It’s not in your head, and you’re not overreacting!
When the pain (not easily described) became intense and widespread, I finally mentioned it to my doctor. Through process of elimination, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (FM). Blood tests ruled out rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid issues.
Blood tests have also shown that my platelet count has been rising over the years which, as it turns out, is also associated with fibromyalgia.
Thinking back as long as I can remember, I wonder if I’ve grown up with it. I used to get pain deep in my left leg and sometimes my ankles. My grandma told me it was growing pains. If that was the the case, why didn’t I feel it throughout my entire body? For years thought it may have been attributed to a healed broken left leg when I was a toddler.
I’ve also always been hypersensitive to touch and smells, and I’m sensitive to prescription pain medications. Vicodin for a back injury really messed me up. I only took it for two days before never touching it again.
I remember doubling over on the floor when I was 4 or 5 years old with stomach pain, which I later realized was a symptom of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Yeah, that’s an annoyance that can leave forever and never come back! I consider myself fortunate to not have this to the debilitating degree as others, though. Knock on wood it stays that way!
Fibromyalgia has been stigmatized for years. As the medical profession learns more about it the stigma lessens, but it will probably always be there. It’s the main reason I don’t talk about it myself. I don’t want people to think I’m some weirdo or hypochondriac or just a whiner.
Above are just some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Something odd that I could never figure out why it happened is that when I ascend stairs, I sometimes miss a step. Somewhere in the action of stepping up, my brain and leg seem to lack communication so my leg isn’t sure where it’s supposed to go. For fear of falling, the involuntary reaction is to not step down at that moment but rather to lift higher and choose the next stair to step down on. I know! Strange! But it happens a lot. I always shout out “Missed a step!” when it happens. This could be attributed to FM. Who’d-a-thunk it?
Yesterday, I felt a little aching in my left leg. This morning, I woke up with pain deep in my legs, hips, forearms, hands, and back from my shoulders to the middle of my back. No amount of stretching, tightening, or consciously trying to relax made any difference. Staying in bed was only making it worse.
I can only describe it as radiating from my bones. Medical reports describe it as being nerve stimuli causing pain originating in the tissues of the body. They call it nociceptive (say: no-see-SEP-tiv) pain as opposed to neuropathic pain. It’s not the same as muscle soreness. It’s deeper and sharper than that. Flexing and stretching provides a little relief …. until I stop flexing and stretching.
Sitting still is one step away from excruciating during flare ups. I hardly ever really sit still anyway. I’m constantly fidgeting and moving and readjusting everything when I sit.
Some good, not-so-long reads on FM:
A much longer read: