In my What is FADI post, I talked about my group of health issues that together, doesn’t really have a name. So I decided to name it myself…mostly because I don’t want to type out Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia all the time. Also I figure as much as it’s a part of my life right now, I should still try to stay positive about it (in my own dark humor way, of course). Thus we’ll turn my misery into a superhero comic – The Adventures of FADI Queen.
Let’s be honest….I’m more Edna ‘E’ Mode than Elastigirl.
- I’m tired most of the time and moody, but I’m a force to be reckoned with on my good days. So, um, evildoers, you gotta check with me first before you wreak havoc, ’cause it’s probably not a good day for me.
- But if it’s a cat stuck in a tree, I’m THERE no matter what, buddy boy.
- I take down evildoers by cutting them to the core with my special powers: brutal honestly, sharp wit, and sarcasm. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll come after them with a cast iron skillet. Or I’ll sick my trained minions the Meowers of Death on them.
Fear me, I’m so ferocious, RAWR!
Sorry, got a little carried away there. There, um, was another point to this post. I wanted to talk a little bit about what brought on the FADI (I think) and issues I had getting a diagnosis. My origin story, if you will.
(This is pretty long, so I’ll eventually create a summary page about it for those who don’t want to slog through 5 years of history on this. I also will have a Part 2 to post tomorrow.)
So, before it all started about 5 years ago, I was in probably the best shape of my adult life. I was starting a free weights lifting program (still is a dream of mine), hiking most weekends, and was at my lowest weight of my 30s. I would hit up a YMCA on my way home from work most evenings.
In November of 2012, after a lifting session, I noticed some pain in the middle of my back on the right side. I thought I had pulled something, and when it didn’t get any better, I went to the doctor (who suspected a pinched nerve) and got a steroid pack. Right about the same time I started having trouble sleeping. I’ve always considered sleeping a passion more than a necessity, and I’ve never been a high energy person, so this was new for me.
Thought my back was healed, so I went back to my program after a few weeks and it flared up again. And the insomnia was still there. Went through X-rays and all kinds of tests with no results. Started seeing a chiropractor with limited results. Decided to take a long-term break from working out.
Over the next year or so, I had constant flare-ups with my back. The chiropractor visits would help short term, so I nixed those after about a year as no real progress was being made. Insomnia continued to get worse. Was prescribed Ambien in January of 2014.
Oh, how delusional I was. 2am or 3am was more likely.
I was bit by a neighborhood cat in June of that year. No, it did not give me cat-like reflexes or cat superpowers (though I was tempted to roll around in catnip). It got me a series of rabies shots because I couldn’t confirm if it was rabies-free and of course it disappeared right after that. It also got me cat scratch fever (which, hard to believe, I’ve never had before) and then I came down with mono.
(Which was BIZZARE to say the least. Because B didn’t have it, and I don’t recall going on a smooching spree during those months. Based on my research, I can only guess that since my immune system took a hit with the rabies shots and the cat scratch fever, I was more vulnerable to picking it up. Anyone can shed the virus through coughing/sneezing or through drinks and utensils if they’ve had it before. But most of the time it’s no big deal for those with a strong immune system. And since I’m the one who gave it to B, that ruled him out 😉 )
Everything went downhill after that. After 2-3 months I bounced back a little, but by January of 2015 I was back in the doctor’s office because I still didn’t feel right. Achy all the time, hot one minute and cold the next, and would feel totally drained and down a few times a week. It was almost like I was coming down with the flu once or twice a week but never progressed to the actual flu. Could barely walk up the stairs…my legs felt like they were full of lead. And the back pain and insomnia were getting worse.
For the next year and a half, I tried just about everything I could find. Had to go off Ambien as it was short-term, tried to see a therapist to help. Did a sleep study (no findings other than “major sleep disturbances” – well no shit sherlock, no apnea), practiced good sleep hygiene techniques, used blue light filters on my electronics after dark, melatonin, trazadone (helped a little), physical therapy, herbal supplements as in chamomile, Vitamin D supplement (I was a little deficient in that), yoga, meditation, exercise, and so on.
I was pretty close to sacrificing a live chicken under a full moon if that would help. But nothing worked consistently and I was slowly getting anxious and depressed on top of everything. I always ached (my back and from my hips to my knees most days), was slowly going crazy from the lack of sleep building up over time, and felt guilty and stressed that I was putting such a burden on B (my husband) with all of this.
I was also getting very frustrated with no resolution on exactly what was wrong with me. After ongoing testing for autoimmune disorders, vitamin deficiencies, mono (again), thyroid, etc., my regular doctor tried a few medications that had horrible side effects, then said, “I don’t know what else to do.” and threw up his hands about it. I tried a rheumatologist, and same shit, different day. Nothing in the bloodwork, expensive medication recommendations that again had terrible side effects.
In August of last year, I was just ready to give up to the possibility that I would be a permanent lump on the couch. Massage therapy helped, but I had to do it every two weeks at least for it to be fully effective, and it was just too costly. I had done my own research into my back pain and finally figured out it was an issue with trigger points. I know that because what I bought to help with that eased it more than ANYTHING else that had been recommended did.
Even with those small wins, I was at my wits end. I tried to look OK when I was out and about or doing city stuff, but I was miserable at home. Pushing through the pain just made it 10 times worse. My anxiety was at an all time high. I felt like maybe it was all in my head, even though I know it wasn’t, and many tears were shed. The insomnia continued. I really thought I had nothing else I could try.
But, thankfully, I gave it one last try, and I found Hope.
Tune in NEXT TIME for the conclusion of The Adventures of FADI Queen: Origin Story!