My poor physician team. I come to see them with a whole host of complaints at every appointment. I can see then mentally sorting the symptoms into piles as I talk :
- important, needs to be investigated immediately.
- sad, but part of the life of a patient with this chronic condition.
- these are issues that should be passed on to another member of the treatment team.
- irrelevant to the current diagnosis.
For three years I’ve been mentioning my muscle problems. My muscles are sore to the touch, and they just burn sometimes. The burning can go on for days, and I do get a little cranky; okay, maybe some wailing has occurred. Poor cats! It is really painful at connection points around joints. Stamina is poor, and I’m exhausted all the time.
Some of these symptoms can be explained as being part of the whole scleroderma thing. Muscle issues are rampant with scleroderma as some of the necessary enzymes for muscle movement are too low for reasons that aren’t clear to me. My rheumatologist has checked for polymyositis and other serious muscle problems, but my muscle strength is good and my test results have been normal. I’m in pain, but my muscles aren’t being damaged. I have been just managing with heat pads and knitting as there seemed to be nothing that could be done. To make things worse I can’t have anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers because my kidney function is low. Bad muscles, bad!
At my last visit with my rheumatologist I was really sore to the touch, and she suddenly asked if I was experiencing brain fog…
Oh my lord, yes! It is so bad I’m afraid to drive sometimes. I struggle with anxiety and some depression when things are bad. The fatigue is off the charts when this is going on, and I can’t get good sleep. Lately I have developed headaches too…
“Oh. This is fibromyalgia“, she said. Just like that the light had gone off for her; my symptoms were suddenly sorted into another pile that screamed “fibromyalgia”. She did a quick assessment, and the diagnosis was added to my chart lickity split…
I also have Sjogren’s Syndrome, and the symptoms of fibromyalgia and Sjogren’s do overlap, but it would appear that I have both. No wonder my fatigue has been so extreme.
So, nothing has changed, but at the same time everything has changed. I have concrete reasons for feeling so bad. My blood pressure issues have improved, and I am able to walk and exercise more. I’m using my inhaler every day and my blood oxygen levels are coming up. The more I move, the better I feel. Little by little, I am getting a handle on things again. I am sleeping like a rock and I wake up feeling pretty good.
My terrible twosome of autoimmune diseases just became a triad, and I am actually feeling more hopeful about my ability to manage things. Take that, you three! I am coming after you all with a pitchfork!
Err… make that knitting needles. I’m coming for you all the same. Be warned, I am taking you down!
Knowledge is power.