Georgina Harvey is 28 years old and did not spend a single day without pain in fibromyalgia. Here is your testimony.
When was the last time you had pain?
Either way, a headache, a shoulder contracture, kidney stones or a blow to the toe, chances are that you are healed.
But imagine how hard it is to get up every day, knowing that this discomfort will not go away.
This is the life of people living with chronic pain. Many are frustrated because their symptoms seem invisible to others and often people do not understand and underestimate them. September is the month of international awareness for pain and to better understand what it means to live constantly with this disease, BBC Three has invited Georgina Harvey, a 28-year-old Englishwoman with fibromyalgia, to share her testimony.
“It’s as if all nerve endings have been burned.”
“One morning in July 2016, I woke up normally, but when I tried to move, I felt a very intense pain in my body.
It’s as if all the nerve endings are burned and I could scream.
The smile on the pictures does not show the pain that Georgina Harvey suffered every day for four years.
My mother came running to my room, took me to the side and stayed with me until the sensation disappeared. We knew we had an outbreak of fibromyalgia, but it’s the worst I’ve known since the diagnosis two years ago.
My problem began with the need to stretch my neck when I was 19, shortly after my convalescence.
After that, she developed a penetrating sensation of tingling in the shoulders and a deep pain in the back.
I thought it was due to poor posture, but at the age of 21 the pain was almost constant.
I did x-rays, blood tests and MRI, but nothing was seen.
They gave me potent painkillers and the doctor increased the dose or type whenever the pain became unbearable.
I described the discomfort as the worst stomach pain imaginable, but on the back, combined with intense pressure on the chest, as if it spattered my ribs.
When morphine was the only alternative I had to deal with, they gave me medical leave and referred me to a rheumatologist, which led to my diagnosis.
“The impact was fundamental: work, exercise, social life,” says Georgina.
He explained that chronic fibromyalgia pain caused by a central nervous system disorder but added that there was no specific treatment or treatment but only ways to treat the problem.
I had spent years trying to do the things I was proposing – pills, yoga, swimming, physiotherapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, but nothing calmed the pain.
Although it was a relief to finally be able to diagnose what was happening to me, it left me devastated to think that it would be something that I should live with.
“This is about everything”
Today, the pain spread to my hips and feet and also developed stomach problems.
Daily activities such as talking on the phone, wearing a bra or just sitting in a chair can trigger an outbreak of pain and taking a shower can be exhausting.
Pain gives Georgina an impression of mental weight that prevents her from thinking clearly.
I never felt rested because fibromyalgia prevented me from sleeping and generated a fog in the brain, a feeling of mental weight that prevents me from thinking clearly when I have a lot of pain.
I’ve always been a bit shy, but now it’s even harder to have a conversation. Overall, I think that made me an anxious person because I’m always on the front line.
The impact was everything: work, exercise, social life. The recommendation they make to me is to “continue,” but when I have a bad episode, I can not do anything, so it’s a vicious circle.
When I make plans, I have to wonder if I’m going to have to stand or sit and how long I’ll have to leave home.
Most of the time, if I can, I struggle to move on because I do not want the pain to stop or my friends think I’m sorry.
But often, I have to move to an isolated place, usually a bathroom, when the exhaustion and pain are very strong.
– Manage pain –
Some things can comfort me, like a hot water bottle or a soft blanket. In fact, I’m obsessed with things that bring about well-being or are pleasant to touch, because my body is very sensitive.
I also like to walk, but I have to do it at my own pace. This helps me prevent epidemics and always improves my mood.
Sometimes a bottle of hot water helps.
Last year, I left my London job in event marketing to avoid the 90-minute round trip, which made a difference to my well-being.
Although I never have a totally painless day, some are easier to manage than others. I always remember that there are people who suffer much more than I do. My family encourages me too. I live with my parents and they give me a lot of emotional support.
My boyfriend is also doing everything he can to help me, but I feel guilty when my health affects our relationship. Recently, after a romantic dinner, we went to the car, but it was cold on the road and the tremors almost made me fall.
For me, it is important to disclose information about how to live with chronic pain, because every time I say that I have fibromyalgia, nobody has heard about the problem and, as it is “invisible”, unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma. People underestimate him and several bosses told me they did not understand.
Anyway, I understand: I make jokes. I do not drink when I walk and I put smiley pictures on Instagram. But these pictures do not show that I was under the strongest analgesics I have, nor that when I go home, I start to cry.
I do not want my condition to define who I am. Yes, that is part of me, but I have the determination not to let him dominate me.