Thursday, November 30, 2006

The F Word

I've never had a tremendous immune system - I get sick at the drop of a hat. Things have been a lot better since they took my tonsils, but I still seem to develop pneumonia every time some one around me gets the sniffles. M calls me a walking pre-existing condition - not a very flattering pet name, but it's unfortunately reasonably close to accurate. For the past eight months or so I've been down more often than usual. I'm having all sorts of strange symptoms: numb limbs, strange aches and pains not related to injury, fatique. It's been nearly impossible to carry on a normal life - I constantly feel like I have the flu.

After a forth bout of missing three consecutive days of work, feeling lousy every day for a month straight, and not having the energy to even visit the grocer, I finally broke down and made an apponintment with another doctor's office - an internist. It was my third appointment for the same problem - the previous two doctors had sort of patted me on the head, prescribed ibuprofen for the discomfort, and told me to take it easy for a few days. I didn't think he'd take me seriously. In all honesty, I thought I was buying a one-way ticket to the looney bin. One thirty-minute consultation and seven vials of blood later, the doc called me at work.

"I don't know what's wrong with you, but I can tell you what isn't." We ruled out some of the major illnesses that have symptoms similar to mine. It was a big releif.

"Okay. So we know what it isn't," I said. "Any idea what it is?"

"Well, given your family history, your symptoms, the duration of your complaint and the bloodwork, I believe you have fibromyalgia. I'd like for you to go see a specialist. I'll perscribe some medication to help treat the symptoms in the meantime."

So now I'm loaded up on pills - for pain, for sleep, for fatigue - and I have an appointment with another doctor on February 5th. Both my aunt and my grandmother have it. I called my aunt, so I'd know what to expect when I got to the specialist's office. "Incurable" she'd said, "but managable."

I'll have it for the rest of my life. It's regulated by diet, stretching exercises done twice daily to keep the muscles from breaking down, medication, and careful, constant inspection for things not quite right with the body.

Incurable, but managable. I hope she's right.

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