Fibromyalgia: The Visitor That Won’t Leave

It’s time that I come clean and stop tiptoeing around the subject. I mean, if I had an employer, I couldn’t keep silent about my absences. So, I feel that it is only fair that I do the same on my blog. I have to fess up and talk directly about a subject that is always on my mind but I pretend to ignore. It’s the reason that it has taken me days to write this post. It’s the reason that I can’t write here as often as I’d like–can’t enjoy many of the things that I love.

I am referring to fibromyalgia. I’ve referred to it in a number of posts but only as some phantom visitor who stays for a while and leaves to return again at some later date. Unfortunately for me, that is not how it works. Over the last six years, fibromyalgia is the visitor who I can’t kick out or order to leave. This is the visitor who quickly over stays his welcome, and creates havoc and still refuses to leave, no matter what I do.  He is a visitor that should he come knocking on your door, you should bar your windows and doors, and under no circumstance allow him entry, because once he is in, only the fates know when he will leave.

What is fibromyalgia? This is where things get complicated. First of all, fibromyalgia is not a disease, it is a syndrome.
Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.
Fibromyalgia, which has also been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis and fibrositis, is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities. 
The syndrome differs from one person to another, but for me, the last phrase of the definition is particularly accurate. Because of the pain from fibromyalgia, I reluctantly resigned my position as an active litigation attorney and remain on “inactive” status with the state bar.  

The debilitating fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, insomnia, as well as sleep apnea, and psychological distress, are child’s play, compared to the pain.  For the past week and a half, I have been wracked with pain that changes location like a feather in the wind.  Muscles seize, throb,  sear, and radiate pain from head to toe, until they exhaust themselves; not even my implanted pain pump can stop the steady assault as it moves across my body. During these times, I wish that I could say that I am stoic throughout, but I’d be lying.  I take the useless pain medications, apply ice (I have about 10 ice packs), thrash, toss, turn and fervently pray to God, mostly to put me out of my misery. (This last one, I quickly take back lest God answer that prayer.)  Since I was raised Catholic, I also start calling on the guardian angels, dead relatives (I get desperate.) and saints. In case you didn’t know, there is a saint for whatever ails you. For example, St. Dennis for headaches, St. Germaine Cousins for the disabled and my personal favorite St. Michael, whom I call upon for everything. 

Over the years, I’ve tried massage, acupuncture, acupressure, Chinese medicine, herbal remedies, energy medicine, heat therapy, cold therapy, chiropractics, homeopathic medicine, flower essences, essential oils, yoga, steroid injections, pain pump implant, meditation, prescription medication, cranio-sacral therapy, physical therapy, vitamin supplements , trigger point therapy, and over-the-counter medication– anything that sounds remotely promising, I’ll try it. As I’ve discovered, the passage of time is the only sure and potent remedy.  Afterwards, I am grateful for my mind’s defense mechanism that allows me to forget the ferocity of these episodes. Mercifully, I remember pain–just not the depth and breadth of the pain.  

When I first began this blog, I wanted to gloss over this topic because I do not want pity or to be thought of solely as “that woman with fibromyalgia.”  I am so much more. As I stated then:

“Over the years, I’ve held many roles, namely, mother, wife, daughter, sister, g’mom, attorney, friend and countless others. In addition to the typical roles, I have chronic pain due to both fibromyalgia,, and migraines, This blog is not about my health issues per se, but given their huge impact on my life, denying them is akin to denying my skin or eye color. Besides, there is no doubt that they, like every other challenge that I have met and conquered in life, have no small part in forming the woman that I am today.”

I just want others to know that fibromyalgia is a disorder that I have, it is not what or who I am.

Blessings and peace, lydia marie

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