Introductions only seem appropriate in the beginning. My name is Renee and I’m 43 years old. I’ve been married for 25 years and have an adopted son who is 21. When I got married, my husband was serving in the United States Coast Guard. I eventually joined the United States Air Force after he was honorably discharged where I made a career of it. I retired in 2012 after a little over 20 years. My retirement was planned, however I retired a few years sooner than I had originally planned to.
My time on active duty doing a job I loved, working with amazing people and experiencing opportunities I would not have otherwise, was cut short by an invisible illness. Although those very close to me could see the change. I at first hid everything. I satisfied their concerns and curiosity with, “I’m tired and/or just getting old.” Although the getting old part I seldom admitted to. I was struggling with losing ME. I could no longer do everything. To include my job. My job was suffering at first because of all the doctor appointments, trying to figure out what was going on.
Perhaps my years of doing it all was catching up with me? Perhaps the pressure of the responsibilities as a leader was getting to me? Perhaps I was getting old? Perhaps, just perhaps there was something wrong? I’m thankful that I was overseas when I started really struggling. As many of you know we seldom see the same provider every time you go to the clinic. Whether it be due to deployments, training or permanent change of station the lack of seeing the same provider is not only frustrating in the sense that we have to tell them AGAIN what is going on and/or what has been done already in the line of testing can be very irritating. But also, since we often see different providers they don’t get to see the outward signs of what is changing with you.
Because I was overseas and fortunate enough to see the same provider, 90% of my visits, she could see the physical changes in me, not just what I was describing to her. I said earlier it was an invisible illness. Well it is. But there are subtle outward signs that were being seen. The circles under my eyes were getting darker and deeper. My hair was getting thinner and more brittle and I really don’t have much hair to begin with. It’s baby fine and I think most 2 year old precious girls have more hair than me. My weight was fluctuating up and down, of course I liked the down part, but there was no change in physical activity and/or diet to warrant the changes.
So I’m going to share a journey with you. A journey that will describe not only the physical and psychological struggles but the emotional struggles of dealing with this invisible illness. How it affected my profession, my family, my friends and me. This journey is roughly 6 years in dealing with this illness. This illness is fibromyalgia . You may ask why I’m sharing this journey with you? Well, I feel those living with any illness, especially an invisible one, that it is our responsibility to educate others about it. Now, I’m not a doctor so I can by no means explain the medical part of fibro, but I can educate you to my experiences as well as the feelings that I share with others I’ve spoken with about how we feel when dealing with outsiders that can see nothing wrong with us. So I will get back with you all soon. I venture to say I’m not alone in dealing with this and I hope that it helps some in understanding people like me who are living in a world where many don’t understand invisible illness.
Learn more about fibromyalgia here and join Renee over the next few weeks as she shares her personal journey living with this invisible illness.