I’m one of the luckier people when it comes to my diagnosis. I’ve heard horror stories of people waiting decades to even get a confirmation that their pain is legitimate. You know, not all in your head.
My diagnosis took about a year but my symptoms began when I was really young. Looking back, it’s no wonder that I didn’t connect the dots – I attributed my pain and symptoms to every day living, not leading up to one huge disorder.
I was about ten years old when I started to really notice the amount of pain I would be in after I would run. I could sprint about a block before my knees would almost give out. I blamed it on weak knees and moved on.
I would be really sensitive to sounds and lights when I was growing up. I always figured that I was one of those people who covered their ears when the subway came by. I figured that I just must be one of those people and moved on.
Then the headaches came – diagnosed as tension headaches when I was 16 – started when I was 13. I took T3’s for the pain and moved on.
Then the aches and the fatigue came when I was 17. I was working on the weekends and going to school; I figured that I just didn’t get enough sleep and every highschool student was usually tired so I moved on.
19 years of age and I was already on the Dean’s list for my program, working part time at two different jobs; the fatigue was just shoved aside with a constant flush of caffeine.
The second year that I was in college, I was living on my own, working three jobs, going to school full time. Still not enough money for food, rent, and transportation, I would ride my bike to the GO station that was half an hour away and then take the two hours to travel into the city to get to class by 7am. I would work at my first job at the college when my classes were over until 5, work a second job until 11pm and then work 12 hour shifts at my third job on weekends. Life sucked but I moved on.
Right before my school year ended, I was in a car accident. I had to go through special care to get back in working shape. Shortly after that, I experienced what I readily know as ‘fibrofog’. I started to blank on my presentations and I couldn’t focus.
At 21, I was working full time in a bake shop and I would always overwork myself and my boyfriend at the time (and his family) would criticize me when all I wanted to do was rest on my day off. I’d earned it. Funny enough, his mother has fibromyalgia.
It wasn’t until I couldn’t do my daily walk to Starbucks where my roommate worked that I questioned my body’s sudden betrayal.
I was tackled with symptoms of IBS, CFS, and widespread pain that focuses on certain points on my body. I would try to push myself, trying to get over the hump of fatigue. It was only for worse and I had no idea why. I was too young to possibly have anything wrong.
All of a sudden, I couldn’t keep up and even when I would break from work, I couldn’t recuperate. I had many discussions about the possibility of fibromyalgia but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t take care of myself.
That only happened to other people. I was strong and I could move on. So I did.
Over the last two years, my pain has gotten so much worse. There are some days that I need help dressing myself because my body won’t cooperate.
Now that my body echoes with pain with every breath, I can go back and remember when each bit of pain started and how easily I dismissed it. There couldn’t be anything wrong with me…I’m not even 25 years old.
After working so hard to find my passion and to figure out who I was, it was all thrown away because I didn’t take the time to understand that I’m only human. I’m not indestructible.
I’m closer to accepting my fibromyalgia than I ever have been before. I’ve always been trying to find a way to go back to when the physical problems I had were few and easily dismissed. This will never happen.
This pain is a part of my life; I still don’t believe it. My sense of justice is kicking in and I don’t feel that I should be punished with this pain.
I want to jump and go bar hopping with my friends like other 20-somethings. I want to stay up all night playing twister and drinking wine. I want to be able to go out and not have a backup plan for how to get home if my legs give out. I want to stroll the city and look at the buildings without constantly searching for a place to rest.
All these things I want, I can’t have yet. I have to work harder to get there and I will do it.