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Women's Health Blog

Such a Pain. Literally: Living With Pain

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Living with a chronic condition is a pain. Literally.

According to the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is defined as widespread musculoskeletal pain along with fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. I’m pretty sure my husband would agree that I have mood issues. I would definitely agree that I have pain, fatigue and sleep issues. And honestly, my memory sometimes has a mind of – or lack thereof - its own.

I had gone to my primary care physician multiple times over many years complaining of pain and fatigue before being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. All of my bloodwork was always normal. It can be very frustrating to be in pain and not know why. To be honest, I still don’t know why because I believe there are underlying issues we can’t always “get to” that cause these symptoms – whether physical or emotional. Or maybe we don’t want to?

Anyway, here we are today and all I know is I am the type of person who thinks this is my fault. Am I not eating right? Do I sit too much? How lazy have I been in the last few weeks? Have I had one too many glasses of wine? Should I cut out gluten, dairy and nightshades? How can I be sure to drink more water? You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure it all out and find what works. There is a fine balance between punishing yourself for not being grateful that you aren’t dying and knowing you need to feel your feelings and that they are valid. Then you can start to go down a little pity party rabbit hole. When that happens I believe you do it quickly and get it over with! Otherwise I find all that emotion will come pouring out at the most inopportune time!

I am also the type of person who needs to talk about it without wearing out my welcome with relatives and friends. I certainly don’t want to be the person who dredges on about my health every time I’m asked, “How are you today?” In my experience those people are exhausting and will suck the life out of you. I am lucky that I do have key people in my life that I can talk to about how I’m feeling. Often, in my head, they are thinking to themselves that I should be doing yoga and eating more fruits and vegetables. But again, that is the story in my head and I find it really hard to shut down.

Fibromyalgia makes me sensitive to cold, loud noises and bright light. When I get cold my shoulders rise up to my ears and my whole body stiffens! It just adds to feeling crappy. Even when I tell myself to put my shoulders down my body stays stiff to ward off the cold – like that is possible. I can’t stand when the TV, music or anything like that is too loud and you may think I was dying if I forget my sunglasses on the beach. Basically, you might think I’m a little old man who wears the same old cardigan every day and keeps a hanky in his pocket.

Are you exhausted reading this yet? Just sounds like a bunch of complaints!

Since my actual diagnosis a few years ago I kept thinking I could manage it through exercise, food and mindfulness, etc. Those thoughts became exhausting and all I kept doing was beating myself up over not doing everything perfectly all the time. I can trace that need for perfection crap back to my childhood! Anyway, I was also scared of any side effects that came with the drugs. I mean you listen to the list of side effects in those commercials and you think you may grow a tail and start to walk on all fours.

About three months ago I was watching the Real Housewives of Dallas (don’t judge you know you do, too, you just don’t admit it) and one of the wives was talking to her life coach (yes, she has a life coach) about how she had to go back on meds for depression and how she was ashamed of that. I thought to myself, you go girl for taking care of yourself! It finally hit me that maybe it was okay for me to take meds for the fibro, as I call it. Yes I work for a hospital and am surrounded by modern medicine but I also felt ashamed by needing to take something for the pain. While fibro meds aren’t opioids there seems to be so much stigma around taking meds that again, I felt I was above it in some way. The story in my head can sometimes be really loud. I find her extremely annoying.

So I decided it was time to try it. Why was I fighting it? It was time to stop feeling above the need for help. I met with my PCP and we came up with a plan. There are multiple doses of this drug that you can take and I wanted the smallest one possible to start. I also figured hey if it’s also prescribed for depression and anxiety maybe it will help my mood?! My husband has not yet mentioned a change for the better……of course he still leaves out his dirty dishes and drips water all over the kitchen floor so there’s that, too…..

I will give this a few months to see how it goes. I am hopeful it’s not a long term solution but can help me get to a place where I don’t feel like crap when I get out of bed in the morning – which I still do. In addition to that I am trying to meditate every day and am trying some other natural supplements. Having a chronic condition means trying lots of things to find what works for you and being your own best advocate! So, I will continue on this journey hoping that when I get out of bed in the morning I won’t feel worse than when laid down in it! I saw a meme on IG that said, if everything didn’t hurt when I first wake up I wouldn’t know I was alive! It’s funny because some days it’s true. And I believe you have to be able to laugh at this stuff because you don’t want to be a pain just because you have pain.

Mary Green

Mary Green

Mary Green is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Beebe Healthcare. She is a Delaware native who loves the beach, cats, jewelry, and wine. She blogs about living with fibromyalgia in coastal Delaware.