I have Fibromyalgia…
Fibromyalgia is a chronic rheumatic condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain throughout the body and is accompanied by fatigue, memory, and sleep issues. It is believed to affect the way the brain and spinal cord process signals, causing pain as well as a slew of other symptoms. It reeks havoc on your nervous system. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, it is a lifelong illness. It is life changing! However, it can be helped by medication, diet, exercise and other therapies.
I have been living with this chronic illness for over a year now. It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I am comfortable sharing about what has happened to me and my health. It can be very difficult to deal with the diagnosis of a life long illness. For the most part I have just been happy to focus on my healing, moving forward with my life and being with my family. However, May was fibromyalgia awareness month and pretty amazing that month is when I went through so much turmoil last year. So I figured now would be a good time for me to share my story.
Let me start from the beginning. It was March 2020 and I had just given birth to my baby boy. My baby boy who was my surprise baby, the shock of my life, my first boy and best surprise ever! I can still remember those words clear as day “ITS A BOY!!”. Oh what a glorious surprise it was. I will never forget it and I am so thankful for his life and the sheer JOY he brings our family each and every day.
The days surrounding his birth would be the start of a historical event that no one would ever forget. To add to the stress of a global pandemic, my husband worked in sales for a disinfectant company and unexpectedly had to go back to work the Monday after I gave birth (that previous Thursday). To say it was a stressful experience is an understatement. I was left to care for two little ones and a newborn solo while still licking my own wounds.
In the days that followed the birth of my son, I just didn’t feel right. I knew this time things were different. I started to notice a weakness in my right hand that would come and go. It was a flacid sensation. Like the signals from my brain controlling movement were getting lost somehow. My thoughts were: “this can’t be happening, I’m just tired; it’s the anemia”.
But days passed and the sensation continued along with other alarming symptoms that would pop up here and there. Two being in the forefront, a deep aching pain in my legs accompanied by extreme muscle weakness. Making it difficult for me to walk around my home. The second, memory loss and confusion. I would often find myself very confused and not be able to remember what I was doing and why. This started to happen all day and progressively worsened.
I started to really realize something was seriously wrong. With a global pandemic happening and all my doctors offices closed it made for an even more stressful situation not being able to consult a doctor about what was happening to me. At this point I started to panic. I was very much alone caring for three as well as my healing body. Family was unable to come help due to the quarantine and my husband’s job took up so much of his time due to the rising pandemic. So I was stuck in my own thoughts and worries most days.
I tried to sweep it under the rug day by day, trying to ignore all of the bizarre sensations. The weakness, memory lapses, confusion, tingling, muscle jerking and so much more. I mean these are pretty alarming symptoms. I couldn’t focus on anything. I was lost in fear of what was happening to my body and who was going to care for my babies if something happened.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and after speaking with one of my doctors on the phone, they thought it was all being caused by anxiety and had me start and anti-depressant Zoloft. Reluctantly I took my first pill on the first weekend in May. This was the start to a very scary decline in my health.
I had a severe reaction to that one 50mg Zoloft pill. My heart started racing sending me into a series of uncontrollable panic attacks, the skin all over my body felt like it was on fire, I was itching all over and was unable to sleep for 3 days. After trips to urgent care and the ER, doctors told me there was nothing I could do but wait until it was out of my system. All of this escalated my already crazy symptoms. At this point I completely lost my appetite and had a great difficulty swallowing. I was progressively getting weaker and weaker but was forced to play the waiting game for doctors offices to start opening their doors again and for me to get an appointment with someone who could offer more clarity.
In the meantime I was left bedridden. The aching and muscle weakness was so bad it had spread all over my body. I couldn’t even get to the bathroom unassisted. My confusion and memory loss was also at its peak. I could barely put together a sentence or remember a question someone just asked me. At this point I decided to dive into deep prayer and meditating on the word of God, when I wasn’t so confused.
During this time I learned the true meaning of putting my FULL faith and trust in the Lord! There was not one thing that I could do to stop what was happening to my body. I was not in control and me trying to take control was only making me much worse. I asked Him to take control and asked for the peace and patience as I waited for answers.
My mother broke quarantine to help my husband and I out as he was left, still working full time, as well as caring for three children and now me, his bedridden wife. I could see the fear in their faces every time they came around me. That was truly terrifying. I was heartbroken, it was a very hard time to say the least. The darkest time.
(Now, after having a diagnosis, we think that my reaction to the Zoloft is what caused me to become bedridden. I was already so weak before taking it we think it escalated an already bad situation. Needless to say it is on my allergy list of medications I am NOT allowed to have. There has also been speculation from some doctors that I may have had COVID even despite having tested negative for antibodies. We really will never know).
I was finally able to get to my GP’s office for an appointment. Still unable to walk at this point I was given a wheel chair and sat in the office as the doctor puzzled over what on earth could take a young woman in good health to this point. She ordered a series of blood tests. We were unable to get results for a few days but when they came in I had a positive autoimmune test as well as elevated liver enzymes. We had a staring point!
She referred me to a rheumatologist and to make a very long story short I went to a series of doctors, in fact I had over 15 appointments in the month of June alone. I had so many tests I can’t even remember them all. Most of them being blood tests, MRIs and nerve conduction studies. All of which came back normal. That was both relieving and aggravating.
After all of this my rheumatologist came to the conclusion that I have a chronic illness called fibromyalgia. I couldn’t believe I finally had a diagnosis and a diagnosis that made sense and could pinpoint most of my symptoms that I had from the very beginning. I have gone through many therapeutic treatments and was very heavily medicated for a while (I have since been able to scale back on the meds). Through those, changing my diet and eliminating foods (like gluten and trying to be more plant based; which is an anti-inflammatory diet) and making sure I exercise daily, I have, for the most part, been able to gain good control over my symptoms. It took me about 7-8 months to start to feel “ok” again and still not a day goes by that I don’t deal with debilitating symptoms.
With that being said, this illness has changed my life forever. There is no cure so it’s hard to know that I will deal with this for the rest of my life. Because of that it has caused me to live more in the present. I can’t think too far into the future because it’s too overwhelming. I have to live for today and that has been a very freeing experience for me. Through this illness the Lord has delivered me from so much bondage I didn’t even know I was in. I am happier, I worry less, and I love harder! It has made me immensely more thankful for my life, my body, and my family!
It has also enriched my relationship with the Lord like never before. On my daily walks I spend meditating on the word and having constant conversations with Him. I have seen my life change so much by simply doing these things.
Writing this blog post has given me some anxiety; going back and remembering where my life was this time last year. However, I am extremely grateful and thankful for how far I have come. This diagnosis is not a negative thing to me. I am so happy to be here, thriving and pushing through each day. To essentially not being able to walk, to now being able to run again. Words can’t describe how incredibly thankful I am that the Lord brought me through such a hellish experience. He is so steadfast and faithful. He will never abandon us nor will anything, even sickness, be able to separate us from Him!
‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’Romans 8:38-39
I have thought over and over again whether or not I should share my story with you all. The reason I have decided to now, is that I know there are a few people who prayed so hard for me last year and still don’t really know what happened. I wanted everyone to know how much those prayers were appreciated and how much good they actually did! I felt them all!
Another reason is that I have been helped tremendously simply by reading others experience with chronic illnesses. It has given me so much hope and peace to see so many others thrive through such difficult circumstances. I am so inspired by their stories and hope that this could help anyone with a similar diagnosis.
Thank you all so much for the prayers, LOVE and support!
Stay tuned for a blog post about the daily symptoms I experienced with fibromyalgia.