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How Fibromyalgia Changed Me

Why Me?

A follow-up post to the original - Here.

My disclaimer for all the things below is this: I am not perfect. This is meant to show a before/after comparison but not to say that I have anything figured out.

Second disclaimer: This post is going to sound completely loco to some of you. That's ok. You might completely get what I'm saying, you might understand parts but not others, or you might not agree with anything I say! You're welcome to pass on reading this, of course, but if you do choose to read it, understand that I'm coming from the perspective of being a believer in Jesus and also that this is a retrospective on something major that happened years ago. Time so often gives you a perspective that you don't have at the beginning. Also please know that it took a lot of working myself up to write this because I'm a very private person and tend to not share this type of thing publicly, so please be gentle with your responses. =)

1. Empathy.
This is something I just didn't have much of before. I tended to think (or act on the assumption) that most people who had chronic pain could probably just live a healthier lifestyle and that would solve the problem. I didn't show pity. I didn't love people the way I'm called to (as a Christian, I mean).

2. Trust.
I would say before fibro, I would have said I trusted God to provide for/take care of me, but I certainly hadn't really had that tested significantly. In other words, I was (almost) all talk. My anxiety controlled me during those initial months -- almost a year, actually -- of fibromyalgia. As I mentioned in my first blog about fibro, I trusted myself, the health knowledge found online, my doctors, and as each one of those things failed me, I was left at the end of my rope with nothing left to trust except God. Sure, it shouldn't have taken that experience for me to learn trust. But guys, I'm stubborn.

3. Dependence.
This goes hand-in-hand with trust, but I would have described myself as very independent before. The initial flare of fibromyalgia pain in addition to the other health issues I had at the same time literally put me out of commission. I could barely function for months. I was forced into letting Jeremy help me and take care of a lot of things without my input or help. I was also forced to face my own inadequacies... I couldn't do everything. I couldn't even really breathe well. I couldn't sing in church. I couldn't stay outside for long periods of time because of the heat and pollen. I couldn't even get out of bed some days. Before, my mantra would have been "I got this." Well, the reality was I didn't "got this" at all.

4. Gratitude.
Really, Laura? You learned to be thankful through this fibromyalgia business? Yep. Oh, not at first. At first I was livid. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? And in the time period of trying to get a diagnosis, with my anxiety running wild and causing all kinds of horrible physical side effects, I was absolutely terrified that I was dying of some hidden thing that the doctors were just not finding. I was at my doctor's office very frequently with new or changing symptoms. I had tests and scans for just about everything you can imagine: from colonoscopies and MRIs to blood tests and even an EKG, and everything came out normal. No, I was not thankful at all until much later. This could be a whole blog post in itself, but it will suffice to say that I am so thankful for health, for a loving and wise spouse, for doctors and medicine, but also for the fact that it took so long to find out some answers. During that time, God was stripping away all the things I held in regard above Him and showing me my life was being built on sand instead of the Rock (the analogy is that of the wise man who builds his house on rock vs. the fool who builds it on sand -- things that will not stand when the difficulties of life come your way). So yes, I'm thankful that my hope is built on a much better surface now. And I'm thankful that God met my needs but also that He strengthened my faith.

*I realize I may have lost some of you at this point...but think of it this way. If you were baking a cake and you were putting in all the wrong ingredients, would you prefer to figure that out in the ingredient-adding phase or after the cake has baked? What I'm saying is that I was selfish and not very compassionate, and I got to realize that before "the cake was baked," so to speak.

There are probably more things, but those stand out to me. I remember one day when I was overwhelmed with anxiety and just feeling sick. And I was angry with God. I remember being really afraid that He was trying to use me as an example. Don't you hate when the teacher uses you as an example? Same idea. I was sitting with Jeremy, crying, and saying what if God is doing this to use me as an example of something to others?  Like, what if I'm sick forever so that He can use me for some purpose? And the very wise Jeremy said, "What if He is? Are you ok with that?" I responded oh so sweetly (NOT), "Do I LOOK ok with that?" I laugh now thinking about that. Because He did use me. I can't even think of how many people I've talked to about suffering, health struggles, trust, etc, and actually had something relevant (and perhaps even helpful) to say. So yeah, I'd say God used my situation for a bigger purpose. And yes, I'm ok with that. 


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