The Gift of Reading

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Christine Tender Points

When it comes to taking simple abilities for granted, I’m just as guilty as the next person — but not when it comes to reading. This is one blessing I’m grateful for each and every day, and one for which I shall never forget to be grateful for. The reason is that I clearly remember a time I temporarily lost this precious ability.

Yes, there have been times in my life when I could not read. I’m not saying I couldn’t recognize letters or put them together to make words and sentences. I’m saying that my brain just couldn’t process the words on the page.

This condition didn’t occur all at once. It developed quite slowly, over a period of months. At first, I found myself reading the occasional sentence more than once. Then, I read the occasional sentence more than twice. It later progressed to reading every sentence more than twice. Eventually, I realized I couldn’t remember the contents of the previous sentence when it was time to read the next one. To be more precise, what I had lost was my working memory rather than my ability to read. Unfortunately, without the former, the latter is impossible.

What happened to me was a bit puzzling at first. I was no stranger to fibromyalgia and was very familiar with fibro fog. I was accustomed to making frequent lists to help with my memory issues, and I’d learned to be patient with myself each day when I lost at least one necessary item. But this was not fibro fog. To me, this was the loss of one of life’s greatest pleasures. Reading wasn’t just something I did. It was who I was. I was desperate to find the cause and to fix it.

It took a little searching, but I did find it. Quite simply, I was suffering from depression. Because I’d battled this mood disorder periodically since young adulthood, I thought I was familiar with all the symptoms. Actually, I was. I knew about the loss of concentration, and I knew about memory difficulties. I just never put them together to equal the inability to read.

And, in all fairness, my problem with reading wasn’t universal. Surprisingly (to me), it was limited to fiction. I had little difficulty reading books or articles about fibromyalgia or any other educational literature. I just couldn’t read a novel. When I think about it now, that makes perfect sense. You don’t necessarily need to know one fact to be able to understand the fact that follows. Whereas, a novel makes no sense at all if you don’t know what just happened.

The solution to the problem, of course, was to relieve the depression. Because I’m one of those people who cannot tolerate medications, I was unable to take any of the antidepressant drugs available then or now. Instead, I found myself an excellent cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT), and I doubled up on the other complementary therapies I was using at the time — including acupuncture and exercise.

I can’t say the cure came easily or quickly. In fact, I continue to struggle with this issue to this very day. But knowledge is power. Whenever I feel myself struggling to read a good book, I know what needs to be done. If I haven’t seen my therapist in a while, I make an appointment. Instead of curling up on the couch, I reach for my sneakers and go for a walk. It takes real motivation to make your life as good as you can make it in the midst of pain and suffering. It takes discipline, and it takes diligence.

In time I got my reward. There was a grand celebration at my house the day I began successfully rereading Carl Hiaasen’s “Skinny Dip,” one of my all-time favorite books. As I quickly turned each humorous pages, I felt like I’d been given a great gift. A gift that gives back every single day, and one that’s worth keeping — whatever the cost.


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

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Christine Lynch

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About MafibromaVie 5996 Articles
Bonjour, je n'ai même pas encore 40 ans, je suis fibromyalgique, j'ai un petit garçon de 2 ans, et je vis dans cette souffrance, mais dû a ma personnalité je ne peux pas rester sans rien faire, car ça me tue encore plus que la douleur. Je précise que j’écris le français que a 5 ou presque 6 ans maintenant et je parle et écris aussi d'autres langues, donc je fais des erreurs de orthographe et de grammaire. Le problème c'est que je ne peux presque plus marcher (béquilles et difficile), être assis durant plus de 15 à 30 minutes ça me tue le cul cul et le dos, même pour soulever mon petit qui pèse a peine 12 kg, mais on dirait un sac de ciment du type 50 kg. Lui changer la couche me fait trembler les jambes et on dirait qu'on me plante un couteau au fond du dos, même mes épaules et bras quand je soulève ces fesses me font mal, même quand je lui donne la soupe avec une petite cuiller mon bras se fatigue vite et les douleurs arrivent, L'autre jour on lui donnant la soupe j'ai appuyé mon bras sur le plateau de ça chaise et il a commencé à trembler violemment, que même mon petit de 2 ans a eu peur. Sur ma page j'assume l'identité de tous les fibromyalgiques du moins de ceux qui veulent me suivre sous le pseudonyme de "MafibromaVie" ou de "FiFi le clown", finalement nous sommes tous des Clows au yeux de trop de gens, d’État, de Pays, et de Communauté dans notre cas la UE! Je ne suis pas une personnalité et je ne recherche aucune reconnaissance publique. Je suis simplement une personne comme toutes les autres, comme vous qui souffrait peut être aussi de Fibromyalgie, et qui a ouvert une simple page privée ou j'ecris ma vie de fibromyalgique pour suivie médicale par mon médecin. Ben après avec le temps, l'histoire a changé beaucoup de monde a commencer a me suivre 50,100,1000 et maintenant plus de 3000. Je parlais plus de moi au début et maintenant plus de nous et pour vous, ainsi c'est crée une page de partage, aide, soutien, et de discussion pour tous les fibros.

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