Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FIBROMYALGIA 411

After wondering why this blog is entitled FRIED PICKLES I'm sure your second question is, "What the heck is fibromyalgia?" While my blog should in no way be your only source on the subject, I can give you a brief 411 and at least speak to my experience as someone living with fibromyalgia.


To briefly summarize, fibromyalgia is a syndrome that causes chronic wide spread pain throughout the body. Some experts believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes and perceives pain. In essence, what is only slightly uncomfortable to an average person can seem extremely painful to someone with fibromyalgia. 

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in August 2012. It was not an easy process to finally get my diagnosis and I visited many doctors before one would take me seriously. I started having symptoms my first year of law school leading up to my diagnosis. I began having radiating pain down my legs and arms. I began having tingling pain in my hands and feet. I started feeling tired and achey constantly, and couldn't concentrate on any task for more than a few minutes. One of my worst symptoms was brain fog. I couldn't focus, couldn't even speak articulately at times. I was hard to pay attention to anything, much less law school courses. It was as if one day I woke up totally disoriented and stayed that way for months. 

Taken separately, these symptoms could point to a variety of conditions from stress to carpal tunnel syndrome to overextended joint tendons. After getting several misdiagnoses, and being told by one doctor that I was "making the pain up," I finally visited a rheumatologist. After several more tests and an MRI, my rheumatologist told me that I have fibromyalgia. 

There is no cure for fibromyalgia. The medical community has been stumped by this condition for years, and doctors are just now figuring out what causes it. What medical professionals do know is that women are more frequently affected than men, and that symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient. This is why it's so difficult to get a fibromyalgia diagnosis; doctors have to eliminate basically everything else the pain could be before fibromyalgia is recognized. My difficulty in finding the accurate diagnosis left me feeling anxious, hopeless, and slightly crazy (until my rheumatologist told me I wasn't!). 

Like I said, there's no cure, but there are a lot of useful treatment options I've found. I completed several months of aquatic physical therapy, which was great since it's low-impact. Besides that, I've been doing weekly acupuncture for nearly a year. While these treatments were certainly not cheap, they've helped me a lot! It took me a while to find a good treatment method that worked for me. Every fibro person is different and responds uniquely to different treatments. Before I got diagnosed, my flare ups were so bad that I spent more time in bed than out living my life. Now, after nearly 2 years of trial and error, my flare ups are much more manageable. On the other hand, I know that every activity I do carries a risk of more pain. So, I'm learning to find a balance and sticking my treatment plan as long as it works. 

If you've had any successful treatment, or experienced any wacky (read: awful) experience during your diagnosis, please share in the comments! 

-Saralyn

8 comments:

  1. Just saw your blog comment you left me. Thanks! And I'm happy to be following your blog now too :)

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  2. Hi Saralyn! I feel so sorry you have this condition to deal with... I know it can be difficult to bear this alone. Kudos to you to start a blog about this issue and I know soon you will have a lot of followers and support team....
    Thank you for visiting my blog and see you again:)
    xx, Lana

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    1. Thanks Lana! I appreciate the kind words. Luckily, I already feel so embraced by the blog community and am excited to keep connecting with such great bloggers. I appreciate you visiting my blog and I will definitely keep track of yours :)

      -Saralyn

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  3. Saralyn......I think quite a bit of your pain is similar to arthritis ,which I have just about everywhere!! Perhaps I shall pick up some tips.
    My latest is to start my neck exercises just as I wake up......verrrryyyy gently.

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  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog Saralyn! I'm following you on GFC & bloglovin!

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  5. It sounds like a difficult process to get this diagnose. I am glad you eventually did. Yet it seems like a very nasty thing to live with. Thank you for the information, I am glad to understand fibromyalgia a bit better now!

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  6. I was diagnoses with fibromyalgia when I was 17 (I'm 28 now) after a year a doctor visits, tests, MRI's and lots of pain. I tend to go rough seasons and easy seasons. Swimming and vacu-therapy has been incredibly helpful with pain management. I appreciate you talking so frank about fibromyalgia!

    -Allison

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