Monday, September 8, 2008

Getting to Fabulous

Getting to Fabulous can seem like a daunting and difficult task for anyone who suffers from Fibromyalgia. The fatigue alone can make everything seem hard. But somehow, everyone of us with this debilitating syndrome manage lives with a job, kids, a partner, hobbies, pets, and anything else you might think of that would be included in a life. And we do it simply because we were people before we got diagnosed and we are most certainly people after that. But finding that happy medium between illness and life can really make a person wrestle with priorities. I discuss in great detail a lot of that turmoil that I went through when first diagnosed in my book The Fibro Hand, and I'll only share a bit of it here so this post won't bore you to tears.

I was always hard-working by nature. And anyone looking at me probably would look at me as a kid that felt she had something to prove. That observation would probably be right because I had always been that kid with a sprain or strain on one muscle or joint or another. I can remember my classmates in middle school taking bets to see if either I or another kid named Matt would show up with crutches on a given week. So you can definitely say that I started to "work" through pain at quite an early age.

After this, it became very hard for me to distinguish "aches and pains" from actual Fibro flares because they were pretty similar for me. It really wasn't until after giving birth to my first child that I experienced some really crappy days where I just plain couldn't move my fingers in the morning. But even then at age 28, I just tossed it off as nothing more then being tired from sleepless nights and long work days.

Then I turned 30 and got promoted to a "real" management job at a retail department store that I worked for. I'd been in a middle management position since the age of 16 so I knew what to expect-- a lot of long hours and a lot of stocking of merchandise. But this position was a bit different. I was doing a lot of walking in the store because the upper management felt that a presence was needed to boost sales and morale. This store was in a mall and had two floors. And to make a long story short, I was walking (steps count) anywhere from 5-15 miles a day on average. My knees were literally killing me. I went to the doctor, and so began the process of figuring out what I had and what to do about it for myself and my family's sake.

After the diagnoses of Fibromyalgia, I started to read everything I could on the subject and I tried to meet as many people as I could that had it. I wanted to beat this thing that was robbing me of the life and job I had. One particular book took my be surprise. It dealt with Fibromyalgia in a whole "new" way where the woman thought food and other natural approaches would help manage the pain. This book called Fibromyalgia, A Natural Approach, talked about a "detox" program where you eliminate food that cause problems in your diet. I was ecstatic and felt in control again of my life because I now had an idea and a plan to help me to feel better.

Once I read this book, I started to keep a journal of what I ate and how I felt afterwards. I tracked whether my ankles swelled, if I was tired, or if I had a burst of energy. Now, I also did this for my activities and how I felt after those too, because I knew that this would help me for my particular situation. I wrote in this journal faithfully for one week at first and then I started tracking it off and on for a couple of months. After my regular foods and routines were tracked, I continued the journal for any new activities and foods. This gave me a great record of what "worked" well for my body and what caused flares.

Now, I'm not a doctor, so I must stress that getting yourself checked out by one is very important because everyone is as different as the symptoms are of Fibromyalgia. This journal, however, helped me and my doctor communicate better because he and I could refer to what worked for me. And it helped a lot, but getting yourself diagnosed first is very important so you can eliminate any other possibile illness. Fibromyalgia tricky to diagnose because it's symptoms can look like Lyme Disease, MS, or even RA, to name a few. So having said that, I hope this bit of information helps you to get on your way to be Fabulous! Take care of yourselves and I will chat again real soon!

Love and friendship,

Kimberley
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