The doctor took a cursory look in my left ear, and then moved to the right, where he paused, poked his ear thingy farther in and pulled on my ear lobe a little. “Doesn’t your ear hurt?” he murmured. Should it? “Well, your eardrum is red and inflamed…” Huh. My right ear is the only thing on my body that doesn’t hurt. What’s up with that? So I went home with an antibiotic on top of an inhaler and prednisone to combat the swelling in my bronchial tube. Go in with a cough and achy lungs. Come out with an ear infection. Laying in bed after swallowing a couple seriously giant pills despite a sore throat, hoping I don’t break out in a rash or hives… yep, my right ear is still the only thing on my body that doesn’t hurt right now. Well, the left ear isn’t too bad. No big deal, right?
Actually, it’s a pretty good illustration of the “danger” of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia won’t kill you. It’ll slow you down, but not kill you. However, when you have a flare up, like I’m having now as a consequence of a streak of very bad sleep and now a respiratory infection, it is very possible to lose track of things that should be paid attention to. The pain processing system in the brain is messed up. It’s rare (for me), but it can happen that you don’t get the signal for “hey, look in your ear – you have an inflamed and red eardrum and need an antibiotic.” If (and when) you start shying away from doctors because you’re convinced that it’s a waste of time, things can slip right by.
It’s also very possible to ignore those very proper hey-there-is-something-wrong-right-here-pay-attention signals because you train yourself to turn off the pain signal, just ignore it because so often, 99.9% of the time, it is meaningless – just your body complaining (kind of like someone with a well-paying job and a solid retirement plan complaining about being broke). Therefore, as important as it is to not run to the doctor every time something twinges, it’s equally important to have regular checkups and to be aware of new or unusual pains. In the meantime, I’ll be grateful for the pain disconnect for as long as it lasts.