Friday, August 01, 2008

Diagnosis: Fibromyalgia

Yesterday I had an appointment with a specialist who actually diagnosed me--finally. As I suspected, I have Fibromyalgia. The doctor listened to and questioned me for over an hour, and then poked and prodded me all over, testing reflexes, muscle strength, and pressure points. I've been wanting someone to do that for a while now, so I'm glad to finally have found a doctor who did.

As many of you know, the pressure points are 18 places on your body where, if pressure is applied, most people feel just that--pressure. Fibromyalgia people, however, feel intense pain. You have to be sensitive in at least 11 points in order to get diagnosed with Fibro. I yelped, gasped, or cried on about 16 or 17 of the spots. The poor doctor kept saying, "So sorry to put you through this. Your body didn't like that one. Oh, even I felt that! (when a muscle spasmed in response to his thumb)" The pain goes mostly away when the pressure is released, but today I feel rather as though I got beat up.

When he was done he declared that I undoubtedly have Fibromyalgia. He did some blood tests to make sure I don't have any other rheumatic diseases, but all of them came back fine (though my RH factor was the highest normal number).

I have mixed feelings about the diagnosis. Even though I didn't think I had something more serious (like MS or Lupus), it's nice to know for sure. Knowing exactly what's wrong also makes treatment easier. But the diagnosis also means a lifetime of pain and fatigue that may get less at times, but will never go away.

I feel sad, but mostly I'm just ready to move on with learning how to live as full a life as possible. I kind of already went through a mourning stage a few months ago. I've had some health problems all my life, but more serious ones the last eight years or so. During that time, I saw several naturopaths who found various problems and began working to help them. I would get better for a while, and then something else would come up that we'd begin working on. I had a couple of years when I seemed to be getting and staying better.

Then last year, even though I was under less stress and was only taking a few college classes, I started getting markedly worse. The general tiredness became almost debilitating fatigue at times, my sleep was getting worse, my brain function was declining (my friends started calling me Blondie) and a few months ago the pain that has always come and gone moved in with all it's bags and furniture.

At that point, I began realizing that while I will have better times, this isn't going to go away. It's going to be there, interfering with my writing, my social life, my interpreting...even a future life with husband and kids. So yes, there was a time of mourning. A time of asking God why. But then, with His strength, I began moving on...changing my thinking from "How can I fix this?" to "How can I live the best with this?" It means the difference between sitting around waiting until I'm better, or embracing life how I am, where I am.

So this diagnoses is another step along that road--a big step, because knowing what's wrong goes a long ways in helping me and my doctors learn ways to minimize the impact.


Lori said...

Hi Sparrow,

I was looking at different blogs, and your title, Diagnosis: Fibromyalgia immediately caught my eye. I have a muscle disease, and I know a little bit of what it's like to have a chronic illness.
God has brought you to a place where you can share your experiences w/others who need comfort from you. Keep writing, writing is powerful and it speaks volumes - be blessed, and bless others:)


Lori said...

I would like to put your link on my blog. With your permission?

Jules said...

Hi Amy, my mother has rhuematoid arthritis and is one of the few that has never gone into remission. I understand some of what you're describing after seeing her live with pain for years.

Your attitude is going to affect what you can do. I don't mean that as some pithy platitude. But if you tell yourself that you can't, you won't. But if you're determined to accept your illness and rise above it, you'll be surprised at what you can and will do. And you're in good company. I think it's Janette Oke that has the same condition (but please don't quote me on this - I need to go check out her biography again to be sure - but it's similar whatever it is).

Chronic illness is not fun and there are times when it's going to get you down and you wonder, why me? But there's also something about chronic illness that can strengthen our character and make us achieve far more than if life had always been easy.

I'm glad you got a diagnosis and I'm glad it's not more serious. I'll pray for you.

Blessings, Jules

Sparrow said...

Thank you Jules and Lori. God has been teaching me both of those things--that He will use this for His good in strengthening me and using me to reach out to others--and that happiness is a choice I have to make each day, no matter how well I may or may not feel.

Thanks for your encouragement and support.

purple_kangaroo said...

Big hugs. You know that I feel for you (and with you).

purple_kangaroo said...

(BTW, in my post where I linked to this one, I titled it before I came over here and saw your post and title. I thought it was interesting how they fit together.)

Laury said...

Praying for you, Amy. Hoping the new medicine helps you. Try not to dwell on what you can't do, okay? Try to forget how you feel and just live. I'm talking to myself, too, believe me. Its hard but is a good thing to learn.

I saw that it was possible when I was in Washington with all of you. I was too busy being joyfully happy to let it get me down too much. Miss those times. Ugh. Yes I do.

Joanne Sher said...

Praying for you, dear Amy. I know God will get your through this extensive process, and that your friends will be there to help. That includes me.

Anonymous said...

It's been a long while since I stopped in here. I saw this and immediately shot up a prayer for you.


chozeh said...

Hi Sparrow,

It is a fact that you have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, but the truth is according to the word you are healed.

According to Deuteromomy 28:22 Fibromyalgia is a curse of the law, but according to Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed you from the curse of the law. Therefore you no longer have Fibromyalgia.

Sparrow said...

Chozeh, Unfortunately while we are here on this earth we are still living in a sin-cursed world. It's true that Christ offers freedom from the eternal consequences of sin, but for now we still have to face tribulation and trials, which include sickness.

In fact, God uses those for His glory and to grow us stronger in Him. Check John 9:1-3; 11:4, Romans 5:3-5, 1 Tim 5:23, 2 Cor 4:16-17, Phil 2:27, to list a few that show sickness is definitely a part of the Christian life, even after Christ's death.