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Personal Stories

Joyce’s story

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1995, but my pain goes back much further than that.

In the early 1970's I took a hard fall on the ice.  Soon afterwards I started having cluster headaches three to five days a week that continued for about fifteen years.

It seems like I have always had an ache somewhere, but as I got older I ached more and got stiffer.  It was an effort to get up in the morning.  Everyone said it was just arthritis. We bought a waterbed and that seemed to help for a while. The warmth was great.

In1991, I found a massage therapist who specialized in deep muscle massage.  He was able to improve my range of motion.  After three years of therapy (at $400 a month) I quit because I could no longer afford it. This therapist did teach me how to help relieve my pain by placing a hard rubber ball in the area that was hurting and allow the weight of my body to rest against it for maybe thirty seconds, then release and repeat.  I can make most of my muscle spasms go away by using this method.

Between 1991 and 1993 we experienced a lot of stress in our family.  My mother-in-law had an aneurysm and nearly died, and at the same time my niece was battling Hodgkin (died 2-92).  Also, my mom had a spell with her heart and my husband had to have angioplasty twice.  Here I was, fifty-five, with three people depending on me to care for them.  My body hurt so badly I wanted to cry if someone just touched me.

In the spring of '92 I started going to an arthritis doctor.  My pain had become unbearable.  I tried several types of arthritis medicines, but nothing helped very much.  I had lots of side effects, with the worst being a constant ache in my stomach.  I was also having bouts with sinus and urinary tract infections about every three months.

I came across an article on Fibromyalgia in a magazine.  It sounded just like I felt, so I took the article to the arthritis doctor and asked her about it.  She smiled and said, "I’ve been thinking that is what you might have."  From then on I have been treated for Fibromyalgia.

The years of medicine have taken their toll.  I have a very sensitive stomach and I have gradually gained about 60 pounds.

I started to go to our Fibromyalgia support group in Rapid City in January of 1996.  I have gone nearly every month.  I also subscribed to a Fibromyalgia newsletter.  I have learned so much about why I feel the way I do -- the ringing in the ears, the itchy eyes, the bouts with diarrhea and constipation, and the constant sinus and urinary tract infections and sore throats.

In the spring of 1996 I told my arthritis doctor I wanted to quit the prescription drugs and go on a regiment of herbs and vitamins. 

I began taking a regiment of herbs in June of 1996.  I no longer have sinus infections or urinary tract infections.  My dry eyes are not nearly as bad.  I went from ointment every morning to a couple times a month.  My irritable bowel is at a minimum.  I still have the ringing in my ears and an occasional sore throat, but everything is so much better.

All this doesn't mean I don't have pain.  I still have bad days, like when a storm front comes through, but most days are tolerable.

One of the most difficult things I have to deal with is not being able to do things I used to do, such as carpentry and furniture upholstery.  When I had a building project, I just did it myself.  Now I must wait for someone to help me.  It is hard to take.

I participated in the seven-week Fibromyalgia Self-Help Course that has been offered by our support group. This course helped me accept the fact I will never be the person I once was.  With that knowledge and my faith, I will handle this condition.  God promised me that I would never have to endure more than I could handle.  Sometimes I have doubts, but then I pray for strength and I always come through.

Joyce Jobgen

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