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Why I Sing and Dance Through My Fibromyalgia Pain

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I was diagnosed way back in 2016, after years of pain and fatigue. My family and I both thought that all I was going through was menopause. I found myself becoming more and more irritable, and frustrated because no amount of sleep made me feel any better, no amount of resting healed my pains.

My partner and I quarreled quite a lot about my “moods,” and particularly my sudden outbursts of not just swearing, but twitching and spasming. My arm would “go,” and a whole cup of coffee would hit and stain the wall. I fell over nothing, usually my own feet, and doorways would leap out at me, bruising my arms and shoulders.

I was still working up until June 2015, caring for a lovely older lady who had dementia and needed help with her everyday living. I found myself falling asleep as she dozed in front of the television, and it became increasingly difficult to have her tiny frame holding onto my arm when we went for her daily walk around the block. If I wasn’t with her, I was snoozing or resting at home, unable to get any joy out of life. I once walked at 6 miles per hour, having been a hunting dog breeder and trainer, but felt my energy ebbing away, being replaced by exhaustion and pain.

Eventually, I met my best friend, who also has this condition. It is only through her that I even had a clue as to what was wrong with me. My own doctor had simply shrugged his shoulders when I asked him, so in this case self-knowledge and diagnosis was the only option I had. That’s all very well, but the main part of this is the way I express myself.

My reason for using this term is because, whenever I tried to behave like a “normal” person (for example, doing the washing up), I would start to twitch even more than usual. Then the stabbing pains would begin, and I would feel like I was being beaten up by the invisible man. That’s what we called it in my house, that and full-body hiccups. To add to that, there were the often breathtaking stabs of pain that would have me gasping and swearing at the intensity of the sensation. Often somewhere “weird,” like the heel of my foot, or one side of my face. But it was, and still is my hands and hips that bear the brunt of this horrid condition.

Out of nowhere I will suddenly blurt out a swear word, which kind of helps, but has won me no new friends. To try to hide these outbursts and yelps of pain, I have begun to sing to myself. I also dance, swaying gently to-and fro to try and ease the barrage of sensations. Now, whenever I am “under attack,” I smile, sing and perform my odd little “dances” wherever I go.

Strangers are more likely to smile back, unaware of what is going on – whereas anyone who knows me is well aware that, if they see me singing and dancing, I am having a fairly bad day. I can’t always do this, sleeping is awkward enough without trying to boogie in bed, but I find it does help when out and about in public. It’s also less threatening to older people, who sometimes look as if they think I am taking the Mickey out of their slow, painful waddle. I am not. But my 57-year-old body feels twice its age and weight, and there is little else I can do. So, if you see a small woman singing and dancing around the local shopping centre, it’s only me, trying to make the best of a bad day, and less of a spectacle of myself.

Getty Image by sisterspro

Originally published: May 15, 2018
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