My name is Jessica and I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in November 2007, seven full months after being rear-ended in a car accident. I had back problems previously, having had spondylolisthesis and a double-level spinal fusion at L4-L5-S1 in 2003. Thankfully, the accident did not displace any of the instruments currently implanted in my lumbar spine. However, the pain I experienced after the accident, and to this day, is more intense, more excruciating, than the pain I suffered with spondylolisthesis. At least with the spondy, it was more acute and not the constant, uncontrollable pain I experience now.
After my accident, the pain never went away. I tried to work through it - literally, full-time job and pursuing a graduate degree in education - but it never stopped, continued to intensify, and continued to change every aspect of my life.
I tried many things before my diagnosis, to include steroid injections directly into my cervical and lumbar spine. I gave up on those for two reasons: 1) it didn't work; and 2) because the anesthesiologist who performed the injections (the same who was at my fusion surgery and had given me the same injections before said surgery) had to thread a tube up through my spine from my tailbone to the point at which the steroid needed to be injected (a good 6+ inches). It was painful to say the absolute least! I sobbed on the table and tried not to move because I was so afraid of something going wrong. I don't blame the doctor for this at all. He was unable to inject the steroid directly into my lumbar spine due to the titanium screws, rods, and cages I currently have implanted there. There was just no way around them.
My doctor and I were at a loss. My MRIs and x-rays were clean, so why was I in so much pain? My doctor's wife had just been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and he was becoming more and more familiar with the symptoms, so he sent me to a Rheumatologist for examination. I had several (hundred) blood tests to rule out various other disorders, diseases, whatever, and suffered through the trigger point examination recommended by the American College of Rheumatology. 11 out of 18 trigger point "hits" gets one the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. I believe I had 16.
So what did this mean in terms of my treatments? Increase Neurontin (Lyrica did not work for me). Increase anti-depressant. Does the depression cause the pain or does the pain cause the depression? In my view, both. And it's a vicious cycle.
At this point, I am technically on my 4th medical leave from a job I've only had for 2-1/2 years. I cannot sit up straight for more than a few minutes without severe pain my lower back, hips, and legs. Thus, I cannot sit at a desk, answer the phone, and work at a computer. I use my laptop at home, sometimes in bed and sometimes in my recliner. While in my recliner, I have to be reclined at about 120 degrees (I really hope I'm figuring this right) and have full head and neck support if I'm on my laptop or just watching TV. If I keep my head lifted off the supporting back, I experience muscles spasms, tightness, then blinding pain in my neck - resulting in a fierce headache. If I spend too much time typing on my laptop, however, I start experiencing moderate to severe pain in my shoulders, arms, and hands.
And it has already been too long!
In closing, I would like to welcome you back to this blog because I plan to discuss many, many things related to Fibromyalgia, chronic pain, various treatments, and disability. It is my goal to have guest writers, such as my son who takes care of me full-time, and share various research articles with you.
Gentle hugs to all, and to all a pain-free day!