Warning: Photos may be considered graphic
“You don’t look sick” or “but you’re smiling” …..yeah I know. Fibromyalgia often shows no visible signs so even though you are going through a flare up you may appear to be fine. So unless you speak it, or someone sees you limp (what my signs are often) or touches you and you react most don’t know you are in pain. I have talked before about the support group I joined on facebook. This past week there have been a few post about this invisible excruciating disease. One man showed a picture of his back bruised and broken so people could see how it would look if you could see the pain he was in (see picture A below). Then a woman named Emily Kathleen, who is a makeup artist used her skills to show half of her face as it feels while in a flare up. She painted the bruises and broken bones and soreness while on the other side she showed the face that others see (see picture B below). To me this was so powerful because it happens to me all the time. My body hurts. My everything hurts. Often times I can feel my fingernails or if i scratch myself I can feel where I scratched or touched my skin hours after and its turned into a bruise. I use my fingers and it feels as if each finger is broken and the muscles in my hands are exhausted.
As you all know I teach fitness classes. I was asked the other day “how are your classes going”? and in that same breath “it must not be that bad because you can still teach”! lol. I fought the urge to completely go off because no one knows how it feels or if I’m in pain. Reality is if I don’t act sick then you don’t know. And I try my best to not act sick. I took a picture of me after class then highlighted all the areas that hurt during that one hour (see picture C below). Most of the times during class I try and smile and deflect the attention off of myself (which is hard because I AM THE INSTRUCTOR) lol. My mindset is people come to my class to relax, to workout, to have a moment where they can enjoy other adults, have a non-mother/wife moment, to take off their superwoman cape and just enjoy themselves while burning calories. They do not come to see me hurt or hear me complain that my hand is numb and my wrist is on fire because I am wearing my fitness watch, they don’t come to hear me complain that my legs feel like they may break if I jump again or the fact that my back is so tight I cant use my right leg or my toes are cramping and on fire….who wants to hear all of that? NO ONE but that is the truth. But what is also the truth is I see women shuffle their kids to get to class, women who have had a rough day and need class to burn off the crazy, women who just need to be around other supportive women, women who made a quick dinner so they could come to class. Women who see results and who expect me to help them….and these are the things that push me through my aches and pains. These things make it all worthwhile.
I smile when people say hello, I say “Im ok” when people ask how I am. My illness is invisible that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. No matter what it feels like on the inside the world sees that I am ok….so I act ok until I just can’t anymore.
Picture B- Emily Kathleen