Living with Chronic Illness & Disorders: Are You a Survivor?

Once upon a time, I was a vibrant, youthful teenager...

My First Encounter

During my first pregnancy, I had contracted chicken pox from my young nephews and niece. Though it made for an irritable time in my initial trimester, I hadn't given it much aforethought. In the last part of my pregnancy, I noticed some weakness in my legs and arms, but naturally assumed it was part of the gestational effects.

It was after I gave birth, that I began having more frequent physical difficulties, but again, attributed these nuisances to normal post-partum effects. As time progressed, I began losing balance & coordination; and even dropped everyday household items such as glasses, keys, and other things as well. I had finally had enough when my rib cage began to feel broken and I couldn't stand the pain any longer. Over a decade later, and after numerous doctor visits, MRIs and multiple lab tests; I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

What is Fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain illness that can cause musculoskeletal pain in various areas of the body, is characterized by fatigue, and is often associated with Restless Leg Syndrome, Migraine and rheumatism - to name a few. Additionally, attacks of fibromyalgia seem to spontaneously come and go.

At first, I was treated with multiple 'pain aids' that did help with the pain, but made me even more tired than I was before I took the medicines. Eventually, I went off the medications and focused on my work and simply 'ignored' the illness. I figured if I had to live with it, I might as well accept it.

What I Didn't Know

What I didn't realize was that Fibromyalgia can weaken a person so much that sometimes, individuals can be more quickly injured or more prone to other conditions than those without Fibromyalgia. That's when I experienced my first real encounter with its lethal effects. While at work, I wasn't doing anything too terribly physical. However, it was the day in and day out repititions of physical labor that not only added to my condition but wrecked further havoc on me as well - and left me susceptible to injury.

On the Job Injury

There I was, performing my normal work activities when, 'Ouch!' and 'Oh my God!' entered my mouth. The pain was excruciating. Numbing and impairing. With a simple maneuver, I was incapacitated. Pain and tingling numbness ran down my right side. It was unbearable. Not only that, I could barely make it to the office because I had to drag my right leg to get to where I needed to be.

When I got to the hospital, I was told that "...you sprained your back..." That was it. No MRIs, just a quick once-over to tell me that all my pain, my lack of feeling - according to workers compensation' doctors - was merely a 'sprained back.'

I knew I had fibromyalgia, but it had NEVER acted in this sense. Not because I was 'weak,' but because my right side had gone totally numb. It was frustrating to say the least. Nearly 9 months after my injury, and even working on light-duty while taking heavy pain killers, doctors FINALLY found that my right shoulder had been subluxated (dislocated) and scheduled me for surgery. After the surgery, I went through months of agonizing physical therapy to get my right arm back into its proper range of motion. But the numbness, the back pain and the lack of feeling in my legs still came and went without any signs of remorse.

Shocking Discovery

By the time I had went through my rehabilitation, my employer 'let me go' because I was obviously unable to work. I attempted to go back to work as an office manager for a wonderful & understanding employer, (I figured it was light work.) and performed fairly well for a few months. Suddenly, I was in a hospital emergency room - this time, I came out in a wheelchair. Not only did MRI tests confirm I had a herniated disc at the C-3/4, but I also had a spinal lesion (myelopathy) at the C-1/2. Strange that workers compensation doctors coudn't find it, but numerous MRI tests this time, confirmed it.

After seeing a few, reputable Neurologists, I was additionally diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis (TM) and a 'bulging disc' (herniated disc). This explained why I had been encountering all these unrelated physical problems.

Giving Up

I guess when I first sat in my wheelchair, I instinctively gave in to my physical condition. Why bother living anymore, I thought. I couldn't function properly and felt like a complete invalid. How was I going to make my household payments? How was I going to care for my two, then elementary schoolers? How was I even going to live? While all these thoughts ran through my mind, I was becoming an emotional wreck.

Because of my health, I was taking so many medicines that I couldn't tell if I was coming or going. I would take one medicine for this, one for that, one to counteract the effects of another, and another to counteract the effects of a different one...and so on. And thanks to all of these wonderful conventional medicines, I returned to the hospital because one of them nearly killed me. It was then that I knew I had to find a different way.

Starting Over

Going against medical advisement, I literally stopped all of my prescribed medicines at once. I became acquainted with the International Disability Coalition and got into band, strengthening excercises and virtually re-taught myself how to walk - without the help of any medical professional. I also incorporated a 'mind-over-matter' attitude that I believe, enabled me to step out of the wheelchair and back into life.

It's been about 3 years now, and I still live daily with back, neck, shoulder and sciatic nerve pain. I sporadically suffer relapses where I can't walk, or I can't move my arms or hands. BUT, I am no longer a walking or wheelchair-bound zombie. I swim and practice water exercises when the weather is warm to build muscle strength. And there are still times when my pain gets the better of me and I still go through emotional ups and downs. And like most conditions, they flare up more often with cold weather, emotional and physical stress, and lack of rest. BUT I am alive today, I am a survivor, and though I may have fibromyalgia, Transverse Myelitis, migraine, disc herniation, and restless leg syndrome - these disorders do NOT have me.

In Closing

Living with my chronic disorders and illness has taught me to be more patient...more loving...more giving. I now share my home with not only my human family, but have adopted several rescue dogs - who I also compliment for adding so much love and compassion to my emotional wellbeing. And so long as there is a purpose on this earth for me to exist, I will attempt to make the most of it. Every hour. Every day.

Living with Chronic Illness & Disorders: Are You a Survivor?
Copyright 5/2005 - All Rights Reserved
by C. Bailey-Lloyd
aka. LadyCamelot

C. Bailey-Lloyd
aka. LadyCamelot
Public Relations' Director & Staff Writer for Holistic Junction - Your Source for information on Massage Therapy Schools, Holistic Practitioners, Alternative Health, Insightful literature and more!

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

QNotes

Positive Living, Positive Attitude
QNotes
Through my work at RAIN, I have the wonderful privilege of knowing many friends and colleagues living with or affected by HIV. Recently, I had the chance to sit down and talk with several individuals about what that phrase “life positively” means to them.


Forbes

Why A Comfortable Workplace Promotes A Positive Attitude
Forbes
Kara hurried out of her office and slammed the car door in frustration as she sped out of the parking lot. Her boss gave her a bunch of papers to be signed by a new vendor they were using for a customer relations software package. As usual, when ...


Navarre Press

'Ms. B' brings music, positive attitude to the classroom
Navarre Press
Walking into “Ms. B's” classroom in Navarre High School, visitors are greeted not by the sounds of pencils on paper but of the melodious voices of her students and the chirps of a piano. Chorus instructor Caroline Buechner, or Ms. B as her students ...


Newsbook (press release)

Christian Journalists adopt a positive attitude towards the person
Newsbook (press release)
“As Christian journalists, you are distinguished for your positive attitude towards the person and for your professional ethic. You do not merely do a job, but rather you dedicate yourselves to a task and to a commitment,” Pope Francis said to a group ...

and more »

KXII-TV

Your Saturday & Sunday Forecast ...
KXII-TV
New research shows people who put up lights before Thanksgiving had a more positive attitude throughout the busy holiday season. Today the weather will be perfect in the upper 60s. Sunday it will be too cold with Highs near 42 and Wind Chills in the ...


Seeking a positive attitude for wellness
Mercer Island Reporter
His attitude and ability to cope endeared him to others. He had so many people wanting to visit with him that his caregiver had to set up a visiting schedule. Now he was no “Pollyanna.” He still had pain, needing daily treatment for his cellulites, but ...


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Thon Maker has stayed ready. Now the chance to prove himself has come.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Maker was grinding hard, doing everything that was asked of him and keeping a positive attitude despite not getting many meaningful minutes, appearing in just six of the Bucks' first 14 games and playing more than 10 minutes only twice. “Just to be ready.

and more »

2010 Honolulu Marathon World Record Holder to Celebrate 100th Birthday
KITV Honolulu
She credits her positive attitude for giving her the strength to start running marathons. “It's important to think positive and to dream. Just get out there and walk or run,” she advises. Good advice for her five children, 18 grandchildren, and 34 ...


Reuters

Stephens benefits from positive attitude in WTA Finals debut
Reuters
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Sloane Stephens was delighted to have started her debut WTA Finals tournament with a hard-fought 7-5 4-6 6-1 victory over Naomi Osaka on Monday, especially after the American dropped a tight second set when she had appeared ...

and more »

Herald Sun

Teens with close friends and positive attitude avoid being or becoming a bully, new study finds
Herald Sun
An Australian survey of more than 3000 girls and boys shows the odds of being bullied is halved for those with strong friendships and positive attitudes and the odds of being a bully is reduced by 60 per cent. Similarly, those whose friends engage in ...

Google News

When Things Go Wrong As They Sometimes Will... Dont Get Your Knickers In A Twist!

In frustration it's easy to jump to false conclusions that... Read More

The Power of Negative Thinking

For some reason, most people find it easier to think... Read More

Prisoner of Attitude

"Thinking is responsible for man's primacy on earth today. Existence... Read More

Getting Over Your Fear Of Success

The fear of success is more common than some might... Read More

Envisioning Your Ideal Self

In my work as a professional coach, I've had the... Read More

An Exercise To Open Your Mind To Your Possibilities

Everything exists twice. First, in your mind. Later, before you... Read More

P. M. A.

P.M.A - so what is it? Some people will automatically... Read More

What Do We Choose?

Life is an enigma...It starts without our knowledge, grows without... Read More

Possibilities

When you look at your future in terms of your... Read More

From Stress to Adventure

Ten tips to transform your move into a creative life... Read More

How Gratitude Can Be Your Partner in Life

Gratitude is one of the most important things you can... Read More

Does Life Really Stink?

One of my class fellows was really tensed, when asked... Read More

Community After Tragedy

One Friday in November, I began a journey from New... Read More

How To Radically Improve Your Everyday Experience Of Life In Two Simple Steps

Can you do something for me?Tell me?Please don't think tomorrow.What?Yeah,... Read More

First Aid For The Soul

A Model of the dysfunctional, unconscious human psyche. A way... Read More

It Is All About Attitude!

Why do we really need the experiences that we have... Read More

The Map Is Not the Territory

Just in an average day we can experience many things... Read More

Positive Changes Achieved by Exercising Mind, Body & Spirit

My story explains the struggles I had as a 23-year-old... Read More

How to Stay Positive in a Negative World

Gail's StoryGail is a friend of mine and she was... Read More

How To Have A Life Changing Experience

Can you really plan a life-changing experience, or do they... Read More

Mindfulness: Youre Soaking In It!

Looking for a bit more mindfulness in your daily life?... Read More

Stinking Thinking Makes Hope A Dope

Many centuries ago there was a Greek philosopher who lived... Read More

Clenching?

What are you holding onto? Wanta quit?There are many things... Read More

Discover The 8 Steps To A Mountain Moving Faith

" If you have faith as a grain of musterd... Read More

4 Ways You Can Get Over Your Need for Acceptance and Get on with Your Life

Imagine what your life would be like if you could... Read More