I've come to a fork in the road, need your help to decide which way to go!

Jessie

New member
Joined
Jan 21, 2021
Messages
4
Reason
Undiagnosed
Diagnosis
00/0000
Country
US
State
NE
Hi everyone. I'm undiagnosed, but pretty certain I have FM and/or CFS. I've struggled with transient pain and fatigue for a few years. A little more than six months ago, I had a huge spike in my stress levels when my mother suffered a critical illness. I took two months of unpaid leave from my job to act as her in-home caregiver. She is better now, though not completely recovered, and an organ transplant may be in our future. Over the past few months, my mild-ish symptoms became much worse, and I am now researching treatment options.

My hangup is whether to pursue a diagnosis at all. I don't have a PCP, and have no intention of undergoing medication therapy. Really the main benefit of a formal diagnosis (that I can think of) would be FMLA. So, a few questions:

1. Do any of you use intermittent FMLA?

2. Are there other "reasonable accommodations" besides missing work?

3. Are there other non-FMLA actions I might take to improve my situation at work?

4. Are there other benefits of having a diagnosis that I may not have considered?

I am having a very VERY hard time managing my stress levels, due primarily to a work environment that I feel is not quite toxic, but definitely dysfunctional. I'm building up to a career change, learning another field, so I don't want to use my limited energy resources to find another job in my current field. I try to have music playing while I'm working, and use stress management techniques like meditation and gratitude journaling.

I have read sunkacola's very helpful intro post, and will put some of those ideas into action. (Ugh, food. Why are you so hard on me...)

Mostly I'm just very grateful to have found this community. Thanks for being here to support me.
 

sunkacola

Very helpful member
Joined
Dec 2, 2016
Messages
1,191
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
00/0000
Country
Uni
State
Somewhere
Hello Jessie, and welcome to the forum.
There are a few benefits to having a formal diagnosis besides being able to use the FMLA.
The first and most important one is that you may not have fibromyalgia and there are a number of other things that you could have, some of which can be degenerative if not treated, some of which can be treated more successfully, and so on.
If you diagnose yourself you won't know if you are right or not and could be overlooking something that could be actually cured, or should be treated differently.

A formal diagnosis can also be important for insurance purposes.
And if you ever wanted to get medical aid of any kind you'll need a documented diagnosis.
These are things to take into consideration - I am not saying you should or should not try to get one.

I applaud you for starting out on making your lifestyle as healthy as possible, and for not wanting to go the medication route, and I hope my suggestions will help you. I am very sorry you have such a stressful work environment, and having had that kind of work environment myself more than once in my life I can relate. If it is not possible to get out of there entirely, working as best you can to manage the stress of it is about all you can do.
The thing about managing stress, I have found, is that it's something you have to keep doing constantly. that in itself can become stressful if you allow yourself to think you aren't "doing it well enough". In some situations no matter how good you get at managing it, the stress is still going to be there and it takes your energy to manage it, which I know can be exhausting. All you can do is keep working at it and look forward to being able to remove yourself from the environment when you can.

I don't advocate for taking medication. However, I will say that I have chronic depression and anxiety, and when I started taking the right (for me) anxiety medication it helped me a lot with stress management, by simply making it more possible for me to do the things for myself that would help, and thereby reduced my pain. If you have situational stress only, that is probably not the right thing for you. but if it is chronic, there are medications that can help.

I wish you the best of luck and offer my support, like everyone else here.
 

Jessie

New member
Joined
Jan 21, 2021
Messages
4
Reason
Undiagnosed
Diagnosis
00/0000
Country
US
State
NE
Thank you, sunkacola. I'm pretty good at not judging myself against an imaginary standard of stress management, so the "doing it well enough" will probably not come into play. Good to keep in mind though. I'm afraid I have to do some very hard work when I'm already exhausted.

Good thoughts on the diagnosis question as well, thank you. I am currently seeing a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, and have asked him to treat me as if I have FM. I actually did that a few months ago. My symptoms became worse still over the past few weeks. So, I'll keep thinking about it, and use the provider match tool online to see if I can find any PCP options that sound not awful. (I've had a bunch of terrible experiences with Western Medicine.)

You're right about the dangers of self-diagnosis. I need a thyroid lab check. Will work on that too, it's been on my to-do-list for a while.

Best of luck to you as well! (I'm mostly Irish, so maybe that goes for double?) :)
 
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