Living with the devil

2009 Freda Rumford Vickery Living in Mexico November 2009

By Freda Rumford from the November 2009 Edition

Over the past few years I have spoken to or been asked to speak to, several people who have learnt that although I have the same chronic condition that they are suffering I do not seem to be so affected as themselves.

The condition I am referring to is “FIBROMYALGIA”. At one time known as the “Yuppy Disease” it was relegated to the “It’s all in your head” file. Many doctors stated that “they didn’t believe” in this illness. How, when an individual didn’t know anything about this condition initially, the name even the zillion symptoms or wretched feelings, could a doctor not believe?

In my own case I was extremely lucky. Many many times, the sufferer does not have a good support team behind them or a sympathetic doctor who knows that they are not malingerers. Many did not have a husband and a family who helped every step along the way. Fibromyalgia has so many symptoms that it seems initially as the body is just breaking up as aches & pains hit absolutely every where in no particular sequence and often several places at ones. One of the worst symptoms generally is the extreme exhaustion. Going upstairs is impossible as energy runs out only part way up.

There is no known cure currently for this condition, nor any particular event which causes the onset, although researchers in Australia are ahead of the rest of the world in trying to resolve it. It seems to be caused by anything that could be a shock to the system, a fall, an operation, an illness, a car accident, anything it seems can loose the condition from wherever it is it slumbers within the body. Once awake, there is no going back; it is going to make your life miserable. Fortunately, although extremely painful and debilitating, it is not a killer like some of the conditions it mirrors, (Lupus and MS are just two,) but unfortunately there is very little medicinal help to ease the symptoms let alone cure it. The only known factors that aid in the slightest are gentle exercise, rest and a good night’s sleep. Try telling someone who can barely walk three steps that they have to exercise, or a person so riddled with pain and exhaustion they are beyond tired that they must sleep.

So why is my story so different that people wish to speak with me? I had reached the end of my tether; we were by now looking for a vehicle which could haul a wheel chair as despite exercising twice a week, aqua sizing once a week & having physiotherapy twice a week my condition was worsening. My sympathetic doctor told me that I was doing everything right and there was nothing more she could do, we had reached crunch time. What to do! Was this the end of my useful life; was I to be virtually a cripple to the end of my days? Not a happy picture.So what did we do? We distributed our stuff between our three kids and ran away from home!There was no real plan of action, just a thought that perhaps there would be somewhere in the sun where at least I could enjoy sitting around a little more than I had.

I had done exhaustive research on the Mexico Pacific through to central Mexico and there seemed to be some possibilities.

Several weeks and many hilarious escapades later we arrived in Manzanillo which was still under repair from the previous year’s earthquake. Deciding to stay put over the Christmas Holidays, we settled down in a tiny casita that was both ridiculously cheap and priced within its worth.

Almost immediately we met some delightful people and began to enjoy our days on the beach. Every day I would entrench myself on the beach with my beach chair and book whilst my husband would go off for a walk to explore and meet people, several hours later returning with his exciting story of whom he had met and I would tell of the lovely people who had stopped by to chat.

When we got back to Canada that first April, the extreme discomfort returned and we could hardly wait to go back to Manzanillo where I had started to feel more human & like my old self.

Life in Manzanillo continued with more swimming in the beautiful warm pacific, more laughter with our delightful new friends and more of the incredibly delicious fruit, vegetables and fish that Manzanillo had to offer.

It is now over twelve years that we have been in Manzanillo and the amount of my achievements has been incredible. From forgetting my alphabet, I have written a weekly column in an English language newspaper. From not being able to produce a meal on my own, I now entertain several people at once to dinner. From not being able to make up my mind, I organize events. The list goes on and on as I regain my health & strength. Over time almost all of the problematic symptoms which caused so much anguish have almost disappeared.

There are still things I cannot do but the many things I can more than make up for this loss. I will never again be a

competitive ballroom dancer but can enjoy it on TV knowing that once upon a time I could do that too.

I have taught myself about using a computer, researched and put together two books and am planning a third. I have met many wonderful people who have helped me with their friendship and I have in turn have offered mine. From feeling spent, I now know I can make a difference.

What really has happened is that in living in Mexico we have normalized the negatives and turned them into positives. Instead of having to take a rest in the afternoons after my medically advised exercises, I take a siesta after my swim or walk. I can sit on the beach and enjoy watching the local people play with their children, soak up the warmth of the sun and enjoy the wonderful view of the warm local waters. I do still have to be careful to say “no” to things that take too much energy but if I get overtired it is because I have enjoyed doing something and the tiredness is earned and good. FR


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