Like most experiences in life, the difficult or challenging ones can be a source of learning and personal growth. Ask most who have had a chronic illness for a lengthy amount of time, and they can attest to the fact a grieving process is necessary toward learning to cope. The purpose is to move forward from denial, fighting against oneself, depression and anger to a state of acceptance.
The process begins first with acknowledging that you do, in fact, have fibromyalgia. I was fortunate because my primary care physician saw the symptoms and diagnosed me. I say “fortunate” because most have to go through different doctors and suffer for many years before receiving a proper diagnosis. I was dealing with a divorce at the time, and remember having fatigue that stayed with me most of the time. I thought nothing of it because I was working a lot, and expending a lot of emotional energies. Sleeping or resting an entire weekend seemed logical, especially since my energy levels returned at times. After a car accident, my symptoms escalated and I began having chronic backaches and non-endometrial related pelvic pain, neither of which responded to therapies such as heat, meditation, chiropractic manipulation and massage.
I continued on this path for a year-and-half until the symptoms became more constant. Without resolution for my pain, I agreed to see a rheumatologist. I maintained a stoic demeanor in order to acquire the facts first, with time for the emotions to flow later. My rheumatologist alerted me that I would have to start working part-time, something that I had not anticipated. Given the fact I had worked for the same supervisor for 10 years, my job was secure; however, the fluctuations in attendance still came with occasional frustrations. The guilt I felt led me to push myself harder, which ended up being a disaster.
Getting up before 11 a.m. was difficult. Mid-afternoon to evening were my best working hours. The few times I was able to work a full-day usually led to bed rest the following day. When research funding and changes occurred, my part-time work was obsolete. In response I decided to pursue administrative work. Multiple attempts led me to quit because the demands were too much. My last job was in research, but it was not of a clinical nature. I was proud of myself that my fibro fog rarely interfered. However, continual typing aggravated my neck and shoulders.
My rock bottom moment occurred when my beloved dad-in-law lapsed into a coma. I was at the hospital almost daily, and would do the work from home. Oddly, my presence was found to be more important. I was stunned when my supervisor told me he “understood fibromyalgia” because a family friend had it. In the next breath I was told “to go ahead and quit” — he had already hired two students to work the summer.
At this point, I was emotionally and physically drained. The angst of not finding employers who could accommodate my career was just as painful as the fact I was in the worst health of my life.
Please check back next week for part two of “Learning to Accept FMS,” where I will discuss delving into your emotions.
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.