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What I Find to Be the (Surprisingly) Worst Part of Fibromyalgia

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What’s the worst thing about having fibromyalgia for me?

Well, if I’m honest, the answer to that question is likely to be different day to day. Hour by hour, even.

Somedays, fatigue is the most frustrating thing, others it’s one particular type of pain or another. Then there are the myriad other symptoms that seem unrelated, but aren’t. Things like fibro fog, lack of temperature control, pins and needles, anxiety. I’m sure you get the idea. There’s a lot to choose from.
Today I’m going with “having a cough.” That’s right, I have a cough and my fibromyalgia is making it worse. Or it’s making my fibromyalgia worse. I’m not sure which. Maybe it’s both.

Let me explain: I have a cough at the moment (as you may have guessed) and it’s pretty much put me out of action. Me. The person who manages to walk (and by that I mean shuffle or limp) around every minute of every day in the kind of pain that makes me want to cry, which I do sometimes, by the way.
This is why it’s frustrating to be incapacitated (my phone just tried to change that to decapitated, but that’s a tad too dramatic, even for me) by a regular cough that should be annoying at worst.

To begin with, my husband had a cough which inevitably I now have too. At first, it’s mildly irritating and tickly. After a few days of trying cough sweets, lozenges, medicine, honey and lemon drinks and all of the usual things, it’s still here. I think partly because my fibro has me so run down most of the time that it takes me extra time to get over even something small that’s added to the usual cacophony of symptoms that is my life.

Now, as we’ve established already, coughs are not fun for anyone. They can disturb your sleep, which I reeeeeally don’t need because fibromyalgia does an extremely good job of that without assistance. This in turn (for me anyway) can make my fatigue worse. Also, just the noise in my own head of coughing invites migraines, which I certainly do not want to encourage, thank you very much.

I have saved the best (i.e. worst) until last. Have you figured it out yet? I’m betting it affects everyone regardless of their chronic illness status, but it most assuredly does not get along with fibromyalgia. You’ve got it – muscle spasms! Following a few days of coughing up my internal organs (told you I wasn’t dramatic), I’m getting muscle spasms and pain in my back, sides, stomach, neck and around my ribs. This can, and probably does happen to everyone on occasion, but it doesn’t take much for me to pull, sprain or spasm, so this little old cough is playing havoc with my musculoskeletal well-being.

I’m sore like you wouldn’t believe. Or at least like I hope you believe. I’m honestly not trying to get sympathy. Well, OK, I will accept a tiny bit of sympathy because I’m sooooo tired and sooooo hurting.

Anyway, the reason behind all of this is to share with you the perhaps less obvious side to having fibro or any similar chronic illness. It mostly makes all other medical issues more complicated or worse than they would otherwise be. So if you’re chronically ill and this happens to you too – I get it. You are not alone in finding this an issue. If you have a chronically ill loved one who is complaining a little too much about a cough or cold, please remember that they’re not just “weak” or “whining.” They are experiencing an aggravation of their already temperamental physical body.

Thank you for reading. I’m off now to disturb my own and my husband’s sleep so that we’re both sufficiently zombie-fied in about eight hours when a noisy, energetic toddler decides it’s time to come and practice his forward rolls on our bed!‎


Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with three main symptoms — widespread pain, chronic fatigue and cognitive trouble. Fibromyalgia is a complicated illness that’s not well understood. In the past, it was mischaracterized as a mental health disorder. Even today, some doctors wave off fibro symptoms as being “all in your head.” This isn’t the case. Read The Mighty’s comprehensive guide to fibromyalgia here. Click here to join our fibro community and connect with people who get it.

Getty Image by Artak Khachatryan

Originally published: May 31, 2018
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