Posted by: Shira Danin | March 13, 2010

Being a Student with Fibromyalgia – Part 1

I’ll start with my life before. I grew up in Jerusalem and until I enlisted in the army I was fairly healthy. I always felt strong physically and other than a tree pollen allergy (which is ironic considering my Prof. of Botany dad) I didn’t have any major health issues.

In the army my job was to visit guys from the artillery unit who are sick or injured and resting at home or are hospitalized. The job required about 70% of my time to be spent on buses and waiting for them, and 30% of the time visiting the soldiers. During my service I developed 3 protruding discs in my lower back and had to take a month medical leave from the army. After my release from the army I had a few more back attacks but with the help of Alexander technique lessons I regained my old self back, most of the time I was alright.

I started a degree in computer sciences at Ben Gurion University. During school I had a lower back pain flare up and my boyfriend at the time, as well as my friends from school, would help me carry my back pack from class to class to home.

After a year and a half I realized that a computer sciences degree wasn’t for me and I decided to switch to a degree in management. I had 6 months till the next academic year was going to start so I decided to travel in Nepal and India. During a trek in Nepal my left hip joint started to hurt. It got so bad I couldn’t walk. I had to fly back to the closest town and rest for three weeks. I managed to rest my way out of the pain and continued with my trip.

I got back to Israel and started my (2nd) bachelor degree, this time in management. At the end of the first year, towards the tests season, my hip joint awakened and started to hurt again. I remembered the pain from Nepal and felt it was similar but I didn’t really make the connection. I just tried to rest and continue on with school. It was a bit difficult to rest since I lived on the fourth floor, no elevator.

The pain didn’t go away. The pain progress and the left elbow joined in on the fun. It was scary. I didn’t get hit or a bump and the pain wouldn’t go away. I had three tests that I wanted to improve (we get two chances to take tests in our bachelor degree). I managed to improve two grade, in one I even got a hundred, while studying for the third I just couldn’t concentrate with all the pain.

I decided it was time to go to a rheumatologist (after getting x-rays done) and he diagnosed me with tendonitis and gave me a shot. The shot helped a little but soon after the pain returned and worsened.

I moved to a ground floor apartment and adopted another cat (the third). The pain kept spreading while I was on my summer vacation. It also spread out to my right elbow and hip joint. My family took me to the ER when the pain became unbearable. It didn’t help, the pills they gave me didn’t help with the pain. Another rheumatologist gave me steroids that had no effect.

I had a brand new boyfriend at the time of the flare up, so before I got hospitalized I decided to break up with him. I didn’t have enough energy to deal with the pain and develop a relationship at the same time.

On the first day of the first semester of the second year I was hospitalized in Haddassah Ein Karem Hospital. I was at my worst shape in the hospital. I didn’t even think about school. I couldn’t eat by myself, I needed help showering and even opening the door of the bathroom. When I went to the elevators and back (my room was the closest to the elevators) I felt I would faint from the pain and the weakness. I wore elastic bands on my elbows, knees and ankles.

Me after being told I was being released from the hospital

After 8 days in the hospital with a steroid IV they let me know I was a healthy girl with: maybe, sensitivity to physical effort, maybe atypical fibromyalgia, maybe mental and emotional stress. So I didn’t really get any straight answer. I was sent home with a referral to physiotherapy.

The beginning of my rehabilitation I did with a physiotherapist that came to our house. At first I was sure I could make up what I lost of the semester, so I printed out the presentations of the lessons I missed. I sent a letter to the Management administration .

During my days at home (parents’ home) I realized , that without a car, I will have difficulty functioning from now on. Lucky my parents were capable of supporting me and arranged for me to get their car (they bought a new car).

When I got to Beer Sheva, to my home and friends, I realized I won’t be able to go back to school for that semester, it was too much pressure. I contacted the head administrator in dept. of management and asked for a semester off so I could get back on my feet.

While in the hospital and right after all the doctors recommended that I get some alternative treatments. I went back to my psychologist to help me cope with my new condition. I went to a wonderful lady here in Beer Sheva that gave me lessons in Alexander Technique. She also referred me to Eyal Shani, who treats me till today with Shiatsu, acupuncture and a variety of methods from the Far East. I participated in Chi Gong lessons, which is kind of like Tai Chi only a lot slower (that’s my definition anyhow).

I learned very quickly that one of the most important things is knowing to listen to your body. When you’re hurting and the body is too exhausted, you have to rest! I know this pain makes no sense, and it seems the pain has no use, no reason. The pain really is useless, but it’s still important to listen to it.  I know that sometimes I have to give myself the time to rest.

Even when I really want to go out or do something with friends, I can feel when I can and when I can’t. And when I can’t, which is most of the time, I rest. Every little exaggeration can make me drop, and I know I have to rest. I know I have to take a nap when my body is too tired to move in the middle of the day. I had a couple of weeks here and there where I had to sleep for two or three hours in the middle of every day. And it’s ok. Whatever the body needs, and you can give, you give.

You can read part 2 here

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Responses

  1. Wow! This is almost exactly like my fibromyalgia story….right down to the hospital stay. I woke up one day and just collapsed. On to part 2!!

  2. Hi,

    I do know what you mean and I’ve put myself in trouble for trying hard to do everything without caring much about my real condition. I need to see if I can solve my troubles this week. Your post just clarified some points to me. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. Thank you Leandra, i’m glad you were able to relate. i hope you manage to solve your troubles.
    I wish you good health and many smiles

  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Facebook by Shira Danin: Being a Student with Fibromyalgia – Part 1: http://wp.me/pGpnL-28

  5. Dear Shira-

    I think your blog journaling is fabulous. You have overcome a lot, in very little time. You are so right on target about “balance” and leading as stress-free a lifestyle as you can. I was diagnosed with Fibro at age 16 but looking back, the onset was years before that. I am now 41 and just now recently (finally) joined a support group on Facebook… where I found your entry. In the past week of reading about others’ struggles and feats with Fibro, I have realized… it’s not just ME! we all have so much in common. Your blog brings up many aspects that I’m thrilled you shared such as relationships and how you deal, cope… keep up the good journey… and don’t let it take over your life… that is my personal regret…. and I keep going day by day..

    ((Fibro Hugs))
    Tamara


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