I’ve been a little absent from the blogosphere for the past several months. Looking through my archives my last post was May 21st. It really doesn’t feel like it has been that long but a lot has happened in the last five months. There are so many things I wanted to write about but every time I sat down to start I felt overwhelmed or something came up. The time has come to give up my self-proclaimed title of “Queen of Excuses” and share some of what has been happening in my life. To my regular readers, if I still have any that is, please forgive the slight deviation from my regular topics of gender and sexuality. I will get back to that soon enough. I promise. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month after all and that is a cause near and dear to my heart.
For the last three years or so I have been grappling with widespread and unexplained chronic pain. As a young woman in her 20s I refused to believe whatever I was dealing with did not have a cure. There had to be an end in sight. I went to the doctor several times a month and had more tests done that I can keep track of. I was told I might have an infection, it might be rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus, or several other things I cannot remember or pronounce. Each time though the tests came back negative. At the time the pain started I was working in an extremely unhealthy and stressful environment. Often times the body reacts physically to stress and things going on in our lives. I was told this was probably it. But the pain persisted even after I quit my job. It continued after I moved to another town, away from people who knew me, and more importantly away from people who had hurt me.
I quickly became tired of all the tests and the receptionist at the doctor’s office typing in my ID number without needing my card. I became more and more frustrated with not having any results, of not having a diagnosis to go with what was often crippling pain. It became wearisome having to defend myself and explain that yes, for whatever reason, I was still hurting although nothing on my medical chart could tell anyone why. So, I did what any normal person would do at this point (right?) and I stopped. I stopped going to the doctor. I stopped telling people when it hurt to walk, or sit, or stand, or lay down. When I wasn’t actively trying to deal with it I was ignoring it. I pushed my body because I’m in my 20s dammit and I should not have to accept that I have limits. I held out hope that if I just ignored it long enough it would go away.
Then in February of this year I slipped in the bathtub and fell. I cut my shin open and banged my shoulder, hip, and forearm on the way down. I instinctively reached out an arm to stop myself and ended up with my full body weight pressing my wrist into the ground. It was a pretty nasty fall and even though the doctor assured me that falls in the tub are one of the most common way people injure themselves I was not healing. The bruises on my shoulder, hip, and arm lasted for months. I ended up with my wrist in a brace months later. The cut on my leg did not heal and continued to look sunken in and red. Then I developed a rash on my leg. It appeared one night and continued to spread. I of course continued to ignore it, telling myself the body is amazing and is perfectly capable of healing itself. When August came around and I still wasn’t healing I sucked it up and called the doctor.
By this point it had been over a year since I’d gone. For anything. Including pain that had become a constant companion, often waking me in the night and keeping me from doing simple things like riding the bus to work. I finally got a doctor who not only believed me but committed to working with me to find out what was going on. She referred me to a rheumatologist and after a couple more meetings and several more tests I finally had a diagnosis.
Fibromyalgia. The word hung in the air and I could feel my hope dying. This was not something that would go away. Instead it is something that I will be dealing with for the rest of my life. There is no cure. There is nothing that will make the pain go away. No magic pill, no surgery, nothing. There is nothing I can do but try to manage it. I spent the next couple of months researching the disease and staying in communication with my doctor to try to find the best treatment plan for me. And that’s where I am still. Research. Management. Research. Management.
I’ve learned that I need to grieve. I need to go through the process of letting go. I need to accept that I have limits and if I can learn to respect those limits I may feel better sometimes. I need to mourn the fact that I’m in my 20s and will be in pain for the rest of my life. How is that fair? Like at all. I’ve come to recognize that I am in the anger stage of the grieving process. And well I don’t want to live here and just want to be angry right now. I want to rant, scream, cry, and punch my pillow into a pulp. I want to yell profanities at the sky before falling to my knees and beating the ground with my fists.
Luckily I have found a few friends who deal with chronic pain and have for a while. They’ve been my rock throughout this. They understand the difference between the days where I just want to be angry and the days where I need advice and wisdom. They’ve introduced me to the concept of the spoon theory. Please, if you get a chance read it. It is a great analogy for me and many others who deal with chronic pain.
I won’t go into the specifics of my pain but one good thing this diagnosis has done for me is explain and connect many different facets of my life and what’s been going on with my body. It is nice to have an explanation. Even if it isn’t what I wanted. I feel permission to start dealing with it and moving forward now.
That is what has been going on over the last couple months and why I’ve been so lax in my blogging. I just haven’t had the energy or the motivation to write. But that is slowly, yet surely coming back to me. Thank you for sticking with me and look forward to good things to come on Unladylike Musings.
If you are interested in reading more about Fibromyalgia click here. For more about “invisible illnesses” click here.