Friday, February 12, 2016

Facing Forward: Ness

Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible chronic illnesses. The goal of the series is to see how we are similar and how we are different - and to remind us to keep moving forward because we aren't alone!

Name: Vanessa (but most people call me Ness)
Location: Liverpool, England
Diagnosis/Age at Diagnosis:
Migraine/cluster headaches - age 18
IBS - age 18
Endrometriosis - age 18
Fibromyalgia - age 42
ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - age 42
Type Two Diabetes - age 44

How are you currently treating your condition?
In all the years I have had migraine I have never found a cure. Always just had to avoid certain triggers and then ride the attack if it arrived. The only way to ease it a little was Codeine but then when I got Fibro the severity and duration increased. My doctor did not like me taking so much codeine so she swapped it to sumatriptan and Topiramate, but the topriamate made me feel very depressed to the point of suicidal so I swiftly came off them! Currently, I take Sumatriptan (Imigram) at the first signs and it eases the severity for me. I lay in a dark cool room and use ice gel packs on my forehead.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Again never found a cure. I simply manage by diet and constipation medication.

I suffered for many years - the only rest was being pregnant and breastfeeding as this eased the severity. Then eventually in 2009 I had a hysterectomy. This was the best thing I ever had.

Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue:
As cliche as it sounds the best thing that has helped me is acceptance. I went through the five stages of grief after diagnosis and mourned the old me. This is the illness that totally changed my life and made me a different person. Once I accepted the new me I then learned how to manage and balance every aspect of my life. I have scheduled sleeps and maintain a healthy diet. I use heat therapy for pain relief and also Tramadol.

Type Two Diabetes:
I am controlling this with diet alone and trying to lose weight.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
Outing myself from the chronic illness closet. Masquerading as a normal person is physically draining, so once I shared my illness warts and all it was such a relief. It was so hard to do but I'm so glad that I did.

Also, accepting a walking stick on the painful wobbly days. I saw it as an enemy rather than an assistance.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
As you educate yourself about your illness, always explain and educate your loved ones because it is so hard for them to understand. Accept help. Do what you can and leave the rest. Never attach guilt if you can not do something.

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
Positivity, meditation, mindfulness. 

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
Finding acceptance is the key to happiness. 

Do you have a blog you would like to share?
The Girl With The 5 Lads

Would you like to be featured on Facing Forward? If so, please send an email to  

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