In medicine, comorbidity is either the presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder, or the effect of such additional disorders or diseases.
After yesterday’s small fatigue breakdown – which hasn’t improved – I experienced a massive knock-on effect, with various symptoms adding to the already soul-destroying feeling caused by a fibro-flare. Comorbidity is undoubtedly the worst aspect of chronic ilness for me; not only do you have the pain and fatigue from fibro to cope with, but you’re also faced with stomach upsets, nausea, stomach cramps and, in my case, worsening of eczema and skin conditions. None of these symptoms are particularly linked to fibromyalgia on their own, but a flare-up also causes other conditions to rise to the fore; the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome get worse and depression naturally sneaks in. My diagnoses are so broad that anything could be causing me to feel unwell, and I never quite know what to blame.
In truth, I cannot remember the last time I was ‘well’ – healthy is simply a word in the dictionary to me – and I confess to being sick and tired of this illness which has dogged me for most of my life. Society still seems to look down upon illness as a weakness, and it’s difficult to feel hope for the future when so many around me are unwilling to accept that sometimes, some people are just always sick. They take health for granted, assuming that because they’re healthy and fit, everyone else must be too. The permanently unwell are treated like underdogs, hardly worth a look-in because they simply don’t do anything useful for society.
Over the years, my health – or lack of – has been the subject of many a discussion. People have hidden behind their keyboards, picking my symptoms and and experiences apart, and sometimes downright refusing to believe that I could have a permanent sore throat and always feel like I’ve got a bad cold. I’ve been called a liar and a benefit cheat by complete strangers; people who have never met me yet believe they know more about my illness than I do, and who look down on me as though this is all my fault. As though I chose to live my life this way.
I have said many times before that I’m sick of always being sick, but I’ve never meant it as much as I do today. In my teens, the health worries didn’t seem so bad; the future stretched out forever and I believed I had an eternity to improve. Adulthood seemed like a magical place where sickness never happens, but, of course, I eventually learned that becoming an adult doesn’t magically take away all your problems. Now, three years away from thirty, I realise that this is impacting hugely on my future, and the uncertainty of my prospects is weighing down on me.
Today’s symptoms are fairly nondescript; sneezing, a runny rose, the ever-present diarrhoea, headaches, swollen glands. The lack of specifics are what’s so disheartening; it’s not any real illness, it’s just a load of symptoms thrown together. Add fatigue and pain to the mix, and I feel utterly flattened.
If all this had a name, I’m sure I’d feel more positive. As it stands, I just carry around the dubious title of ‘always sick’, which helps nothing.