I just finished my Population Health course on Friday and it was a whirlwind 5 weeks. I had a great clinical experience giving flu vaccines, doing blood draws, and attending a huge health fair. It was great! The class itself—not so great and I’m glad it’s over.

We take no breaks and dive right into Peds this week. I’ve been anxious about starting this class bc sick and hurt kids really pull hard on my heart but I’ve tried to let those fears go and embrace this experience.

In other, more personal news, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few weeks ago. This was a long time coming. And honestly, a huge relief. I now have an explanation for several, terrible symptoms and pains and it all makes more sense. However, explaining this diagnosis to others is hard so I am going to attempt to do that here.

When I was 15, the stomach pains began. I’d get terrible stomach aches and my mom would take me to the doctor and they would say it was probably IBS-C but that official diagnosis did not come until 2011 when I was 27. Yes, it took 12 years for me to get that and a GERD diagnosis which included very little help from my GI doctor and tons of trial and error from me. I tried gluten free diets a few times for several months. I have eliminated dairy almost completely. I have done several food diaries and discovered my triggers and do my best to avoid them.

Then, 5 years ago I became pregnant with my daughter. During the first trimester I started to get migraines. I had never had migraines before so I assumed it was a hormonal thing and, I’m sure it was a huge part of it. When I was starting my 3rd trimester, I began to have the absolute worst pelvic, low back and hip pain ever. I was doubled over in pain, crying hysterically and missing work because moving and walking was that painful. I was referred to PT where I learned I had pubic symphysis disorder (PSD). This is not entirely uncommon in pregnancy especially since I carried both my babies very low.

Over the last year, I have had a huge increase in frequency and intensity of migraines (with and without auras) horrible IBS flare-ups (three ER visits in 2 weeks) insomnia, fatigue (mind and muscle), painful joints and muscles (feels like the flu), anxiety (since I was 19 years old), heart palpitations (PVCs—nothing bad), and depression… For awhile there, I assumed this was from the stress of nursing school and honestly, that’s a huge trigger, but the intensity and onset of all this was really starting to upset my lifestyle. I was missing work, sleeping as much as I could during the day bc I literally had no energy for anything, and feeling a huge lack of motivation to do school work bc of all the above. Despite all this, I never missed a deadline and I made it to every clinical (except when sick in August) and continued to bust my ass in class to do well.

In May, I brought up fibromyalgia to my doctor and he suspected not since I am in nursing school. He wanted to wait until I was done to diagnosis me. I got a second opinion over the last 2 months and together we did finally agree that I do in fact have fibromyalgia. I have been in counseling, seeing OT, doing yoga, stretching, and deep breathing when I can. It’s a long ass road before I have any type of control over this and for some, this is hard to understand. But it’s just the way this is. I have joined a few support groups online and I’m learning other ways to cope and deal. I’m on a couple meds to help, including a magnesium supplement which has helped a ton but still, not a cure. There is NO CURE for fibromyalgia. It’s management and trial and error and every person with fibro has different variations of what I have. But all theses puzzle pieces of symptoms fit together and this is what I have. Like I said, it’s a relief. But I’m still 7 months out form graduating and getting through the day sometimes is hard. Balancing activities and learning how to not over do it is a huge work in progress.

I’d love to hear from others who deal with this condition. It is REAL. This is real pain I and many others deal with (5 million in the US). Just because someone can’t see my pain, doesn’t make it any less real. Thanks for reading. 💜