Dealing With a Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Sunday January 30, 2011
How did you feel when you were first diagnosed with fibromyalgia or
chronic fatigue syndrome? It's a tough thing to deal with, and at
least for me, no matter how many chronic diagnoses I get, it doesn't
get easier. (And really, how many of us only have 1 diagnosis?)
I was really sick with fibromyalgia for 6 months before I was
diagnosed -- not long compared to most people's wait, but a rough 6
months nonetheless. My husband and I had been researching constantly
(at least when I had the brain power for it), and we'd come to believe
that I had lupus or something similar to it. Intellectually, I knew
lupus was only one of many possibilities, but emotionally I grabbed
onto it. I was desperate for an answer and it was the best one I had.
When a rheumatologist first said it was fibromyalgia, I initially felt
like it was just another misdiagnosis. It wasn't until I really
started digging that I found the information that allowed me to let go
of lupus and believe that the doctor was right.
However, that was only the first step toward truly accepting it. The
adjustment process is very much like the grieving process we go
through when someone close to us dies, and really we are grieving the
loss of our pre-illness lives. It's on my mind right now because I
suspect I've become lactose intolerant and I'm experiencing some anger
and denial. Part of the denial is my reluctance to make a doctor's
appointment for it -- once that diagnosis comes down, it becomes too
real. I'll have to face making more permanent changes to my life, and
I'm really sick of doing that!
As hard as it is to deal with a diagnosis, though, I try to keep one
thing in mind: I am no different with a diagnosis than without one,
except for one important point -- I'm better armed to fight when I
know what my opponent is. It's not a life sentence, it's a turning
point. After all, my overall goal is to feel as good as I can and have
as full a life as possible, and I can't do that if I don't know what's
wrong. Knowledge is power.
Yes, it can be hard for my head to convince my heart of this,
especially when I see one problem after another cropping up and feel
like my body is betraying me once again. Still, it helps to remind
myself of that from time to time. It doesn't bypass the grieving
process, but it does help me get through it and move on. Once I'm not
caught up fighting against the diagnosis and the problems that lead to
it, I can focus on making the changes necessary for feeling better.
Here's more information on dealing with the acceptance process:
Grieving For the Life You've Lost -
How have you reacted to your diagnoses? Have you struggled with the
acceptance process? What has helped you get through it?