It is funny how you think you know someone until they reveal something about themselves that you never knew, nor would you have ever known unless they told you. It happens to me all the time and I am constantly questioning my ability to read other people…
It is that premise that leads me to write about my own physical struggles. There are probably less than 10 people in the world that are even aware I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2007. Those 10 people have likely forgotten because I never talk about it.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Well if you want all the technical details, you can read them here.
What is it like for me? Well…combine the way you feel achy all over when you have the flu with intense joint pain as if you have injured yourself and throw in extreme sensitivity to touch on your skin. Add in restless leg syndrome, incredible sleep interruption that causes fatigue and an increased frequency in my migraines.
Yeah, that is what it is like. Every day.
During the hot summer months my extremities swell so severely I feel like my skin might burst at any time. In the cold winter months, if I am outside for too long then I have trouble bending my arms and legs the rest of the day and the dull aching pain is so intense I don’t want to move anyway.
I have been on a variety of medications to treat the pain and the sleep disorder and although I have had some relief, I am never without pain.
So why doesn’t anyone know? Well, I generally am not a complainer if I can help it, particularly if there isn’t anything that can be done. Nobody likes to constantly be reminded of someone else’s “issues.”
I refuse to let the chronic condition run my life. Or should I say RUIN my life. I read about some women (generally in mid-life as I am a little young to be dealing with this already) who are in so much pain they never get out of bed. I read about sufferers who can’t talk about their pain with their family because no one believes it is a real “condition.”
Oh it is real. It is as real as a heart condition or a broken bone, but because there is not a machine test for it, it is hard to wrap your head around it. I rarely discuss my pain levels with Derek or anyone else for that matter. Not because I am afraid that they won’t believe me, but because I don’t want them to feel helpless.
Occasionally if you are near me often enough, you’ll see me wince when I stand up after sitting to long or notice I am moving really slow after a day out in the cold. My co-workers might notice that I have to get up and walk a hallway lap at least once an hour or my hips hurt. You may see my rubbing my neck, arms or legs to try to massage the pain away. It rarely works, but I do it anyway. You may notice that my eyes are puffy and I look terrible in the morning after a sleepless night.
What you don’t see or know are the hours I have lost in sleep because of the pain. What you don’t see is the medication I take to try to control the pain. You don’t see me leave my bedroom in the middle of the night and sleep in the guest room so that I don’t wake Derek with my constant tossing and turning. What you don’t see are the tears that fall when the pain seems to have beaten me that day.
I know that God never lays more burden on us than we can handle. I am convinced that there is a bigger purpose in my suffering than just for suffering’s sake. Everyone has to walk through the fire before they can help someone else past the flames. If my suffering allows me to help someone else, to relate to someone’s pain then I count it worth it.
I only share this with you because I feel this is a space where I can be honest. I want this to be a place where you can read about my struggles and triumphs and hopefully, you’ll learn something you can apply in your own life.
I recently read about an old friend that is struggling with breast cancer and she is using her blog to express her feelings. Her fear. Her good days. Her bad days. She address those that ask, “Why you?” To that she responds, “Why NOT me?” She is so brave.
I thought, “If she can be honest about something as scary and serious as breast cancer, surely I can reveal what I struggle with.” I am thankful everyday that this is not a life threatening disease. I may have pain, but I also have life.
I may never bring up this topic again, I rarely talk about it. However, if you ask, I will answer. I will always be honest because if we are not honest with ourselves and with each other, then we don’t really know each other. We don’t really care about each other.
Well I care about you. So this is me taking the first step in honesty.
Now you know my daily struggle. Now you know the demons that I wrestle with every day. Don’t feel sorry for me, I don’t need it. However, you can pray for me, as I will be praying for you. Along these lines I urge you to be honest with those that are important in your life. Don’t hide your struggles from people who love you and want to help you. Even if they cannot help you, it is a beautiful thing to be surrounded by people who care about you. Let people care about you.
Don’t forget the promise of Jeremiah 29:11. I still believe that and I am working everyday to walk in those plans.