Your Story is a series by WonderfulWomen where you will read inspiring Guest Posts from women around the world. Here they share their experiences, stories and things that matter most to all women.
Today’s guest post is by Elizabeth Auwarter from ElizabethAuwarter.com. Elizabeth is a high school deaf and hard of hearing teacher, creator and blogger at The Recovering Perfectionist, and fibromyalgia warrior. She enjoys being a part of the Fibro Blogger Directory where she finds the community of fibro-warriors encouraging and educational. Elizabeth devours stories in blogs every chance she gets and loves succinct, inspiring quotes, as her Instagram can attest. Her favorite pastime is to sit on her porch, with a cup of tea, reading a good book. Read this highly motivational story of her own life about how she struggled and emerged victorious from fibromyalgia.
My Fibromyalgia Story
I have never been a stranger to the doctor’s office, and can’t tell you how many days I missed school due to sickness.
The car accident was where the pain began. Being in a car that flips over with two people falling on top of me took its toll on my back. Going to medical massages became part of my regular treatment to lessen the terribly painful back spasms that would reduce me to tears.
Since 1st grade, I threw myself into the theatre, loving the chance to safely express emotion under the mask of a character. In college, I continued my pursuit of this passion and was cast as an anxious doctor. Unfortunately, I was raised as a method actor, “becoming” the character, so I internalized all this anxiety after every practice and performance with no release.
The day that changed my life my fork would not stay still. I looked at my fork and realized that it was because my wrist was twitching uncontrollably. My friend gave me the questioning look, “Are you okay?” I steeled myself and willed my hand to stop so I could eat. I felt ill and walked to my room in a haze. “Are you okay?” my hallmate asked as I involuntarily fell into her arms and started convulsing with my entire body.
At the hospital, I remember broken sleep and incessant tests. My hallmates came to read me my favorite children’s stories and pray with me. One of them even stayed and we sang hymns until I needed to rest. A nurse asked if I was a Christian because she had heard my friend and me singing, and I joyfully replied, “Yes!” She went on to explain how much of an encouragement we had been to her that we would sing to God despite such pain.
Later, the doctors broke my heart into ten thousand pieces. “Psychosomatic,” they said. My father saw my joy completely drain out of me at the word. How could I be doing this to myself? My mother immediately rejected the doctors’ view and reassured me that we would go to more doctors at home. That sounded thrilling.
I was brought home to a big bed with plenty of room to flail. Everyone who visited me commented on my positive attitude, if only they knew how terribly lonely and frustrated I felt.
The quest for an alternate diagnosis continued. After about 20 doctors, I received what would be an overflowing gift basket of diagnoses and pills but no overarching diagnosis to connect everything together. I was still miserable and still flailing.
One of the issues a doctor found was that I was severely allergic to mold. This meant that my parents had to fumigate their house, and I had to move to a different dorm at college. While my parents were staying at their friends’ house during the fumigation, something beautiful happened. My mother was brought to Christ by her friend. I had been praying for this my whole life, and I knew that, if this was the whole reason why I got sick, it was worth it for her to experience His joy, peace, and transformation.
Doctors tended to treat me as a hypochondriac as my I pushed for more answers, so I just stopped seeing them. I gave up. It felt like I was just being realistic until I attended a Women’s Retreat that would eventually lead to my diagnosis.
One of the women from my church spoke about having health difficulties that she couldn’t understand. She poured out her struggles with feeling inadequate as a wife and mother along with her honest, frustrating conversations with God. Although her symptoms weren’t exactly the same as mine, I felt like we were connected, like she would understand me. I was too scared to go up and talk with her though. The fear of her thinking I was a hypochondriac swallowed my desire to find community.
My husband and I started dating. He was the first boyfriend I was ever completely honest with about my health situation. His love for me still astounds me as he let me know that he could tell some of my health issues, that he was thankful I shared them with him, and that he, as someone with an extensive background in biology, believed in me. He has told me at times that he admires the strength I show even through my worst health days. Even now, he still holds me when I flail to keep me from hurting myself.
When we went to pre-marital counseling, our pastor suggested that I contact the woman who had spoken at the Women’s Retreat. It just so happens that she is a doctor and happily had me over for tea to read through my medical records. All of them! No doctor had ever done that before. She asked me some questions and wrote all of my symptoms on a sheet. That was the first time I heard the word fibromyalgia. This amazing woman said that she had been diagnosed with it and that she was going to send me to her doctor to see if he thought I might have it.
Her doctor was the kindest doctor I have ever met. When we discussed my symptoms he didn’t even roll his eyes! He did the 18 point fibromyalgia test on me. Every point hurt terribly. I will never forget what he said to me that day. “You have real, unexplained pain.” I wasn’t crazy! Not a hypochondriac! Not psychosomatic! He then gave me some tools to use to lessen my symptoms.
I know that a diagnosis of fibromyalgia does not and will never cure me, but it helps me understand myself better. The convulsions and pain are fibromyalgia. Now that I know I have it, I have been able to find communities and even coworkers who share situations similar to mine. Being able to share my story and read other stories gives me hope and joy for the future.
Connect with Elizabeth
Her Blog The Recovering Perfectionist