I’ve had fibromyalgia since I was 13 years old, which makes it about 46 years now. Gratefully over the years, treatment and understanding has improved. Still . . . every once in a while . . . just when you’re beginning to forget you have it . . . it pounces! A flare-up happens. Sometimes big but more often than not for me, lately, just big enough to remind me that I am not in control of my own body.
I woke up this morning with the old, familiar “I was hit by a truck while I was sleeping” feeling — overall aches and pains that won’t allow themselves to be ignored.
I wasn’t completely surprised by this flare-up. All day yesterday I had been coping with aches in my legs. I jokingly attributed them to the hurricane that it making its way to my area. But I knew the hurricane was actually a bit too far away yet to have the low air pressure from it causing an effect on my body.
Yes, I admit there were other things that were more likely to have set off the aches and pains. There was cross country travel last week, traveling solo and carting luggage myself. There was a stomach bug that came home with me and caused me to feel wretched for several days. There are projects with deadlines that are giving me stress. There were some physical activities that were more strenuous than usual. And there was stress – disagreements with my husband that got a bit heated. That was probably the straw that broke this camel’s back. For me, stress and the elevated stress hormone levels are a sure way to set off a fibro flare, even without all the other contributors.
So I woke this morning with aching everywhere, not just my legs. It is the proverbial “I feel like a was hit by a truck while I slept” morning. Couldn’t take anymore pain medication yet — too soon. So I tried to get some work done. Not a lot of success there. My concentration was off. I decided to try to write this. I got it started when the fatigue, due in large part to what must have been a poor night’s sleep, started to close my eyes – literally! My eyes were drifting closed and I could even read what I was writing.
Okay, I decided to give in and go back to bed for a bit more sleep. I settled in on my left side for a while. When that became uncomfortable, as any position does after a time when you have fibromyalgia, I rolled onto my back.
That is when my current problem flared up even more severely than the pain. Vertigo. Dizziness. I felt like the room was spinning out of control. I have had it happen before, so it didn’t scare me the way it did the first time. After the first occurrence, I had many tests that proved nothing – well, I guess the MRI of my head proved I did have a brain in my skull – but nothing that would be causing the vertigo. It turned out to be due to the fibromyalgia, which I deduced for myself when I realized that all the muscles in my neck were tighter than a drum on the side that was giving me the most trouble. (So much of what I know about fibromyalgia and its twists and turns I have figured out by listening to my own body.)
So I wasn’t frightened this time. But I was still dizzy. I tried turning onto my right side – whoa, couldn’t stay there, it got worse! Rolled back onto my back. Slow breathing (it’s not just for labor) helped a bit. Finally, I just had to get up – very slowly, of course. Sudden movements sent me spinning. I discovered that, as long as I look straight ahead, I can function, even though it certainly isn’t optimal functioning.
I am sitting up straight (posture is important to minimize both the fibromyalgia and the vertigo), looking straight ahead with only my fingers and eyes moving as I type, so I can finish this note. I have SO much to do – sponsors to assign for ONE Spirit, a silent auction of Lakota art and crafts from Pine Ridge (to include a meal and educational program) in less than a month, the parish newsletter to complete (first one I have edited) and a hurricane to batten all the hatches down for. It is going to be an immense challenge!
But that’s what I always try to tell you. When you have fibromyalgia, much of your life is an immense challenge. But it can be done!! It isn’t easy and there are times someone else has to assist. But it can be accomplished if you focus on pushing past the pain, ignoring the other foolish symptoms (like vertigo) as much as possible and finding the best health regimen for yourself. For me, personally, Cymbalta has been a godsend and I would never try Lyrica (the manufacturers advertise it as a miracle but that isn’t what I have heard – I think they do that to try to make a bit more money than the can by marketing it solely for diabetic neuropathy pain.)
I know you wish me luck with all of the tasks on my “to do” list. I will just plod along and not worry about them. What gets done will be a blessing and what doesn’t, due to my health, cannot be helped. If I get stressed over getting them done, I will just be making things worse.
Don’t need that, for sure!!!