Never in a million years did I think that the various health problems I have been dealing with over the years could all be part of the same illness. Fibromyalgia.
Last summer, I finally got the nurse practitioner at our family physician’s office to try to figure out what was happening with my health. You see, my migraines had come back with a vengeance. Pain was spreading to more areas in my body. My depression was continuing to get worse, despite the stronger and stronger meds she was prescribing. And to get up and moving in the morning…. yeah, right! I was so stiff and hurting that I felt like someone just drove a steamroller over me all night. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was really having issues during the day, both being motivated to do anything and staying awake to do it!
Her first possible diagnosis? A benign brain tumor. So off I went to have an MRI done on my brain. Test result: Negative for the tumor. Â However, the report did state that there were white lesions indicative of MS. What!!! Now that’s a great way to freak me out.
Once I calmed down, we went to the Mellen Center at the Cleveland Clinic to see a neurologist who specializes in MS. He took one look at the MRI and said the spots on my brain were “freckles” and that’s how harmless they are. Apparently, as we all age, we all get them. So he turned me loose back to the nurse practitioner.
So for the next six months or so, I wasÂ basically thinking there’s nothing to be done for any of my symptoms, especially the pain. Then, one day in February of this year, I was just scanning through my emails and I sawÂ one with a subject line of “Do you live with pain on a daily basis? Take this quiz.” Â So my first thought was, I wonder what they’re going to try to sell me? But I was bored and clicked. Wow, was I ever glad I did. I took a 10 minute quiz that really hit home with my symptoms. The result? “You may have fibromyalgia. Please take this quiz to your family physician.” Â Say what????
Now I have heard of fibromyalgia, but never really put two plus two together in my particular case. So I started to doing some research.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia? (Courtesy of www.Webmed.com)
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms, or tightness
- Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
- Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
- Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks (“fibro fog”)
- Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Tension or migraine headaches
- Jaw and facial tenderness
- Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
- Feeling anxious or depressed
- Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
- Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)
- Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise
- A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet
This is pretty much a checklist of ALL my symptoms! So what did I do? I printed this sucker out and took it to my nurse practitioner and asked her to compare it to my chart. She immediately decided to save face and said “You know, I was thinking about you and that maybe it was fibro…” Â Gee, really? When were you going to let me in on that little tidbit? I told her I wanted a referral and she asked if I had anyone in mind. Did I ever! I had done my homework. Dr. Mark Pellegrino, one of the nation’s foremost experts on fibro (and a fibro patient himself), recently relocated his office to my neck of the woods. Let’s go to the top, shall we??? I have been a patient of his practice since March, which I will share the details in another post(s).
Fibromyalgia symptoms may intensify depending on the time of day — morning, late afternoon, and evening tend to be the worst times. Symptoms may also get worse with fatigue, tension, inactivity, changes in the weather, cold or drafty conditions, overexertion, hormonal fluctuations (such as just before your period or during menopause), stress, depression, or other emotional factors.
If the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms can go on indefinitely, or they may disappear for months and then recur.
Call Your Doctor About Fibromyalgia If:
You have chronic muscle pain and overwhelming fatigue.
*** Please remember that I am NOT a doctor and any advice given here is simply that…. ADVICE. I am simply someone who has walked this journey and has finally found an answer to all my health issues and it’s all wrapped up in one word…. fibromyalgia. If I can help others become their own advocates and learn enough about this chronic illness (yes, it is chronic… there is no cure) and grab the bull by the horns and be educated enough to talk to their physicians about getting referred to a specialist, then that’s what I am going to do! Â MWAH!!!!