“But you don’t look sick”: My Life as Roadkill

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Every morning I wake up feeling like I’ve been run over. With the grogginess and nausea of a hangover without the beer fear and amusing/embarrassing flashbacks of the ridiculous things you did the night before. Usually with my entire body aching, stiffer than a brand-new Barbie doll just out of the packaging minus the ‘I’m so happy I’m skinny’ smile (I embraced my curves coming out of the womb). Takes me a few minutes to come round before I can even think about getting up. Welcome to my life as roadkill.

This is my experience of living with fibromyalgia. Groundhog Day mornings where I wake up feeling as exhausted as when I went to bed, I have to roll myself on to my side to assume the getting up position and then in true jerky Thunderbird-style, I stagger into the world – once I’ve established which body part, joint, limb etc hurts today. Some mornings are better than others; most days I feel old before my time and there are definitely those days – when I wake up with puffy frog-eyes and a swollen face as if someone crept in in the night with a bike pump and expanded me – that I look it. It is an unpredictable condition, that’s the fun of having fibromyalgia, and from what I’ve read during my research, everyone’s experience of having it is different.

What I am sure we have in common though is, at least once, after telling someone new that we have fibromyalgia and getting a blank look (“It’s the same thing Lady Gaga has…” we might say), we have then been told that we don’t look sick. This drives me bananas. If I tell you I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, then I shouldn’t have to justify how sick I do or don’t look and I shouldn’t have to reel off a list of my symptoms to explain how a doctor reached that diagnosis either. Once I get going on a morning, I slap on my make up, put a smile on my face and get on with the day. You have no idea when looking at someone what their life is like, what they may be going through, so don’t be that idiot that says “But you don’t look sick.” If you want to know and understand what fibromyalgia is, then ask or look it up on Dr Google.

I was thankfully diagnosed in June 2017 but I had been experiencing health problems for years. I had dismissed my health issues as ageing and job stress until it got to the point where my quality of life had diminished, I was popping three strong Ibuprofen a day to cope with the pain throughout my body and I was sleeping all the time due to constant fatigue. Like a wind up toy on wind down, my life slowed to almost become a non-life. It certainly wasn’t a life I wanted to live anymore. The only things that kept me going were lovely friends and travelling. Being diagnosed was one of the best days ever – actually knowing that there was something officially wrong with me was a great relief and when you know what’s wrong, you can attempt to treat and manage the condition. It was incredibly empowering and life changing.

Managing the condition has not been easy and it’s not something that can be cured with the quick fix of a pill, but now I know what I’m living with, I don’t want to waste any more time. 2018 is a year of big changes for me. I intend to end all situations and relationships that are negatively impacting upon my health and well-being; put the past behind me; count my blessings.

Instead of lying around feeling run over and defeated, I’m going to be hitting the road to go travelling and just be.

I would be interested to hear from others who are travelling with fibromyalgia and anyone who has had success with alternative treatment plans for the condition. Let’s share experiences.

Take care, Lisa.

📧 uncagedartbird@gmail.com

 

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