3 Things That Have Helped Me Understand and Improve My Fibro Flares
My flares come unexpectedly. This frustrated me at first (and I must admit it still does) because from the research I had done since my diagnosis (which is a dog on lot), I had a pretty clear idea that I would be able to pin point my flares and know when they are coming.
Boy, was I wrong. I struggled with this. I wondered, “Do I truly have fibromyalgia?” But then I took a step back, opened my dreary eyes, and realized I cannot be the only one this happens to.
I can only tell a flare is coming by the weather. Anything dealing with the elements always throws my ever-swinging pendulum of pain, fatigue, insomnia, and of course, the wonderful tumble down the stairs my way.
Other than the weather, it’s up in the air. I could be anywhere. The middle of class. The Museum of History, during an exhibit I had been waiting months to see – or when I haven’t even moved from the couch.
I cannot remember when I experienced my first flare. I just remember the screaming, crying, and pleading with God to help me. Flares can absolutely break you. They instill an even deeper never-ending cycle of depression and a merry-go-around of anxiety which only intensifies the pain, confusion, and utter heartbreak.
Being young, I’ve been pretty determined to try to go day to day doing as much as I can. My flares are becoming daily. The pain is constant – something I hate saying considering I know doctors look at like I’m making it up, just like when I say, “I hurt everywhere,” and they answer with some remark like, “Do your teeth hurt? What about your hair?” My answer is always yes, the sores in my mouth hurt my teeth, my skin, and the sensitivity that radiates from within causes my thick hair to hurt my whole head, neck, and back. So yes, doctors, my pain is constant – I hurt everywhere. My teeth. My hair. My fingernails that have ridges all over them from several deficiencies – yup, they hurt.
But I am used to it. So does it even hurt anymore? Am I immune to my pain? Sometimes I even wonder – am I just making this up in my head? It can’t be. My physically swollen joints, the bags under my eyes, and the bruises from tripping and falling due to my legs giving out from pain prove otherwise.
My condition is invisible but my feelings are pretty noticeable. The side effects, aftermath, and my response to this horrible illness are the furthest things from invisible. I can’t hide my pain – and I try. Boy, do I try.
However, this horrible illness allows you to begin a relationship with yourself that you did not even fathom before your diagnosis.
I learn, utilize, and find ways to help me through flares. A lot of it is trial and error. A lot of it is a shot in the dark, but it’s a shot I’m willing to take if it hits the target.
Here are a few things that I have discovered over the past year that help with my understanding, accepting, and improving my flares.
Tossing and turning in the middle of the night because your lower back feels like bees are stinging it can make you feel a little overwhelmed. You’re exhausted – emotionally, physically, and mentally. Yet, you can not achieve a night of REM sleep due to the pain you are experiencing. You begin to wonder, ‘Hmm. Could I live without my left leg? What about my left arm? Heck maybe even my right. I can learn to write with my left.” Then you think of fantom pain – wondering if it will ever go away, even in the after life.
Then there is the guilt. Ah, the guilt. You want to experience fun, joy, and memory making with your family and friends, so you push yourself to do things your body is telling you not to do. But lately, my pain has set in so heavily, it outweighs the guilt. I spend my days recuperating from the treacherous journey out to my car or the shower that I stood in for 20 minutes, debating whether or not to wash my hair because I did not want to hold my hands up that high for so long. I knew I would pay for it.
But this rest and relaxation is vital to make sure you are a functioning human being. Do not get down on yourself because you need to rest up longer than others. For me, I always think, “Iit takes me a lot longer to do a lot of things than other people. I might as well rest longer as well.”
Just go ahead and forget about the word “routine” all together. Sure, it’s nice to think of a perfect fibro-free world where your day is filled with familiar events. However, this is nearly impossible with fibromyalgia. My day is different every day depending on my pain. The only the routine I am accustomed to is the routine of my chronic pain. It’s ironic: chronic and routine are actually synonyms. I would take a busy routine over chronic pain any day of the week. Any. Day.
3. Making Changes
I know what you might be thinking, “You have had enough change in your life. Chronic Fatigue, pain, swollen joints, mouth sores – so much change.” But as humans, it is in our nature is adapt. The days of lugging a huge purse or briefcase are more than likely over. I have found that back packs help by balancing the contents of your bag. These little changes add up, they help.
I have learned, when you are in chronic pain, you are willing to try anything. Creams that make you break out in hives, heating pads, essential oils, acupuncture, exercise – basically anything. Anything is worth a shot. Do not give up, do not let fibro win. We are humans, we have feelings, we have defense mechanisms, we have strength. Fibromyalgia is a condition, misunderstood and completely naïve to the fact that the people it picks on – will keep on keepin’ on. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
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