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One day I was fine, and the next day I was not. We know life can change in an instant—an accident, a life-threatening diagnosis, a surgery—but I, for sure, never dreamed of having to learn to live with chronic itching. 

But I will have to. Following eight months of total body itching, accompanied by numerous MD appointments, medication trials, and alternative health treatments, two weeks ago I sought the help of Mayo Clinic, a group practice of physicians working across disciplines in Rochester, MN.

After four days, including two days of intense testing, I was told my itching fell into the category of Idiopathic Pruritus. In other words, my itching has no known cause at this time. However, something definitive may show up later.

Initially, euphoria carried me through. It was a huge relief to know that I didn’t have cancer, for example. 

Then it sunk in. I would have to learn to live forever with these hot prickly pains coursing through my body, or at least until research catches up with the relatively new information that the itch sensation originates from different nerve fibers than pain. This discovery has spawned much new interest and research into the origin, types–dermal/skin, neurogenic, neuropathic, psychogenic–and treatment of itching.

The origin of my chronic itch, experienced in this “pins and needles” fashion, is thought to be nerve related.

Last week, I read umpteen articles on the Web. The field is promising, and my best hope is that I, along with many other chronic itch sufferers, will get answers someday that will provide relief. Until then, I will try to treat this in the same fashion as I’ve dealt with a fifteen-year history of fibromyalgia, which is mainly to let my body be my guide.

But that is easier said that executed! My head has always wanted to do more than my body does, and my head often wins. That will have to change!

As my long-time nursing friend, Marianna, reminded me once again last evening, I know my body best, better than physicians limited by science that is still unknown. By heeding what my body tells me, along with a heaping dose of humor and God’s help, I hope to prevail.

***

As I was searching just now (10-7-13) for a relationship between chronic itching and fibromyalgia, I happily discovered a fellow nurse’s informative and inspirational blog on living with fibromyalgia. Read Barbara Keddy, BSc.N, M.A., Ph.D. here.

 

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