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4 Little Wins Against Fibromyalgia Today

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Sometimes life writes an article for you when you least expect it. This blank page has been sitting here for two days waiting for me to write an article — but my fibromyalgia had other plans. I spent two days miserably uncomfortable on the couch — too exhausted to move but in too much pain to sleep. All I could think about was the unwashed laundry, the dog hair on the floor, all the things I wanted to get done but couldn’t. I was in tears, desperately wanting to take a shower but without the strength. I crawled into the bathtub where at least I didn’t have to stand.

When I got out, I realized something: There were plenty of things I had gotten done that I should be exceedingly proud of myself for — but I wasn’t. Why not? Why don’t we take pride in what we accomplish when fibromyalgia makes the simple act of breathing difficult?

These are the four things I accomplished today that I’m considering a win against fibromyalgia.

1. Making the bed (sorta).

Full confession, making my bed is the first thing I try to do so I start my day with a “success.” Full confession number two: sometimes “making” the bed consists of straightening the sheets a bit and giving the pillow a fluff. Just the act of putting my feet on the floor was painful this morning — so a quick tidying of the bed was a monumental success in my book.

2. Washing (and drying).

I try to shower every night without fail – I try. Feeling clean helps me sleep and lets me end my day with another “victory.” But some nights it’s too much. So I do what I can, whatever that is. I use my lightweight towel when I can’t lift a regular one. I lay a towel on the floor so I can rest and take my time before I stand up. It probably looks like I spent the night bar hopping if you saw me, but unfortunately, it’s just another day with fibromyalgia.

3. Feeding the dog.

Fortunately, we are a two-person household, so our pup isn’t going to starve (especially with those big pitiful eyes). I know I don’t have to be the one to feed him, and sometimes it’s more strength than I should exert to take the air-tight lid off, scoop it out, and then let him outside when he’s finished. It might not seem like much, but it is. Tonight he gave me “the look,” and I stumbled my way to the kitchen to give him a (very big) scoop and a pat on the head. Fibromyalgia can take away your ability to care for yourself, and heartbreakingly it can take away your ability to care for your family as well. It might have just been a scoop of dog food, but to my pup (and me) it was a major win.

4. Agreeing to future plans.

Often, the last thing you want to do when you have fibromyalgia is to make plans that require you to clean the house or look presentable, so telling my mother she could come over Friday was not the most thrilling choice I made today — but I can’t let fibromyalgia run everything I do. Sure, the floors won’t be spotless, my hair will inevitably be a mess, but I’ll do the best I can. The unpredictable nature of fibromyalgia can make it absolutely terrifying to obligate yourself to anything, so it’s definitely a checkmark in the win column just for agreeing to try.

These may all seem like such trivial, mundane things to the average person. But I believe when you have fibromyalgia, you must learn to celebrate those small victories and embrace what you can do — because that is how we find the strength to keep going.

Getty image by Regina Fatkulina.

Originally published: September 1, 2021
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