I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2001, but a car accident in 1998 was the catalyst for my chronic pain. By 2011, I was pretty confident in my ability to handle my fibromyalgia. I was great at scheduling out my household duties with rest included in the schedule. I had one primary doctor who I liked. She prescribed my medications and understood fibromyalgia. I was happily married since 2004 to a man I had known since childhood, my brother’s best friend. My life was “do-able”, that is a big statement for a person with fibromyalgia.
Around Christmas of 2011, I started having problems with my memory. I often felt light-headed and giddy. I was getting heartburn all the time. By the summer of 2012, I was mentally vacant. I had lost a major amount of weight. I was saying and doing things I had no recollection of. I would be reminded of what had taken place but I could not remember … by September 1st I was admitted to the hospital with severe idiopathic pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is known as the drinking man’s disease, except I am not a man and I did not drink enough to do this to my pancreas. I contributed, don’t get me wrong. I drank alcohol, I had begun to eat poorly, and I smoked heavily. But my pancreas was kinked and had a calcium blockage that was shutting down my pancreas, basically, my body and brain were starving for nutrients. I barely weighed 100 lbs. My triglycerides were sky-high, I was pre-diabetic, my blood pressure was high and my gallbladder needed to be removed. All of these things were contributing to my pancreatic problems.
I survived seven surgeries and twelve lengthy hospital stays. On two different occasions, I was asked by the surgeon what lengths I wanted him to go to preserve my life. My husband, myself and the surgeon did not believe I would make it off the table. I signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) both times. I was so ill I didn’t think I could take much more. My husband and I said our goodbyes but he asked me to promise to try to wake up. I promised I would try. Somehow, I did wake up. Every time.
Recovery was a slow process, I finally got all the tubes and stents removed from my stomach in July of 2015. Now, what was I going to do? I never planned on surviving. I could not remember much about the past 4 years … just bits and pieces. I was utterly lost.
I found adult coloring books and began using them. It helped me make choices, the colors to pick and the pictures to color. It was mind work and it was working. I found Zentangles next. You learn different patterns and you put them together in a picture of sorts. This was teaching me spacial recognition. I felt my brain begin to work again.
In September of 2016, I ended up with a severe fibromyalgia flare that just would not stop. I was so heavily medicated for those years during my pancreas problems my fibromyalgia did not surface. But it was now back with a vengeance! I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t concentrate, I felt as if I were walking through sand. Just walking to the bathroom and back to the sofa exhausted me. I was hospitalized with severe anemia. I was told I was close to having a massive heart attack. A heart attack? Unbelievable. I had a blood transfusion and iron injections. I felt better almost immediately. I now take B12 injections and an iron supplement.
I have been hospital free since September of 2016. I wanted to share my story with you because I have had to start over with my journey towards “do-able.” I am well on my way to getting my fibromyalgia back in check. I did it before my pancreas problems, and I will do it now. I tackle one day at a time until I reach “do-able.”