Returning to my parent’s home in 2001 in Minnesota was comforting, yet disconcerting, and a bit embarrassing at my age. (I was 33 years old, almost 34!) I was moved into the ‘office’ and slept on a pullout couch. I don’t think I did anything the first week but cry and sleep.
My Mom brought me breakfast in bed every morning for five consecutive days. Then she announced it was time to get up! She wanted me to get back into life and make the best out of my situation. So, I tried…
It was I believe, shocking, to say the least as she watched me try to regain some sense of direction. To witness the constant daily pain I was in. To hear about the struggle, I had tried so hard to hide.
My mom is a strong, stubborn, full-blooded Norwegian. She is a viper when it comes to her children! She fiercely loves and savagely protects all of her children. God help the person who crosses one of her own. My mom expects the same of us. Be tough, work your ass off, and make something of yourself! (She did not raise lazy kids.) Age has not been kind to her health, she fights her battles too. I love my mom.
As I was struggling to understand what was going on with me, Mom started calling medical facilities. She began with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Next, she called the University of Minnesota, Medical Clinic in Minneapolis. Then she called a doctor friend of a family member, a general practitioner in a small town 40 miles north of us. All were willing to see me, but we started with the closest option. Dr. Olson, the general practitioner.
“You have Fibromyalgia.”
“I have what?”
“It’s called Fibromyalgia Syndrome, do you want me to write it down for you?”
“Yes, please. How do I fix it?”
I learned this Fibromyalgia Syndrome ‘thing’ was called “the garbage can diagnosis.” You must be tested for everything it could possibly be [I had been]. If everything comes back negative [it did], you go through a tender spot exam [never had one of those exams until I saw Dr. Olson]. If you have these specific tender areas, you are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Syndrome. I told my mom what the Doctor had said and begged her not to tell anyone I had the garbage can disease! I was NOT going to let this get me… I would find a cure!
I bought every book I could find. I bought every supplement that the books suggested. I did every exercise that was written in the book. I went to a mental health therapist just in case this was nothing more than a mental issue… truthfully, it was a prevalent misdiagnosis in 2001.
One evening I was watching the news with my parents. They were spotlighting a human interest story about a local physical therapist that was treating fibromyalgia patients with something called an “STS” machine. This worked on the sympathetic nervous system. He was having some success alleviating the severe pain people with fibromyalgia suffer. We looked at each other, shocked! I made a call to the physical therapist’s office the very next morning.
Dave Solheim, physical therapist guru, would change my life!
(To be continued.)