This is a very short synopsis of how I came to reach the point in my life where I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Trying to keep it concise, I wanted to share with you what happened in my life that seems to have triggered this condition.
In the year 2004, at the age of 29, I was vibrant. I was working full-time as an account manager for an insurance agent. I was newly and happily married, ( about a year and a half) and also raising my then 5 year old daughter. I was pleasantly surprised when I became pregnant with my second child! After having a somewhat difficult time with my first pregnancy, I was anxious and unsure of how this pregnancy would go. I tried to be optimistic and prayed a lot for a pregnancy that would not include much “morning sickness”. I also prayed that it would be a time where I would feel well without the aid of medications I had become accustomed to taking for depression and anxiety.
It didn’t take long to find out that my pregnancy was not going to be an easy ride. Very early in the pregnancy I developed “hyperemesis gravidarum”, the condition of severe and persistent nausea and vomiting. I’ll spare you the details, but take my word for it, it was not pleasant. About midway through my pregnancy, my old friends depression and anxiety decided to pay me a visit and with them they brought a very nasty friend, insomnia.
I tried so hard to stay off of medication . . . wanting badly to avoid any possible contraindications between an anti-depressant and my pregnancy (the anti-nausea medications were already part of my repertoire and unavoidable). But, before long, I chose to accept the help being offered and began taking Zoloft. Unfortunately, Zoloft did not seem to be a magic pill for me and as the vomiting and nausea continued, the anxiety became worse, the depression worsened and the insomnia would not relent. At around 33 weeks I experienced preterm labor and was admitted to the hospital and given a medication to help stop the contractions. From that point forward I was prescribed bed rest. At home I found myself struggling so greatly, unable to sleep hardly at all, and eventually I did not sleep even the little bit at night. Immediately preceding my induction, I went for a period of about 2 weeks with extreme sleep deprivation. My doctor scheduled my induction at 37 weeks due to several episodes of false labor, along with the deterioration of my mental health as well as the decline of my physical health (borderline high blood pressure, lack of sleep, nausea/vomiting). My baby boy was delivered perfectly healthy and beautiful. I had a good labor and delivery and I started back on my anti-depressant literally within hours of his birth! (I was at high risk for postpartum depression, without any doubt.)
Anyone who has had a baby will tell you that it takes some time for their body to feel “back to normal” or depending on the person, even to just get close to that previous state is a good thing. After weeks and weeks of extreme fatigue and severe pain in my feet and legs I started to realize that this went beyond the postpartum stuff. My son was sleeping well and remarkably good for his age, sleeping through the night for about 5-6 hours straight around 6 weeks or so. I was getting decent sleep again at night, it seemed. But every morning I would wake to pain that felt quite intense in my feet and often my hands, arms and legs would throb and ache to the point that I would be in tears and feel like I could hardly hold my baby. Finally, I went to see my regular doctor about my symptoms. I wrote them all out, the whole laundry list. I wanted to give him the scoop and make sure he was well-informed. The list included extreme fatigue, lethargy, depression, pain in almost every region of my body, headaches, etc. And my doctor told me straight up that these are such common symptoms and especially common in women that he really couldn’t begin to say at that point what was going on. He started with a standard blood work-up, the results of which came back “normal”. After the obvious things checked out fine, he decided to send me to a rheumatologist to get a second opinion.
It was in the summer of 2006 that the rheumatologist I had been seeing diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. He tested all of the 18 tender points that they use as part of diagnostic criteria and I think just about all of them were “tender”. The lack of evidence at that point in time for arthritis (negative rh factor), as well as a negative test result for Lupus, also led him to believe that my symptoms and experience pointed directly to this diagnosis. Interesting, to me, was his belief that the trauma to my body from my pregnancy was what was likely the cause of the development of this pain syndrome called Fibromyalgia. I never imagined that after that most difficult pregnancy was over I would be doing anything other than getting “back to normal”. Rather than that, with the addition of my blessing of a son, I was also given something else . . .
The rheumatologist also recommended that I not attempt to have any more children in the future, due to my past experience and the likelihood he felt that another pregnancy would be even more difficult and harder on me than the last. The day that I got all of that news, the doctor also told me that there were no quick fixes, no cures, no remedy or pain killer that he could give me to take the pain away quickly. I left his office feeling hopeless and extremely sad. As awful and crazy as it sounds, that day, I felt like I would have rather been given a diagnosis of something terminal. To me, not having a plan to follow, or a new specialist to see, or talk of a cure for this awful condition I was in, was just altogether devastating. I fell quickly into a deep and dark depression, a dark path that took me on a ride all of it’s own.
But here’s the good news . . . It is now 2009 and I am still here living life! I am not in horrible pain every single day. I am not living my life depressed all of the time. I have hope, and for that I thank the Lord. I don’t do things like I did before I developed Fibromyalgia, but I am still able to participate in life. What I am now seeking to do is to participate in life fully and well, and to learn how to take the best care of me that I can. This is a process that does require patience and resolve. But it is just that. . . a process. . . a journey . . . and I am learning how to enjoy as much of it as I can.