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I Have Fibromyalgia/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but it Doesn't Have Me!



“I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it.”—Maya Angelou

The author's daughter, age 3, wearing purple representing May 12th Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

 © 2020 Chantal K. Hoey-Sanders. All rights reserved. Photo credit. 

     My fibromyalgia / chronic fatigue syndrome journey began long before I ever knew it had started—most likely in my genetics. From a whisper— then as a hush— to a scream, where it finally snowballed out of control. 

   A horseback riding accident at the age of sixteen was the first fibromyalgia “lump” that I ever received in my right buttocks region.

     We always thought that the “lump” was just a sprained muscle that had resulted from the fall—which later lead, to chronic sciatic pain.


Finally, at age thirty-two I suffered a head trauma and my body completely “crashed.”


    I became bedridden on a futon mattress on our living room floor, because I was too fatigued to climb the stairs to get to our bedroom. I spent months there. Unable to care for myself, angry, and frustrated beyond belief.


     I had to take a leave of absence from my job. I couldn’t tolerate any sound or light. Insomnia, pain, fatigue, and brain fog ruled me.


     Nearly one year later, after many local doctor visits, tons of testing with negative results, and two trips to Mayo Clinic, I was finally officially diagnosed with having fibromyalgia by a local M.D. who specialized in acupuncture. 


    Suddenly, my life of three decades plus, three years, made sense to me.


     My migraines that started when I was six years old, irritable bowel symptoms, the mysterious stomach and leg pains that made me cry and kept me awake all night and out of school most of my third grade year, the throbbing and stabbing pain that I felt in my arms and legs after tennis practice in high school, and the crushing fatigue that seemed to filter through me throughout my entire lifetime making my body feel every fiber had been dredged through the mud.


    Newly diagnosed, I thirsted to read stories about others with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome. I wanted to hear their stories. I wanted to know them. I wanted to believe that I wouldn’t be bound to a wheelchair in two years, for the rest of my life. I wanted reassurance that I would one day become well—well enough to have my own children and care for them.


    Newly disabled, I needed to learn how to apply for disability and how to keep myself from feeling like such a failure. I needed to know what kept others going on a daily basis when they were living with such an invisible illness and in so much pain and completely fatigued.


     How did they interact with their families and the outside world? Could I find a way to get well that didn’t involve a medicine cabinet full of narcotics and other pills to bandage my individual symptoms? Was there truly hope for me?


    Those are the stories that I longed for. But, few existed. So, here is my story of hope and personal empowerment—how I have been able to turn my fibromyalgia struggle into my source of strength. And, you can, too!









©2023 Chantal K.Hoey-Sanders. All rights reserved. 

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