Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 71

Here comes that fatigue thing again. I curse those low pressure systems! Yes, it’s the weather. Never underestimate the weather when it comes to health. Today it is overcast with lower level grey clouds and a cool change and with that comes body pains, fatigue, brain fog and headache.

I’ve complained on and off about my fatigue. You all know I have been having blood tests and that I have ridiculously low iron (which is now climbing back to not-so-ridiculously-low levels thanks to the injections). The truth of the matter is that despite the blood tests and despite the “what ifs” that occasionally go through my mind, I know exactly what my problem is, I just don’t like to admit to it or give it any energy.

Three years ago, about 6 months after I left the Government, I started to suffer from chronic fatigue. It got to the point that I required an afternoon nap most days, I couldn’t lift my arms above my head to hang washing, and I slept a full ten hours a night. Then something strange started to happen. I would get this weird pressure or constriction type feeling in my arms and legs, not quite pins and needles, but close. Then the brain fog set in where I felt half drunk for good chunks of the day. Not that tipsy happy type drunk but the head spins, the lack of focus and the need to blink a lot to actually see where you are walking. And then there was the arthritis that appeared to be settling in. So I headed off to the doctor and then straight on to the neurologist. Of course I had already googled my symptoms and I diagnosed myself with Multiple Sclerosis. Can I just say right now – don’t google your symptoms. Don’t do it! For weeks I had MS. The reality is, after MRIs and neurological testing I don’t have MS. I have something far less sinister but equally frustrating. I have fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a condition or syndrome rather than a disease. The word fibromyalgia means fibre, muscle, pain which pretty much sums it up. The experts describe it as a “chronic, painful, musculo-skeletal condition” with the pain varying from day-to-day and affecting different parts of the body at different times. Plus there are days where the pain is quite severe and others where it's more a discomfort with a kind of dull throb in the muscles, tendons or ligaments. People often think they have arthritis but in fact there isn’t actually any inflammation. Before being diagnosed I had thought my pain came from age, exercise or RSI. Exercise can actually increase the pain but for me I would prefer to feel the positive pain of exercise than the negative pain of fibro. At least I feel that the pain is worth it when I am exercising … that I am making some sort of forward progress rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself. And I can actually handle the pain for the most part. The pain in my fingers and limbs is quite manageable, it is the pain in my neck, shoulders and jaw that causes me the most grief because that then all leads to headache which just about always ends up of migraine magnitude. But forget the pain for the minute. It’s the other symptoms that really stuff me up – fatigue, fog, vertigo. I hate it! I hate being zapped of all energy and spinning through clouds so that the smallest task is incredibly difficult.

I discovered early on in the diagnosis that if you give in to fibromyalgia it will eat you alive and define you as a victim. The best remedy is to remain active through it and become a victor. So that is what I try to do. Keep motivated through the attacks. I tell you what, it doesn’t always work. Last Thursday night at street funk classes I had a fibro attack and I couldn’t for the life of me get my arms and legs and brain to all work in harmony. In the end I just went home because I was putting the rest of the class off. You seriously cannot do a body roll when your arms, legs, head and chest are all working against each other.

Anyway, that’s as much energy as I am going to give to fibromyalgia on this blog. I will not be complaining about the pain and I will not be going into detail about the irritable bowel, the headaches, the fog or the vertigo. The most you will get out of me is reference to the systems occasionally and the perils of the low pressure system. Right now I need to get off my bum and push through it ….

Oh look, the clouds are lifting!! Long live the sun.

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