging, etc. A lot of these are limited by pain and weakness in my hands. I am sick to death of TV. Reading is hard with the fibro fog.
I spend a lot of time on social media but that in itself is kind of boring. I prefer real interaction. I miss working. I miss being active. I miss swimming. I miss traveling. I miss spontaneous road trips with my kids. I miss a lot of things. Mostly I miss knowing what I was going to be doing with my life a year, 5 years, 10 years from now.
My life is just one big question mark now. I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow. I don’t know if I will be able to walk or not. I don’t know if I will be able to stay awake. It makes it hard to make plans. It makes it hard to do anything. It makes it hard to hope. I don’t know if I will get better or worse. There is no treatment for fibromyalgia. There is nothing they can do for my arthritis. I don’t know if I will ever be able to work again. I have no idea if I will ever be able to have a normal life again. I am 43.
What about you? What do you hate most? Do you find it hard to plan your life? Do you find it hard to be hopeful?
Fibromyalgia is a very confusing condition for several reasons. First of all, there is just not a whole lot known about Fibro. Not a lot of money or time is put into the research of Fibromyalgia. Second, there have been a LOT of symptoms that have been attributed to Fibromyalgia.
Sometimes it seems like once you have the Fibro diagnosis every time you have a new symptom your Doctors just say, “Oh, it’s the Fibro,” without even investigating for other causes. I have noticed some Fibro patients are bad about this as well. I have left many bulletin boards and support groups because I have gotten sick of all of the “Who else has my symptom?” posts. They go something like this:
Initial poster: “I have noticed every time it rains that my left nostril gets stopped up and my right elbow itches. Does anyone else have this problem? It is driving me crazy. My neighbor’s sister’s dog’s groomer said I can take supplement X to help but I don’t know what dose to take….”
Answering posts (approximately 84 out of a couple thousand users): ” Yes!! I have that and it is a Fibro symptom! It is caused by ….insert one of 84 causes….and I take supplement …..insert one of 20 supplements….and it works wonders!! I take …. insert one of 20 doses…. Good luck and keep us posted!!!”
Third, Fibromyalgia is very hard to explain because it is not just one type of pain you are dealing with. I experience about 7 or 8 different types of pain from aches to sharp stabbing pains to electric shocks to pins and needles. The type of pain varies in location and intensity. I have certain places that hurt a lot of the time but no part of my body is off limits and I never know what will hurt today.
Fourth, patients can experience numbness and weakness in their arms, legs, hands and feet. This makes using their hands or walking and driving difficult. It limits activities.
Fifth, fatigue. Fatigue is a major symptom of Fibro and one I struggle with in particular. Sometimes the fatigue is so bad I cannot lift my head from the pillow. It can last for an hour or it can last for weeks. I have no idea when it will hit or how long it will last. My medications also make me sleepy, and I have narcolepsy which makes me experience excessive daytime sleepiness. It is a wonder I am ever conscious!! LOL. I struggle with this. Sometimes I feel like I sleep through my life. I have to take at least one nap a day.
Sixth, Fibromyalgia is unpredictable. Some days I may feel pretty close to normal and may be able to go shopping for a little while or run errands or clean a little. These days are rare and I try to make the most of them. Other times I may sleep for a week or writhe in pain for days. I never know what a day will bring. I have gotten better at predicting my arthritis pain. I know if I am walking/standing/sitting up for a few hours a day then I will have 3-4 days of extreme pain in my hips and back. The Fibro pain though is pretty unpredictable. I do know that it is affected by the weather. When it rains I hurt. I know that much.
Seven, there is no set treatment. There are a few drug regimens, some get results with exercise regimens, and others with dietary changes or supplements.
Last, no two people with Fibromyalgia experience it in the same way. The same can be said for treatments. No two patients respond to treatments in the same way. A lot of treatments are spread by word of mouth and are tried by desperate people paying out of pocket in hopes of finding ANYTHING to help relieve the pain.
Hopefully, in the future we can make some progress in helping those of us with Fibromyalgia find some relief. It is difficult to live a quality life when you spend a great deal of it in pain. Gentle hugs out there to all my Fibro brothers and sisters. Comment below and let me know how you are coping and how you are dealing with the pain.
Guys, I mean guys, I am so honored. This weekend I reached 700 followers on Instagram. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It just blows my mind. Not only does that mean that there are 700 people with nothing better to do than read my posts (kidding) but just think a minute…. those are 700 people who have a chronic illness or who love someone with a chronic illness. Minus the ones who just wanna see cute pictures of Princess Sophie of course!! Seriously though, I want to thank each and every one of you for sharing this journey with me and I hope that I have helped you in some small way at some point. Whether I made you laugh or cry or say, “Yes, me too!” and feel not quite so alone….. I am glad that I can be here for you. I am always available by DM if you need someone to talk to. I know how isolated you can feel. I know how sometimes you just feel like giving up. So message me if you need someone to talk to. Or if you have specific questions. I hope to do more informational posts in the future. I just feel like there are so many of those out there and I prefer to let you see what life with fibro is really like and try to lend support to you when you need it. Try to make you laugh. Try to inspire you. Don’t forget. WE are WARRIORS!!!