I have Fibromyalgia, and it sucks. There is nothing easy about this condition, it is brutal and unapologetic. I never thought I would end up with such a horrible condition but here I am. I wasn’t always this way though; I had a successful career, I was active in my community and my local church, I enjoyed fitness training and various sporting activities. I loved horse riding(not that I was any good), I was a busy dad and a very hard working husband. Was I perfect? By all means NO! But I had enough grit to work at it each day.
I am no longer this person, and that is not a bad thing. I have become more patient in my parenting, more attentive in my marriage, more careful in my activities, and more aware of myself. It seems a large price to pay to truly appreciate all the good I have in my life, but I chose to see it this way.
It is estimated that between 3 to 6% of people worldwide suffers with Fibro, of which 75 to 90% are women. As a male this places me in the 0.3 to 0.6% margin along with children. This is a difficult statistic as this simply means that there isn’t enough cases out there to really get the proper awareness.
But what is fibromyalgia? This is even more difficult to explain as traditionaly this is a term given to patients with severe symptoms that cannot be explained. In short it is a chronic pain condition that affects some to all major pressure points on the human body. A more specific description could be that there is a critical system error in the communication pathways between nerves and the brain, this means you are experiencing severe pain that doesn’t actually exist. When you place your hand in a fire your nerve endings send an automatic signal to your brain in the form of a pain alarm to allow you to avoid injury, but imagine feeling the pain without the fire.
Common symptoms include:
- Widespread pain in the neck, middle and lower back, arms, legs, shoulders, and hips.
- Pain that can alternate between throbbing, aching, burning, shooting, stabbing, and stiffness.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Lack of energy.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Depression or anxiety.
- Memory problems and trouble concentrating (sometimes called “fibro fog”).
- Muscle twitches or cramps.
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
- Itching, burning, and other skin problems.
- IBS with severe bouts of nausea.
- Excess sweating.
- Easy bruising.
- swelling of joints.
- sensitivity to noise, light, or temperature.
- Jaw pain.
- Chest pain.
- Bladder pain.
- An urgent need to urinate.
- Food allergy symptoms like a stuffed nose, wheezing, diarrhea, or vomiting
Of the 21 symptoms listed above I experience all 21 throughout an average week with at least 15 symptoms each day. I assure you this is not a walk in the park. Simple acts like walking, sitting, and even typing can be extremely painful. Is it curable? No. Can you live a normal life? For some, yes! But not all, and most who have been able to return to their old lives have had to make a lot of adjustments to do so. I have not been so lucky(yet) . On good days I am able to walk with a cane for very short distances, on average days I am able to move around but in a wheel chair, and on bad days I am exhausted and struggle to get out of bed without wanting to scream, and on the worst days I wake up in the late morning and continuously fall in and out of sleep until the next day. In short, it sucks!
So why blog about it? Well for my own sanity sake. You see I have been attending all sorts of treatments, which include physio, but I have found talking and even writing about it helps me cope better with this horrid condition. In fact talking to others with the same condition has helped me to remain positive, yes there are cases of people who have actually had improvement in their quality of life, so I remain hopeful.
However, there remains a very large and ignorant group who do not see nor recognize this condition. It is hard enough living with this condition without the unfair judgements of others. You are robbed of your life, unable to work, unable to join in activities with family and friends, and living with constant worry about finances and medical bills(which never ends). Having to sell your home before the bank takes it, moving into your parents or in-laws to have additional help, cutting back on your lifestyle just so you can keep your creditors of your back.
If you know someone who has fibro, try see it through their eyes. If you have fibro, don’t be scared to talk about it.