Karen's Story

The first time I remember being in pain I was about 14.. My wrists and thumbs were causing me agony, my joints would click out of place and lock and I had pressure points on my forearm that we incredibly painful to the touch. I was sent for physiotherapy and ultrasound treatment. It didn’t work and made it worse. They openly admitted they had no idea what it was and gave up. I struggled through hours of GSCEs with horrendous writing and somehow still did quite well. I started working and promptly forgot about it. At 16 I started working at a desk 45 hours per week, my shoulders became so painful I felt sick. They too would lock and click, I could barely lift my arms up and working at a desk made it worse. The GPs said it was psychological and sent me on my way with big pink painkillers. I learnt to deal with it and it became part of normal life.
 
A few years later I was in more agony than before, and it hurt to put pressure on my hips. The GPs decided because I was so underweight my joints weren’t supported and they were blistering. I decided to make it my mission to put weight on. Mission failed. My metabloisim was running so high I as more likely to win the jackpot than get out of my baggy size 6 clothes. 
 
At 25 I was living in Brighton and working in the most depressing job possible. I often went into my own world on my walk home from work as an escape from the mind numbing experience that was every day. One day I was crossing the road, I looked twice, the traffic had stopped, nothing was coming, I stepped out into the road, next thing I know I was lying on my front looking at my glasses that had been thrown down the street, and my shopping underneath a big white van. I had been hit by a high speed bicycle who had no intention of stopping at the red lights 10 meters away. The bike and it’s rider landed on top of me. The bike was bent and ruined and I was lying in the middle of the road with traffic moving around me. At this point I felt no pain. I had no idea what a journey I was in for. The ambulance crew told me it was a miracle nothing had been broken. They checked me over, told me I’d feel like I’d lost in a rugby match the next day and sent me home in a police car. There was nothing a hospital could do. The injuries came out of the next couple of days and I still have scars from the massive bruises around my pelvis. I had tyre marks down my entire leg, my elbows, wrists and knees were cut and swollen, I was in shock and I felt incredibly awful. I assumed within a few days I’d be better. But the pain never went away. It took 6 months to diagnose fibromyalgia. That was three and a half years ago. 
 
The last three years has been a blur of me being grumpy, tired and miserable. But this year has seen a dramatic change in my outlook. Whilst I still find it hard to accept I will never get better I have taken things into my own hands. I have started new mediciation which gives me refreshing, lovely sleep but the pain remains. So I practice yoga every other day and meditate most nights. I have learnt stretches and yoga moves I can do at my desk, how to support my back at my desk, and started visiting an osteopath to try and reverse some of the muscle damage done from years of hobbling and walking like a penguin.
 
I also volunteer for FibroAction as an admin assistant. I manage to work 30 hours per week and I am half way through a degree in politics with the Open University. I've written some of my best assignments from my bed! I can’t garden any more so I buy flowers when I can.. I couldn’t mix cake mixture so I bought a pink mixer. I'm trying to learn how to ask for help, and trying to learn it's ok to leave my housework to another day - the cats will only mess it up again anyway! I’m slowly but surely finding ways around my illness and think that I have nipped in the bud the downhill spiral I was on.
 
My latest project is an online stationery shop http://www.trinnys.co.uk. This may be the key to working from home, in my fluffy pjs, cats by my side and laptop in hand. So even if it’s a bad day, I can still get to work.
 
So there you have it. It's taken me three years from diagnosis, and 15 years from my original twinges, to learn how to deal with my pain. But I'm getting there. I'll get better at it. I will pass my degree, I will be sucessful and pain won't hinder my plans, perhaps just delay them a little. 

 

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