September 20th marked 28 years since the auto accident that triggered my fibromyalgia and changed my life.
One fine September afternoon in 1987, I was on my way home from work, stopped at a traffic light on South Boulder Road in Louisville, Colorado, when I noticed in my rearview mirror that the car coming up behind me wasn’t slowing down. With a line of traffic ahead of me, there was nothing I could do, no place to go. All I could do was brace for the accident and wait. That was my mistake.
He hit my little Mazda so hard that it pushed it into the car in front of me like a car sandwich. I was effectively hit from behind, then in front. Vehicles didn’t come equipped with airbags back then.
Because I was braced, with my feet on the clutch and brake, I jammed every joint in my body causing soft-tissue damage to my ankles, knees, hips and back. I wrapped around the shoulder harness damaging my left neck and shoulder. The double hit caused a double whiplash to my neck and back, leading to severe neck pain and TMJ issues.
I didn’t break any bones. I didn’t lose consciousness. I didn’t go to the hospital.
My car was towed. The police gave me a ride home.
Fortunately, a few days after the accident I had a visit with my friend, psychotherapist and biofeedback expert Carol Schneider. After I told her about the accident and how much pain I was in, she immediately marched me down the hall to see her husband Dr. Edgar Wilson, a M.D. who just happened to be studying a condition called fibrocitis, what would later be called fibromyalgia.
Just three days after the accident I had already developed visible knots at key trigger points. I walked with a limp. My left shoulder was tight and up. Dr. Ed videotaped me walking (more like staggering) on a treadmill, a video I wish I had today.
The first three weeks were pure hell. Every day when I thought the pain couldn’t possibly get any worse, it did. There was no comfortable position sitting, standing or laying down. I couldn’t stand to be touched. In bed, I would pack pillows all around me for support, just to get an hour or two of sleep before pain and discomfort woke me. Even my clothes hurt.
Pain was the first to greet me every morning, and my last awareness every night. Just getting up in the morning was a lengthy process. I learned a technique where I would rock my body, starting with my feet and working my way up, until I got everything moving enough to get out of bed.
Regular daily activities became impossible. Pain permeated everything I did. I had to learn how to do laundry, fold clothes and vacuum all over again. I went through gait training because my body forgot how to walk in a straight line. (Good thing I didn’t have to do a roadside sobriety test.)
My boyfriend at the time was unsupportive, concerned more with the money I would get from a lawsuit than the pain I was in. We eventually split up and I moved into an apartment just a couple blocks from Dr. Ed’s office.
Everything hurt. The pain-killers and anti-inflammatories I was prescribed made me sluggish and dull, but getting through the day without them was nearly impossible. After 6 weeks off I tried to go back to work, but like many fibromyalgia patients, the pain was so debilitating that I eventually ended up quitting my job.
Little did I realize then that I had been handed a life sentence of chronic pain and fatigue.
Read more of my journey tomorrow in 28 Years with Fibromyalgia: The Early Years (Part 2).
And for more information about how cannabis helps my fibromyalgia, please read my post: How I use cannabis to treat my fibromyalgia.
— Rx MaryJane (Teri Robnett)
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