FYBROMYALGIA: A DISEASE NOT A DEATH SENTENCE
Fybromyalgia (FMS) is a disorder that causes wide-spread pain, sleep problems, anxiety, and possibly depression in its patients. Although much research is being done on this syndrome, there is still neither any exact cause for the disorder nor any cure. The treatments for fybromyalgia mainly focus on reducing symptoms and relieving emotional stress from the condition.
However, there are many people who have learned to cope, and even thrive, with this disorder. It is my intention to share their experiences and solutions with you in an attempt to bridge the gap between surviving and thriving with fybromyalgia. If you suffer from fybromyalgia, I do hope this encourages you in your struggle.
GIVEN FOR A REASON
Phyllis, 63 years old, has had fybromyalgia since 1992. When she first got the disease, all she could do was walk around her house crying. For her, fybromyalgia came on very suddenly and interrupted her busy lifestyle with work and family. It was like a thief, stealing her career, her family, and her finances.
However, in the midst of her crisis, Phyllis realized something. How you deal with this disorder is how you will end up. That was when she started a support group that began with 35 members and now is making a difference to more than 200 people. Physicians are sending their patients to her. You see, Phyllis focused on what she could do for others and that helped her see beyond her pain to a very fulfilling life with fybromyalgia. Her need to be involved in life was met. She is still a doer because lying down is not her style.
THE LESSONS OF FYBROMYALGIA
Carolyn, 67 years old, has lived with fybromyalgia since 1998. It struck her suddenly when she was in her 50s. Her kids were growing up, and she finally had the time to focus on her work but the work became too stressful and she had to quit.
Since that time, Carolyn has learned to slow down and listen to her body. If she works on an activity, like gardening, she does it for an hour and then takes a break, sits down to do some other activity, or relax. She still has pain from time to time but no guilt feelings about it anymore. She loves her work but her work schedule is where it should be – three days a week and no more. With this schedule, she is able to take more time with her spouse and her friends. She now finds time to do the things she loves. Even though she still has fybromyalgia, Carolyn has found that her life is a much healthier way to live.
LEARNING TO SMELL THE ROSES
Rebecca, 53 years old, has been dealing with fybromyalgia since 1974. Through it all, Rebecca can say that this disorder has changed her life for the better. Being a runner, she used to jog through the park but had to slow down because of the pain throughout her body. She still walks, however, and if she gets exhausted, she can sit on a park bench and rest.
Perhaps that most amazing thing that happened to Rebecca is that she learned how to “smell the roses.” In other words, she notices things that she never took time to notice before in her life. For example, during a rest time, she spent 10 minutes watching a butterfly on a flower and just enjoyed how beautiful it was. She remarks how nice it is to sit and feel the sunshine on her face and admire all the colors of the flowers in the park. She has a lot more depth, compassion, and appreciation of what life really is because of fibromyalgia.
FINDING FULFILLMENT THROUGH UNCERTAINTY
Andrea, 53 years old, has lived with fybromyalgia since 1977. For Andrea, life with FMS has meant living with uncertainty. She never knew what kind of shape she would be in at any given time. Also, she wouldn’t know what brought on a bout of symptoms when they came; did she overdo it, eat the wrong food, exercise the wrong way? The unpredictability led her to cancel appointments, give up a profession she loved, stop traveling, and not pursue the graduate degree she wanted.
Although she resigned herself to settling for less, she discovered that it wasn’t that she was settling for, but merely making changes to her lifestyle. She remarked that good has come from it. She enjoyed the slow times with her children, doing art projects with them, and reading lots of bedtime stories. Today, she is involved with advocacy work for the American Pain Foundation. She works when she can for as long as she can, and it’s very rewarding for everyone, including Andrea.
If you have fybromyalgia, I hope these stories from real people will encourage you to not give up or give in to this disorder but look beyond your symptoms, learn to smell the roses, and find your niche in dealing with this syndrome. There really is life beyond fybromyalgia; you just have to accept the situation, face your fears, and re-focus on what really matters in life. In time, you too can write your success story to help others in their struggle.