I’ve had fibromyalgia for over 25 years and didn’t know it. How did I finally find out why my life was a big suck fest? I diagnosed myself. Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20.
It’s not that I hadn’t been seeing doctors during this time period. I’d seen a lot of them. I saw my family doctor for treatment of depression and, eventually, anxiety. I saw an ob/gyn regularly for yearly check ups and, of course, pregnancy. I saw several dermatologists over the years for mysterious rashes, I saw a psychiatrist in my early 30’s for treatment of alcoholism. More about that later.
I suspect this insidious disease started with the birth of my first child. I was young and far from family and unprepared for giving birth with no pain medication, especially since he was almost 9 pounds. And, at just a few hours old, he was sent from the birthing center to the hospital for breathing difficulties. I went home without my baby. A few days later, I developed a high fever and ended up in the hospital with a uterine infection. While there, my first husband didn’t visit often and didn’t answer the home phone at night. Basically, he was AWOL. Stress upon stress upon stress.
Here’s me with my son and good friend circa approximately 1996.
When I was 25ish I worked with a bunch of other women doing landscaping for the City of Madeira Beach, FL. It was hard, hot work and I could barely keep up, even though I was the youngest of the group. Once we worked an extra day for a seafood festival. At one point, I was so exhausted and my body hurt so badly that I sat down and cryed. 😢
When I became an x-ray technologist the work was on your feet and non stop all day every day. The last 8 years of my career I worked Saturday and Sunday, 12 hour shifts. That was double tough. It would take until Wednesday to get over the extreme pain and exhaustion. I had to do this because, by this time, Chance was getting big and had developed seizures, so I couldn’t find child care during the week. My husband took care of him and our daughter.
How did I figure out that I had fibromyalgia? I lost my job in 2009, but I was still in constant pain. That got me thinking, because I’d always blamed the pain on work. My family doctor wouldn’t diagnose me so I asked to see a rheumatologist. After a series of questions (there is no diagnostic test), he started me on Lyrica and a muscle relaxer. They’ve made a world of difference. And I don’t have to self medicate with alcohol anymore, which I did for years.
What took so long? First, it’s a woman’s disease and they tend to be overlooked. An article from health.com states this: “Research from the National Fibromyalgia Association shows that it takes an average of three to five years for the condition to be diagnosed.
Many factors contribute to that delay. “Fibromyalgia patients can look the picture of health, despite their significant pain, and there’s no specific known cause. For doctors, that translates into the frustrating reality that there’s no objective diagnostic lab tests they can do. A fibromyalgia diagnosis is based on the patient’s description of symptoms.”