The day that I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I had the doctor write it down for me on a piece of paper. I could barely pronounce it, yet alone spell it.
“What exactly is it?” I asked the rheumatologist fearfully. I was 24 years old and scared shitless.
Instead of taking the time to explain, he told me to go online (AOL and dial-up back in 1999) and do some research on my own.
“Don’t worry, it isn’t going to kill you,” he said encouragingly, ushering me quickly out the door.
I was in a daze. My ex was sitting in the waiting room with our daughter, who ran over to me in delight as soon as she saw me. I scooped her up into my arms, holding her warm toddler body close to me.
“Well?” he asked. “What’d they say is wrong with you?” He had been skeptical, calling me nuts and telling me that I was just imagining things.
“Fibro something.” I showed him the piece of paper, while tears started to sting my eyes.
“I’ve never fucking heard of it,” he proclaimed without an ounce of sympathy in his voice. “Well, at least now you can apply for disability.”
To him, my newly identified illness was a possible cash cow. He didn’t offer me any sort of comfort, as he was incapable of showing empathy. (Yeah, I was with this man for 6 years of my life.)
As soon as we arrived home, I went online to find out more about this mysterious syndrome. It wasn’t upgraded to an actual real disease until the fall of 2015, which pleased me greatly for reasons that I find difficult to explain.
Here’s a quick rudimentary rundown on what fibromyalgia is, in case you don’t have any idea.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure. Other symptoms include feeling tired to a degree that normal activities are affected, sleep problems, and troubles with memory. Some people also report restless legs syndrome, bowel or bladder problems, numbness and tingling, and sensitivity to noise, lights or temperature. Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. – Thanks, Wikipedia
I did end up applying for disability, although I was denied within 3 months. I didn’t even attempt to dispute it, which really pissed off my ex. But then again, he was always in a perpetual state of pissed off-ness, so that was nothing new to me.
You see, I wasn’t disabled back then. It was just noticeable enough for me to realize that something was amiss. I was a watered down version of my prior self, after having given birth to my daughter, which was a traumatic experience that had triggered my initial symptoms.
In the beginning, it was a mild case of fibromyalgia that didn’t really interfere with my ability to function like a healthy person. I had my bad days, but it was only a slight pain in the ass, like having a minor flu bug for a day or two. Any pain that I happened to experience was easily wiped away with an 800 mg ibuprofen.
I basically just felt like hot garbage now and then.
After I traded my ex in for beautiful freedom, I had no other choice but to work full-time to support my daughter. I became a single mother overnight. I’m ashamed to say that my daughter learned how to use the microwave at the age of 5 because after work, mommy sometimes needed a nap.
“Mommy, how long should I microwave this?”
She never complained, just warmed up her can of beefaroni and watched Pokemon.
I never told my employers or coworkers that I had fibromyalgia. I was determined to not let it keep me down, because fuck that noise. They also didn’t know that I had depression and anxiety.
I didn’t know yet that I had PTSD from living with a monster.
When I first met my husband, I didn’t even tell him until at least 3 years into our relationship. As usual, when I would finally feel comfortable enough to mention it to someone, he gave me a bewildered look.
“Eh, go look it up on the computer. It’s spelled F I B R O M Y A L G I A.”
I couldn’t be bothered with trying to explain it, because it wasn’t a big deal.
Until it became a big deal. Actually, a tremendous deal. Massive, in fact.
I was in so much pain last night that I wanted to scream and punch something. (I should make a punching bag that looks like my ex.) I took two of my tramadol and wished in vain for a bag of weed, which continues to remain elusive. It’s proving to be impossible for me to find a reliable source, which is a crying shame. It really does help.
If I had known that this disease would become such a menace to my life on that day so long ago, when that disinterested doctor finally gave a name to what was wrong with me, I wonder if I would have taken better care of myself.
Oh good, kale is on sale this week.