A single mom working two full-time jobs, I was outgoing and enthusiastic. I spent time with family and friends or worked on one of the many creative projects that I had on the go. With the exception of a few minor bumps in the road, my life seemed to cruise along smoothly until fibromyalgia slowly transformed my identity.
What’s wrong with me?
I began to notice many subtle changes in my life. Not only was I forgetting everything and getting confused, I was tired and cold all of the time. My arms and hands were getting stiff, achy and starting to jump. It became almost impossible to sleep through the night and I was hard to get my body out of bed. I assumed that I must be working too much and ignored it.
One morning, I poured a coffee and was heading for the kitchen table when my hand simply let go of the cup. I knew something was wrong. Earlier in the week, I had come home from work and forgotten to pick my son up from daycare. I headed straight for the phone and made an appointment to see the doctor.
A Journey for Answers
By the end of two years, I heard every excuse from “it’s your imagination” to “it’s just stress.” Giving up on the idea of finding an answer, I moved on with my life. I remarried, relocated and found another job.
Depression and abdominal pain caused me to lose weight rapidly, while painful periods made it difficult to leave the house. Even with the help of 4000 mg acetaminophen and 1600 mgs anti-inflammatory drugs a day, I couldn’t find any relief.
My husband noticed I was extremely withdrawn, and, feeling ignored, my son began to have behavioral problems. I found that my friends seemed to disappear and my boss was becoming very dissatisfied with my job performance. Finally, my husband convinced me to go to the doctor one last time. “This time,” he said, “you’re not leaving until you get an answer.”
It took twenty minutes for the rheumatologist diagnosis fibromyalgia. By the time I got to the car, I was in tears. Someone had finally recognized that I wasn’t just looking for attention and that I really was in pain.
A New Beginning
With the help of my family physician, I tried many drugs until I found amitryptyline. It seemed to kill three birds with one stone. I was happier, getting sleep and in less pain. Massage, exercises, and heat seemed to ease the pain enough that I could continue with my work. I also noticed that the weather seemed to affect my pain level and tried to plan my days accordingly.
My memory and mental health also began to improve with daily multivitamins, B12, and a day planner. Once I got into the habit, making lists became crucial part of daily life. Word and memory games were a fun way to help the entire family.
As frustrating and painful as this disease can be, I truly believe that it isn’t the end of my life. I do what I can to control the symptoms on the bad days and make the most out of each good day. Will it get worse? Maybe, but I will deal with whatever comes when it gets here.