Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Long Journey with Fibromyalgia, Part I

If you've read previous entries and/or follow me on Twitter, you know that I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  Fibromyalgia is believed to be caused by overactive nerve endings sending unprovoked pain signals to the brain.  This means fibromyalgia patients feel pain even when there is no apparent cause.

And let me tell you, it sucks.

I first began to experience pain in late 2008.  It started as what I can only describe as a hitch in the right side of my back.  I distinctly remember being at my (now former) workplace.  I was walking toward the break room when it suddenly felt difficult to walk.  It felt like if I could just pop SOMETHING (I don't know what) back into place, I would be able to walk fine.  But no matter how I twisted and turned, the pain remained.

I went to the doctor in January of 2009 and told him I had experienced some strange back pain.  Without asking any further questions or even doing a physical exam, the doctor prescribed Vicodin and Soma.  I cried* to my husband as I left the doctor's office because the doctor didn't even listen to me.

The pain continued, and the doctor kept filling the prescriptions; however, he never thought it pertinent for me to follow up with him.  My life became more and more sedentary.  We lived on the second floor of our apartment complex.  I could no longer help my husband with the chores or even navigate the stairs to take our dog on a walk.

I went to the dreaded "annual exam" (ladies, you know what I mean) in March or April of 2009 with a different (female) doctor.  She asked why I had been on Vicodin and Soma for so long.  I mentioned the back pain.  She sent me to get x-rays and sent me to a Physical Medicine & Rehab specialist.  This specialist told me I had arthritis in my back and sent me to physical therapy.  I diligently went to PT once a week for several weeks, even though it only made my pain worse.

In the summer of 2009, I began to suffer from insomnia as well.  I chalked it up to strange sleep patterns provoked by attending my brother's Marine Corp graduation in San Diego and flying straight back to Texas for the birth of my first nephew.  This all occurred within 72 hours and required crossing three separate time zones.

My mantra became (and has remained), "It will get worse before it gets better."

And indeed it did.  Stay tuned for Part II.**

*Most people don't believe me when I say I'm not a crier.  But I'm not.  My husband will even verify this.  If I am crying, then one of two things have probably happened.  (1) I have run out of my anti-depressants. (2) My pain is at a level 9 or higher (on a scale of 1-10).  There are other times I will cry - the idea of my "little" stepdaughter heading off to high school this year, for example - but those are more rare occurrences.

**I can't guarantee that I'm listing the treatments I received in the exact order I received them (thanks fibro fog!).  I know I was going to PT while still working at my former workplace, but I can't remember if it was 2009 or 2010.  So please excuse any inconsistencies.  The big points are accurate, I promise. :)

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