By Peter Boyd
I was 27 when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. An invisible illness of chronic pain, chronic fatigue and stiffness, it was a difficult condition to come to terms with. 18 months of clear blood tests, x-rays and countless doctors’ visits meant that at first I was just happy to have any kind of diagnosis. A week later, however, I had more questions than answers because I couldn’t explain my situation and no one could see my pain.
Three months ago I was diagnosed with arthritis. Initially it was called psoriatic arthritis but we’re leaning more towards rheumatoid arthritis now. All I know it is another auto-immune condition chipping away at me through pain, fatigue, innumerable symptoms and invisible impacts.
For two full years, before every appointment, I waited for my bad news and confirmation that I was getting worse. I felt trapped by my physical symptoms and beaten down by the emotional onslaught. It’s been said that ‘in space no one can hear you scream’. Well, confronted by fibromyalgia and its symptoms for two years before a diagnosis, no matter how hard I screamed no one saw, understood or heard the fatigue and exhaustion I was feeling.
I’m 30 next month and can’t wait to leave my twenties behind. Despite the successes I’ve had in the last decade, my life now is very different from what I had mapped out for myself. I no longer work due to fibromyalgia and arthritis; I struggle each month to maintain payments on my home due to my fibromyalgia and arthritis. From training nearly every single day, I no longer run and even a fast walk is sometimes too much for me. Again this is 100% due to my fibromyalgia and arthritis.
This is where the support of Arthritis Ireland steps in to help me. Just after my fibromyalgia diagnosis I took part in a Living Well with Arthritis course. This self-management course introduced me to others with the same problems AND who were the same age as me. I was no longer so isolated and I had a massive support network too tap in to.
Without the support of the employees of Arthritis Ireland, the members of Arthritis Ireland, the members of the Young Arthritis Network and the courses, seminars and events they all contribute to, I was headed to a very dark place. That is why fundraising is always required but crucially is also always appreciated. Your money will help others, from tots to Grannies, teenagers to Granddads and what’s more they’ll be so appreciative of the helping hand your fundraising provides.
I know I am.
You can follow Peter’s blog at http://fibrofella.wordpress.com/