Monday, November 15, 2010

My Responsibility

When I was 16-years-old I got into a bad car accident. It was my Junior year of high-school and I had gone off-campus with a friend for lunch. I was dropping her back at school and as I entered the parking lot some moron came careening down one of the aisles at 25 mph and smashed into me. His old muscle car spun my Buick Regal around and left me quite a mess. I had a concussion from my brain hitting my skull, had AWFUL soft tissue pain throughout my body that I was told would require religious exercise to mitigate a lifetime of pain, started developing migraine headaches and pretty much checked out for a while. But the most infuriating part of all was my father. He drilled into me that I could have prevented that accident, that 99% of all accidents were preventable with defensive driving techniques. I fought and argued with him for weeks over this. There was nothing I could have done! This was not my fault! The insurance companies agreed with me and every time the topic came up we would get into a huge argument. I was the victim here and did not want to be held accountable for something I could not have prevented! After weeks of this one day it finally clicked. I could have slowed down and checked each aisle I passed to make sure no one was ready to pop into me. I technically could have prevented the accident. That was a very big turning point in my emotional development.

After over 3 months on steroids, on which I have been a crazy loco bojoco, I am finally down enough in dose to feel that Fibromyalgia again! I have pain and stiffness, headaches, loss of motivation... It was all covered up so well by Prednisone that I threw myself into dealing with the side-effects of manic and frantic, boundless energy with no pain, raging mood swings and sugar cravings that would send Willy Wonka to the loony bin! So now I have to shift gears and it is not easy. As I told my dad on the phone this morning, posed in perpetual Swan to stretch out my stiff and aching hips, I have to go back to managing my Fibromyalgia with lifestyle, not drugs. It is hard! It is very difficult to have to make good choices all the time, not indulge in whims of I don't feel good give me that Buttermilk Bar or I just want to lay in bed and not walk the dogs, not do yoga, not progress my life! I have to practice discipline. I have to exercise restraint. I have to display mental fortitude stronger than the weakness my physical symptoms are pulling me toward. I was at the point in my personal Fibromyalgia journey that lifestyle management and a minimum of pharmaceuticals yielded a pretty good quality of life. Of course that was before two strokes in July flipped my life upside down and shattered my illusions of the reality I existed, but I was there. So I must get back there.

Battling the Fibromyalgia monster is not for the weak of heart. We are such a brave and strong group. We suffer from such an individual illness together. It affects so many of us in such a variety of ways. Medicine is still confused about the whole thing, many doctors are ignorant and exist in this archaic "blame the patient" mentality. Family and friends continue to criticize and judge and dismiss the reality of the pain we live in each day. Those that are supportive feel helpless and angry at their inability to "fix" our problem. Oh the general state of affairs is a mess! But it is our responsibility to change this. It is up to us to create a life we can exist and function in. It is up to us to educate, refuse poor and unjust treatment, cultivate healthy relationships, minimize stress and manage our symptoms the best way we know how. And that is the point of The Fibromyalgia Crusade! We stand strong together as we navigate our individual path to management of this illness. We draw from the strength of our fellow sufferers, gain ideas from their struggles, share success and failure and ways to survive. We are may take us a bit longer to accomplish things than the rest of the world but we are not giving up, not going away, not going to feel sorry for ourselves and just "take it" anymore. Stand strong and stand proud, my fellow Fibrates. We have a strange illness at a strange time, but we are the ones that are going to put Fibromyalgia on the map and bring awareness to the masses. So get ready world...cause here we come!

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