Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I am you!! You are me!! A story!

I think that everyone who knows me knows I am a RN and knows that for 36 years I worked as a nurse in ICU, CCU, and ER. I became a house supervisor for 8 years before I had to go out on medical leave in 2010. Those same people will tell you I was good nurse and knew my stuff and I was willing to be taught or teach as the need be. When I became sick in 2009 I didn't realize how long I had been 'coming down' with the disorder until I was so overcome with it I couldn't function any longer.

The years leading up to the diagnosis of this disorder...can't call it a disease because it isn't...took over 20 years to reach its climax. I had never really been sick and with the exception of a backache here or there, all nurses can relate to that, I was healthy. I had been diagnosed in
• 1990 with an insulinoma and hypoglycemia, only thing I had been diagnosed with before was IBS, hypothyroid, and GERD.
• 1992 I had Lyme's disease,
• 1994 a hysterectomy,
• 1995 was wasted with some kind of pain and depression that they told me was due to hormones and once that was regulated I was okay!
• 1999 I started having upper respiratory and asthma problems that in 2001 climaxed in a pneumonia and I was hospitalized for a week. I quit the job in ER and the asthma etc went away. Hmmmm....wonder why they were always testing air quality in that old ER? I didn't pay a bill for the hospital then either because workman's comp picked it up.
• 2007 had facial cancer and reconstruction done that unleashed a whole new bag of neurological problems. 2 types of atypical migraines, a feeling of bugs crawling all over my face, problems swallowing, and pain. Pain was all over my body. I had no stamina and talk about tired. I couldn't get enough rest.
• 2009 I started having memory and pain issues. Phantom pain...came and went. I couldn't walk long distances. I forgot things and seemed to have short-term memory issues. Not good for a supervisor or a 56 year old. It seemed like it took more effort to do anything. Headaches increased, legs hurt, and back always hurt me. I went to my doctor who had MRI done and I was told it was a pinched nerve that doesn't exist now. Thank God I didn’t have the surgery they were pushing me to have!
• 2010 July. I went to a clinic after work one morning because I could hardly speak, had a fever, sore throat, had a rash, red palms, headache from hell that was blurring my vision and I thought I hurt before…it wasn’t anything compared to the pain I had now. They ran lab, x-rays, etc but nothing was out of whack enough for me to be given a diagnosis for what was going on. They sent me home with 2 types of antibiotic and pain pills. I saw internists, dermatologist, dentist, neurologist but nothing was every discovered as a cause. In August the rash and everything left but I still hurt all the time. Sleep was impossible cause I would wake up and hurt. I would be in bed 2/3 of my time cause I was so tired. I couldn't get rested. The more tired I became the worse all my symptoms became. My memory is the thing that bothers me more than anything because when I get the least bit tired I become dangerous to myself and others. I got lost in downtown OKC one day after a long day. I was tired. I sat and cried till a homeless lady came and knocked on the window to ask how I was. Bless her! I can't remember algorithms or drugs. I can't function as anything that needs accurate memory when I am tired.
• 2010 September I was told that I probably had some kind of an autoimmune disorder but that my labs weren’t skewed enough for it to be diagnosed. I was diagnosed with what I thought as a non-existent disorder called Fibromyalgia (FM) and Chronic Fatigue syndrome (CFS). Oh my God! I looked at the doctor and told him I wasn’t a drug seeker. The narcotics don’t really even start to touch the pain I have with this. Dr. Merrill was very understanding and told me that he knows me and he knew that I wasn’t a drug seeker and went on to explain how he had arrived at the diagnoses. I also found out that I have restless leg syndrome that most people who have CFS and FM have. There are other smaller side disorders but all in all the major diagnosis threw me a hook I have a hard time accepting. I told my husband that I knew I had something not THAT disorder. As time has gone on I realize from all the research and similar cases that is exactly what I have. It is a lifetime sentence and it doesn’t get much better…you just learn what you can do and what you can’t. You learn to live with it.
• 2010 October. I had already cut back to one day a week because working caused me all sorts of issues. It literally took 2-3 days to get over working one day and when I tried to work 2 in a row I couldn’t do it. I worked 4 hours in the second day and had to go home where I stayed in bed almost a week. I don’t work now. I applied for SSDI but have been turned down. I will appeal it cause there is no way I can work.

I saw a friend (who will remain nameless cause she is a nurse) for lunch the other day that I haven’t seen in a couple years. When she asked me what I was doing now and I told her my problems I was surprised by her reaction! She immediately told me to find another doctor and in the same sentence told me that it was a non-existent disorder. When I told her that it was recognized and covered by the College of Rheumatology and that they were handling research etc, she still refused to be swayed. I was actually even more surprised when she told me that I looked too healthy to have THAT and that there was something wrong with me that they just didn’t know about.

Aren’t we nurses horrible! People with CFS and FM get that response all the time. There are snake oil sellers out there trying to sell us a cure that we buy cause we are willing to try anything to feel better. I would like one day without pain. We look too healthy, too good, to really be so sick and in pain all the time. I would like to take time at this moment to apologize to all the patients that came to me that were really in pain with this disorder and I judged them wrongly! I too am blessed with it now and I will be among those supporting research being done to help those of us that are blessed with this God-awful disorder. I am you!! You are me!! an I wouldn't wish this on anyone!


Heather said...

Oh momma. :( I'm glad that you are willing to put this entire story out there for the world to read... what's happened to you is NOT something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. You are so strong, and I'm proud of you.

debbirobb said...

Vickie I just want to express how sorry I am that this has happened to you.But Heather is right you are Strong and Brave and one of the most understanding and patient people I have ever know.I am sending all my love and prayers to you.

karen said...

Vickie, I am sorry to hear the extent of your FM. I would think in this day and age that FM was becoming more widely known and accepted. But it sounds like some areas of the medical profession are resistant to believing it.
I applaud you for sharing all this here.
Take care as best you can sweetie.
xoxo Karen

Beatrice said...

Gosh this is something I have not really heard much of - it sounds absolutely terrible and sounds like you have had a tough time the last few years - and I hope you manage to find ways to cope with this - I will be thinking of you and all other sufferers of this in my prayers for sure - Bea

Terri Smith said...

Vickie, I feel so bad that this illness has struck you. You know I can empathize with your memory problems. I can only imagine your pain but, I can see such a difference in how you feel from now back to the time I met you 3 years ago. I pray that they will find a cure for this horrible illness. I think this blog is fantastic for sufferers to help each other and also for the rest of us to understand this illness better. Keep it up, girlfriend!