So, I promised a terrifying decent into self-loathing and despair with my first post, Face Time, and I haven’t really delivered. Well, Up for Debate was depressing. But where’s the good stuff, you’ve asked. What the bloody hell was wrong with you, anyway?
Here’s why I hate daily chores: About eighteen months after the wacky vertigo incident happened while I was cleaning myself in the shower, I killed my arm while I was pulling clothes out of an industrial-sized drier at a laundry mat.
It really hurt. I thought I had sprained my forearm, so I went to a walk-in clinic later that day. It wasn’t broken or sprained, and the doctor on duty advised me to take ibuprofen and make an appointment with my GP. By the time I saw her, I was convinced that my problem was carpal tunnel syndrome. It seemed to fit, considering the safety-net-job of mine required non-stop typing for eight hours a day, five days a week. But she immediately knew it was something else, because the pain wasn’t in the right spot for carpal tunnel. Worried that it might be arthritis, she referred me to a rheumatologist.
Fast forward about three months later, during which time, my neck and shoulders became stiffer and stiffer (a process that began before the shooting forearm pain), and the stiffness had started to creep down toward the pain in my arms (one arm had become two). The upside-down-wine-glass-shape of my upper body became one big, angry ouchie. My muscles felt like they were constantly contracting. I had never felt pain like this. Ibuprofen was a joke.
I had high hopes when I walked into this guy’s office. Let’s call him the Hope Crusher, or HC for short. Looking back on that visit, it’s clear that he made a diagnosis before he walked into the room. HC asked me about the pain, which, at the time my file was handed to him, was only in my neck, shoulders and left arm. He asked me other questions, too, about my level of fatigue and stuff like that.
For the physical part of the examination, HC made me walk in a straight line, backwards and forwards, and touch my toes. He tested my reflexes. And then he started to dig his fingers into several different places on my body – my neck, my shoulders, my hips, my ankles, etc – asking me if it hurt when he did it. It felt like HC, a strong, capable man in his late-forties, was jamming his fingers into my muscles as hard as he could. So, yes, it freaking hurt. Everywhere.
When that was over, we sat at his desk, where he leaned back in his chair, clasped his hands together, and told me that I had Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia. Chronic, wide-spread pain... diagnosis criteria includes at least three months with no relief, certain pressure points and fatigue... can come and go, but usually gets worse over the years.
I was completely blindsided. I went to HC because I thought I had arthritis, and I left with a dreary prognosis. He also said that the disease had no cure and the limited treatments available didn’t always work. And then he gave me a prescription. No follow-up appointment required.