I am so very lucky that my friends have been willing to be open and honest with their challenges. I would like you to meet my friend Jenn (also known as Jenn Said). Jenn and I met in High School when my parents had the brilliant idea to move the family from the suburbs to the boondocks. Okay, not really boondocks but it was a culture shock for sure. Jenn and I graduated high school and drifted apart as our lives went on.
Then I met David and he “introduced” me to one of his best friends: Jenn. I am not sure who was more surprised. We fell into that old friendship like you pull on that pair of comfortable winter pajamas and never took them back off.
Without further introduction, please meet my friend Jenn and her Challenge.
My Challenge: Fibromyalgia
I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in August of 2013. I had surgery in 2008 and as a result I started suffering from Vasculitis. They could not figure out why I had suddenly broken out in this horrible bright red rash all over my body. It was not painful at first but over the years had started to affect my legs and mainly my feet. My rheumatologist would treat me with steroids whenever I would have a “flare up”. The doctor mentioned the possibility of Fibro many times, but I didn’t have a lot of symptoms, mostly the joint and muscle pain which we attributed to Vasculitis. Over the course of 5 years the rash would come less and less, but I started to have more pain. I haven’t had the rash in over 2 years now. I just had pain all over.
During the summer of 2012, I was referred to a podiatrist to see if they could figure out the issues with my feet. I was prescribed physical therapy. They seemed to think my high arch was causing me pain. I started taking 800 mg Motrin 3 times a day to keep pain at a minimum.
In March of 2013, I had what I thought was a urinary tract infection as I had pain during urination and abdominal pain. I went to the doctors and they seemed to think it was a urinary tract infection also. I had ultrasounds and blood work, all normal. No urinary tract infection, no diagnosis, no reason to explain my extreme discomfort. I was literally curled up in a ball trying to get the abdominal pain to subside and would cringe whenever I had to go to the bathroom because it would hurt so badly. Eventually that pain went away and I chalked it up to another one of my weird ailments. I have also suffered from irritable bowel syndrome for years. I go from one extreme to the other.
In July of 2013, I started having issues with the nerves in my right (dominant hand) and was once again put on a course of steroids. During the course of steroids, I was unable to take the 800 mg of Motrin as steroids and Motrin are both an anti-inflammatory. After stopping the Motrin, I started to ache from my head to my toes, every inch of me hurt. I was absolutely miserable and unable to function. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t sleep. I was in a deep fog, forgetting everyday things. Anything I would eat would not agree with me.
I officially was diagnosed with fibromyalgia by my rheumatologist as I was showing 15 of the 18 tender points used as a guideline to diagnose fibro. I went to a seminar that my rheumatologist has each month. It was a wealth of information. I started to cry as she explained the different symptoms of fibro. I couldn’t believe that the mysterious abdominal issue I had back in March was actually a symptom of fibro. My doctor believed that I had signs of fibro for a few years, but never had any of the major ones. Now I did.
After many trials of many different medications, we finally found the right combination and I had no pain whatsoever. I couldn’t believe how much I had hurt for years and with the right medication, I was pain free.
Here we are a year later and I am having a “fibro flare up”. It feels like the medication isn’t working as it was for the past year. So, now I am taking more medication, higher doses of the current ones to try to get this “flare” to calm down. I am a mom of 2 great kids. My son is 16 and my daughter is 12. My son just got his drivers permit and I don’t even have the energy to take him out driving as I just feel like going to bed when I get home from work. I have been known to go to bed early before any of this has happened, but I have found myself in bed by 6pm as I am just too miserable.
I know there are people out there that do not believe in this disease, but I urge you to reconsider and read up on it. I had mixed feelings when my doctor would mention it from time to time over the years, but the more pain I had, the more I read up on it. I eventually said to my doctor “Wow… this is me in a nutshell!”
The “people out there that do not believe in the disease”? I am embarrassed to admit that not only was I was one of them, Jenn is talking about me here. Me who is all about not judging thought this was a made up disease just as others think ADHD is just an excuse for bad parenting. Thankfully Jenn shared with me and educated me about her struggles. I have sadly seen her pain, been on vacation where just sitting is uncomfortable for her and I have witnessed her battle.
Jenn is the mom of two terrific kids, a wife and friend. I am sorry, Jenn that I ever for on moment made you doubt your Fibro or what you were feeling. That is what I love about friendships, you get to learn so much more than you realize.
What's your challenge is a series that was inspired by a program I created at Abby's school. I am amazed at how honest and hopeful the challenges have been. Thank you to all who have contributed. To submit your challenge, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am participating in the 31 for 21 blog Challenge to raise awareness for Down Syndrome.