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Living with Fibromyalgia

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 16, but I started having extreme leg pain when I was about nine. It usually occurred at night. The only relief I received was when my mom rubbed my legs for hours and from Icy Hot, which I still use to this day. At first, my parents thought it was growing pains, but when the pain worsened as I got older, they knew something else was causing my pain.

At the time, Fibromyalgia wasn’t well-known. It was still in the does-it-even-exist-or-are-people-making-up-their-very-real-pain phase, kind of like MS. (There are still doctors who don’t believe Fibromyalgia is real. Even my own doctor isn’t completely convinced Fibromyalgia is real. He knows that his other patients and I feel pain, but he thinks Fibromyalgia may or may not be the culprit. For now, he treats the symptoms until medical research tells him otherwise. To be honest, I can understand where he’s coming from as long as he helps me with my pain. 😉) After my older sister was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, my mom decided to have me see a rheumatologist, and the rest, as we say, is history.

What is Fibromyalgia?

For those who are unfamiliar with Fibromyalgia, according to WebMD, it “affects the muscles and soft tissue. Symptoms include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and painful tender points or trigger points, which can be relieved through medications, lifestyle changes and stress management.”

Other symptoms of Fibromyalgia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • IBS
  • Insomnia
  • Brain Fog

Throughout the years, different people have asked me what the pain feels like. The only way I can describe it is a cross between the flu and what I imagine having a bunch of nails hammered into my muscles all at once would feel like. Not very fun, eh?

For me, most of the pain happens around my joints. But, it’s not limited to them. The pain started in my legs, but I also feel pain in my neck, shoulders, back, and hips. Occasionally, I’ll feel pain in my arms and hands too.

There’s no rhyme or reason to Fibromyalgia; although stress, diet, and lifestyle does play a role. It’s no wonder that Fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety often go hand in hand. Anyway, sometimes I’ll go months without an episode. I once went five or so years without an attack. It was wonderful! Currently, pain is my constant companion. I’m suffering daily attacks, which makes life a little bit difficult right now.

What Helps Me?

Over the years, I’ve found things that help me when I’m dealing with an attack. Icy Hot, Ibuprofen, and Tramadol are my go to’s as they help me the most. However, I do rely on other things too, which include:

  • Rubbing the affected area
  • Hot baths
  • Heating pads
  • Destressing
    • Reading
    • Blogging
    • Playing the piano when my back and hands allow me to
    • Watching TV and movies
    • Diffusing essential oils
  • Resting (naps)
  • Light exercise (mostly walking)
  • Diet (low sugar/carbs works best for me)

The best thing I can do, though, is take time for me, which means sometimes I have to say no to things and others. It’s hard because I want to do all the things, but I have to remember I can’t do all the things. If I ever have to say no to you, please don’t take offense. More than likely, it’s because I need to destress and take care of myself.