Okay, let's get this out of the way- itchy, pain, pain, pain, itchy, my clothes suck, itchy, pain, pain, pain, why does my body hate me?, pain, pain, pain...
There, that's out of the way. A couple of days ago, I read two articles that were pretty interesting about fibromyalgia. I would have written about this sooner, but I had to read a book that was written by someone I know and based at the ren faire and it was so good that I didn't want to stop reading it just to bitch about fibrofuckingmyalgia again. ("Hail to the Queen" by Charles Braden on Amazon- for Kindle). But, here we are...
Firstly, I remembered something this morning, while I was dozing off to the sounds of... something, I don't remember what was on. "House", I think... but that's not the point. Back in the late 80s, early 90s, my mom and her siblings had some of their tissue biopsied. I may have written about this before, I don't remember now. The biopsy tissue was taken from their biceps. My mom, Aunt Linda, Aunt Joan (pronounced Jo-ann, don't ask, I don't even know), Uncle David, and I think two of my cousins who were around my age (at the time, early-20s). They all came back with the same "inconclusive results" that were labeled as "unknown muscle and nerve disorder".
We know for a fact that one of my cousins had fibro (she passed away a couple of years ago- she was 8 months younger than me). She was on that pain patch that you see the lawsuit ads for on TV now. My mom definitely had fibro, but she was on such a high dose of pain medication for her other problems that they didn't bother to treat it with anything (she was on Oxycontin, which is what I was on following my total knee replacement). I don't know if my uncle has it, but I think he does. But, my point is... fibro, it runs in our family. Of course, had I known then what I know now, maybe I would have been kinder to my body. Not so abusive. In my time cycling, I had a few minor accidents, some scrapes and a sprain or two. And two very major accidents. They were glorious.
In one, I flipped over my handlebars in an epic and Hollywood stuntman fashion, landed on the asphalt bike path and skidded on my face. My sunglasses kept me from shredding up my eye- ruined those damn things though. And my arm ended up pinned under my torso, so my knuckles and hand were just a mess. I was bleeding all over, including my leg. I don't know what happened, I didn't see any debris on the path. I got up and limped through the back gate to the Army base (Fort Richardson, great security you all had, I just walked right on) and went to the houses that were there till someone let me use their phone. (I was about six miles from home). The man who let me use his phone graciously drove me back to Anchorage with my bike. My mom- who I had tried to call at work- was gone from her office, left for the day. In the age before cell phones and I still managed to get home without panicking. Oh, her office was on the Army base. My dad also worked on the base, but I didn't yet have his work phone number memorized (he'd retired from the Army and then went to work for the Army in a different office, doing the same job as a civilian contractor).
The other one happened because I had a false sense of security brought on by the movie "Quicksilver" with Keven Bacon. I came around an RV that was parked in a parking lot (it was sideways and had a banner on it for a business) and I was being all cocky-Kevin-Bacon-bike-messenger-y. When I hit the parking lot on the other side of this RV, a van was coming at me. I hit my brakes as he skidded to a stop. I went down in a gravel-filled moment of glory and slid under the front of his van. It happened so fast that it looked like he hit me. Traffic stopped on Muldoon Road that day. (five lanes, the middle lane was for turning). I got up swearing about my stupidity- because, believe me, I knew it was stupid- and the guy driving the van was freaked out. I assured him he didn't hit me and that I was fine. I was bleeding down the side of my face, my arm in a few places and my leg- the pantsleg on my official Bartlett High School Rifle Team sweats was torn to shreds. A man in a camouflage uniform ran up and grabbed my face.
"I'M A MEDIC!" he practically shouted, "LET ME LOOK AT YOUR EYE!" (you see, the area I was in was just over an overpass that led to my high school and the side gate to Elmendorf Air Force Base, I was heading to the bike path that ran from that overpass all the way out to Eagle River, 13 miles away).
I kept telling him I was fine and I got to hear about five different versions from witnesses about how it looked when I went down. The driver was relieved he didn't hit me or kill me and was kind enough to give me a ride home. You can look at my senior photo and tell which side of my face was totally fucked up from that accident. The photographer (Northway Mall- whew, memories!) did a good job of touching it up, but you can still see it.
Why did I just go off on a tangent about bike accidents? Because I put my body through hell back then. And the parts of my body that have arthritis in them- well, I can feel where they could be linked to my cycling days. Or my hiking days. Or my days of walking up and down 22 flights of stairs five nights a week.
Of course, I can sit here with the hindsight of a 43 year old adult and say: "Oh, if I had known then... I would have been kinder to my body!" But come on, we all know that when you're 13, 14, 15, 16, and on up, you don't think that far ahead. Even if I had known then about fibromyalgia, I would have said: "NUH-UH! NOT ME! I exercise! I take CARE of myself!" Meanwhile, I skip along the asphalt like a stone on a pond.
So, these articles I mentioned... (once in the title and again briefly before the glimpse into my childhood- well, my teens anyway. As a child I was a tree-climbing, hiking, tour guide at a campground we used to frequent; Montauk State Park, ahhh, the olden days!).
Dammit, I did it again... THE ARTICLES!!
From The Skin Tissue To The Brain
It all signals pain!
When I shared this on Facebook, I said: "This was interesting. I've joked that my body hurts so much and my skin itches usually at the end of a flareup because my super-mutant-power of fast healing is actually causing me problems. Turns out, that may not be so far off the truth."
That article was the reason I was reminded about the "unnamed muscle and nerve" thing my family was told was the result of their biopsies.
And then there was THIS article-
Morning Stiffness in Fibromyalgia
My sarcastic take on Facebook: "
From the article: "Fibromyalgia is a rather “messy” multi-system condition." REALLY? I was going to write something out here about how I actually have pretty severe stiffness and pain just from remaining seated for a long period of time. But it got long... I'll have to do a blog post about it."
And that brings us to where we are now. My stiffness from fibro doesn't just happen in the morning. It happens if I sit still for too long. Like right now, I sat down to start this blog and in the middle of me describing that first bike wreck, my daughter called and I spoke with her for about twenty minutes (she doesn't live here anymore). And then I resumed writing this post. So, add twenty minutes to the usual amount of time it would have taken me to write this. I know that when I go to stand up, I'll barely be able to move from the stiffness in my body. When I'm sitting at my desk, as long as I'm not concentrating on a task like photo editing or blog writing, I tend to move a bit in my seat. I move my legs or swivel in my chair some... I don't sit absolutely still. Because I know I'll be stiff when I try to stand up. Even that little bit of movement doesn't always help.
When I watch a movie or TV show in the living room, and I sit on the comfy love seat or sofa, when I finally do decide to move- well, I can't. I'm so stiff that I barely have the strength to get up. And once I get up, I can't take a step immediately.
Sometimes, it is easier for me to remain standing than it is for me to sit down for a short time. I figured that out quick at the ren faire while taking photos. Especially at the joust, because I can remain standing, but lean on the fence railing for support if I need it.
Stiffness in the morning... I wish that was the limit to my issues.
And now, because you've been so patient and read all this gobbledygook, here's my senior yearbook photo. (by the way, "gobbledygook" is in the Google Chrome spell check). I have another photo with the prerequisite "hand on the chin", but apparently, I don't have it scanned and uploaded anywhere. The hand-on-the-chin shot it was easier to see the fact that a week prior, I had a date with a gravel and asphalt parking lot. Since this was taken the summer before my senior year, this would be June or July of 1986. Took me an hour with a curling iron to get those feathered locks.
The "evidence" would be on the right side of my face in this photo. Under the eye and along the jawline. I was a freakin' supermodel with my gravel and asphalt makeover.