501069904475562
 

my  journey begins

I get anxious and discouraged quickly, and it becomes difficult for me to live my life in happiness.
Audrey

My Symptoms 

I experienced tiredness and fatigue and I’m always in pain. My muscles and joints are tender, stiff, and sometimes numb, and I get horrible stomach aches at least once a week. I have chest pains and headaches, and I suffer from dizziness. I get anxious and discouraged quickly, and it becomes difficult for me to live my life in happiness and well-being. Sometimes I feel doubtful of the future and question myself, "why me?" My doctors and I were still having a hard time figuring out what was wrong with me, even with multiple testing. Well, this is how it was for me before I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. During this stressful time in my life, I was not only anxious and concerned. But what I was experiencing made my life's journey even harder. So this is My Spoonie Journey.

FINDING OUT THE TRUTH

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia over two years ago, but I've suffered these symptoms for more than 15 years. The day I received my diagnosis was undoubtedly one of the happiest days of my life. You may be saying to yourself that I am crazy to actually be happy. But I've seen so many doctors over the years, and I have not received a true diagnosis until just recently. I have taken many medical examinations, and the conclusions were always the same. The doctors would always say, “there is nothing wrong with you,” which led me to ask myself, “am I going crazy, or is this all in my head?” I thank God for my husband and children because they've supported me during this journey. They've held me up when I was down and encouraged me when I felt weak. They have never written off my symptoms or said that it was all in my head.

Audrey

MY ACCIDENT

&

SURGERY

My symptoms started a couple of years after I was involved in an auto accident. I had to have Spinal Fusion Surgery to reduce the pain in my neck caused by this accident. The healing process went well, and I went back to my usual lifestyle. I continued to do things I enjoyed, like going to work and spending time with my family. But over time, I noticed that I quickly get exhausted and dizzy. I've also been experiencing strong heart palpitations. I know I had a heart murmur and was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever as a child. So, I thought there was something wrong with my heart. I paid a visit to my cardiologist. After all the probing and testing, I got my first, "there is nothing wrong with you." All the doctor did was prescribe me medication to help with the palpitations. At the time, I thought this was okay because, if the doctor said there's nothing wrong, then there really must not be anything wrong with me.

THEY PROBED AND THEY TESTED

Well, to my surprise, this was just the start of "My Fibro Journey." This continued for many years, with many visits to different specialists for different complaints. This included more visits to my cardiologist for heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, and fatigue. The cardiologist thought my thyroid was to be blamed, so I visited an endocrinologist. Then I visited a vascular surgeon for a slight blockage in my left carotid artery. I then saw a neurologist for the "pins and needles" feeling I get in my head. Finally, I visited a gastroenterologist for the constant stomach pain I was enduring. Over the years, I had two cardiac catheterizations for my palpitations. I had many blood tests, electrocardiograms, exercise stress tests, echocardiograms, nuclear cardiac stress tests, MRIs, two colonoscopies, and the list goes on. I even had an electroencephalography, or EGN, to uncover the cause of my dizziness. During an EGN, the doctor pours warm water into your ears to stimulate the dizziness. I went to the emergency room multiple times for severe dizziness and stomach aches. Still, the results were always the same: "Audrey, everything looks good, take this medication, and come back in three months."

Picture of Audrey Watson

I AM DONE COMPLAINING

Finally, I decided that I'm done complaining and that I'm going to live the rest of my life with these medical issues. I decided that I will try to do my best each day. I learned over time how to live with these medical issues, how to make changes and adapt so that I won't live with too many discomforts. With the dizziness, I was given medication to take as needed. I also learned not to get up too fast, and when I'm getting out of bed, I make sure to sit for at least ten seconds before I get up. I would have hurt myself badly one night if my husband, who usually works the overnight shift, wasn't with me. I was getting out of bed and felt a sudden sense of dizziness. I thought I was falling back into the bed, but I was actually falling the opposite way into some bedroom furniture. Thank God he was quick enough to catch me before I fell. I also learned to live with the palpitations, trying different medications until my doctor and I found one that helps. I learned to live with fatigue. I took scheduled breaks during the days and made sure to get enough sleep during the nights. I learned to live with the pains and decided that whatever medication prescribed to me would give me some comfort. I also learned that I couldn't fix all of my medical issues, so I must learn to live with them.

MY STOMACH ACHES

But even with all these lifestyle changes, there was, however, one thing I found really hard to continue living with. It was the stomach aches. I gave my last wishes to my husband while sitting on the toilet multiple times because I thought I was dying. That's how severe my stomach aches were. As I mentioned before, I have seen several gastroenterologists and had two colonoscopies, and the results were always the same. During this time, I made sure I was eating healthy, cutting out spices, and making sure I ate on time. I actually set daily meal reminders, so I don't forget to eat. It's especially helpful if I'm having a busy day. My stomach aches were so bad that one evening my husband called 911. I was transported to the emergency room, where they ran several tests, including a CAT scan. And as usual, nothing was wrong. The emergency room doctor told me to take extra strength Pepcid and follow up with my gastroenterologist.

I then made an appointment and visited my gastroenterologist. Instead of seeing the doctor, I was scheduled to see a nurse practitioner who, to no surprise, told me there was nothing wrong with me. She recommended another colonoscopy. I told her I would think about it. She prescribed me some medication and encouraged me to cut out as much dairy as possible. Things went from bad to worse because of the drugs she prescribed. I had constant diarrhea and almost had to start wearing adult diapers. So, I stopped taking the medication and started cutting out dairy in my diet. After a while, I started feeling much better. Even though I continued to experience the typical issues, I had less stomach aches after adjusting to my new diet.

Picture of Audrey Watson

WAS IT A HEART ATTACK?

About two months before I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I was sitting in the waiting room at a local district courthouse. I'm a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, and I was about to have an appointment with one of my clients. I was sitting there, reading a magazine. Then all of a sudden, I felt a strange feeling in my left arm. It radiated up to my chest and down into my right arm. I was so frightened. I said to myself, 'oh my God, I'm having a heart attack.' I was dizzy, sweaty, and short of breath. I sat there and started taking slow breaths. Thanks to the meditation I've been doing as part of my new lifestyle, I learned how to focus on my breathing. After about ten seconds, the strange feeling went away. After that, I was not able to concentrate. My brain was so foggy. When my client came, we had our mediation appointment, and I tried my best to complete it as usual. This was a frightening experience, so I went to see my cardiologist.

My cardiologist suggested that I undergo a series of tests, including cardiac catheterization, to see what was going on. He was, however, puzzled about the "brain fog" I had after my recent episode. Having these tests were necessary because I was scheduled for breast surgery to remove a tumor. My doctors wanted to make sure I was able to have the surgery without any complications. As usual, everything was okay, and I was able to have the surgery. I thank God the tumor was benign. But I continued to have these episodes, especially if I were stressed or exhausted. During these episodes, I didn't feel pain. Instead, it felt like I was being shocked. Sometimes, an episode would tire me out so much that I would sleep for hours.

MY DIAGNOSIS

A day after my breast surgery, my sisters visited me. During the visit, I had another shocking episode in my hands and chest. One of my sisters is a registered nurse and is aware of my medical history. She was surprised to see what I was going through. She said, "Audrey, are you sure you don't have Multiple Sclerosis?" She immediately called a friend of hers. Her friend is a nurse practitioner with her own practice. She also took part in several studies on fibromyalgia. My sister explained to the nurse practitioner what I was going through, and she made an appointment for me to see her. I went and had some blood work done. The nurse practitioner scheduled an MRI of my brain and an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to see if I was having seizures.
She went through my medical history and all the tests I have done over the years. She also did an examination of my tender points to check my pain threshold. When my results came in, she told me that I do not have multiple sclerosis, but that I have fibromyalgia. This was the last thing I expected to hear from her. But the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "Thank God, it has a name, and now I know what is going on with me and how to go on with my life." The nurse practitioner believes the fibromyalgia was triggered by the emotional and physical trauma of the auto accident and surgery I had years before.
Picture of Audrey Watson

THE JOURNEY BEGINS HERE

Many of you have experienced more and continue to live with the difficulties that come with having fibromyalgia. However, if your journey is more complicated than mine, I empathize with you. I have discovered through all of this that what makes me feel healthier and happier is to put myself first. That's because if I can't help myself, I won't be able to help others. I'm still trying to improve my lifestyle, but I believe it's also essential to share the things I've experienced and learned. I also think having family and friends who understand what I'm going through is critical to travel on this journey. Together, we'll be able to learn more, improve our quality of life, and improve the way we see this disease. I am delighted to share my experiences with you, and I hope you feel the same.

So, what is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and anxiety and depression.

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. As well as, exercise, relaxation, and stress-reduction measures also may help.

My spoonie warriors, I hope you enjoy reading my story, and I hope you can share some of your journey with us. 

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY

Thank you for reading about how my fibromyalgia journey starts. I hope you were inspired. If you have any funny or inspiring ideas that you would like to share, please share it below. I would love to hear from you. Also, please share this article with your family and friends.

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