Back to work

Dear Bloggers,

I developed fibromyalgia in januari 2007 when I was a 40-year-old receptionist working under extreme pressure and deadlines for a busy ferry company.
I averaged about 6-7 hours of sleep a night due to job stress, coupled with a life-long tendency toward insomnia.
I had also been under a great deal of personal stress for many years.
I would try to catch up my rest by sleeping 7-8 hours a night on the days that I was free, but the family life would not let me.
After a few years of this, I suddenly developed a pain in my lower back and especially shooting pains in my arms, hands and fingers.
My muscles felt tight and inflamed, and I was physically exhausted.
I wanted to work less in the near future and change to another job, but I had to keep on working to pay the bills.
I had no idea what was wrong with me.
I consulted many doctors--neurologists, orthomolecure therapists, fysiotherapists, chiropractors, rheumatologists, doctors of internal medicine, etc. Each one had a different theory: fibrositis, arthroses, sarcodiosis, pinched nerves, lyme disease, and even a hypothyroid condition.
The final diagnosis was fibromyalgia.
I had tenderness at 13 of the 18 trigger points characteristic of fibromyalgia, and stiffness and pain in my muscles.
At times I also had muscle tremors and herendously tired.
I felt totally burned out.
The doctors prescribed drugs, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and painkillers but nothing really helped.
It was very frustrating!

I tried taking vitamins by changing my diet and exercising.
The vitamins helped me feel stronger, but the debilitating pain and stiffness of fibromyalgia still persisted.
Exercise actually made the condition worse sometimes but I was told to keep in motion--it felt like my muscles were tearing.
Even mild stretching, such as reaching too far into a cupboard, would cause me days of misery.
I was puzzled that I even had pain when my body was completely at rest!
Since it was unlike any other pain I had ever experienced, I found it hard to describe to others. Sometimes it was a sharp stabbing sensation, at other times a dull, miserable ache that wore me down.
It felt like the nerves and muscles were irritated and inflamed.
Because I looked healthy and kept up with my responsibilities, a lot of people didn't believe that I was suffering like I was.
Some even said it was "all in my head" or that I was lazy and trying to avoid work!
Needless to say, this increased my emotional stress levels!
Unfortunately, not much was known about fibromyalgia in my surroundings but internet could answer a lot of questions but some parts that you read will make you more sick.
I started losing the feeling of "connection" between my brain and my hands.
I would think I was going to drop something, when actually I would be gripping it very tightly. Also, if any weight was put on my arms, such as carrying grocery bags, lifting a heavy pot from the stove, having a child pull on my arm, etc., I would get terrible pains in my arms that would last for the whole day.
I felt practically disabled!
So many activities I never gave a second thought to now became obstacles throughout the day!

As a "Type-A, take-charge, high-achieving" kind of person, these drastic changes in my life were hard to accept.
It was a nightmarish time financially as well.
I tried physical therapy, cortisone shots, massage therapy and chiropractic to relieve my fibromyalgia.
Of all the remedies I tried, massage helped the most, but it was very expensive and the relief I obtained ended almost as soon as the massage did! My muscles were drawn up and tight, especially in my upper back and neck.
Massage therapists told me that my muscles felt "hard." My whole body was painful and stiff. If I sat for more than 10 or 15 minutes, I could barely get up again because of the pain and stiffness in my knees and legs. I felt like a very old person. I learned to sleep on my back because of chronic pain in both shoulders.
After a couple of months at home on sick leave and many visits to the hospital, It is time to go back to work now.
But question is can I handle it and can they get used to the new me.
The same person dealing in a different way with his energy levels.
The fibromyalgia will flare up or ease off depending on how much sleep I was getting or how much stress I will be under.
I feel pain and tired much of the time and also suffer from insomnia, but I am not the person that sits down and feels depressed.
I actually became more and more aware of what my body is still capable to do.
I had a lot of trouble with insomnia.
Usually one bad night's sleep led to 4 or 5 more nights of even worse sleep!
I tried a lot of remedies, and a chinese method learned me how to relax eventhough I did hardly sleep, the body came to a full rest.
And I had enough energy the next day.
The physical pain of fibromyalgia is bad enough, but the fatigue wore me down mentally as well. For months I was so physically weak that even a normal car trip would completely exhaust me and I would fall asleep on the couch!
Also, the pain sensations were very severe at these times, but I was not willing to give up and let this sickness influence my mind.
Al my back up sources were depleted from years of sleeping problems.
And that was where my body simply started to hit the brakes.
In order to cope, I learned to reduce all forms of stress in my life and to curtail any activities that would make the fibromyalgia worse.
I came to accept the fact that I could no longer participate in many of the activities that I would normally do but that I had to regulate my sources.
I had previously enjoyed, and I eventually adapted to a limited lifestyle.
The carefree days of good health seemed over for good, and I had given up any hope of a "cure" for my fibromyalgia.
I don’t believe there is a cure for it, but if you believe in yourself you can learn how to deal positive with the pain.
The Old Sailor,


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