You see me post memes and articles about Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia almost daily. I know sometimes you roll your eyes and think, “For Pete’s Sake get over it!” or “Seriously, another post, we get it!” And I understand. I really do. Seeing someone post pictures of the same topic over and over can be boring, and sometimes annoying. And if you feel that way, I am genuinely sorry, and I still love you anyway. I want you to know that I am not looking for sympathy, or “poor baby” responses.
Here’s why I do it: For me, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain are something I deal with EVERY minute of EVERY day. Truly. It is why I needed to leave a job I loved very much one year ago. It is why I leave early, sit outside the group or look for quiet places in the middle of a party. It is why I do not know one day what I will be able to do the next.
Fibromyalgia affects me in many different ways. There are over twenty recognized symptoms of fibromyalgia. The main symptoms are:
1) Chronic (meaning almost always present) widespread (meaning throughout the body) pain, including headaches, sharp and aching pain in connective tissues, jaw and facial tenderness, muscle pain and tenderness, abdominal and menstrual pain, morning stiffness, and numbness, tingling and burning feelings on the skin.
I have ALL of these at some point, and though they are lessening now with medication and physical therapy, I can expect them to return at any time.
2) Fatigue and sleep disturbances, which include insomnia, cognitive dysfunction, memory interference, difficulty concentrating and performing simple mental tasks (which, yes, is medically referred to as “fibro fog”), low energy, and reduced tolerance for exercise.
I have ALL of these, though I am able to manage them somewhat with the help of medication.
3) Other symptoms and overlapping conditions: Irritable bowel syndrome, sound sensitivity, light sensitivity and light sensitivity, muscle twitches, anxiety and depression (typically caused by the frustration and loss of your former “self” and adaptation to your new “normal”), restless legs syndrome, vision problems, dizziness, and problems with coordination.
I have experienced ALL of these at various times.
And, as I said before, there are over twenty recognized symptoms, as well as many overlapping conditions (I do have a handful of those as well). That is a lot of stuff affecting me on a daily basis.
People often ask me what causes fibromyalgia. There is no easy answer, as we do not fully know right now. It is thought that an illness or trauma (physical or mental) can trigger a “glitch” in the nervous system, causing the brain to recognize a pain trigger when there is none, or amplify the pain signals from slight touch or injury. The brain does not “turn off” the signal when it should, and so constantly perceives pain when there is no need for it to. There is also suspicion that there is a genetic component present in some people, predisposing them to the condition.
What happened to me? Who knows? From talking to my family and physician, I can trace many of my symptoms back to about the age of thirteen. Then it was thought to be “growing pains,” around the age of fifteen, a doctor labeled it arthritis. When I was twenty, I was diagnosed and treated for Rheumatoid Arthritis, but at twenty-seven, it was finally recognized as Fibromyalgia. It was a long road to a correct diagnosis.
What I want you to understand from all of this is: I will always do what I can, when I can. I have good days and bad days, and just because I did something today, does not necessarily mean I can do it tomorrow; however, maybe I will be able to do more tomorrow than I did today! My life is unpredictable, but I will not let fibromyalgia become my excuse. So, yes, I will continue to post information about fibromyalgia, and maybe you will read it, and maybe you won’t. At least you will be aware of its existence, and remember that someone you know struggles with it. Because the more people are aware, and the more people that share the information, the more people will support fibromyalgia research, and that might help me out in the end.
As always, much love and many hugs to you all.