Fi Bro My Al Gia. Fibromyalgia. Just saying and spelling the word is a pain!
“Hi. I am Laura and I have Fibromyalgia.”
I’m laughing at myself right now, because at some points in my life I felt like I had to keep this a secret. The laugh, well, I am so over that, I have Fibromyalgia, everyone deals with something. Not to put the syndrome in an easy category for anyone. It’s that I have accepted it about myself, and I let people know when I let people know. I am not worried about that anymore. If people don’t understand anything about it, don’t believe it is a “real” thing, I don’t think any more of it. People have reactions, thoughts and feelings about these pain syndromes. They have reasons behind them. If someone close to me wants to know more about my fibromyalgia and how I am doing, well, that makes me feel good. But beyond that, everyone has a busy life and we all have problems. If you or I would take away 5 of our problems today, 5 more would replace them in short order, tomorrow. So, just because someone doesn’t ask, it doesn’t mean they don’t care or love me very much. It means they have their own stuff, their own life going on.
I have had fibromyalgia for over 30 years. Yes, 30 years. I can’t believe it, as I type the words. It began as back pain and still is back pain. Pain. PAIN! I started to complain in my teens about my back hurting. I simply said, “My back hurts”. I still say, “My back hurts”! And what do I remember most about my pain all those years ago? Here is a synopsis. I worked for Target at 16, 17, and 18 years old. For part of those years I was in the housewares department. Things were set up differently then, as far as duties. I would stock shelves, lift heavy things, redo entire aisles and endcaps, as part of my job. I enjoyed working there, it suited my positive personality, and I enjoyed helping people, interacting with people. Working with baskets, draperies, bedding, decorations, and all things house related, it was right up my alley. I looked forward to going to work. I gave it my all and then some. I was probably one of Lynn’s best employees. I could turn the basket section into a wicker haven in no time.
|A friend I grew up with. This is before Fibromyalgia set its sites on me.|
But, and a big but! By the end of my shift, I was in excruciating pain. It was unbearable. I would barely make it out of there. It was intense, strong, hard to ignore, hard not say anything, big, huge, my whole back, from my neck down to my bottom. If the night shift went later than normal, I could barely stand it. I would get to my car, and be so ready to leave and get home, so I could finally lay down. I could barely think or talk sometimes. Concentrating on driving home could be difficult. Pain can take away many faculties, too many of us know.
(Scientists estimate fibromyalgia affects 5 million Americans 18 or older and the majority of these people are women)
Laura and her niece on Christmas eve. This was a familiar place for me
to sit, being the baby of the family.
Fibromyalgia has set in now,
but I don't know what it is, and will not figure it out for
many years to come.
The transition usually came at the end of the night, when we did what was called zoning. Those of you in retail know, it is straightening up your department after the public has rummaged through to find what they need. By the time zoning came around, what happened to my friendly and upbeat personality? Yep! It would quickly fade and soon disappear, as I added physical stress to my aching back muscles. I had the pain when I started work, but I was able to deal with it, push it out of my consciousness, push it to the background, pretend it wasn’t there, give it no voice. At the start of my shift and at the start of each new day, that is what I did. I did that for many years. I did that for way too many years. I will touch on my diagnosis, treatment, and my take on what I think are possible causes for my fibromyalgia in further posts. But before I do that, I will say, not knowing what was really wrong with me and how to manage the pain, and the triggers, (I didn’t even know there were specific triggers) set me on a collision course with more and more pain. And then, migraines.
Fibromyalgia. I say it now.
Until next time, hang in there,
Laura Guenther was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1997 when she was 33 years old. By this time, she had lived with fibromyalgia for well over a decade, not knowing what it was. Laura is a mixed media artist living in Greensboro N.C. Her jewelry work has been published in many of your favorite magazines including Somerset Life, Jewelry Affaire, Belle Armoire Jewelry and Stringing Magazine. Laura teaches workshops on the immersion technique of torch fire enamel in Greensboro, N.C. She welcomes correspondence BlueAntiquitiesJewelry@Gmail.com