I am like most fibromites. I struggled to get someone to believe that there was something wrong and that my symptoms were not just “in my head.” Prior to being diagnosed with fibro, I racked up a list of diagnosed conditions / diseases. Once diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it all began to make sense. I looked at the lists of symptoms and found myself checking them off one at a time.
As additional symptoms and conditions appeared, I immediately chalked them up to fibro. For example, I began having extreme sharp head pains, dizziness and increased mental fog. One time when I was visiting my parents, I had another episode. My mom reacted like most moms: Get to the doctor! She spouted family history of brain aneurysms. Like many daughters, I ignored her.
A week later though, I started experiencing black outs and an increasing light-headed dizziness. While I was certain these were fibro symptoms, I did make an appointment with the doctor. He scheduled an MRI, the results of which showed nothing irregular, and he was 90% certain that my new symptoms were fibro related.
Although I agreed with the doctor that the new symptoms were fibro related, I started wondering about how do we differentiate between what is caused by fibromyalgia and what is something new or more serious?
At what point do we see a physician? Will they believe us? Do we begin to assume that any new health issue that arises is caused by fibro? Are we causing ourselves harm and putting our own health at risk by dismissing indicators or signs that could be other ailments?
What about our family and friends? Do they become so accustomed to our “complaining” that they begin to tune us out? How often do we ignore new symptoms? Are we just “sweeping them under the fibro rug?”
What can we do to avoid making this mistake?
As I continued pondering these questions, I came up with a few ideas:
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- Keep a daily health journal
- Medications – dosages and when you take them
- Symptoms – along with what makes them better or worse
- What you eat and drink
- Sleep and pain patterns
- Use reputable research sites (such as ProHealth) for research
- Examine your relationship with your healthcare providers
- Do they listen to you?
- Do you have a trusting relationship with them?
- Do they sometimes challenge you?
- Consult your peers – are you in a support group?
- Listen to your body.
Working with a fibromyalgia coach can be very helpful; they can help you talk through what’s happening and help you figure out the next step to take.
Many times, you will have a “sixth sense” about whether it’s fibro or maybe something else. If you’re not sure, always err on the side of talking with your doctor.
Just as we don’t sweep dust under the rug, let’s make sure we don’t sweep all of our symptoms under the rug of fibromyalgia!
Melissa Swanson is a chronic pain patient, advocate, and author of Ravyn’s Doll: How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Your Child. Through her Facebook page, she offers positive encouragement, medical information, resources, and support to 20,000+ fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients. In addition to her own blog, Melissa has been published in “Living Well with Fibromyalgia” and the NFMCPA “Advocate Voice.” She also works with the International Support Fibromyalgia Network.
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