WEGO 30 day challenge: Post a vintage photo of yourself, with a captain about the photo and where you were in terms of your health condition.
1998 and I was 21 and this would have been about the time I was actually diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. That is my common-law spouse there and we had been dating maybe a year by then. I was in university for my undergraduate degree at the time in philosophy with the firm belief that my health would not stop me from achieving my goals. I had learned new ways to cope and work around FM to function in a university environment, because I had struggled with pain, fibrofog and insomnia in my freshman year and taken a year off after that to figure things out.
I had actually spent the time from the age of 18 to 20 learning the hard way coping with un-diagnosed FM and learning to deal with its limitations when living out in the world, having to change my mindset on how I think about it so I was not so negative thinking and so by this time I was coping very well… even though summer jobs always taught me a brutal lesson on which jobs Not to work. So I came back strong once I worked out how to cope the hard way and here I had successfully implemented my newly learned coping strategies and some good use of cognitive therapy to change my mental outlook on my illness.
It was a very good time. A very happy time. I was madly and silly in love. Martin here understood that during the week I focused only on school and I could go out one a week for fun, but the rest of the weekend we usually chilled at the house. I was not diagnosed with migraines yet but the ones I got were episodic and the worst were menstrual related. So even though I was actually just diagnosed at this time I had this feeling of being victorious over it already…. having gone through such a hard time coping and come out the other side, able to achieve such high grades and cope so well gave me high hopes I could manage the pain and cognitive dysfunction in the future. Also, it was great to be in a relationship with someone who valued me for me and didn’t care about the gimpy parts, although it was such a bright and shiny relationship at that time.
Because I never received any treatment for FM after diagnosis learning to cope the hard way and this period of great coping success was vital. Really gave me an understanding of what living within my limits was all about and something someone at that age really needs to remember. While others might be going out and partying, I could not do that sort of thing often. While others could choose any job they wished, I had to be very careful and the whole idea of going to university was to aim for a career I could enjoy but also fit the criteria I needed. I needed moderation in all things and balance.
The coping strategies I used to help with learning and mood assisted me for years and years, so learning the hard way and utilizing those lessons worked. I would have preferred to have been diagnosed earlier and actually have had some sort of treatment, but such is life. Nevertheless, those bad years combined with the good years and achieving my degree taught me that I could cope with FM. I know FM is a disability and one rarely properly treated by medical professionals but I also knew if I accepted my limits and watched how I reacted to my illness it would never be beyond my ability to cope with or prevent me from achieving my goals as long as I understood I had to achieve those goals differently. It has progressed of course. I have gotten comorbid conditions and more symptoms and more pain. I just have to change the ways I do things is all and ensure I am prepared ahead of time for other things. It was the chronic migraines that tipped me into unable to function. In this slice of time though I did not know that kind of constant acute pain.
I like this picture because I am laughing my ass off… Martin is tickling me and I’m very ticklish. Also… shows my awesome poor student decor. The couch we are on my roommate got at a garage sale. The one in the background my mom gave me and is literally as old as me and this orange burlap sort of material. We lived in this house with great rent… Martin, me, a great friend of mine back then, and my brother. My friends at that time were quite important in helping me cope with the FM… getting through that rough patch I was going through by coping with pain and exceeding my limits and struggling with a unknown condition prior to my moving into this place here and meeting Martin and making the adjustments I needed to make.
1999- this was on a trip to Halifax and well I had to add it because again I’m laughing my ass off. I’m laughing because we all had been posing for a shot and then began to topple backwards and this is a picture as I am falling back into Martin. We were hanging out with friends Martin had grown up with and the first time I met his father and step-mother. Our first holiday together actually. The migraines were diagnosed at this time and about 3-6 migraine with aura and about 4 days of hormonal migraines a month…. but really still managed, well the migraines with aura were with a triptan, the hormonal ones are the sort that start and do not end and do not really respond well to triptans even back then.
Yeah, those years were pretty good pain wise. I mean I had some troubles with summer jobs because, damn, some of them were just the sort of job one should not do with FM but other than that I coped well with the baseline pain and other symptoms. The flare-ups of pain were more frequent though because I was not on Lyrica so there were times when it was a long haul to walk to campus… walking in a shuffle. But this was all before the migraines went chronic and when you add that pain in there it really consumes all your energy to cope with it… so there goes any social life, there goes your friends, there goes your academic career, your goals… and all you do is just try to survive and hold onto what you can. So you can see why this was such an awesome time to me.