Today I began Phase One of Operation: Regain Control Over My Body. Since it seems to have developed a mind of its own, I think I’ve been letting my body walk all over me. Oh sure, I changed my hair and updated my wardrobe, but that more like putting a fresh coat of paint on a rotting house. It just covers up the real mess on the inside. It’s time to do something about the inside.
Let me explain. I have body issues. It has decided to stop working properly. A few years ago, I started to have some major pain issues. I would get these bolts of pain that would shoot from the top of my head to the base of my spine and there was a constant ache between my shoulder blades. Of course I went to the doctor and after several x-rays, the doc just shrugged and offered me pain killers and muscle relaxers. I was passed on to a physical therapist who helped a little, but buried me in medical bills. A few months later, I quit school and picked up multiple jobs to help cover my medical expenses.
Let’s flash forward a couple years to the present. I finally got back to school. A good design school. I’d been spending several hours at the drawing table and my computer. Gradually, my body turned against me. The pain between my shoulder blades came back. It slid down my spine to my lower back. Eventually, it branched out down my arms, sending searing shocks of pain down to my fingertips. My hands stopped working. They would frequently go numb and I couldn’t type or grip a pencil. I was frequently cutting out of class early because I couldn’t work through the pain. To say that I was terrified is putting in mildly.
I saw a different doctor. She again gave me pain medication, but she also sent me through several tests. First I saw an orthopedic doctor who poked and prodded and shot more x-rays. Then he charged me $700 to tell me that he didn’t know what was going on and he couldn’t help me. Next, I had some neuro tests performed. Once again, I was given a bill for several hundred dollars and a conclusion of, “I dunno.” From there, I was shoved into an MRI. I have to admit that the pictures were really cool. I made the tech show them to me when I was finished. But once again, nobody could figure out what was wrong with me.
Back to my doctor I went. It turns out that I have fibromyalgia, a weird neuro-muscular disease that causes chronic pain. The way I understand it, the pain center in my brain tends to be a bit of a drama queen and frequently overreacts to stimuli. You’d never hear a doctor explain it that way, but that’s the way I like to think of it. Anyway, I finally have the name of the demon. That’s half the battle, right? All of mythology seems to think so. Once you know something’s true name, you have power over it. I have power over this.
That still doesn’t make the battle any easier. I have to admit that I’m not as strong as I would like to be. It’s very hard for me to accept that the pain’s not going away and this is just something that I’m going to have to live with. I guess at first I was hoping for some miracle pill that I could take to keep the monster at bay. I’m currently on Cymbalta for the fibro, I have pain meds for when I need them, I have Ambien so I can sleep. I have to tell you that pills aren’t really my thing. I have no idea why people would do this stuff for fun. My pain meds turn me into a zombie so I only use them in extreme circumstances. I hate it.
I’m beginning to realize that I need to take a more active approach to helping myself. I’ve started walking around my neighborhood when it’s not blazing hot out. I just started a yoga class today, phase one of Operation: Reclaim Control Over My Body. I’ve read that exercise is supposed to help. At first it’s going to hurt like hell, but then things are supposed to get better. Right now I’m at the hurts-like-hell part, but I’m going to stick with it. My art, my writing, my love life is all worth fighting for. I’m tired of letting my body control me. Starting today, I’m taking over.