Georgina Harvey is 28 years old and did not spend a single day completely free from the pain of fibromyalgia. Here is your testimony.
When was the last time you felt pain?
Whatever it is, a headache, a shoulder contracture, kidney stones or a slap in the toe, is likely to have recovered.
But imagine how you should panic every day, knowing that this inconvenience will not go away.
This is the life of people with chronic pain. Many are frustrated because their symptoms seem to be invisible to the eyes of others and, often, people do not understand and underestimate them. September is the international month of pain awareness and to better understand how to deal with this condition constantly, the BBC invited three Georgina Harvey, a 28-year-old English woman with fibromyalgia, to give her testimony.
“It’s as if all the nerve endings have been burned.”
“One morning in July 2016, I woke up as usual, but when I tried to move, I felt a very intense pain in my body.
It is as if all the nerve endings had burned and I could scream.
The smile in the photos does not show the pain that Georgina Harvey suffered every day for four years.
My mother came running to my room, took me aside and stayed with me until the sensation disappeared. We knew we had an outbreak of fibromyalgia, but it was the worst thing I’ve had since I was diagnosed two years ago.
My problem began with the need to stretch my neck at age 19, shortly after recovering from meningitis.
He then grew up in a penetrating tingling sensation in his shoulders and a deep pain in his back.
I thought it was due to bad posture, but when I turned 21, the pain was almost constant.
I did radiographs, blood tests and MRI scans, but nothing was seen.
I was given strong pain relievers and the doctor increased the dose or wrote every time the pain became unbearable.
I described the discomfort as the worst stomach ache I can imagine, but then I came back, combined with intense chest pressure, as if it exploded in my ribs.
When morphine was the only alternative I had to deal with, they gave me a medical license and I was referring to a rheumatologist, which led me to my diagnosis.
“The impact was everything: work, exercise, social life,” says Georgina.
He explained what fibromyalgia is: chronic pain due to a disorder of the central nervous system, but said there is no specific treatment or cure, only ways to solve the problem.
For years, I tried to do the things I suggested: pills, yoga, swimming, physiotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, but nothing calmed the pain.
Although it was a relief to finally have a diagnosis of what happened to me, which destroyed me by thinking that this would be something I should live with.
“It affects everything”
Today the pain spread to my hips and feet and I also developed stomach problems.
Daily 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 showering can be exhausting.
The pain gives Georgina a feeling of mental weight that prevents her from thinking clearly.
I never rested because fibromyalgia affects me to sleep and fog is generated in the brain, a feeling of mental weight that makes me think clearly when I have a lot of pain.
I’ve always been a little shy, but now it’s even harder to have a conversation. Overall, I think I have become a scared person because I am always ahead.
The impact was everything: work, exercise, social life. The recommendation they make to me is to “continue”, but if I have a bad episode, I can’t do anything, so it is a vicious circle.
When I make plans, I have to think about whether I am going to have to stop or sit and how long I should leave the house.
Most of the time, if I can, I find it difficult to move on with the plan because I don’t want the pain to stop me or my friends from thinking that I am apologizing.
But often I have to move to an isolated place, usually a bath, when exhaustion and pain are very strong.
– Control pain –
There are things that can make me feel better, like a bottle of warm water or a soft blanket. I am really obsessed with things that generate well-being or that I have a good touch because my body is very 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.
Sometimes a hot water bottle helps.
Last year, I quit my job in London with event marketing to avoid the 90-minute tour, and that made a difference in my well-being.
Although I never have a completely painless day, some are more manageable than others. I always remember that there are people who suffer much more than me. My family also encourages me. I live with my parents and they give me a lot of emotional support.
My friend also does everything he can to help me, but I feel guilty if my condition influences our relationship. Recently, after a romantic dinner, we walked to the car, but it was cold on the road and the earthquake almost made me fall to the ground.
For me, it is important to reveal information about how to live with chronic pain, because when 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 me and several bosses told me they didn’t understand.
Anyway, I understand: I’m kidding. I don’t limp when I walk and put smiley photos on Instagram. But these images do not show that I was among the strongest painkillers I have, nor that when I get home I start to cry.