Sunday, July 15, 2007

What will the verdict be?

There is no reason for weeks to go by without a single entry being posted here. In my word files I have dozens of articles I have started that just need a little tweak to be ready for posting . My only excuse is, I guess, nothing more than pure laziness.

My last post was made June 29th. Several days before I had been released from the hospital, and I was in a very tenuous mood while waiting for the verdict on my most recent health episode. I guess that accounts for the subject of my last post. I have to admit I have been giving life and death matters a lot of thought lately. Nothing like having a possible death sentence hanging over your head to get you thinking.

Well, I guess I should start at the top and explain. I have suffered from fibromyalgia for thirty years. I had the illness long before most doctors had ever heard of it or would admit it was a real medical problem, and long before the American Medical Association gave it status as an illness by giving it a name and a set of symptoms.

For years I went to doctor after doctor with my list of complaints only to be repeatedly dumped into one of two classifications. Some doctors would get that glassy eyed look wondering how fast they could get rid of this dingbat. A look that told you they considered you just another neurotic female in need of pacifying. You knew that the word hypochondriac was going to be written in bold red letters on your chart the minute you left the room. Others would lump all your problems into that quote-unquote “female bag” and refer you to the nearest gynecologist.

By the time I found a doctor that took my symptoms and list of complaints seriously and actually gave my mystery disorder a name (yes, disorder was how it was described back then) most of my family and friends and certainly my husband and daughter had already written me off as a nut case suffering from some mysterious mental illness. I was repeatedly told that my illness was not real. They would say, things like “its all in your head.” or “just get over it” or questioned whether I liked to be thought of as crazy.

After a while you actually begin to think that you really are a brick short of a full load, but in my defense I believe that all of you would feel crazy to if you went days without sleeping with diffused chronic pain, no energy, no life, no hope, and had been bounced from one doctor to another and given dozens of tests and took numerous drugs which didn’t help. All your lab results were normal and still you got worse year after year! Add to that numerous complaints including: anxiety, depression, fatigue, chronic pain, insomnia, IBS, MVP, tingling in your extremities, night sweats, headaches, reflux, and other symptoms. Are you crazy?

It is understandable, I guess, that others could not understand what I was going through. I did not understand it either. Over the years I learned that the only way I could avoid all the negative attitudes and misconceptions about my mental state was to suffer in silence. I tried to develop a way of coping that did not add fuel to the fire of already badly distorted ideas about me.

One major problem with a chronic pain disorder is that you become so used to having something hurt that you tend to ignore any new pain as being just a new wrinkle in the old package. This lack of pain consideration causes you to run the risk of ignoring symptoms of a new more serious illness in its early stages, thus causing an emergency situation to arise.

When I met my Frank, I made several mistakes. First, I told him I had fibromyalgia and left him to do his own research about the illness. Second, I continued to live my stoic suffer-in-silence way of life. As a result; when I had a flareup that put me out of commission, I not only scared the shit out of him but caused him to accuse me of lying about the real state of my health. So what happened? Here is the story.

With fibromyalgia you have eighteen trigger points throughout your body which react to different things and cause inflammation and pain. Rainy weather is one that most affects me and we had been having a lot of rain over several weeks. This caused a flareup of the trigger points in my back and chest and I was having lots of discomfort in those areas.

I have always been a fast walker. I have short legs and take short fast steps. Not many people are able to keep pace with me, but my Frank not only keeps up, but causes me to have to work at keeping his pace. Each night we go for a walk and I have to really work at maintaining the pace he sets. One night last month as Frank and I were out walking I began to get very winded and had to ask him to slow down. I figured it was due to the flareup in my chest and brushed it off as nothing important. Later that night I began to have some serious pain in my chest that woke me up. Not wanting to worry Frank, I got up and settled down in the recliner in the living room. Frank, found me there sometime later. As he said, I exhibited the classic symptoms of a heart attack: cold clammy skin, pain in my chest, very slow heart beat, shortness of breath and a general feeling of malaise. Before I could protest he had me in the car on the way to the emergency room of the local hospital.

After a overnight stay and dozens of test I was released with the assurance that I had not had a heart attack but no knowledge of what had actually taken place and a fist full of slips for appointments in the outpatient dept. for further testing to rule out other possible causes for my once again mysterious episode. Reassured that I was not in any immediate danger and with testing a week in the future we headed off on our previously scheduled trip to Omaha to celebrate the fourth of July holiday and the birthday my sister and I share on July 7th.

Since returning home, I have completed all the required tests and we are waiting for the results. My nerves are on edge and I am still in a pensive mood. Will this be just another occasion of more normal results with no answers, or will I be handed some major bad news.

Only time will tell. I will keep you posted.

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