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Fatigue, Fibromyalgia & Denial

September 21st, 2009

Hello friends. I’ve been quiet lately. Had a marathon summer with a lot of work and a daughter to get off to college. She is off, settled in, working hard, and having the time of her life. I flew back from three days away, moving her into her dorm, and then I attended the International Headache Congress in Philadelphia for two days, then I spent a lovely day in Manhattan with cousins from the west coast, then I spent a day working, then I went back to Philly for a first appointment at the Jefferson Headache Center, then I collapsed.

I will post about the IHC, and about my appointment at Jefferson, (both of which were great) later. What I want to talk about today is “then I collapsed” part. Well I do have to touch on the appointment at Jefferson… mostly what was discussed was my Migraines and my anxiety level. I was very happy with the care I got, the thoroughness of the history taken, the look at Migraines in the context of a whole life. I have new treatment options and new hope.

It felt like almost a side note to the exam, when the doctor pressed certain points on my body which hurt tremendously.  Once he had pressed a half dozen, I realized what he was doing – pressing the fibromyalgia tender points.  One of the diagnostic criteria for fibro is pain in at least 11 of the 18 points – well, I had a great deal of pain in 14! He asked me if I feel pain in my body on a daily basis and I said there were days when I’m achy all over, but I’m not aware of much pain in my body much of the time.

But over the next few days I couldn’t stop thinking about it. My 10 day marathon of travel, launching a daughter, conference, appointments, left me bone weary and aching. You know when you first notice something you haven’t seen before, and all of a sudden you see it all around? I had this sense of a puzzle piece clicking into place. Why do I fatigue so easily? For the last few years when I exert myself in any way, whether it’s physical exercise, mental or emotional stress, or just being on the go for a number of days in a row, afterwards my entire body aches. For days. I have become terribly sensitive to touch, where someone bumping into me actually hurts, instead of just being jarring.  My husband and I were lying on the bed talking the other day and he had his hand on my calf. His thumb was resting on my shin, and after a few minutes just the weight of that thumb began to actually hurt.

I know people with fibromyalgia, and there are plenty of Migraineurs who also have fibro. I’ve read about it, and I have wondered for some time if I might have fibro too. You’ll see in my profile that I say I have chronic fatigue, but I’ve always had some question about that diagnosis, which was more of a suspicion by my family doctor than a real confirmed diagnosis. Up to this point, though, I have avoided looking into it for myself. I don’t want to face having another chronic illness. I want to live in the illusion that my limitations will go away someday. Ha! Oh well, a girl can dream.

I will investigate this further; I will talk about it at my next headache appointment. I know there are treatment options and support available. It’s kind of silly, really, to prefer denial. Having all the symptoms I have and no name for it really isn’t better than having the symptoms with a name. Knowledge really is power. I hear that the drugs used to treat fibro are really good for treating Migraine too, and many people’s Migraines improve when their fibro is treated. We’ll see. I still kind of want to stick my head back in the sand. Except I know my neck would hurt for days afterwards.

- Megan Oltman

Logan Square fountain image courtesy of Conspiracy of Happiness; shoulder image courtesy of Barbarellaa.

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Posted in Communicating, Managing, Medicine | Comments (2)

  • http://somebodyhealme.dianalee.net Diana Lee

    I guess Fibro could explain a lot about what you deal with, couldn’t it?!

    The idea of having yet another diagnosis is terrible, but hopefully your doctors can better meet your needs by determining what is really going on with your body. Still, it is not easy to accept this kind of news straight away. I think we can all relate to that feeling.

    Hang in there, Megan.

  • http://www.waronheadaches.blogspot.com Heather

    My dad has fibro, and I know through him how upsetting a diagnosis (and the condition/disease) can be. I hope you’re able to find some relief. I’ll be praying for you, just as I do for him.

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