I have an invisible illness. To look at me you would see a short, fat, middle-aged grandmother. Sometimes I walk with a cane, but most of the time I don’t need it. I have a handicapped parking tag hanging on the mirror of my car. I park in slots designated for people like me and get nasty looks when I get out of my car because I look healthy.
I am not healthy, and unless researchers find a cure I never will be. I have Fibromyalgia, It is a connective tissue disorder related to arthritis and lupus. The health professionals don’t know what causes it, or how to cure it. There is no blood work that says yes, you have it or no, you don’t. It is diagnosed by a list of symptoms and a series of pressure points on the body.
They symptoms of Fibromyalgia are many and varied. What affects one sufferer may not affect another. In my case it is chronic fatigue and chronic pain. The fatigue can be overwhelming. Just thinking about getting out of your bed or your chair is more than you can deal with. Doing everyday things slotkingkong like washing your hair may not be possible because you can’t hold your arms up long enough to lather in the shampoo much less have any remaining strength to rinse it out.
Chronic pain is another major symptom of this disease. It is not like any pain I have ever had. My muscles hurt. My joints hurt. My skin hurts. It hurts to have the lightest touch. Being hugged can be torture. Shaking hands feels like a vise. This is where the pressure point diagnoses comes in. There are eighteen pressure points on your body. A doctor who is familiar with the illness knows how hard and where to press, If he gets a reaction on eleven of the eighteen it is considered a diagnosis. The day I went in because of the pain I had a response to all eighteen pressure points.
There are other symptoms that go along with the illness that do not in and of themselves mean you have Fibro. They can be indicators of other illnesses or mean nothing at all. I have a tendency to drop small items such as keys. I have also dropped large items because I thought I had a good grip on them and didn’t. This is not always constant, and some days are better than others.
It can also affect your vision. Some days it is extremely hard to focus and other days I have clarity of vision I haven’t had in years. Some days I can walk like I did ten years ago and some days it is all I can do to make my legs work. Some days I can eat whatever I want. Some days my stomach is in an uproar and getting any distance from a functional toilet is not an option.