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by Candace Grande

 

Where to begin my story? From the beginning I suppose! When I was very young, I always remembered being sick. I got sick all the time and it seemed to last longer than everyone else! But I was young. I didn’t get it. I just missed a lot of school.

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I played soccer, track, and did cheer leading since I was about six years old and played into high school (will get into that shortly). I loved sports and was a bit of “tom-boy,” but I didn’t care. I loved life and was fully supported by my parents to keep playing if that was I was wanted to do.

At the age of twelve, I started getting tired very often and started getting hurt. At the age of thirteen is when I truly believe my, now diagnosis of Fibromyalgia began. I saw a rheumatologist and got a million tests done. The results were inconclusive. No one could explain what was happening to me. To be quite honest, I didn’t care. Sure, I was exhausted and slept 24/7, but hey, I still had my sports!

I continued to play. Over time, however, I grew very tired and would just be sore. My joints would hurt very often. By the time I reached my sophomore year of high school, I had three knee surgeries, foot surgery, a broken nose, and “the works!” I was able to “fight it off” for the most part until the following year. My junior year of high school was my BEST year, and little did I know, it would be my LAST year of playing sports. I was supposed to run in college and live my dream, however, it didn’t quite work out that way.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the last track meet of the season, and my body just shut down. Looking back, I can tell it was a long time coming. I was not prepared to be told that I would no longer be able to play sports. My orthopedic doctor told me straight up that if I was hurt again, I’d be lucky if I would be able to walk. Needless to say, my athletic career ended that day! No need to feel sorry. I am over it now (FINALLY) and put my energy into school and determined to figure out what was wrong with me.

I must have gone to ten different doctors and had every test imaginable done! Nothing was clear. One time it would come back positive...another time negative. It was so inconsistent. At the age of twenty, and in my second year of college, I had had it and was on a mission to find out what was going on with my body! My major was Health Education, so I was learning about human diseases and treatments and would not take “we don’t know” as an answer. After seeing three more rheumatologists, they all agreed that I had Fibromyalgia, but I also had chronic migraines, and Reynaud’s Syndrome. Although, at times, I do feel there are other issues going on and things just aren’t right. At this point in time, I can just cope with what I do know.

It was a long, hard journey and found out that my body does not respond well to any medication. Ninety-nine percent of the time the medication made me sick. I do not take medication on a daily basis. I have a “super drug” for migraines, which I take only after three days after the start of my headache. I take a muscle relaxer “when needed.” I do not rely on them to “manage” my disorders. Even though I was diagnosed at twenty (I am now twenty-three), I’ve been living with this for ten years and just did what I needed to do to get by. Although I did not wake up one day, and have all the symptoms at once, I figured it out quickly. My flares happen so quickly. At times, I feel as though I got hit by a truck.

I do not let my disorders define me, but they are a part of who I am. I do not feel sorry for myself, and try not to dwell on my situation. I try to take what energy I have to encourage and help people. That is why I went into health education. I am continuing school and working on a Master's degree in counseling. I have a full-time job. I am a full-time student. It is a lot of work which definitely catches up to me, but I know it will be worth it in the end. I want people to learn something from me and to know that they are not alone.

I hope my story will help someone in someway. As we know, everyone has a story to tell.

As a member of the community, it is important to share our experiences to help understand and support one another!

TONY'S COMMENT: Gotta pay it forward.

 

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