Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Story

No wonder I was so exhausted last night- it's been pouring rain all stupid day. The weather destroys my fibromyalgia...I can be sure that the day before, during, and the day after it rains/storms I'm going to be absolutely miserable with the achy-ness and exhaustion and general hands are so sore right now I don't really want to type...

But at the same time I do because I've really got a lot to say. I don't know why, really, but I suppose it's a combination of things. See, after I was diagnosed with the fibro I had to leave school because trying to find the right combination of drugs was too difficult.

It's a very long, complicated, whiny story so bear with me because I don't think my holding back details on this thing will do anybody much good. Like in one of my writing classes, a girl had written a short story about her high school sweetheart- all the goofy, cheesy teenage romance crap that was cut short by the boyfriend's drug problem. He'd been to rehab and things were going well but he had to have that "one last high" and, like what happens so often it's practically cliché, that one last high was what killed him. The writing wasn't that great and when I was reading it before the critique I realized it was because of one of two things: (1) either she hadn't ever been through the experience, or (2) she had and wasn't willing or able to really go through her emotions and memories to give it the rich detail it so desperately needed. In class I found out that the story was true, so at my turn in the critique I told her what I explained above, then told her that as the voice of experience she had a responsibility to give her audience- which could include others in the same position- as close to an accurate picture as possible. And I truly believe that. And I know I don't actually have any readers yet, but should someone stumble upon me one day and goes through the effort to find this post and wonder at my...thing. I don't know. Integrity? Maybe.

Forthcoming...ness. Forthcomingness. Whatever. What I'm getting at is that writers- the job of the writer- journalist, novelist, blogger-what have you, the job is to shed light on or provide a different perspective. I mean, from my perspective ;-) , the point is to give people a different point of view than their own. So I'm going to be as honest as I can force myself to be.

(This post is turning out to be much longer than I intended, though I suppose it will be a good reference point in the future [as in, see "My Story" 7/6/11 for the history of my fibro...])

So. Fibro. What I was talking about in the first place.

It's impossible to know which came first: the fibro or the depression, but at one time I was a very happy and athletic little girl. At my busiest I was playing soccer in the fall, ice skating in the winter, playing softball in the spring, and dancing or gymnastics  and swimming in the summer. I was little and quick and light and sporty so I was pretty good at the things I did. I wasn't the best, but I loved running all day and being part of a team.

Things started getting hard when I was about 9, I started getting tired a lot- out of breath easily- and my frequent colds were lasting longer and having weird side symptoms like swollen glands and tender abdomen. I was diagnosed with asthma (thought to be related to the inhalation of airbag powder during a car accident []) and Epstein-Barr. Epstein-Barr is the virus that causes mononucleosis, and what usually happens is that someone contracts mono, their body builds antibodies, and the virus is controlled. If, for any reason, the person is exposed to Epstein-Barr again or the amount of the virus in their blood starts to go up, their body just trots the antibodies back out and the patient is none the wiser. This is why people generally only get mono once.

Other people, people like me, for whatever reason, our bodies allow the reproduction of the virus faster than our antibodies can take it on so any flaws in our immune system (food poisoning, maybe, or just not eating right...not sleeping well infection or cold...etc.) allow the virus to "throw a party" and get out of hand and we, essentially, get mono again.

A few years later, when I was about 11 or 12, I started noticing strange soreness and general discomfort, as well as plunging moods and body image issues. I was ending puberty at the time so I had a lot of weight gain for no reason and a lot of deaths in the family and my failing health- among other things- and I began cutting myself. Slowly I stopped playing so many sports and doing other activities because I was just feeling too sick or getting sick too often to be a contributing part of a team, so I cut back severely on my activities. I still loved softball, though, and when I began high school I joined our school's softball team, as well as playing in my rec league.

My high school's softball teams had a serious problem with a lack of pitchers- and the actual pitchers were immediately put onto the varsity team so this left our freshman team without a pitcher. Having taken pitching lessons in the past I was the best we had. So I became a pitcher and was working hard on pitching. Now, while softball's "windmill" pitch is better for your arm/shoulder/elbow than the hardball overhand throw, but it's very, very hard on your hips. There's actually a lot of "wiggle" involved in the windmill throw, hip wise, and if those muscles aren't built up properly over years and years of practice you can do some serious damage. Like me :-)

What it was, essentially, was a torn muscle deep in my ass, literally. Which isn't so bad on its own, but what made it worse is that, with fibromyalgia muscle injuries don't heal. So this hip problem never really healed, and only became worse over the next few years as other muscles in the surrounding areas became overworked trying to compensate for the one bad muscle. So years and years of this led to spasms down my left leg and into my lower back, sciatica, arthritis, and bursitis. As well as serious nerve damage- I experience diminished sensation in my entire left leg to this day. It's been 9 years and I still have serious pain and issues- I was 14 when I first injured my hip.

In September of 2009 (the beginning of my junior year of college) I broke my left leg while walking down a hill. That's a story in itself and I'll tell it one day. Anyway, after the break I spent the next 8 days completely zoned on Vicodin. It was delicious, I hadn't felt that good in a long time if you can believe it. Unfortunately, I couldn't be on the Vicodin and going to class at the same time, so I started cutting back on the pills. But the more I cut back the more a new problem emerged: I was clenching my jaw, 24 hours a day. Severely. And I couldn't stop. If I took my mind off of keeping my mouth open for A SECOND I would immediately, unconsciously, begin to clench again. The pain was unbearable. This is will be covered in more detail in the broken leg post, just know it was awful and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. After getting little help for a long time I eventually saw a physical therapist who was the first to say I was showing signs of fibromyalgia.

I researched it and found the story of my life. Now, in the meantime, my cutting was out of control. I was cutting 20-25 times in a session, 4-5 sessions a day for years. And that was an average day- those numbers skyrocketed on a bad day with as many as 100-150 in a bad session. I have thousands and thousands of scars on my legs from my hips to my knees. I stopped cutting on October 16, 2009 and I miss it every minute of every day.

I stopped cutting for the boy. I imagine if he ever came across this he'd flinch at my calling him my "boyfriend", so I won' I'll just call him "the boy." Or "Herbert." Anyway. Herbert and I had...sort of...dated in high school, then had a terrific breakup, back together? Sort of. That'll be another post. Anyway...Herbert said he couldn't handle my cutting anymore, and that he'd leave me if I didn't stop. I suppose it's like any addiction, I stopped because the consequences of continuing became worse than the benefits of continuing...but I couldn't stop and keep living the way I was. Absolutely not. I was hallucinating from exhaustion, and my nerves were so fried or whatever it was I was getting crawling sensations and pinches- deep, hard pinches all over my body, all the time. My fingers bouncing against the keys of my laptop while typing hurt. No one was allowed to touch me, ever, it hurt too much.

So I went to my GP and spelled it out. He put me on Cymbalta, but that was murder on my stomach. He put me on Pristiq, but that was murder on my stomach AND I stopped sleeping completely (and I got paranoid...and was having severe short-term memory problems, it would have been funny if it wasn't so scary) I'm being treated with anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants. Phew.

NOW...I'm going to bed. :)

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