Monday, November 10, 2008

Good news/not so good news

Well, I have an explanation now for why I'm so exhausted and in pain all the time. Which, in turn, explains why I've been MIA from groups and teams I belong to.

The not so good news: I've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Many people are familiar with this as a chronic pain illness, from the television commercials. It is that, for sure, but it's more than that. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are a wide variety of (mostly experimental) treatment options available. For now, my doctor is starting me out with a medium dosage of an anti-depressant which is different from the anti-depressant I already take and does not conflict with that or my migraine medication. I'm going for blood tests as well, to help him
understand what treatment(s) may work best for me.

The good news: Fibromyalgia is not progressive, so it won't eventually cripple me or kill me or anything. Certain conditions and behaviors will make the symptoms better or worse, but the illness itself won't get worse, if that makes sense.

For me, the good news is that all the things I've been beating myself up for are actually not my fault! That alone makes me feel better. It also explains several things I'd previously thought were individual physical issues. It turns out they're all part of the same thing!

This diagnosis explains why I'm exhausted all the time and why I'm in pain all the time. It explains why, when I get home from work, all I can do is sit on the couch for an hour or two and then go to bed. It explains why my weekends usually consist of alternately sitting on the couch and sleeping. It also explains why I get sick all the time, catching any little bug that comes along. It explains my sensitivity to scents, sounds and light. It explains my memory loss issues and it explains why I can't think of the word I want in conversation. (Yeah, I know everybody does that from time to time, but it's a matter of degree – how much and how often.) It may also explain why I get migraines in the first place. It explains a few other things that are too icky to share.

Right now, we're at the point of seeing what the new medication does and waiting for lab results. What I need from my friends and family is understanding. Please understand that when I say I'm tired, I don't mean the kind of tired that many adults in the modern world experience, which sucks enough as it is. I mean I'm exhausted. I mean I'm too tired to answer the freaking phone, if you can believe that.

If I don't accept invitations to do things and I don't come visit, it's not at all that I don't want to see you or that I don't care or whatever. It means that just driving for an hour wipes me out for a couple of days afterward. It means that I've been instructed by my doctor to lie down several times during the day. It means that it takes me so long to recover from any activity that just thinking of going to do something makes me want to climb in bed, pull the covers over my head and cry.

It's been like this for a while now, but now that I have a diagnosis I feel like I can tell people how I've been feeling without worrying that anyone will think I'm making excuses or exaggerating. It really is this bad.

But…I am hopeful now! What's wrong with me is not my fault and there are real treatment options! I'm looking forward to feeling better and getting my life back. I'm also happy to have finally found a doctor who has given me a correct diagnosis and who can help me. Maybe now I can jettison some of these other doctors and stop supporting the entire AMA. Ha!

I hope that everyone will all bear with me as I try out treatments to see what works. Thanks for reading my loooong post.

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