"Me vs. Fibromyalgia" is an in-depth, one-of-a-kind series designed to give readers and warriors affected by Fibromyalgia a comprehensive look into the facts of the disease and the story of a woman who wouldn't take no for an answer. I've chronicled eight years of experience with Fibro including chronic pain, low energy, doctors, relationships and more, and hope to offer answers and support to those who seek them.
Over 5 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Five million! That's about 1 in 50 Americans, and between 80 and 90 percent of those are women. This is my story of living with this crazy and complicated condition and the purpose of my series is to educate and assist those who suffer every minute of every day and are still expected to live a "normal life."
My "Normal Life"
I am a woman living with Fibromyalgia since 2008. I am a wife, daughter, sister and aunt. I run a P&L with a large staff. I am the founder and chairwoman of my company's Women's Alliance and sit on an executive board at a large non-profit. I'm active and engaged -- just the way I like it.
What most people don't know about my "normal life" is that every second of every day is spent managing and coping with my chronic pain that will never go away.
The Nameless Pain
Though eight years have passed, I remember my car accident like it was yesterday. A simple fender bender that resulted in one vertebrae on my back being fractured and two herniated discs in my neck. Through eight months of doctor visits, physical therapy and cortisone shots, the break had healed and the herniated discs were showing positive progress.
So, why was every inch of my body in excruciating pain? Real pain, from my head to my eyelashes to my hands, feet, knees, arms, nails and even my hair. There had to be a name for this pain.
The day I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia is as clear as if it happened five minutes ago. I had just gotten married and wondered why I didn't enjoy my week long wedding extravaganza. I also wondered why it was hard for me to walk on some days and other days I couldn't hold my toothbrush. Enter, Dr. Brown (real name kept private).
Now mind you, Dr. Brown was the third rheumatologist I had seen since the accident. He was actually my worker's comp doctor whose sole focus was to dispute my diagnosis to avoid fees. Yet when I walked into his office -- using a cane and unable to stand up straight with my hands so tightly clenched that they looked like lobster claws -- little did I know, life was about to change forever.
I Got The Answer
The doc touched my head, knees, shoulders, back and feet (known as trigger points) and I screamed in pain each time. He then sat down at his table and said, "You have Fibromyalgia."
Wait... What?? There is a name for what I have been feeling? A true medical name? My husband I acted as if we had won the lottery!
Dr. Brown recommended another rheumatologist that specialized in my diagnosis and my husband and I set the next appointment with pure excitement. We stopped to eat lunch and I remember both of us as giddy as children on Christmas Day because there was a name to my pain. If there was a name, there was a cure. Simple, right? Maybe not...
Next up: Finding The Right Rheumatologist
Part of my mission is to bring the Fibromyalgia Survivor community together to offer real support and encouragement to one another. You can be part of this movement by sharing your story too. How did you discover your diagnosis? How do you deal with your pain? Please tell us your story in the conversation below, let's talk about it.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. All information presented should be regarded as friendly advice and opinions based on my own experience and research. I am not making an attempt to prescribe any medical treatment and the information contained in this blog is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a doctor or qualified health practitioner.