My Story: Can This Much Happen To One Person
by Monica Radtke
I’m 45 years old and live in Minnesota. I’ve had a lot of surgeries. But I’m writing this today because of Fibromyalgia.
Let me say a couple of things first. I am very fortunate to have a caring boyfriend of 25+ years who has tolerated everything I’ve been through. He has suffered from Epstein Barr Virus/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since 2001–so we’ve both through some tough times. I work for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and am fortunate that they have tolerated my medical issues for the four years I’ve worked there.
How did this start?
In May 2004 I was unemployed. I bent over to pick something up off the floor. Then, it was a bolt of lightning ran through my body literally from to toe. I had herniated a disc somewhere in my back, but because I was unemployed and thus, uninsured, I had to live with it. Several months later, now working and insured, I went to see my doctor. I hadn’t herniated one disc–but two.
In addition, my doctor wanted me to see a Physiatrist–and mentioned something about fibromyalgia—not a diagnosis, just a mention.
After the discs were repaired (one of ten surgeries I’ve had since 1999), I went to the Physiatrist–who denied giving me a fibromyalgia diagnosis. I changed doctors and saw a Rheumatologist for Vitamin D deficiency. Finally in 2007, I was diagnosed. (Remember my boy friend was trying to address his Epstein Barr/Chronic Fatigue issue as well)
I used to be very organized, have a great memory and be in control of everything. Now, that’s all changed. I can’t remember anything if I haven’t written it down and have lost control of my entire. I have read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. It describes what I go through every day. It feels like my muscles just stop–I can’t push my body. Then my brain shuts down. I’ve fallen asleep at work, and while eating and almost while driving.
Like many who suffer from it, I have read many books on Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other similar conditions. I explain Fibromyalgia to people as the continual firing of nerves within my muscles. My muscles just don’t relax. I sleep with an electric blanket in order to calm my joints and muscles. It used to take me hours to fall asleep and I’d still wake up exhausted. I wasn’t getting what doctors call “restorative sleep”.
I can’t give up–I’m not wired that way. I work full time, am my boyfriend’s caregiver and try to be healthy. Every day I hit the floor running (so to speak). I conserve energy so I can make it through the day. Sometimes, I just can’t ration the energy to last for the entire day.
I try to not let it define me. Medications help (although I have to change them every 8 months or so because they stop having the desired effect).
When I go to bed every night, I have a motto–“Here’s hoping for a pain-free tomorrow.”
When people ask me what I’ve learned, here’s what I say.
- Everything Happens for a Reason–good or bad
- I am a machine–with metal in my neck, low back and foot.
- I hold things together because I don’t like showing I’m hurting or sick
It works for me. I wish I didn’t have to go through this. But if I do, I’ll do the best I can.