Okay, I’ve been coping with fibromyalgia for at least 45 of my 58+ years. I’ve seen, or perhaps I should say felt, many types of flare-ups caused by something I thought was innocuous. This time I didn’t do anything, unusual or not, that would set up this strange flare.
Yesterday, I got up and dressed as usual. I had a cup of coffee and checked my email as usual. I sat in front of the computer trying to think of something to write about, as usual. Nothing came to me, so I washed the dishes and puttered around the house a bit.
I got a phone call about noon from my Lakota friend’s daughter, the mother of the 2 little boys we now “sponsor.” We talked about the younger son’s upcoming birthday and the older boy’s graduation from Head Start. We talked about raising children. She needed some gas money and $2 for a “tin plate” (aluminum pan because food stamps wouldn’t cover that) for potato salad for the party. I told her I would call the local store and arrange for that. After our conversation, I called the store and set things up for her.
I decided to play a bit of Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook while I waited for my husband to come home for lunch.
That’s when “it” happened.
I suddenly felt totally dizzy. It didn’t matter whether I was sitting or standing, eyes open or eyes closed. Dizzy. The room would spin when I turned my head. Heaven help me if I tried to walk.
At first I was quite startled by this turn of events. Was I hungry? I hadn’t eaten, but that was typical. Besides, this didn’t feel like low blood sugar – been there, done that. What else would cause this dizziness, this vertigo?
I tried to stay still and centered. I noticed that my right shoulder was starting to tighten up. Then the right side of my neck started to tighten as well. That’s when I realized it was my fibromyalgia. Last year I had some trouble with vertigo and loud ringing in my right ear. The episodes of vertigo were much shorter than this was, but they felt similar. Last year I had undergone all kinds of tests — an MRI that proved nothing more than the fact that I did, indeed, have a brain inside my skull (the issue had been debated); hearing and inner ear tests (which caused a couple of days of motion sickness); heart tests (yep, I definitely had one). The verdict of all those tests – there was no cause found for my problems.
I had eventually realized last year that it was the fibromyalgia that was causing all that nonsense – the muscles in my right side (back, neck, scalp) had been quite tight and were obviously irritating some nerve that caused all the problems. One visit to a massage therapist had taken care of them all.
But that time I had done some work that had set off the muscle spasms. I had expected some problems, though certainly not the secondary ones I had experienced.
Could this be the same thing? Was this dizziness due to fibromyalgia? My instinct told me it was. Strange that there had been nothing to set off the muscles, but other than that it was very similar. So what could I do to try to stop this problem before it got even worse? I could already feel the muscle tightness spreading to the rest of my back and chest.
I called the seminar leader of my class that night to let her know I would not be in class. I took off my bra because the strap felt so tight on my shoulder. Then I told a Flexeril (a muscle relaxant). I knew that, since I hadn’t eaten much – just a bowl of cereal when my husband was home at lunch, the drug would probably hit pretty fast and relax the muscles. At least I hoped so. I sat in the most comfortable chair in the house and did some relaxation and meditation while the medication went to work.
And work, it did! As I sat and relaxed, I could actually feel the muscles in my back and chest reverse course. Within an hour the muscles were relaxed and the dizziness was gone. Really. I made stir-fry for dinner. No problem. Later in the evening, I felt the muscles beginning to tighten again and took another Flexeril. The muscles relaxed. Needless to say I went to bed early and slept well – a side effect of the medication.
Today, I realized what had set off this flare up – my bra. I saw that. You just rolled your eyes! But really, that is what it was. The pressure of the bra strap on my shoulder and bra back on the right side of my body irritated the muscles enough to set off the chain reaction.
Today, I seem to be on an even keel again. No dizziness, no pain in my back or neck so far. And no bra today (TMI?) to set things off. It’s good to “work at home.”
After 45 years, I have learned yet another fibromyalgia trigger and figured out ways to cope with it. Didn’t even need an MRI this time!
I guess this “old dog” still can learn new things.
If you are coping with fibromyalgia, take it from someone who’s probably been where you are – it isn’t terminal and you can keep learning how to cope with it. Most of all, trust your gut.