In late 2002, I began experiencing flu-like symptoms. I pushed through it, as I usually do, only to suffer severe disability for three months. My primary physician referred me to a Rheumatologist, and after comprehensive testing I was diagnosed with a rare virus and subsequently, Fibromyalgia. In 2003, receiving these diagnoses was a relief; just knowing what was happening to my body brought me comfort.
However, I had no idea what an impact these illnesses would have on my day-to-day life. Maintaining my career was difficult, my ability to parent and care for my family was diminished, and my very identity was shattered.
My Type-A personality refused to go down without a fight, so I attended a rehabilitation program that provided intense training in exercise, food and nutrition, and ergonomics both at home and in the workplace, as well as counseling. The program was wonderful and when I went back to work, I thought my new toolbox of knowledge would help me survive. Sadly, my symptoms raged on, encroaching on my life and eventually ending my career. Fibromyalgia has no rhyme or reason and creates havoc in an otherwise normal existence.
As time passed, I kept what I had learned in the rehabilitation program in my mind but found that listening to my body was key to caring for myself in the partnership I had with my doctors. I learned more about nutrition, pharmaceuticals, natural supplements, and read all I could on Fibromyalgia. As a result, my care became more personalized and some symptoms from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) were banished. I encouraged myself when most of my friends and family had trouble relating to me, and my struggle.
...just knowing what was happening to my body brought me comfort.
My desire to write and to share my journey has brought much delight to my days.
No longer do I feel guilty if I must cancel a lunch date or move my personal schedule around so that I have time to rest. My home is not the pristine place it used to be and surprisingly, I am content. My adult children are my cheer squad and my oldest son my caretaker. I’ve redefined everything about my life. Through social media, I share what I’ve learned with other Fibromyalgia patients in a support group I co-lead with two other Fibromyalgia survivors. It is a place to share how my life has been impacted and we learn from each other. We cry, we support one another, we get angry, and together we have developed a safe place to talk about all things Fibromyalgia. The truth is that not many healthy people are sympathetic, compassionate, or empathetic, so having “Fibro Sisters” is paramount to my continuing positivity.
Fibromyalgia caused my personal disability, but my desire to write and to share my journey has brought much delight to my days. I may never be a Jane Austin or Virginia Woolf, but I can be me.