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Why I'm Proud of My Poker Face During a Fibromyalgia Flare

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Every now and again I have moments of reflection with my chronic illnesses that I feel the need to document and share with others. Today, I had one of those moments – about 30 seconds ago, to be exact.

Here I am, at my work desk, heating pad in place, realizing that I need to be far prouder of the warrior that I am, day in and day out. It’s easy to focus on the negative, to think about how weak I am when my pain and depression are kicking in, when I give in to them and spend my days in bed crying through the flares.

Last night I found myself in bed at 6:15 p.m. I then spent 12 straight hours fighting a flare so strong, I found myself pleading with God to make it stop and take me home. Pain surged from my toes to my scalp, a deep stabbing in my lower stomach hit me like butcher knives, my room felt like a never-ending carnival ride spinning at full force with no mechanic in sight, and the nausea from my 102 fever drove me to the point of utter exhaustion. Eventually, my body waved the white flag, and I knocked out in a deep state of unconsciousness from 4:30 a.m. until my alarm screamed at 6:15 a.m.

I woke up in tears, exhausted, feeling like I had just gone 12 rounds with Ali, and I had to face another day as a functioning adult. At 26-years-old, I don’t get want to go on disability and unemployment isn’t an option I want to consider yet.

This morning, after a night of physical, emotional, and mental fighting, I picked myself up, and I got ready for work. I took a shower – followed by a 20 minute break, applied enough makeup to cover my dark circles and under eye bags. That was followed by another 20 minute break, and curled enough pieces of my hair to hide the knots from tossing and turning all night-followed by, you guessed it, another 20 minute break. I then spent roughly 15 minutes attempting to find clothing that I could wear that would effectively cater to the following:

1. Apply minimal pressure to pain areas – chest, back, stomach, legs, lower back.

2. Apply enough warmth to keep body temperature at a comfortable level, but not too warm to overheat due to fever spikes.

A picture of the writer on the phone, with her heating pad on her stomach.

3. Apply enough pressure to legs to help with circulation, but not too much to cause discomfort or pain.

4. Apply enough support to feet to prevent further pain due to plantar fasciitis or arthritis, but not too much pressure to cause pain from fibro sensitivities

I packed my heating pad, took enough medication to ease my symptoms without overmedicating to the point of drowsiness or nausea, and walked out the door to start my day.

So why share all of this?

I’m sitting here, realizing that most able-bodied people who endured the night I had endured due to say, a stomach virus, or a night of too much drinking, would more than likely take a sick day and spend the remainder of their day in bed resting. Yet here I am, heating pad on, timers set for my next dose of medication, and clothes packed to attempt Zumba at the end of my work day, fulfilling my day-to-day work responsibilities. Why? Because this is my “normal.”

This is my life, day in and day out. My reality. I have more days like this one than I do days of low pain or manageable symptoms. I’ve come to terms with my illnesses, and while I have my good days and my bad days, I fight them harder than I give myself credit for. I’m writing this today, and submitting this for publication today, because on days when I’m putting myself down or giving in to the guilt of the diseases raging war on my body – I want the reminder that in this moment, right here, right now, I felt proud of the poker face I wore. Proud of the smile I’ve put on my face.

Proud of the work that I’ve accomplished. Most of all, I’m proud of the warrior spirit I carry with me every time I wake up in the morning despite the night of wishing and praying that I would not.

So, to my fellow warriors who are fighting the fight right now, I want you to take a second, and acknowledge what you’re proud of today. Every accomplishment is an accomplishment to be proud of, no matter how big or how small.

Keep fighting, fellow warriors! Gentle hugs are being sent your way.

Originally published: June 10, 2018
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