It’s been just over fourteen years since the car accidents that first kicked off my chronic pain. I was barely 21 at the time. For the first, I was a passenger in a car stopped at a red light. We were rear-ended by someone who never even noticed the red light. A week or two later, I was crossing the street and was hit on foot. It happened so quickly that, though I flew up onto her windshield and caused the whole thing to become one giant spiderweb of safety glass, I thought that the car just hit me and I fell down. When I saw a chiropractor shortly after, the X-rays showed that the S curve in my neck was completely backwards.
I’ve had chronic pain ever since. Once the bumps and bruises healed, it was mostly in my lower back and hips. I’ve had so many invasive procedures and taken so many medications to try to help with the pain. Over the years, more and more soft tissue and nerve issues popped up. Some have been transitory, coming and going, while others have tended to take up semi-permanent residency, along with insomnia and terrible fatigue.
I’ve used a cane to help support my back — and sometimes joint injuries — for about seven years now. I don’t always need it and often skip using it around the apartment, but I can’t leave the house without it.
Over the past six months, I’ve been getting more nerve and joint pain in the mix. No one has quite been able to explain this, though the rheumatologist with whom I had my first appointment today is recommending that my PCP have more imaging and a few blood tests done when she returns from maternity leave in the spring. In the meantime, I finally have an official diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Part of the reason that I was referred to the rheumatologist in the first place was testing positive for ANA and Sjogren’s antibodies, but he said that the positives were so low that I shouldn’t worry about it, with so few of the main symptoms.
So I’m relieved. I’ve basically known that I had fibro for about ten years now. My last doctor always referred to me as having fibro but never diagnosed me or referred me to someone who might diagnose me. So I’ve just been in this limbo, treating symptoms but not being positive what’s going on with my body. And a lot of nasty people have called me a faker or tried to make me feel like everything was in my head and I’d be able-bodied if I just tried harder. This diagnosis is validating for me in a huge way, and it’s definitely the least scary option considering all of the symptoms I’ve been dealing with for over a decade, in increasing frequency and severity.
To everyone who’s ever tried to make me feel like I was making it up, I hope that your life has evolved beyond bullying sick people who are down on their luck. To everyone who has believed in me and given me friendship, understanding and love during this journey, you have my undying gratitude.
Much love and the brightest of blessings to you!