Christina Ruotolo

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First let me tell you what Fibromyalgia and IBS are so that you will understand how it affects a person mentally, physically and emotionally. Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic, wide-spread pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Everything hurts. It feels like you have the flu all the time. Your back hurts, muscles tender to the touch and you have trouble doing many tasks that healthy people can do with no problems. This consists of running, exercising, opening jars, sitting for long periods of time and even sleeping. You feel tired all the time. It feels as if I have always just finished running a marathon. I feel exhausted all the time. A lot of women go years living with this pain before they get diagnosed with the condition because Fibromyalgia can mimic many other conditions like insomnia, the flu, stress, etc, so many women just dealt with the pain for years just thinking it was all in their head. I was 32 when I was first diagnosed with the condition. I had spent 1/3 of my life with issues that many doctors just called stress. I knew deep down it was more that that and I was determined to get answers.

Next I'll tell you about IBS, otherwise called Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It's described as a chronic gastrointestinal disorder of unknown cause. It causes gas, bloating, cramps and diarrhea.
My mom used to call it a nervous stomach. It always happened when you didn't want it to. I would get those jarring stomach cramps minutes before I was to take a math test or was getting ready to go on a date or after I ate a large meal. My stomach started to hurt all the time. It was embarrassing and uncontrollable at times. It got so bad that I only drove certain routes home so that I would pass the most amount of bathrooms before I got home. I would even post-pone trips because of my stomach and there was no way I would ever car-pool, that was out of the question. I learned over time what things I could eat and found out at 16 that I was also lactose intolerant, meaning that I could not digest milk and other dairy products. This began my addiction to Imodium, a tiny, pale, green pill. It became my best friend and without it, I was chained to my toilet. In a way, Imodium help set me free to live life.

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