Beyond the significant swelling, Nichelle’s life seems to be defined ever more by pain. On Valentine’s Day she had a “good day”—the pain was only mild for much of the daylight hours, and she enjoyed being able to do some work around the house. By suppertime, though, her pain had started to return. Walking became markedly difficult. By 9:00 or 10:00 the pain was steady and even more severe.
Tonight was particularly troubling. Nichelle was feeling pretty good until late afternoon, and was looking forward to attending the midweek Bible study. At 5:30, she announced that she needed to get dinner on and then take a nap. By the time I left work, she determined that she wasn’t going anywhere. By the time I got home to pick up the kids for church, she was having severe pain in her left leg, and remained virtually immobile during the two hours we were out at church, because she (and Nichelle is not one to exaggerate) was afraid if she got off the couch, she’d fall down and not be able to get up.
About the time the kids were being put to bed, the pain became extreme. She took two of the pain medications she has been prescribed, but normally does not use. They didn’t do much. The pain in one leg spread to the other.
Then the head pains started. These were awful.
For ten minutes at a time, over the space of more than half an hour, Nichelle is racked with sharp head pains that almost defy description. Every few seconds she convulses, stiffly curling up, and manages somehow to stifle her cries of agony. Tears well up in her eyes. Her breathing becomes rapid. For a few minutes these pains subside, and then they return.
I kneel beside her, gently clutching her hand, my own body heaving with sobs I cannot control. “I love you,” she whispers quietly when the pains relent for a few moments. I weep even more.
After what the clock says is only an hour, the stabbing pains have passed. Nichelle sits up for the first time all evening.
Perhaps the rest of the night will bring some degree of comfort.
Editor’s note: Thankfully, attacks this severe don’t happen every day, but they do seem to come a couple of times a week, and similar attacks of lesser severity do come every day. The tiring, debilitating pain is there almost always, though. Nichelle took the kids to Wal*Mart on Monday night, for a very quick trip. When she got back she said, “You know, there’s no way I could make it through the [grocery] shopping.” (I knew that—it’s why I’ve been doing the grocery shopping for the past few months.)
Keywords: Fibromyalgia, swelling, severe pain