By Laura Jones

It all began around the age of six. I had scarlet fever at this time, which had me down for quite a while. After this tough bout of illness, I remember having headaches very often, even up until now. It wasn’t normal to be such a young child dealing with constant joint pain and pounding headaches while trying to finish an art project in elementary school. What was a child to do? Simply deal with it. I didn’t know any better.

My response was to suffer in silence.

Many symptoms I experienced were constipation, nausea, tension headaches, restless legs, shoulder aches, and difficulty sleeping. My parents described me as highly strung, and anxious. They were right, although pain causes anxiety.

Moving forward to adolescence, things only continued to get worse. I made several trips to the nurse just to lay down with a heating pad because my headaches got so bad. About this time my muscles in my upper shoulders and neck began to cause much strife. I had always been an active child, was great in gymnastics, and soccer. I also played some basketball in middle school. As much torment experience from within, nothing stopped me from being athletic.

My high school years sucked. Not only did I deal with painful periods, but also daily bouts of nerve pain, especially in my sciatic nerve from my lower back, buttocks and thighs, and migraines and tension headaches that began around the neck up the temple area into the eyes. My focus in school was nowhere it should have been. I also began to feel depressed and unmotivated.

Between the ages of 17 and 18, I graduated. I was in a stressful relationship with a guy who was very depressed and troubled. My symptoms worsened into having gastrointestinal problems and PCOS. In short, I have colonoscopies … stated I had inflammation and possible IBS. I also had an endoscopy because my throat would close up especially while eating and would choke.

One time I was alone at Whataburger and took one tiny bite of the bun and it wouldn’t go down. My esophagus squeezed it hard and I nearly ask for medical help. Such odd things happen that year. I also visited a Rheumatologist and he diagnosed me finally with fibromyalgia as well as having major depression. I was angry and confused at this time, not helping my diagnosis.

Was this it? Misery for the rest of my life with no clear answers?! The doctor offered Lyrica and Cymbalta which I refused to try. I also had an awful allergic reaction to Reglan, which caused aggressive mental disturbances. I was only on birth control for my cysts and hormonal imbalance, which hardly helped my acne and headaches.

So now, here I am 21 years old. I make myself exercise and eat fairly well. I have kept a good focus on myself and my limits. I just began taking Gabapentin for nerve pain twice a day that has helped and kept my anxiety dialed down to a normal person speed. I tried a migraine pill that has not helped, so I continue to take ibuprofen when needed. I also have muscle relaxants that I take before bed. My depression has left me, although I do have my moments of emotional outbursts just because it’s so frustrating and hard at times.

But, now I can say I am in the best shape I have ever been. I have hopes for a better future and know I am not alone, although at times it seems so.

Thank you NFA for sharing my story.