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.http://j.mp/g0UGc4
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.http://j.mp/g0UGc4 
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, http://j.mp/bsS10S, and migraines, http://j.mp/8ZZnOC. 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.” http://goo.gl/KtXtk

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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Pieces of Me

Puzzle pieces, artistic impressionImage via Wikipedia
Who am I trying to kid? I’ve wanted to create a blog for quite some time. I’ve read one book after another and looked at and read one blog after another. There are some amazing blogs on the blogosphere that address whatever topic that may interest you.  The one thing that all the blogging books and how-to’s cautioned, “speak about what you know.” Speak. About. What. You. Know. Have I done that?
As I mentioned before, this blog was never intended to be one about my life with fibromyalgia, migraines or most recently pulmonary embolisms.  In fact, my intent was to largely ignore those issues unless there was a compelling reason to discuss them.  I began this blog as another way to decipher and discover the “inner” me.  How can I ignore my health issues  without ignoring significant pieces of me?  
An archeologist excavates a site eager to discover and later study the artifacts left behind by earlier civilizations.  Every artifact is of import in arriving at an understanding of how the civilization interacted, lived and ultimately perished. Likewise, I cannot pick and choose those pieces of me that I think are worthy of this blog. Like the other blog topics, fibromyalgia, migraines, are a part of me–of the totality of who I am.  At this time in my life, they hold a major role in my life; it would be disingenuous of me to deny them a place in this blog. So, as I seek my way toward inner acceptance and ultimately, peace, my health issues are also ‘what I know.’
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Baby Steps

Hallelujah! Today is the first day since my last post that my body has not been wracked with indiscriminate pain. No pity party here, just the facts. For the past 4 or 5 days, I have been engaged in an all too familiar battle–with fibromyalgia and migraines and the unyielding pain that both cause and the price they’ve cost me. This is a post about that struggle.

First came the migraines. They have been with me so long that I can no longer remember exactly when they began. I can’t even remember a time when they were not there-they’ve always been there. (For anyone who hears the word “migraine” and assumes ‘headache,’ please find accurate information for yourself and others at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120 ). The fibromyalgia came much later and for some time was the mystery illness, but it has been the most devastating of the two. If you are unfamiliar with  fibromyalgia, go to the National Fibromyalgia Association,  http://www.fmaware.org/site/PageServer?pagename=fibromyalgia.  I have allowed both to orchestrate and direct my life for far too long.

The duo became my mental, physical and emotional wardens, and I, their unwitting prisoner. They kept me from events, people, hobbies, and later my active attorney status,  making it impossible for me to commit to the very things that make life enjoyable. Nevertheless, for over a year, I’ve wanted to create a blog, both as a means of documenting “me” and my incessant seeking, and a way to write since I can’t actively practice law at this time. Yet, my desire to write goes back much further.

As a little girl, I wrote a little book by hand.  I can’t recall the topic, only the desire to write. Back then, it was no more than the silly dream of a poor, little, girl from a broken home–to escape the world in which I lived. Over the years, I’ve searched in all the wrong places for my authentic voice.You know, that “voice” that in the inimitable words of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when trying to define hardcore porno, ” I know it when I see it.” Of course, I am not referring to the perhaps more scintillating topic of pornography, but the more prosaic ‘inner voice’ that elicits a sense of familiarity and home. For some of us, including yours truly, the feeling is significantly more profound. Over the years, especially due to events that I will speak to another time, I’ve out grown the voice that I worn all these decades. It just doesn’t suit me anymore; if it ever did.

It’s like continuing to wear a pair of exquisite, outwardly beautiful and coveted, shoes. They are the perfect style, an impossible to find color, BUT, they are now a half-size too small and they hurt like hell–from the moment I put them on my foot to the glorious moment that I can take them off. Naturally, when I tried them on in the store, they seemed to fit like a dream, but now, they just don’t fit. When you uncover your true voice, a voice that fits you and no other, you know it when you feel it. You slip into it, just like a perfect pair of shoes (hey, I can’t help it if I love shoes). Every fiber in your body awakens and begins to fire on all cylinders and the fit–it’s yours without a doubt. Maybe I’ll find that voice here, maybe I won’t, but I can’t find out unless I try. This time, I am not letting ‘my wardens’ get in my way.

I would be a liar if I claimed to have broken free of my long-time mental prison. No, I am what is known in the correctional institutional parlance, (I know this through my role as a former attorney for the State of Texas, representing state institutions, including its’ many prisons.) as a “trusty,” a well-behaved and trustworthy [prisoner] to whom special privileges are granted. Little by little, I will free myself from this duo, but for now, I am baby-stepping my way back into my life. This blog is one of those baby steps.

Blessings and love,