In September of 2008, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Two months later, a rheumatologist confirmed this and gave me a second diagnosis: fibromyalgia. Those first six months after receiving those diagnoses were the hardest of my life. I was in more pain than I had ever imaged and I was struggling with two conditions I barely understood.
Yesterday, I had my weekly appointment with the chiropractor, and I didn’t get much relief. In fact, I lay in bed last night praying for the pain to just go away. So much for prayer! I awoke to more pain than I was in the night before. I even took a muscle relaxer before bed and it doesn’t appear to have helped much. At the chiropractor yesterday, I realized that my entire back was sore. When I got home, I noticed that my upper arms and thighs were sore as well. In addition to my herniated discs in the neck and back acting up, I am also dealing with a fibromyalgia flare up. Yesterday, I was also dropping things and the knuckles in my hands were in inflamed. My left knee and ankles were inflamed as well. Therefore, I had two flare ups going on. Talk about double whammy.
As I drove into work today, I thought about how long it’s been since I dealt with a double flare up and the truth is, it has been quite some time. Winter can be pretty harsh on my joints and my muscles but the pain I am experiencing feels like it is unfamiliar territory. Perhaps, it has been quite some time since I have had a double flare but let me tell you, it is not pleasant company. Further, it has taken me back to winters before I was diagnosed. The pain, especially the muscle pain, is all too familiar.
I ponder as to whether I am a lot better off now that I have a diagnosis (albeit a double whammy) than I was when I just didn’t know. It occurs to me, however, that this was what the pain was like all those years ago. I have spent the last three years taking medication and making good lifestyle and diet choices in order for the pain to be at a minimum. The pain I have had for the past few days is a result of overexertion. On Sunday, I decided that I was tired of boxes all over the place and finished all my unpacking. From 9 am to 5 pm, that is what I did. I took breaks but nevertheless, I overdid it and this flare up is the end result.
When I go through periods where the pain is at a minimum, I often forget what a bad flare up is like. I overdo things because I feel able and capable when my pain is at a minimum. However, like many of you, I pay for it. Also, when my pain levels are low, I never know which is causing my pain – fibro or RA. But when my pain is high, I can determine which is causing the pain and today, the muscle pain is from the fibro and the joint pain from the RA. I can feel both and it is not very pleasant. The two conditions are symptoms are similar: muscle pain, morning stiffness, loss of mobility and range of motion. Since this, on my worst days, I can tell the difference.
Since the two diseases having some similar symptoms, they are quite different. Fibromyalgia is not associated with inflammation and RA is. I read somewhere that while it is possible to suffer from both RA and Fibro, it is pretty rare. Wow, how about that! Leave it to me to define “rare.”
That’s my double whammy and anyway I look at it, it still sucks. I guess when my pain is relatively low and my fibromyalgia is, for the most part, quiet, I will forget how much it sucks. In fact, I will forget enough to overdo things yet again. In the meantime, please send happy thoughts my way.
And all you people who love Valentine’s Day, this is my Ba Humbug moment. I never understand the purpose of V-day. Seriously, we need one day to tell people we love that we love them – and why can’t we do that without a special day? I always love the cute handmade gifts from my kids – don’t get me wrong but I have a problem with the fact that people, in other words adults, need a special day to show love and appreciation. That is my thought on it. It may just be the flare up and the cold and snow blasts we have been getting here. And if you sun by you, instead of gloating (and you know who you are), PLEASE send it my way.