For years all I dreamed of was finally knowing exactly what was wrong with me. I naively thought a diagnosis would mean a cure, an end to the suffering, or at least a way to control my many symptoms.
I started having issues when I was 11. I started vomiting and fainting. I was diagnosed as having “nervous stomach” and low blood sugar. I was told to rest. That was the beginning of almost four decades of wrong diagnosis after wrong diagnosis.
I missed a lot of school and work with flu-like symptoms. Every time I went to the doctor I was sent on my way with instructions to rest. I started having so many issues that I would bring a list of my symptoms to my doctor appointments. You get to the point that you eventually start to feel you might be a hypochondriac because everyone says so. You begin to doubt yourself. I got so frustrated because no one believed me.
The correct diagnosis came 39 years later. After seeing almost every specialist known to man, and submitting to almost every diagnostic test available, it was finally discovered I have fibromyalgia.
A fibromyalgia diagnosis isn’t a death sentence. It’s not stage four cancer or some other life-threatening illness. It’s not going to kill me. But I quickly found fibromyalgia is life without the possibility of parole. Instead of a cure, all I got was uncertainty. There isn’t a quick fix, no one pill, no particular diet or exercise plan. I was told I will be like this for the rest of my life and my symptoms will only worsen over time.
I came away with more questions than answers. How do I control this? Modern doctors like to prescribe drugs like Lyrica, Cymbalta and Gabapentin and send you on your way. They treat the symptoms, but not the underlying issue.
My primary care physician offered a natural approach, but I was disappointed to find my health insurance would cover only the cost of the initial consultation. The out-of-pocket costs were too high for me to follow through with the treatment recommendations. I became very discouraged and felt more hopeless than before the diagnosis.
For a few months I suffered with the symptoms and tried to get through each day. Finally, after a painful flare, I decided it was time for me to stand up for myself. I don’t want to live this way! I deserve more than this. I need to be my own advocate. No one else is going to do it. I need to take the initiative to find treatments that work for me. I need to find resources and information to guide me through this difficult journey. I also need to find a support system. Whether they are friends, family, co-workers or online groups, it is imperative to find positive, loving and understanding supporters. Hence, began my journey to find balance between my illness and my life.
To find balance with fibromyalgia is a journey with many setbacks. It is a lot of trial and error. Finding balance means wading through mud before finding clear water. Something that works for your friend may not do anything at all for you. But you need to be open-minded. Changing your diet. Simple stretches before work. Epsom salt baths before bed. All of these can provide some comfort and make a big difference in how you feel. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but you can find ways to soothe, control or minimize your symptoms.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.