Sunday, May 16, 2010

A decade and a diagnosis

I've had a headache since June of 1998 that has never stopped. I've been to doctors of all sorts. I've been CT scanned, x-rayed, and psycho analyzed. I've been prescribed sinus medication, muscle relaxants and anti-depressants. I've been treated by optometrists, dentists and headache specialists. Nothing worked.

In the last six months my pain has spread throughout the rest of my body. A month ago I went in for a massage, and the massage therapist referred me to a physiatrist because I was hurting so bad she couldn't work on my back. After some poking and prodding, and some lab work, he diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.

It's been an interesting diagnosis to come to terms with. I'd always hoped that sooner or later doctors would come up with a diagnosis so they could make all the pain go away. Now I know that this is a life time condition. They can treat symptoms, but there is no cure. I have to accept that I have physical limitations. I am starting to learn that I am going to have to take care of myself to a degree that I haven't before. Learning to manage my symptoms is going to be a process.

I talked to a friend who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago, and she said the hardest thing was to accept that she effectively has a disability. Once she came to terms with that, though, she figured out how to work around it. That's what I'll have to learn how to do now.

This whole thing kind of sucks. It's nice to finally have a diagnosis, though, just so I have a word to put on what I've been feeling for so long. And besides, I got this really cool picture of my brain out of the process.

I think I'll frame it and hang it in my office. Every professor should have a picture of her brain.
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