Fibromyalgia is a common condition characterized by long-term, body-wide pain and tender points in joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, morning stiffness, sleep problems, headaches, numbness in hands and feet, depression, and anxiety.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Does Fibromyalgia Exist?

Does fibromyalgia exist?

Yes, I would have to say that it does exist and I am living proof of that. I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the spring of 2007 by a rheumatologist, however it was quite a journey to finally come to this conclusion.


Here is my story:

I have had some issues with lower back pain and my sciatic nerve for some time and had been seeing a chiropractor for nearly 10 years. I would have bouts of pretty intense pain that would take several visits to finally go away, but for the most part, not life altering. I took ibuprophen and figured I was just worn down from too much stress in my life and not enough exercise. It wasn't until the year 2006 that everything started going downhill. Both my mother and my father passed away that year and the stress was at an all time high.


My father was in a nursing home due to failing health. He had been on dialysis 3 times a week for 3 years and also had been in and out of the hospital with heart problems. He and my mother no longer lived together and hadn't for nearly 22 years so he was on one side of town and my mother was on the other. They still remained close and my mother continued to make sure he had the proper attention he needed in the nursing home.


My mother was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in the spring of 2006 and just a few months later my two sisters and I began to make trips to Arizona to stay with her and to check in with my dad and the nursing staff to be sure he was being cared for as my mom could no longer do this.


During the last month of my mother's life my sister and I were taking care of her round the clock at her home. My other sister had to get back to Colorado so as not to lose her job. We had moved the "hospital" bed into her living room so that we could keep constant watch over her. It was stressful, it was emotionally draining, and it was physically exhausting.


On top of that my father was getting weaker and weaker and could no longer use the phone or get up and eat with the others. He really wasn't even coherant enough to fully understand that my mom was dying. It was heartbreaking to see him in such a state and not be able to do more for him like we were doing for my mom.


I remember waking up each morning in so much pain from sleeping in the guest bed that I would be in tears. It's terrible to confess, but I would pray my mom would stay asleep long enough for my meds to kick in so that I could help her. I would tiptoe out to grab a cup of coffee and my medications and just sit on the back porch waiting for them to take affect.

I had no idea I had fibro but I knew something was terribly wrong as the tasks I was performing, even though they were tiring, did not warrant the pain I would feel the next day. It felt like a truck had run over me in the mornings. I had even gone to the expense of buying several layers of the memory foam hoping to make the bed more comfortable to sleep in and not be in such pain upon awakening. I was seeing a chiropractor twice a week just to stay upright. The stress to care for both my mom and my dad as well as get the house ready for sale was completely overwhelming not just mentally but physically too.


It got so bad after several weeks that I had to go home. I could no longer function and I was taking so many pain meds that I couldn't stay awake, yet I couldn't sleep. It was a total nightmare.


My decision to leave was one of the most difficult choices I have ever made in my life. I cannot tell you how gut wrenching it was to say my final goodbye to my mom and my dad but I knew that I was just getting worse and worse and my sister was doing more and more. We finally called my older sister to come back and help and the very next day I was on a plane home.


I fully believe the amount of stress that was in my life at that time in addition to the already stressful life I had is what brought about my fibromyalgia.


I know the professionals say there is no known reason and that the degree each person experiences is different, but I know first hand that high stress plays a significant role because the more stress I have, the worse the fibro is.


I will continue my story in part 2 on my blog. I will tell you what brought about the diagnosis as well as some information I received from the rheumatologist and the physical therapist.


I want and encourage you to comment and tell me your story or to add to anything I have written. I am not a professional. I am a just a woman living my life with fibromyalgia.

5 comments:

MYSTIC SILKS said...

I fell in 1991 on black ice fracturing (the sacrum, a triangle bone) in the lower back that connects the hips. The pain was unbelievable.I was in intense pain for months until the bone healed.
But because of the fracture the 3 lower discs in the spine were rob of blood supply and correct nerve supply. As a consequences, those 2 disc lost the soft gel mass the cushions each disc in the spine.

Well, that whole pain game triggered my entire nervous system, resulting in pain in muscles without any provocation. Getting a simply blood pressure is extremely painful to my arm.
Every muscle is tender to the touch. I am unable to sit, stand, walk for any longer than a 1/2 hour.

I have tons of pain meds I can take, but refuse to, unless the pain just become too great to live with.

I am going to PT to be able to retain my mobility.

I ward of feeling sorry for myself, by thinking of things I can be grateful for. I think the emotional aspect plays a huge part in how one physically feels.

Thanks Chris for posting this blog.

Klaire

Christine Burgess said...

Klaire- Thanks so much for your post. I knew you were going to PT from one of the forums so I hope that it will help you in the long run.

Shortly after I was diagnosed I was set up for PT and to this day I still do all the neck and back exercises and can tell pretty quickly when I have forgotten a few days in a row.

I have only been to the chiropractor(no more drs. appts.necessary) 3 times in the last year so that is a huge improvement from my weekly visits I had been doing for months on end. I just wish someone would have told me years ago that certain exercises would make such a huge difference.
I had no idea you were having that much pain. How in the world do you stay on the computer?
I can only sit at the computer for about 45 minutes and have to get up and walk about and do something else for a while.

MYSTIC SILKS said...

Hi Chris,

I too get up and walk around--sometime I'll lay down with my feet propped up on the bed.

By 5:30pm, I'm usually done for--the computer goes off.

I have a vast array of back rubs that I use when the pain gets too much.--:)

Does your diet play much into how you feel?

I know, no more peanuts for me.--:)

Christine Burgess said...

Yes, my diet definitely plays a large part in how I feel. A few years back I was told I have a sensitivity to dairy, soy and msg. Try going off dairy overnight.Yikes!
I stopped all 3 for one full year and now am careful about how much I eat because it makes me irritable and very tired the next day.
It seems like everything makes me tired.LOL

Lulu said...

Hello, my name is Lori. January is Thyroid Disease Awareness Month and I wanted to bring this to your attention as a reminder that thyroid disease often manifests with fibromyalgia type symptoms and that it is important to be tested for thyroid disease. Many doctors do not test adequately for thyroid disease and that's why it is important to educate yourself. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue/narcolepsy. Several years later I was finally diagnosed with thyroid disease and many of my severe fibro-like symptoms have improved. My thyroid disease is not optimally treated yet so I am hoping those symptoms will improve further. I was amazed to see how many symptoms of both disease are the same including muscle and joint pain, word finding difficulties, depression, brain-fog, food sensitivities, etc. I would also like to leave this link for your information.

http://bit.ly/4t0XjK

Thank you,
Lori