Where it all started.
During the summer of 2016, I was enjoying my career as a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor in group practice, and embarking on a new career as a therapist in a Christian Children’s Home & Family Ministry. I spent a lot of time with family, I was investing in friendships, and I was serving at my church. Life was good.
On July 25, 2016, I reported for jury duty. I had no idea how significantly this would change my life. As the days wore on, a previous back injury, sustained when we were rear-ended by a young woman texting while driving, became exceedingly aggravated. Toward the end of the week, I had to wear my TENS Unit to get through each day.
With jury duty behind me, I expected to get back to life as usual. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. Rather than improving, the pain in my back continued to escalate. Over the next few months, I had to keep cutting my hours until it reached the point that I was no longer working at all.
Not only was I having to face the fact that I could not work, I was also having to come to grips with the fact that I could not move. Just getting from my bed to the master bathroom was a monumental undertaking. If I happened to make it from the bed, down to the sofa – which often required crawling – there I would remain until it was time to go back up to bed.
Leaving the house to go to numerous doctor’s appointments for examinations, tests, and [ineffective] procedures, required a wheelchair. Other than those appointments, I was home-bound. Bed-bound. I was absent from my life.
Finally, spine surgery was scheduled for January, 2017. As frightening as it was to think of surgeons operating on my back and spine, I was anxious for relief. I could not wait for the day to come when I could walk again. I could not wait to be off pain medication. I could not wait to rejoin my life.
Once again, things did not go the way I expected. Yes, eventually, over time, I was able to stand up a little straighter than a question mark. I could walk, gingerly. I could stand, briefly. I could sit, sparingly. But there was still pain. There was also new pain and different sensations, or the loss thereof. And, there was the fibromyalgia flare.
I have struggled with fibromyalgia, and all that comes with it, for as long as I can remember. It was not until after my back surgery, and the fourth and fifth specialists giving the same diagnosis, that I finally accepted that fibromyalgia was real, and I had it. Not only that, but the surgery threw me into a flare that had become my new normal.
My new normal still required strong pain medication. It demanded hours and hours of sleep. So much sleep, that I slept through our 25th wedding anniversary. Literally, the entire day and night. Additionally, it prolonged the seemingly endless isolation. The loneliness, pain, exhaustion, and medication, were ushering me into a dark place. What I did not yet know, was this was just the beginning of one of the most difficult seasons in my life, and the lives of my loved ones.