courtesy Leah Jamison

Leah Jamison works for Student Media as Editor-in-Chief of Bod Magazine. Your latest edition is available free of charge at kiosks across campus.

Hi, I’m Leah and my life is kind of crazy. Seriously, the running gag in my life is that I’m an old lady who keeps falling apart. You name a pain or pain and I probably experience it.

Let me get up again I’ve been dealing with chronic pain for a while. I’ve had severe migraines since high school and maybe even middle school as well as other unexplained aches and pains that I’ve always wiped off as normal.

I hit my bottom in December 2019. I was exhausted, depressed, and in the worst physical pain I have ever had. I was tired of hurting all the time and having no explanation for it.

Doctors would run tests just to get them back to normal. They told me I was healthy, but I didn’t feel well. In January 2020, I finally decided to find out what was wrong with me. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in February 2020.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood problems. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain and spinal cord process painful and non-painful signals. “

The process of how I was diagnosed is a topic I will save for another week of this column as it is different from other diseases.

The symptoms I experience include migraines, neck pain, back pain, nerve pain, sciatic pain, fatigue, numbness and tingling, joint pain and pain. This is not an exhaustive list, but these symptoms seem to be the ones I experience the most.

I am in pain every day. In fact, I can only remember one really “pain-free” day in recent years. It was a strangely normal day and by the end I realized that for once my body wasn’t hurting. This glorious day was short-lived, however, because the next day I was back in my normal, aching self.

That doesn’t mean I can’t have good days. There are days when I notice that I am in less pain than usual and I am grateful for that, but there are also very bad days when I can only lie in bed and hope that the pain will go away.

I’ve tried pretty much every pain management tool out there. Physical therapy? I’ve done it several times. The chiropractor? I go about once a month. Ibuprofen and Tylenol? I have probably taken an unhealthy amount for my age and it usually has no effect. The list goes on and on. From pain patches to CBD to prescription drugs, I’ve tried everything. At my low point in December 2019, I even bought a massage gun for $ 400. That’s how desperate I was to feel better.

In April 2020, I even went to Rochester, Minnesota to be examined by doctors at the Mayo Clinic because I feared I had a tumor. I came back a week later with insurance that I had no tumor and $ 13,328 in medical bills – all with good insurance.

The point of this weekly column is not to make you feel guilty. I hope that sharing my experiences will help others in a similar situation and remove the stigma around invisible and chronic diseases.

It’s now been about a year and a half since I actively battled fibromyalgia. Each week I will focus on a specific part of my experience. Topics I’ll cover include prescription drugs and their associated side effects, health insurance and costs, pain management, physical therapy, CBD, working with a nutritionist, and more.

If I can give one single piece of advice, I would tell you that chronic pain is NOT normal. I told myself that the pain I had been in had been normal for years and, looking back, I wished I had diagnosed sooner. If you have chronic pain, please don’t brush it off like I do.

I hope you will follow this weekly column as I share my experience and take you on my health journey.