Having one chronic illness like CFS or Fibromyalgia can be complicated enough. But then add to it one or more additional chronic illnesses and it feels like your whole world is turned upside down. I know there are many days I feel like the picture above – in a maze of symptoms that there is no way out of. My life first came to a halt by ME/CFS, next it was Fibromyalgia added to the list, and next was Interstitial Cystitis. Then in between being diagnosed with these three major chronic illnesses were complications diagnosed because of them: IBS, advanced DDD, BET, and TMJ.
It can be hard telling from one day to the next when you have multiple chronic illnesses which symptoms are coming from which illness. Some of them are easy but others can be more difficult. I know when I feel like I have a bladder infection, I have frequent urination, etc. that my IC is acting up. But what if you have body pain and you have both ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia? How do you know which illness is causing the pain? With having ME/CFS more severely than Fibromyalgia, I have been able to distinguish when I have pain which illness it is coming from.
In my own situation, I have found that my chronic headaches come from ME/CFS. I had ME/CFS first so this is how I know which illness the headaches are coming from. They haven’t changed any since the Fibromyalgia began and the pain isn’t any different. The one thing I have noticed in my own personal experience, is that wherever the body is weak, ME/CFS tends to seek out those areas and cause a pain that is much deeper. For example, I hurt my back when I was 18. Once I became really ill with ME/CFS, I found that during my flares my back would hurt a lot worse. It still remains that way.
The pain I get from ME/CFS feels more like pain down to the bone. It is very deep, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact spot but I know that the area hurts. It is more like a gnawling, exhausting pain if that makes sense. It is a weary type of pain. The Fibromyalgia pain I experience is painful to the touch on the very surface of my skin. I can put my hand on an area that hurts and the lightest touch will cause me to jump.
For me, the ME/CFS pain is harder to treat and is what painkillers don’t work as well for. The CFS pain also lasts longer than the Fibro pain. The Fibromyalgia pain responds better to pain medication than the CFS pain, but it still doesn’t go away. The pain is always there. I know that everyone is different and your experience might be totally different than mine. But this is how I perceive the pain with my illnesses.