Guest post by Ashlea sharing her experience of fibromyalgia.
I’m always someone who has just got on, no matter what’s going on in my life and having been a mum for 8 years, I’ve got used to not really having a lot of time to wind down or take it easy. So when I became pregnant with Jasmine my second baby it was hard to admit I was struggling, and I struggled big time. I ended up on crutches from 26 weeks and put it down to the SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) diagnosis the consultant and physiotherapist had given me. Labour was also the most painful experience I’ve ever had in my life and I found both the pregnancy and labour slightly traumatic. Life with 2 babies was always going to be hard, but I continuously experienced pain in my back and hips whenever I did anything too strenuous, but again I carried on with life day to day as I had 2 children to look after.
Fast forward to life after my third baby and again I was suffering, but on a whole new level. I felt exhausted all of the time, but not your ordinary ‘I’m tired‘. I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I’d get to a point in my day where I would feel like I couldn’t physically move my feet anymore. And the pain, I was experiencing pain all over my body after doing the littlest of jobs. I’d be making the kids’ tea and my legs and feet would feel like id done a marathon the day previous. My back would be so stiff and painful that I couldn’t even stand up straight. To say the days in pain were starting to take its toll is an understatement.
I went back and forth to doctors. I had blood tests, physiotherapy, the works and when they eventually diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, I felt devastated. Devastated that at 28 I had this long-term chronic condition that neither I nor the doctors knew a great deal about, which is probably the most frustrating thing about it, they don’t know why any of it happens and because it’s not visible, nor can anyone else.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness over much of the body. There are a range of symptoms and the ones I suffer with are widespread; pain, stiffness, chronic fatigue, headaches, extreme tiredness, fibro fog [problems with memory and concentration] anxiety and depression.
The exact cause is unknown, but can be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event which makes me wonder, do I have Jasmine’s pregnancy and birth to thank for it?
I think the hardest thing about being a mum with fibromyalgia is the constant battle of feeling that I’m a useless mum, it devastates me that getting them to school, making them food, bathing them, all the day to day activities you do when you have children are a struggle, its horrible and emotionally exhausting hiding exactly how much pain I’m in so I don’t worry them. I do tell them though, that mummy has a condition which makes things a bit more difficult and I think they understand that to a degree. The mum guilt is also a biggie, when they ask me what we are doing on the weekends for example and I have to decide whether to let them down or exhaust myself even further. I don’t think they’d understand me if I said mummy has the flu but without actually having the flu. I thankfully have an amazing husband who gets it, which I’ve learnt whilst having this kind of thing not many people do.
I’m still adjusting to my life as a mum with a chronic illness and I’m definitely dealing with some extra challenges, but everything I do is for them and just because I have fibromyalgia, it doesn’t stop me continuing to be the best mum I can, it’s just that little bit harder and more exhausting. I’ll always have days worse than others and some days I feel pretty defeated. For sure it wins some battles, but I won’t let it win the war, after all, my ability to love my children is something that fibromyalgia can’t ever take away.
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