By : Michelle Matthews
“I made it through another day.” It’s what I say to myself every night before I go to bed. Sometimes when I say it I’m thoroughly exhausted, others not so much. I know when I finally fall asleep, it won’t be for long. I have a long night ahead of me, and all I can do is push through it.
Every morning begins the same way — with pain. Before my husband gets out of bed, sometimes before the sun is up and the birds start chirping outside my window, there’s the pain. It’s heavy, and it weighs me down. On a good day I just ache, but on a bad day I feel like I have arthritis. Every joint throbs and curses me with every movement. It is unrelenting; it wants to break me and it wants to defeat me, but I won’t let it.
For awhile, I lived in denial that I had fibromyalgia. It seemed like a throwaway diagnosis. I urged my doctor to do more tests, convinced that I must have some other condition. I was convinced she was wrong. It wasn’t until I had my first flare-up that I had to believe the truth. I have fibromyalgia, and this is going to be my life.
My husband and I were in Ocean City, New Jersey enjoying a walk down the boardwalk. It was April, and there was still a chill in the air. The cold seemed to go right through me and no matter what I tried I just couldn’t get warm. I persevered; I wanted us to have a great time and enjoy our kid free weekend together. I pushed myself too far and by dinnertime my symptoms were progressively getting worse. The first thing that went was my appetite. I was so nauseous that the thought of any food disgusted me. I forced myself to eat a little and made excuses as to why I wasn’t eating. That night I couldn’t sleep — my entire body vibrated with pain and nothing made it go away.
When we returned I knew something had to give; I was tired of living this way. My kids have gotten used to the fact that Mommy can’t do everything. They’ve witnessed me too many times on the couch, curled up in a ball in tears because I can’t make the pain go away. They help me as much as they can and sometimes do more than they should. I’m their mother; I should be able to take them for a walk or chase them around the park or swim with them without feeling like I have been hit by a Mack Truck the next day. This is what makes me angry; this is what makes me fight with every ounce of strength I have because this is not the life I wanted, but it’s the life I have.
I used to be the mom who took her kids for hikes in the woods; we rode bikes, went swimming and we played sports. We were a very active family. I have twin sons who run around the house wreaking havoc and want to me chase them. Some days I can — I let the chores fall by the wayside and the kids and I spend the day running around like we used to do. We may not have clean clothes tomorrow, but we had fun today. Every day is a choice between what I have to do and what I want to do. I know I can’t do it all — those days are long gone.
Now I track everything I do and everything I eat. I take a host of supplements and pills that only take the edge off the pain. I have to come to terms with the fact that I will never have another pain-free day again. In fact, I’ve lived with this for so long that I don’t remember what it feels like not to have pain, and that scares me. It terrifies me that one day I might get to the point where I can’t stand it anymore. I have had those days where the pain is just too much, where I’m screaming on the inside, “Please God make it stop.” Then I stand back up; I push myself a little more because I have a family that needs me. I will never give up. I will never stop.
When I finally climb back into bed that night, I say to myself, “You did it, you made it through another day.”