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Untitled 11 By: Candace Grande

Where to begin my story? From the beginning I suppose!

When I was very young, I always remembered being sick. I got sick all the time and it seemed to last longer than  everyone else’s! But I was young I didn’t get it- just missed a lot of school.

I played soccer, track, and cheerleading since I was about 6 years old and played up into high school (will get into that shortly). I loved sports and was a bit of “tom-boy” but I didn’t care. I loved life and was fully supported by my parents to keep playing if that was I was wanted.

At the age of 12, I started getting tired more often and started getting hurt, the age of 13 is when I truly believe my, now diagnosis of Fibromyalgia began. I saw a rheumatologist and got a million tests done. The results were inconclusive. No one could explain what was happening to me and to be quite honest I didn’t care. Sure, I was exhausted and slept 24/7 but hey, I still had my sports!

I continued to play but over time, I was more tired and would just be sore my joints would hurt more so often. By the time I reached my sophomore year of high school, I had 3 knee surgeries, foot surgery, a broken nose, and the works! I was able to fight it off for the most part until the following year. My junior year of high school was my BEST and little did I know, my LAST year of playing sports. I was supposed to run in college and live my dream, however, it didn’t quite work out that way.

I remember it like it was yesterday; it was the last track meet of the season, and my body just shut down. Looking back, I can tell it was a long time coming and was not prepared to be told that I would no longer be able to play sports. My orthopedic doctor told me straight up that if I was hurt again, I’d be lucky if I was able to walk. Needless to say, my athletic career ended that day! No need to feel sorry, I am over it now (FINALLY) and put my energy into school and determined to figure out what was wrong with me.

I must have gone to 10 different doctors and got every test done! Nothing was clear, one time it would come back positive, another negative. It was so inconsistent. At the age of 20, and in 2nd year of college, I had it and was on a mission to find out what was going on with my body! My major was Health Education, so I was learning about human diseases and treatments and would not take “we don’t know” as an answer. After seeing 3 more rheumatologists, they all agreed that I had Fibromyalgia, but I also had chronic migraines, and Reynaud’s Syndrome. Although, at times, I do feel there are other issues going on and things just aren’t right, at this point in time, I can just cope with what I do know.

It was a long and hard journey and found out that my body does not respond well to any medication and 99% of the time made me sick. I do not take medication on a daily basis. I have “super drug” for migraines to take only after 3 days of it beginning, and a muscle relaxer to take “when needed.” I do not rely on them to “manage” my disorders. Even though I was diagnosed at 20, now 23, I’ve been living with this for 10 years and just did what I needed to do to get by.

Although I did not wake up one day and have all the symptoms at once and figured it out quickly, my flares happen so fast, at times I feel like I got hit by a truck.

I do not let my disorders define me, but they are a part of who I am. I do not feel sorry for myself and try not to dwell on my situation. I try to take what energy I have to encourage and help people. That is why I went into health education and am continuing school and working on a Masters in counseling. I have a full-time job, and am a full-time student. It is a lot of work and definitely catches up to me but I KNOW it will be worth it in the end. I want people to learn something from me and to know that they are not alone.

I hope my story has helped someone in someway. As we know, everyone has a story and as a member of the community, it is important to share our experiences to help understand and support one another!      Candace

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