Fibro Warrior of the Week (#65)
Twitter: Never had one.
Mantra: Be kind. For everyone you know is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
By now, Fibro Warrior of the Week #65 Bailey Brennan will already have quit her job to pursue her dreams of working as a professional photographer. Bailey’s about to begin an exciting journey! She’s full of life and determined not to let Fibromyalgia hold her back. She’s in Fibro’s face and her face, as it were…
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Bailey: I was born in Wenatchee, Washington, and have lived here my whole life. I live in a lovely little rental house with my boyfriend and our two cats. I actually quit my job one week ago and this upcoming Saturday will be my last day! I am going to follow my dream as a photographer.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Bailey: I was seventeen, and trying to play tennis. Soon after starting, I wasn’t able to move my dominant arm. I would hold it close to my body as I walked because to move it would hurt so badly. I was diagnosed with tennis elbow, yet none of the standard treatments worked. Test after test, negative result after negative result. I was labeled a drug seeker because I was a seventeen year old in chronic pain.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Bailey: I was finally diagnosed with Fibro at twenty-four years old, seven years after the pain and strange symptoms started. It was actually a walk-in clinic doctor that suggested I might have Fibro. I went home, did hours of research about this disease I had never heard of. I called the clinic and requested an appointment with this doctor and she did the pressure point test and I finally had an answer for my problems.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Bailey: In all honesty, I think relief was the strongest emotion I had. Finally a doctor took me seriously enough to put effort into a diagnosis. I read article after article about Fibro and tried to learn everything I could. I was shocked to read all the symptoms and see that all of my problems fit within the parameters of this disease. From IBS to strange prickly sensations on my back, to my sensitive smell and chronic fatigue; this was finally my answer.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Bailey: On my good days, I feel like I can conquer the world. Even though my good days involve pain, they give me hope that I can still live my life the way I want. Quitting my job to pursue my passion is the most empowering thing I have ever done. Now I can make my own hours, rest when I need to, and hopefully have more energy and less pain every day. I try to wake up with hope every morning.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Bailey: It is difficult to do some daily activities. My house is more cluttered than I would like it to be. Sometimes daily cleaning is difficult. Photo shoots are hard when they take longer than an hour. It gets harder to breathe, harder to hold the camera and sometimes I get shaky. I take a moment to readjust myself, take some deep breaths and continue. It’s hard some days, but I refuse to let it stop me.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Bailey: I use to love to play tennis, baseball, and golf. My worst pain is in my shoulders so I cannot play my favorite sports any longer. I also use to write every day, but now my hands cramp so badly that I cannot write more than a page or two. Typing is much easier, but it isn’t quite as magical as a pen on paper.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Bailey: ASK FOR HELP! I may be one of the most stubborn people in the world. I don’t have the option anymore of being so stubborn, though. I have to ask for help daily. Whether it is at work when my pain overtakes me, at home when I cannot scrub the bathtub while cleaning or even when I am hiking with friends and cannot carry my camera case any longer. Help is a very tough thing for me. I am so grateful for the help I do get though.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Bailey: I have found a doctor that is willing to help me in any way. She has learned to give lidocaine shots just to help her Fibro patients. It has been a difficult road to find the right combination of meds to keep my pain under control without destroying my cognitive functions. I have had to change meds a few times now. I would be seeing a rheumatologist, but they keep pushing my appointment out. Massage is my very best friend!
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Bailey: This is a difficult topic for me; I become very emotional talking about it. When I am having a flare-up, I tend to get mean. I am working on that, I really am. It’s been a hard road for me. I pushed many people away during the seven years without a diagnosis. People have told me that they can tell when I am in pain because I get withdrawn and abrasive. With therapy, meditation and honest friends, I am working on this every day.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Bailey: Working. I am/was a housekeeper and it is a very physically, emotionally and mentally draining job. I have/had a six hour threshold and my body will just stop working after that. The shifts are all eight hours so I am forced to push my body every shift. By the time I am done I cannot breathe. It has been a terrible experience. That is why I have decided to stop pushing myself that far.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Bailey: I do not have children yet. I keep waiting until the “moment is right”. I strive each day to build a life for myself and my future children. I refuse to give up. I push through each day with a confidence I get from the love of my boyfriend and my amazing friends. This is the only life I get, I will never let a disease hold me back from getting what I want.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Bailey: You are never alone, and never have to be. Pushing people away, like I have done, is never the best choice. Do not let this ruin your life. Take each day as it is. Let your friends and family help when you need it, they love you no matter what.
FD: Sometimes humor provides relief when dealing with chronic illness. Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Bailey: My co-workers began a “Bailey says” joke because of all of the words I make-up or things I say that make no sense. My favorite memory is when a co-worker and I were having a heated discussion about what needed to be cleaned in the room. We argued for a good five minutes before I realized I was actually arguing her point. I quickly tried to cover myself by saying that makes sense. However, what I really said was, that makes sense in my face! We laughed and decided to never talk about it again! ☺
Check out Bailey on Facebook: Baily.Brennan
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