When you’ve so many diagnoses, every visit to a doctor holds a sense of intrigue as to what they might discover. At last count it was 7 separate diagnoses but, drum roll please, I’ve gone from the magnificent seven to the enormous eight! It’s quite small in comparison to some of the others but it’s bloody painful.
I visited the GP yesterday for my post-Christmas debrief. I’ve said it many times but I got lucky with my GP, he has a keen interest in fibro and he has spent more time than he must getting to know me as a person as well over the last few years. He can read me from the moment he sees me in the waiting room and knows whether it is pain and/or fatigue and/or depression that is troubling me most at that time. They’re all always there but the severity of their impact can fluctuate.
Yesterday was a routine appointment; he wanted to see how Christmas and New Year had gone, how they had affected me and how I’m feeling now. We had a great chat and I took him through the highlights, or more correctly lowlights, of my experiences over the holidays.
I’ve learned over the past two years to recognise some of the pains that come with my fibro. I constantly think that my shoulders and hips are disintegrating with the pain and EVERY other joint, big or small, has had many painful episodes. So when he asked me what areas were particularly painful, he wasn’t expecting a short response.
I began by talking about the pain in my hips and shoulders, as well as my thumbs and wrists. A quick examination followed and we decided it was ‘normal’ fibro pain, whatever the hell normal is. For example, I’m talking here about crippling, stomach churning pain that can confine you to bed at times but that can still be described as normal fibro pain that we must live with. I then told him about a pain that has become progressively more painful and debilitating over the last 4-6 weeks.
It all started with a sharp pain behind my eyes which led to severe migraines. These symptoms in themselves aren’t new and I’ve learned how to ride them out over the last few months. The pain persisted and was joined by around my left eye socket and where my jawbones meet close to my ear. The GP knew exactly what I was describing and quick as a flash, Fibrofella had a new name to get used to.
Its’ correct and full name is Temperomandibular Joint Disorder but TMJD is shorter and easier to remember. He said it’s not uncommon for people with fibro or sleep apnoea to suffer with it, so when I’ve both of these I should have expected it. I rang my Doctor in the Sleep Disorders Clinic to see if they had seen it around the time of my sleep studies.
Her P.A. got back to me very quickly after they had discussed it together. Apparently they don’t check for teeth grinding or anything that may cause TMJD during the sleep study because it is pretty much there for everyone anyway. They said they would’ve told me about it at the time but, with the four other sleep disorders they were telling me about, it was understandable that the TMJD wouldn’t have been high on my priority list.
Well that’s all changed now because the pain it has brought on allowed it to skip to the front of the queue. Talking, eating, yawning, sneezing, everything inflames the joint and the pain is horrible. Coming from someone who has endured the nickname of sick-note while playing football and has fibro, I think I qualify as a bit of an expert on pain and so, if I tell you how painful it is, I think you can take my word for it. With fibro we all learn to live with a fairly high degree of pain every day and at times it flares but it is ever present.
So there we go. I’ve now got 8 diagnoses, it’s not the worst but it’s another concern. At times like this I’m glad I write this blog and don’t video blog because I can’t talk at the moment the pain is so bad. It’s very common and I’m sure it will just blend in with all the other symptoms in time. Sure what’s another one at this stage? It had been a while since my last diagnosis so I must’ve been due for one!
P.S.: I wrote this piece last week but I’m only getting to publishing it now thanks to the unpredictable nature of fibro and its symptoms. Last Saturday night I came down with a horrible vomiting bug and, because I was very sore and tired at the time, it just wiped me out for a few days. Why do we, fibro folk, always get an extra kick when we’re already down?!!