I have fibromyalgia. It manifests itself by achy pain and stiffness that begins in my neck and spreads throughout the rest of my body, seeping into every muscle and every joint. At its worst, it is accompanied by heavy fatigue that makes my limbs feel like lead.
My symptoms first cropped up seven years ago. I had no idea what was happening to me. Neither did the doctors. I remember lying curled up on the couch thinking to myself, This is it, I must be dying.
I underwent a plethora of blood tests (including RA and Lyme Disease) and even an MRI, with all of the results suggesting that I was a perfectly healthy young woman. So I was given the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and told that I could either go on pain medication and anti-depressants, or just live with it. It became pretty evident that Western medicine had nothing to offer me.
I wasn't satisfied with that.
I began seeking out alternative treatments. One doctor prescribed about a dozen nutritional supplements for me to take several times a day. I hate swallowing pills, so the daily capsule popping sessions got old real fast. I knew there had to be something more that could be done.
I then stumbled across a practitioner of Eastern medicine. Technically speaking, he is a DO and Osteopath, specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
He began treating me with acupuncture, acupressure, manipulations, and other techniques that are difficult to describe without sounding too mystical.
After a couple of weeks, I really began to see a difference. It was helping. Suddenly, there was hope.
The way he described it to me, his treatments weren't a way to treat the symptoms, but to help my body heal itself.
Once I felt better, I was able to get more active. The more active I got, the better I felt.
I finally got to the point, after a couple of years, where I could go two months or more between treatments.
When I got pregnant with Ian, my symptoms all but disappeared. There was something about the hormones associated with the pregnancy that kept it at bay.
I've ridden that hormonal wave for over a year now, and out of the blue, my symptoms have suddenly rebounded with a vengeance.
There was a part of me that was hoping I was finally healed of this condition, but I am reminded once again that it will probably always be with me.
The weather has a huge impact. Summer does a lot to ease my symptoms. The combination of sunshine, warmth and increased activity are very healing.
Once the cold of winter sets in, it becomes harder to force myself to go outdoors. But I've found that if I spend my days curled up indoors, I only get worse. The winters where I kept active outdoors all season (fishing, kayaking, hiking, bird-watching), my symptoms weren't as bad. I still hurt, but it just wasn't as noticeable.
So these days, I only really venture out once or twice a day to feed and water animals. I know my inactivity has been detrimental, and I'm paying for it now.
I'm really going to make an effort to at least get out for a 30-minute walk every day. Even if I can get back into the habit of doing a short yoga routine every day, I know that would help too.
I know how to beat this. It just sucks having to acknowledge it, if that makes any sense.
Anybody who has never lived with chronic pain can have a hard time understanding the huge impact it has on you, psychologically.
I'm not really looking for sympathy or trying to push the "poor me," card.
It's just that it has helped to shape where I am in life - who I am.
My next acupuncture treatment is coming up soon, and the warmth of spring is right around the corner. I refuse to let this pain get me down again. There is still so much yet to look forward to, in this life.
|Our latest failed attempt at a family portrait, haha|