Fibromyalgia | “I smile in the photos but I do not spend a day without pain

Georgina Harvey is 28 years old and has not spent a single day totally free of pain due to fibromyalgia.Here your testimony

When was the last time you felt pain?

Whatever it is, – a headache, a contracture in the shoulder, kidney stones or a blow to the toe -, it is likely that you have recovered.

Firbomialgia BBC
But imagine what it must be like to  get up every day in agony , knowing that surely that discomfort will not disappear.
This is life for people who live with chronic pain. Many feel frustration because their symptoms seem to be invisible to the eyes of others and often people do not understand them or underestimate them. September is the month of international awareness about pain, and to better understand how it is to live with that condition constantly BBC Three invited Georgina Harvey, a 28-year-old English woman with  fibromyalgia , to share her testimony.

– “It’s like all the nerve endings burned” –

“One morning in July 2016, I woke up as always but when I tried to move I felt a very intense pain pass through my body.

It’s like all the nerve endings burned, and I  could only scream .

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The smile in the photos does not show the pain Georgina Harvey has suffered every day for four years. (Photo: BBC)

My mother came running to my room, moved me to the side and stayed with me until the sensation faded. We knew he was having an  outbreak of fibromyalgia , but it was the worst he had suffered since the diagnosis, two years ago.

My problem started with a need to stretch my neck when I was 19, shortly after recovering from meningitis.

After that it grew into a piercing sensation of tingling in the shoulders and a deep pain in the back.

I thought it was due to bad posture but by the time I turned 21  the pain was almost constant .

I had x-rays, blood tests and MRI scans but nothing was seen.

They gave me strong painkillers and the doctor increased the dose or type each time the pain became unbearable.

I described the discomfort  as the worst stomach pain imaginable , but in the back, combined with intense chest pressure as if it were going to burst through my ribs.

When morphine was the only alternative I had left to cope, they gave me sick leave and referred me to a rheumatologist, which led to my diagnosis.

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“The impact has been on everything: work, exercise, social life,” says Georgina. (Photo: Getty)

He explained what fibromyalgia is:  chronic pain  from a central nervous system disorder, but he said there is no specific treatment or cure, only ways to deal with the problem.

I had already spent years trying to do the things that I suggested -pilates, yoga, swimming, physiotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy, but nothing calmed the pain.

Although it was a relief to finally have a diagnosis for what was happening to me, which left me devastated to think that this would be something that I would have to live with.

– “It affects everything” –

Today the pain spread to my hips and feet, and I also developed stomach problems.

Everyday activities such as talking on the phone, wearing a bra or just sitting in a chair can be triggers of  an outbreak of pain , and taking a shower can be exhausting.

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The pain gives Georgina a feeling of mental heaviness that prevents her from thinking clearly. (Photo: Getty)

I never feel rested, because fibromyalgia affects me to sleep and generates  brain fog, a feeling of mental heaviness that prevents me from thinking clearly when I have pain.

I’ve always been a little shy, but now it’s even harder for me to hold conversations. In general, I think it has made me an anxious person, because I am always on the edge.

The impact has been on everything: work, exercise, social life. The recommendation they make me is “keep moving”, but  when I have a bad episode I can not do anything , so it’s a vicious circle.

When I make plans, I have to think if I’m going to have to stand or sit and how long I’ll have to spend away from home.

Most of the time, if I can, I strive to move forward with the plan because I do not want the pain to stop me, or for my friends to think that I am excusing myself.

But many times I have to move away to an isolated place, usually a toilet, when exhaustion and pain are too strong.

– Managing the pain –

There are some  things that can make me feel better , like a hot water bottle or a soft blanket, in fact I am obsessed with the things that generate well-being or that have a good touch, since my body is so sensitive.

I also like to walk, but I have to do it at my own pace. It helps me prevent outbreaks and always improves my mood.

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Sometimes a hot water bottle helps. (Photo: iStock)

Last year I left my job in London, in event marketing marketing, to avoid the round trip of 90 minutes and that made a difference in my well-being.

Although  I never have a totally pain-free day , some are more manageable than others. I always remind myself that there are people who suffer much more than me. My family also gives me encouragement. I live with my parents and they give me a lot of emotional support.

My boyfriend also does everything he can to help me, but I feel guilty when my condition affects our relationship. Recently, after a romantic dinner we walked towards the car, but it was cold on the road and the tremor made me almost fall to the ground.

For me it is important to disclose information about how it is to live with chronic pain because whenever I say that I have fibromyalgia, nobody has heard about the problem, and since it is “invisible”,  unfortunately there is a lot of stigma . People underestimate it and several bosses have told me they do not understand it.

In any case, I understand: I make jokes myself. I do not limp when I walk and I post photos smiling on Instagram. But those photos do not show that I was under the effects of the strongest analgesics I have, nor that when I get home I start crying.

I do not want my condition to define who I am. Yes, it is part of me but I have the determination not to let it dominate me.

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