How My Father Inspires Me to Keep Battling Fibromyalgia

In our journey of trying to understand this illness called fibromyalgia, it’s important to have faith and hope. Faith that one day I’ll get this pacing business right and live in some semblance of normalcy in a world of chaos. The chaos of managing even day-to-day activities.

It’s a quiet Sunday morning and, like most mornings, I have my 500-ml. drink of water and I thought of my dad. It’s so important to have someone who listens and believes you and in you. The sun is seeping through my open balcony door as I think I need to clean up, but my joints are saying a whole different thing.


My mind quickly moves to my recent visit to Kenya, home. I didn’t know what I looked like. My body was swollen (I couldn’t even feel my wrist). I looked ratcheted from the two months of depression I had lived in after quitting my job and reaching the point of deciding to go home. I walked like an old lady with a huge burden on her back. I was not depressed or unhappy I left work. No – the environment was toxic and put my body through hell. My immune system was so low I literally had a flu for the same period.

My dad was unwell, and as I stood to hug my hero and my friend, I was struck that my dad had now grown old. The reality of our mortality hit me like a ton of bricks. Knowing any form of emotional distress would escalate an already existing fibromyalgia flare, I swallowed the tears and tremors. He was unwell and I was unwell, a very bleak picture.

Over the next few months my father would see the full manifestation of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue where I’d drop off and sleep mid-conversation, or when the pain got so bad the doctor made a home visit to give me a steroid injection to walk. He kept saying, “Nimo, don’t give up hope.” It is something he says in all our conversations.

Our recovery was done together: eating right, resting, going for short walks and talking. Funny, we had the same symptoms but different diagnoses. We would disappear together, sit in Java Coffee House, have coffee and cake and talk. Our matched sweet tooth made my mum angry. I’d tell him I was no longer afraid even of death, but I had a dream of becoming an author and an advocate for mental health. My dad is the only one who said “I believe you” over and over again.

He makes me laugh sometimes with his fears. “I want you to get rid of that sleeping.” I promptly chuckle as he adds, “How is your weight?” I don’t get offended because he just wants me to be healthy. I realize like any parent he still struggles with having a disabled child. This child is 47 years old!

My tears are now streaming down my face because I miss my dad. I look at my new Bible with its beautiful pink leather cover – a gift. I get a new Bible from him when my other one falls apart. In it he has written, “I believe in you and you will get through this.” In my first Bible he wrote, “I appreciate our relationship and am thankful. Don’t give up hope.” The Bible is 17 years old. I want to assure him I’ll get through this – I’ll just be a different person. I’ll prioritize me.

Today I will not give up hope. I’ll clean my bathroom, run a wash, hang clothes and run the hoover around the house (because of brain fog I cannot remember the name of the hoovering machine). Then tomorrow I’ll crash and the vicious cycle may start with pain again.

It’s important to have faith, just as it is important to have someone have faith in you.

Thank you, Daddy!

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Thinkstock photo via bowdenimages.

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