Georgina Harvey is 28 years old and did not spend a single day completely free of the pain of fibromyalgia. Here is your testimony.
When was the last time you felt pain?
Whatever it is, – a headache, a shoulder contracture, kidney stones or a slap in the toe – chances are you’ve recovered.
But imagine how you should panic every day, knowing that this inconvenience will certainly not disappear.
This is life for people with chronic pain. Many are frustrated because their symptoms seem to be invisible in the eyes of others and often people do not understand and underestimate them. September is the international month of pain awareness and to better understand how to cope with this condition constantly, the BBC invited three Georgina Harvey, a 28-year-old Englishwoman with fibromyalgia, to give her testimony.
“It’s as if all nerve endings have been burned.”
“One morning in July 2016, I woke up as usual, but when I tried to move, I felt a very intense pain in my body.
It’s as if all the nerve endings had burned and I could just scream.
The smile on the pictures does not show the pain that Georgina Harvey suffered every day for four years.
My mother came running to my room, took me to the side and stayed with me until the sensation disappeared. We knew we had an outbreak of fibromyalgia, but it was the worst I’ve had since I was diagnosed two years ago.
My problem began with the need to stretch my neck at age 19, shortly after I recovered from meningitis.
Then she grew in a penetrating sensation of tingling in the shoulders and a deep pain in the back.
I thought it was because of poor posture, but by the time I turned 21, the pain was almost constant.
I did X-rays, blood tests, and MRI scans, but nothing was seen.
They gave me strong painkillers and the doctor increased the dose or typed each time the pain became unbearable.
I described the discomfort as the worst stomachache you can imagine, but then back, combined with an intense chest pressure, as if it were bursting in my ribs.
When morphine was the only alternative I had to deal with, they gave me medical leave and I was referring to a rheumatologist, which led to my diagnosis.
“The impact was everything: work, exercise, social life,” says Georgina.
He explained what fibromyalgia is: chronic pain due to a central nervous system disorder, but said there is no specific treatment or cure, only ways to solve the problem.
For years, I tried to do the things I suggested: pills, yoga, swimming, physiotherapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, but nothing calmed the pain.
Although it was a relief to finally have a diagnosis of what happened to me, which destroyed me thinking that this would be something that I should live with.
“It affects everything”
Today the pain spread to my hips and feet, and I also developed stomach problems.
Daily activities like talking on the phone, wearing a bra or just sitting in a chair can be triggers for an outbreak of pain, and taking a shower can be exhausting.
The pain gives Georgina a sense of mental weight that prevents her from thinking clearly.
I never rested because fibromyalgia affects me to sleep and fog is generated in the brain, a feeling of mental weight that makes me think clearly when I am in a lot of pain.
I’ve always been a bit shy, but now it’s even harder to hold a conversation. In general, I think I’ve become a frightened person because I’m always ahead.
The impact was everything: work, exercise, social life. The recommendation they make to me is “continue,” but if I have a bad episode, I can not do anything, so it’s a vicious circle.
When I make plans, I have to think about whether I’m going to have to stand or sit and how long I have to leave the house.
Most of the time, if I can, I have a hard time getting on with the plan because I do not want the pain to stop me or my friends from thinking I’m apologizing.
But often I have to move to an isolated place, usually a bathroom, when the exhaustion and pain are very strong.
– Manage pain –
There are things that can make me feel better, like a bottle of warm water or a soft blanket, I’m really obsessed with things that generate well-being or have a nice touch because my body is very sensitive.
I also like to walk, but I have to do it at my own pace. It helps me to prevent outbreaks and always improves my mood.
Sometimes a bottle of hot water helps.
Last year, I left my London job with event marketing to avoid the 90-minute tour, and it made a difference to my well-being.
Although I never have a completely painless day, some are more manageable than others. I always remember that there are people who suffer much more than I do. My family encourages me too. I live with my parents and they give me a lot of emotional support.
My friend also does everything he can to help me, but I feel guilty if my condition influences our relationship. Recently, after a romantic dinner, we walked towards the car, but it was cold on the road and the earthquake almost made me fall to the ground.
For me, it is important to reveal information about how to live with chronic pain, because when I say I have fibromyalgia, nobody has heard of the problem and, because it is “invisible”, unfortunately there is a lot of stigma. People underestimate me and several bosses told me they did not understand.
Anyway, I understand: I’m kidding. I do not limp when I walk and put smiley pictures on Instagram. But these pictures do not show that I was among the strongest analgesics I have, nor that when I get home I start to cry.
I do not want my condition to determine who I am. Yes, it is part of me, but I am determined not to let it control me.