Why I'm Happy About My Fibromyalgia Diagnosis


Three days ago, I went to a new specialist, a rheumatologist. I was apprehensive, as this would be my seventh specialist, but I really wanted to figure out what was causing the fatigue and widespread pain. I’d already been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, and that alone can cause fatigue and pain, even when your thyroid panel is in normal, or even optimal, ranges. But it didn’t fully explain why I can sleep for 15 hours and still wake up tired and not refreshed at all. Why I have daily pain that distracts me from my daily activities. Why my body just feels heavy like an anchor.

So, I nervously stepped into the rheumatologist’s office, and thankfully, she took me seriously, even when I made an awkward joke about being a hypochondriac. She did a full physical exam, reviewed my previous blood work, discussed family history, and then we had a really long conversation about how I feel, what my symptoms are, what I’m already doing to control those symptoms, so forth. She spent a lot of time with me. And based on all these items, and ruling out a few others like Lyme disease and arthritis, she said it’s fibromyalgia.

My honest initial reaction, I said to her, “Bummer, dude.”

She chuckled and agreed. Then it got really serious, really quickly. She said, “You’ll read that it’s not a real disease, but it is. It’s a real disease and it’s not in your head.”

And I burst into tears. I told her things I hadn’t meant to; it just came bubbling out of my mouth and I couldn’t stop it. I told her how much I missed my former self, the me that could get up at 6 a.m. and stay busy until 11 p.m. and do it all again the next day. I told her how lazy I’ve felt for the last four years, when my health problems started and how my emotional health has been impacted, and how I just feel guilty and lazy. She listened calmly and told me these feelings often come with a fibromyalgia diagnosis and she firmly told me I am not lazy at all. She said she could tell from my personality and our conversation that I still have a spring in my step and the internal resolve to take care of myself.

I left her office feeling OK. Not great, but OK. Having a name for it didn’t change my symptoms.

But now, a few days later, I feel absolute relief. I have a name for the overwhelming fatigue and I have a reason for my hips, back, shoulder to ache constantly and have those pins and needles feelings in my hands. It still doesn’t change anything but it is certainly not in my head, it’s not a reflection of who I am, it’s not a failure on my part, it’s not because of something I’m doing wrong or not doing right. I didn’t do this to myself. I’m relieved that although this is a lifelong illness, I can stop chasing specialists and new blood work and endless Google searches and I can stop trying to figure it all out – “Why does my head hurt? Am I dehydrated? Is it a stress headache? My does my back hurt? Did I overdo it when I went shopping and cleaned the house on the same day? Why do I sleep so much? Am I depressed? I don’t feel depressed, but I sleep half the day away, so maybe I need to talk to someone. Why is my hand all tingly again?” I’m OK. It’s not in my head. There’s a reason for all this. It can’t be cured, but it can be controlled, but most importantly, it’s not in my head and I can stop trying to find answers constantly.

And I’m grateful for that. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t wish this on someone. But it’s a relief to have an official, medical reason for all these random symptoms. It’s not in my head. I’m moving forward. I can take care of myself, and that’s a huge relief. So I’m happy today. I get to move on.

Getty Image by hobo_018


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Fibromyalgia

An older woman with a serious expression, in front of a black background while wearing a black top.

I'm Damned If I Do and Damned If I Don't When It Comes to My Fibromyalgia

I have fibromyalgia and have had it since at least 1996. For the first couple of decades I was lucky as the symptoms I experienced were relatively mild. I had some aches, pains and chronic migraines. The migraines were probably the worst, but then a few years ago, I took a bad fall and everything went [...]
A painted image of a woman wearing a red hat.

How I'm Defeating My Internalized Ableism

I struggle with internalized ableism. And though I try to fight it, I can’t really help it. After all, I grew up in a society where what you do, how much money you make, and how you spend your time is imperative to your identity. I mean, it’s one of the first questions people ask [...]
woman wearing a beanie sitting on a bus with tears in her eyes

How Fibromyalgia Affects My Mental Health

For years, I was plagued with muscle cramps, widespread pain that I could only describe as being hit by a bus, debilitating chronic fatigue, brain fog, chronic migraines, dislocating joints and seemingly unconnected and unexplained symptoms. I explained my symptoms to numerous doctors, only to be dismissed because I am diagnosed with mental illness, until [...]
blurred photo of a woman with long red hair looking down and away

My Toxic Relationship With Fibromyalgia

What do you do when the longest relationship you’ve ever had begins to become painful and destructive? This is a rhetorical question to myself, because I already know that I don’t have the answer. I have thought about it a lot, especially recently, but can’t seem to reach any meaningful conclusions. I have a lot [...]