Ah Fibromyalgia, the gift that keeps on giving.
Now never let it be said that Fibro is a bit of a Scrooge for in it’s generosity, it has already gifted me with over 60 symptoms, M.E. Hypothyroidism, osteoarthritis and arthritis of the eyes. See how it likes to share? After all, sharing is caring.
So what little gem did Fibro bring for me today? Well that would be my good friend ‘Tremors.’
I remember the first time that I met tremors. That was the defining moment which would begin the endless rounds of MRI’s and countless trips to Neurology, and end with me having to use a walking stick.
Two months previously, I had noticed a slight tremor in my left hand. Nothing too serious, just a little involuntary shaking that lasted a few minutes. I promised myself that I would make an appointment to see my doctor the next day, but as it had abated after a couple of hours, I soon forgot all about it.
I remember trying to get out of bed one morning and wondering why my limbs felt so weak. I tried to stand but my legs wouldn’t move because they were shaking, and despite not doing a thing, I felt exhausted. Climbing back into bed, my first thought was that I was probably coming down with the flu, and so I just decided to sleep it off.
The whole thing happened so suddenly that I didn’t even have time to process what was happening.
It wasn’t a tremor, not that first time, it was a full on convulsion, a seizure that caused every muscle in my body to involuntarily and violently contract. Each time the seizures would last a few minutes and then reside, and as my muscles begun to relax, the next round of convulsions would begin again.
I tried to speak but no words would come forth, only a series of grunts and groans. And as another convulsion ripped through my entire body, my mouth would clamp shut and my teeth would clench tightly.
It’s a bit of blessing that the Womb-Fruit isn’t prone to panic. Apart from being scared of anything that crawls, flies and has more than four legs, he’s pretty fearless. Calmly, he called my mother who suggested that I go to the hospital. This is when I became convinced that I must have been a man in a past life, because like most males when faced with a flesh eating, parasitic, plague carrying Ebola bug, I kept insisting that I was fine and that I would wait it out. After two days, my body was a contorted mess. The gap between convulsions had lessened somewhat but were instead replaced with tremors. I could sit up but walking was extremely difficult. Where before a trip to the bathroom would be a mere 2 seconds, it now took 10 minutes as my body stopped and started. I could talk but speech was also difficult. Each one had to be forced out, preceded by much stuttering and stammering and which left me physically worn out.
After three days, the tremors and convulsions stopped. My muscles ached with the vigorous workout that they had been given, but there were no more spasmodic contraction…well none apart from the one in my lower back. But a hot bath and a good night’s rest would soon sort that out, or so I thought. It Didn’t.
My back remained stiff and unyielding and even though I could now walk, the pain in my back would radiate down to my hips, which would then affect my legs.
My doctor was at a loss to what had caused it, so begun the endless rounds of hospitals and tests. MRIs showed nothing. Body scans revealed that I might have a very slight case of Lupus but that I definitely had the beginnings of osteoarthritis. And the blood tests showed the usual anaemia, high level THS (Thyroid stimulating hormone) and a low T4 level. Even Neurology where stumped for an answer, although they have seen the tremors in action.
Now six years on and I still don’t have a diagnosis as to the cause, but it’s more than likely that it’s just another symptom of Fibro.
I’ve learned to live with the condition and to accept that it will probably always be a part of my life.
Sometimes it could just be one leg or the upper half of my body. Other times it’s just a quick succession of jerky movements before ceasing altogether. Occasionally, it’s all over, although nowhere near as bad as that first experience.
I have discovered that it can be triggered by stress or when startled, but often then not, there is no reason, it just happens.
I’ve now learnt to recognise the onset of an attack, weak limbs being a vital clue. On those days I just stay in bed, because I’ve noticed that the less I move, the less vigorous the tremoring. But the most important thing that I’ve discerned? Not to carry a steaming hot cup of coffee up the stairs when an attack is in progress.