When I was younger and I was diagnosed with this thing called fibromyalgia syndrome that no one knew a thing about let alone how to treat I thought well that is that then… I will just deal with this and that will be it. Oh, how silly I was. Illnesses get lonely. They like to compound with other illnesses in some of us lucky people. I don’t know if it is because we can’t sleep well and our immune systems suck and we are fatigued all the time… but other illnesses jump on board. Some of them, easy to manage and not even a big deal in the scheme of things. I have hypothyroidism and asthma that are both well managed so they are barely even on my radar. I have them, yeah, but they cause me little issues.
Anyway, this is what happened…
So I had joint hypermobility when I was younger… and then things sort of went downhill from there…
I have fibromyalgia
Then nerve damage
Then multiple sclerosis (preliminary diagnosis)
I may have missed some. Hard to keep count these days.
It is like one illness jumps on another illness which jumps on another illness.
So I think I now have a Royal Flush. I think this is where I get a trophy or something. I am not sure… once you get like the full collection there ought to be something you win. Like a sticker, maybe. A fruit basket, perhaps. Or winning the lottery because all this bad luck should then be compensated by a crapton of good luck… right?
And I better Not win another illness. Nope. I say No more.
DOCTOR: you now have hiptocrivatisitness. There is, unfortunately, no cure and no treatment. Also, it has 1001 symptoms.
ME: Nope. I’m full of illnesses. You’ll have to return that one.
ME: Already have the full set. I don’t need any more but thank you for offering.
DOCTOR: That isn’t how this works
ME: Pretty sure it does. There is a limit and I cannot exceed my lifetime limit. So you’ll just have to take that one back. Put it back on the shelf. Don’t want it. Don’t need it. I certainly never ordered it, I can tell you that.
DOCTOR: There is no limit…
ME: Oh, yes there is and I am at it. So zip it.
ME: I said zip it
It is like once something goes wrong statistically something else will go wrong in a similar system in the body. A chain reaction from hell. Usually, right after you have adapted and began to cope well with the illnesses you have. Then BAM another illness that is a suckfest.
ME: I can cope with this
BODY: I feel unwell in this other area now
ME: What? No.
BODY: Yeah, I think a new illness is in order over here
ME: NO. Just NO
BODY: Oh, and also IBS. Yeah, I feel like IBS is now a thing that is going to happen.
ME: Okay… just settle down. Relax. I will meditate. You’ll like that right? How about some yoga?
BODY: Nope, the whole body is on fire now. I feel like fire everywhere is a good idea. I am so confused.
ME: Damn it, Brain. I knew it was you all along.
BRAIN: Cannot compute. Error. Error. Please reboot.
ME: Damn it.
I call these unexpected downturns in our health where functionality drops and we have to readjust our coping strategies and wrap our heads around a new diagnosis. Also, learn about a new diagnosis because an informed patient is a good thing. And it is stressful as all hell in the beginning. And we have ALL the feels for a bit. But then we fall back on the usual coping methods that we have learned from coping with our existing suckfest and start adapting to what to do mode.
It is that first illness that is a real kicker to cope with. And then when it is compounded by a couple more we can really struggle for a long time to re-adjust our coping skills because it can be Too Much and that is when we need medical professionals to actually help us with actual management of symptoms and treatment. I was there with chronic migraines, fibromyalgia and depression. I could not cope and work at the same time but, oh, I tried, and oh, it made things significantly worse and it was only when things got severely worse doctors were like ‘ah, maybe we should do something about this pain issue and depression of yours’
At a certain point if you have too many comorbids we cannot function in the workplace anymore. It is too much muchness of pain, fatigue, cognitive issues… and more. And then we end up disabled and have to deal with that financial instability and blow to our self-worth and self-identity.
Any further diagnosis is sort of… okay, I got this. I can conquer damn near Anything now. I can cope with all adversity. I have resiliency pouring out my ears I have so damn much at this point. I may fall down, a lot, and down the stairs, but damn it all, I get back up, slowly because it hurts, but up. We may have a crapy hand of illnesses but we will not fold. We are like a Bobo doll… push us down and we just bounce right back up. And life, well, it pushes us down a lot, and sometimes we take a wee rest there, but then we bounce right back up, or slowly crawl and climb to our feet any way we can, but nevertheless, we get up, damn it all.
I might be even a superhero at this point. Super Pain Tolerance Chick. Super-Duper Resiliency Woman. Perseverance Woman. People come up to me and say ‘Have you tried yoga’ and kick then down. ‘Could be worse’ and throat punch. ‘You’re just lazy’ and I beam my illness into them for a day to see how they like it. Yep, just need a cape… and a crown. I got this nailed, man.
See more about Invisible illnesses:
Invisible illness: Hiding in plain sight
Do you tell people about your invisible illness
Creativity and chronic illness
Check out my humour chronic pain book!