Fibromyalgia: My Health Journey

Recently I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a multi system chronic condition that is characterised by chronic widespread pain, extreme fatigue, brain fog, digestive complaints and depression. For a sufferer of Fibromyalgia, stress is a major driving force in exasperating symptoms. It is a lifelong condition (there is no cure) but with a range of therapeutic care, symptoms can be managed and even improved. It sounds like a lot, and it is. It has felt like I’d stumbled into a dimly lit tunnel filled with physical and psychological challenges coupled with medical puzzles that needed a large brains trust to solve. I’ve been in this tunnel a long time, but have now stepped into some sunlight. Rather than being completely devastated by this diagnosis, I felt a huge sense of relief, validation and overwhelming gratitude. For my persistent struggle with extreme fatigue, insomnia, digestive complaints, low moods and pain have for the past 7 years made me question my sanity, and doubt my capabil

Losing my sister.

Where do I even begin? It has been seven weeks since my sister Esther died. It was just over a year ago when she found out she had bowel cancer. Since her shock diagnosis, it has been an emotionally intense year of watching and supporting her through the brutal demands of battling stage 4 cancer. I’ll never forget the night when she rang to tell me her news; it’s impact so visceral it changed how I looked at life and my relationship with her. I couldn’t help but think this kind of news can change the course of a families life and it was at that point I resolved to treasure and make the most of whatever time I was gifted with her.

As I pen these words I weep; the grief is raw and deep and the recent memories painful. However, I want to write, I need to write. I have had essays cooped up inside of me all year, pushed down deep, mindful of not wanting to insert myself into a story not my own. For in many ways it was her story, her journey, her battle. I was just her sister; a close friend. I journeyed alongside, listening and encouraging her when the path of suffering was hard and scary, but it was not happening to me personally. What was and is personal to me is how I felt and feel as a woman, who has been in a supporting role and who has now lost her sister and friend.

Even now, I struggle to wrap my head around the fact that she is no longer here… no longer on planet earth. She, who had been an integral part of my life for 40 years is no longer a phone call away. Everyday my phone shows me photo memories, and her face is present in so many. We shared so much life together and it hurts to think of life moving forward without her in the memories to come. It would usually be right about now that we would be planning for family Christmas gatherings. A sister date would be in order and we would be discussing family dynamics, menu ideas, gifts and all the complexities of this time of year. This Christmas is hard. The usual glow and wonder is dimmed. All of life at the moment feels like it’s lost its colour, blurred and muted through a tear filled lens.

Everything about this experience has challenged and changed my thinking. The things I took for granted, the unspoken, subconscious thoughts I imagined about the future. The things I worried about and gave so much of my emotional energy and time to. The things I thought about God, about his purposes and his promises; how I read and understood the bible. Esther was a woman of Christian faith, and she had a special and particular journey of going deeper with God. I too am a woman of faith, and I too have been on a journey, wrestling long and hard with the confronting reality that we live in a temporary and broken world full of suffering and hardship. Yet we have a loving God who cares for us deeply, whose plans and ways are good, merciful and kind, and who can be trusted for our future.

I take great comfort in the fact that Esther is now in the loving arms of Jesus. Eternal life with God; completely healed and free from suffering and pain. My brother said to me, “Our saddest day, was her greatest day.” I believe that to be true. It says in Psalm 139, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful I know that full well… all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts God. How vast the sum of them. ”

Her story in this life is over. God knew exactly how long her life story would be. He was the author and he was lovingly in control. Her death was not a surprise to him. While I don’t understand fully his ways, I trust God completely, for his ways and thoughts are higher than my own. While I mourn her passing, and hate how painful this is, my story is not yet over, and so I want to continue sharing the things that God has been teaching me throughout this past year, and the things he is yet to teach me as I continue to do life here and now.

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