Fibromyalgia, Modelling and Me
I wanted to touch on something that I wouldn’t usually discuss on this blog but felt compelled to write about. I have a condition called fibromyalgia.
I’ve been suffering with fibromyalgia for several years now and have met along the way some lovely people who also live with the illness including other bloggers and even models. It is a common health condition yet still is a relatively little understood illness which I am often asked about of its effects. New acquaintances and quite often photographers are timidly putting the question to me, curious but at the same time not wanting to offend. It’s become apparent to me that some people are in a way afraid. Afraid what it is, what it means and ultimately how it affects them. So I’ve decided to lift the lid and bare all.
Fibromyalgia, or FM or FMS for short, literally translates as muscle pain (‘fibro’ means the fibrous tissues, ‘my’ is muscles and ‘algia’ is pain). It’s a chronic condition meaning long standing, and very much widespread of the whole body, specifically in certain areas. In a nutshell it means it’s generally a lifelong condition that involves pain in its many forms body wide. It’s also a syndrome which means the pain is simply the beginning, before delving into the nitty gritty, some of which include fatigue, tiredness, stiffness, migraines, short term memory loss (commonly referred to as ‘fibro fog’), irritable bowel syndrome and depression. Over days, weeks and months, severity of symptoms vary, whilst peak painful and disturbing periods are known as flare ups. Medication coupled with careful planning can help with the daily management. ‘Pacing yourself’ is the mantra you live by.
|By Chris Rout|
I don’t want to get in too deep with all the medical speak, it’s not all that interesting if it doesn’t affect you and even for a fibro sufferer myself, it can get really tedious! It is important however if it’s something you’ve heard about and maybe if you’ve found yourself asking the question yourself. I understand that it can sound big and scary especially if you’ve read it as a health notice on one of my modelling profiles. I want to clarify how it affects me and what it means you can expect.
I do have to live with daily fatigue and pains in various parts of my body. Days are better than others and vice versa. I take medication and generally I can cope pretty well with the symptoms. I may feel it, but I try not to show it, and I’ve never heard anything negative about it affecting me on a shoot. I have my fiance with me going to, on and from my shoots because I do need the assistance. Driving is very draining for me and most distances cause me agony, so it’s best not to drive myself. During the shoot, it can be difficult for me to put on some clothing and need the second pair of hands. Some poses can be stressful for me, I may require help getting into a position, but I will always try. The fact is a shoot is never that long and as soon as I’m finished I begin winding down. Well, the winding down is actually more like dying, or at least dropping off to sleep as soon as I land in the car. Sometimes I realise I have overdone myself and the effects will come upon me like flu. It’s not uncommon for me to go to bed for several hours immediately following a shoot, sometimes for up to a week. I don’t model full time purely for the reason that I need to allow repair time and will never model on the consecutive day. When shoot day arrives I’m well prepared, fresh and ready to go. A lot of the time aches and pains can be mentally manipulated. I may well be feeling like crap and you will never know.
|By Chris Rout|
It’s important to me that those I work with can understand a little where I am coming from but I also don’t expect special treatment. I’m a hard worker, passionate and dedicated to anything I sign up to. I’m not perfect and live with a disabling illness but I don’t allow it to run my life and ruin it.
Generally people are understanding and sympathetic which I really do appreciate. The industries in which I work can be cut throat, yet I’ve had the pleasure to work with the most friendly and down to earth, creative people. Those who avoid me thinking I am more trouble than it’s worth possibly need a little more education, but their negativity isn’t worth me the pain.
|By Sean J Connolly|
I hope I have enlightened those of you who have wondered about fibromyalgia and what it is. I decided being completely open and transparent is the best medicine and I’ll sleep a little more soundly tonight.
Thank you for listening.