I know what it’s like to feel out of control when it comes to symptoms such as pain, fatigue, memory loss, super-sensitivities, and dizziness. If you’re familiar with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, autoimmune challenges, and chronic illness in general, you know what I’m talking about. At a time when my symptoms overwhelmed me, you may be surprised to know which symptom worried me the most.
What Symptom Was Worst, and Why?
Pain and fatigue are like the foundation and framing of the house that chronic illness is built upon. They’re impossible to ignore.
I used to be completely overwhelmed by my levels of pain and fatigue. Back then, I saw no solutions in sight and I felt that nothing would ever change. But even when those symptoms were at their worst, they were MY problem. Meaning, there was nothing I could have done to express the depth of my pain or fatigue levels to others. I have no doubt that neither my family nor my doctors had any idea how bad things were for me.
Of course, my memory issues were awful, too (not to mention embarrassing). I couldn’t consistently remember names, events, work-related statistics, meetings, and scheduled obligations. My mind felt like a sieve and I somehow managed to flub my way through daily life — for the most part.
At that time, everything bothered me. I was super-sensitive mostly to smells and sounds. But lights could be bothersome — especially at night. I felt unbearable pressure on my head and body from silly things such as headbands, barrettes, backpacks, purse straps, and clothing items. I was definitely over-sensitive (and over-reactive) to foods, medications, health and beauty products, and anything applied to my skin or consumed.
But, what was my worst symptom?
It was … dizziness.
Why?Which #Fibro #Symptom is the Worst, and WHY? Click To Tweet
Fibromyalgia and dizziness
It may surprise you to read that it was my “worst” symptom. After all, dizziness isn’t usually life-threatening. It’s annoying and awkward. It’s oftentimes inconvenient. And, it’s definitely embarrassing, but why did I feel that it was the worst?
I could hide my other symptoms. Or, I could downplay them as needed. I could pretend to myself (and for others) that I was fine, even if I wasn’t. I became pretty good at faking my way through my days.
But when you look at the results of being dizzy, the distinction becomes obvious.
- Falling (losing your balance)
- Spontaneously clutching onto people or things to prevent falling
- Navigating spaces by holding onto walls, furniture, structures, etc.
- Losing visual focus
- Feeling faint
- Feeling disoriented
- Body weakness
- Inability to read or watch activities
- Inability to drive
- Inability to participate in activities that require balance (running, biking, skating, skiing, etc.)
- Occasional poor dexterity or dropping things
When it’s spelled out like this, it’s hard to miss the obvious. While there are some symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic illness that you can hide — dizziness is not one of them.
It’s there for all to see.
The symptoms listed above would be painfully obvious to anyone within close proximity. Most are not only hard to hide, but they’re also hard to fake your way through them. These symptoms would change the course of your day. And, if experienced frequently, they’d eventually change the course of your life.
That’s what happened to me.
Losing mobility – losing freedom
When I first became dizzy, it really threw me for a loop (no visual puns intended). It happened a few times in the same week, then increased to a daily struggle. The more I worried about it, the more it happened. This went on for almost two years.
I stumbled around my office leaning against one file cabinet after another. I held onto my kitchen counters at home as I washed dishes. I worried about getting around my children’s classrooms. But one place became a problem bigger than the rest. An insurmountable nightmare. That place was any parking lot. Even if I somehow found the energy and focus to drive to a store, I was stymied by how to navigate my way across the lot to get into the store. Once in the store, there was likely a cart to lean on. But what was there to help me between my car and the store? What if I stumbled on my way and inadvertently (or intentionally) leaned on someone’s car and set off the alarm?
Worse yet, what if I fell and couldn’t get up? (This actually did happen, but it’s a story for another day.)
With no other choice in sight, I purchased a cane. That way, I could traverse parking lots, and open spaces, with as much confidence as I could muster. That cane was part of my daily life for years.
As a whole, I felt unstable, unbalanced, and unable to keep up with my workload as a mom and an office worker.
I went from participant to spectator in my own life.
By the way, when you’re dizzy, your plans may have to wait. When you’re dizzy, your commitments to others may have to wait. When you’re dizzy, life passes you by (and you can’t even enjoy the view because it’s blurry).
Are you impacted by dizziness?
Has dizziness ever held you back from your daily life? Do you feel compromised by its effects or have you found ways to manage it? What’s your experience with dizziness as opposed to pain and fatigue?
(As an aside, my experience many years ago was with what I’d call generalized dizziness. It wasn’t vertigo. I’ve since experienced vertigo and am aware of how different they feel. They’re both compromising in similar ways.)
I’m grateful to report that many years ago, I worked through and eliminated the constant dizziness that used to plague me. I’m thankful to have turned nearly all of my other symptoms around as well.