Finally. I have a diagnosis – Fibromyalgia. After months of pain and fatigue to the point of disability, I can now start working towards getting things right. I no longer feel like an episode of House.
Wednesday night, after receiving the diagnosis, I spent hours reading about what I was now facing. I knew a little bit about Fibromyalgia prior to visiting the doctor, along with info on Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and Multiple Sclerosis, which were all contenders for what might have been wrong with me, but all that information was nothing compared to what I have learned since the appointment. Lupus, R.A., M.S. and Fibromyalgia all seemed beyond scary and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous going in to the appointment. But since then I have learned that Fibromyalgia is by far the least scary one of them all.
As I read information on several different websites like MedicineNet.com, my knowledge base for what my future is looking like is a bit brighter.
One of the biggest and most asked questions people have when they hear the news that they have contracted some disease or disorder is “What causes it? How did I get it?”
Well, the simple answer to that question for patients with Fibromyalgia is “we don’t know”. Though blood tests are necessary to rule out other possibilities, there is no blood test to identify it. Doctors and researchers don’t know what causes it. The doctors can only go on the range of symptoms a patient may be experiencing and carefully diagnose from there.
Trauma, psychological distress and infection have been associated with the onset of Fibromyalgia. It would come as no surprise to me that the bacterial meningitis I survived back in 2004 might have triggered this. I recognize that I may have been experiencing mild symptoms for years with it only getting severe in the last year.
The biggest bit of relief is that unlike R.A. and M.S., Fibromyalgia does not cause damage to the tissues and organs. Though the pain can be extremely severe to the point of disablitity at times, it is the brain that is misinterpreting the signals the body is producing. The brain just thinks there is pain. According to studies conducted on Fibromyalgia patients, research suggests that the central nervous system may be somehow supersensitive and responding to stimuli that are not normally associated with pain. Serotonine levels and other brain chemicals also may play a role in the disease.
I feel extremely fortunate that I was diagnosed so quickly. Many people truly suffer with Fibromyalgia for years or even decades before being properly diagnosed. The hypothyroidism I was diagnosed with earlier this year masked several of the symptom of Fibromyalgia and only when the hypothyroidism was under control did we realize we needed to continue to look at other possibilities for the pain and fatigue. I want to thank the doctors at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital here in Chicago for their personal attention and truly listening to me about what was going on.
No matter what the future may hold for me with Fibromyalgia, whether it’s medication, or diet, or exercise, or some combination of the three, I know that I will not let it control how I live my life.
In the coming weeks and on into the future, I will explore the different possibilities that have been known to relieve the symptoms of Fibromyalgia to find the combination that works for me. My days having a walking cane at my side are numbered and I'm look forward to putting that thing away for good.
If I am to trust God with my life, it has to be all of my life, including this flawed physical form. Fibromyalgia is just another obstacle in God’s path for me. I can let it get me down and beat me, or I can climb over it and get on with what God has next for me to do.
For more information on Fibromyalgia check out The National Fibromyalgia Associstion.