Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Typical Day for Benia

Once again, I have managed to be very late to work today. I am very lucky to work at an office where I can be flexible with my hours and adjust as needed. However, there are certain core hours during which we are all supposed to be in the office and I know how hard it can be to make up time if a deficit builds up. Fibromyalgia be damned!

In case anyone wonders why I am always coming into the office so late, please know that I typically eat lunch at my desk and work late to ensure I earn an honest week's pay. I will also expose some of the mysterious details of my frequent lateness here, in this blog.

As I have already outlined in an earlier post, I take a lot of medicine to try to control the many symptoms of Fibromyalgia. They don't relieve me completely, but they all do a little something for me. Among the drugs I take are two that help me sleep - one helps me to be asleep, the other helps me to get all the proper stages of sleep. Sleep is typically the first focus of treatments for fibromites, because studies have found that anyone with inadequate sleep has an increased sensitivity to pain. For fibromites like me, that means I feel worse, sleep worse, etc. It becomes a downward spiral of maddening symptoms. So, doctors encourage us to get as much sleep as we can get.

Getting back to my day, I take medications that help me sleep. I typically get to bed around 10pm on a worknight. Getting up at 6am or even 5am used to be fine for me before the FM, but now, it's unthinkable. Don lets me sleep until he leaves for work, which is usually closer to 7am or 8am. I am grateful that we have found this system, but here is the first reason for my tardiness.

Another typical symptom of Fibromyalgia is muscle stiffness that is especially bad in the mornings. I experience that morning stiffness just about every day. When I first wake up, my muscles are very tight and painful. Walking and moving around is challenging for me, and I need to be especially careful not to hurt my stiff muscles and cause a flare. As a result of this symptom, I am very slow to get to the bathroom, get to breakfast, shower, get dressed, etc. I probably need twice the amount of time it would take a normal person to do the same morning routine. I don't want to go slow, I have to.

Next, is the inevitable IBS episodes. I usually eat cereal with unsweetened soymilk for breakfast. When the IBS is especially bad, my belly starts to hurt right about the time I'm finishing up my cereal and I need to rush to the bathroom to violently dispose of the gas and, well, you know the rest - it's ugly. On other days, there is no urgent rush, but there is usually discomfort and pain, and a waiting game in the bathroom for some relief. There are some days when relief doesn't come, and the clock urges me to get going and all I can do is hope things will work themselves out later on. Today was one of those days. I am grateful that I am usually limited to having the more violent episodes of IBS only after meals. Back when this was still new to me, I hadn't established a pattern, and the unpredictableness was adding stress to my days. Knowing really is half the battle.

Still with me? I'm impressed!

Among the other symptoms I typically endure on any given day is a daily nausea. My doctor and I speculate that the muscle relaxer that I take might be responsible, or at least contributing to, this symptom. It's not usually the nagging kind of nausea that feels like vomiting might actually be a possibility, so I'm glad it's only a "fake nausea" that I can usually handle. I am noticing that I get this feeling of nausea around lunchtime most days. Luckily, I am able to eat and it helps ease the feeling a bit, but it returns after mealtime is over, unfortunately. (Of course, this makes it tempting for me to eat when I probably shouldn't. That's something I need to watch as my waistline expands.)

I also have been dealing with "fibrofog", as I mentioned in another post. This has been widely reported among other fibromites, and includes problems with concentration, being distracted, being unable to think, having difficulty finding the proper words, memory issues, and other cognitive problems. I discussed this with my doctor during my last visit, and he informed me that getting a proper quality (not quantity) of sleep is crucial to combatting this symptom. What fibrofog does to my daily experience, especially in the mornings, is slow me down in making sure I have taken all my meds, put all my clothes and accessories on (can't leave the house naked), taken my purse, keys, lunch, and anything else I need for the day with me. Today I needed to remember to take test results with me for my doctor's appointment later on. Forgetting things after I've already driven down the block has occurred, though I'm proud to say it has become less frequent.

There are many other things I may have to deal with on any given day, including:
  • headaches
  • vision problems
  • pains of all types, styles, and severities, in all areas of the body
  • fatigue, low energy (read the famous Spoon Theory)
  • skin sensitivities (itching, hives, etc.)
  • annoying tingling sensations in any areas of the body
  • dizziness with or without vertigo
  • sensitivities to: sounds, lights, visual patterns (like half-closed blinds, small checkers), smells and chemicals, and/or drugs
By the time I get through the morning dose of medicines, breakfast, vitamins, IBS, stretching and exercises if I'm lucky, showering, getting dressed and made up, and preparing lunch and whatever else I need for the day, I am typically out the door anywhere between 8am and 9:15am, with frequent exceptions (like today). Today, I left home at 10am, and I hated it. I have a doctor's appointment today at 5pm, so I cannot make up the time I missed today. Luckily, work is not as frantic today as it was yesterday.

So that's a typical morning for me. I'm sorry if you suffered an inconvenience from my tardiness. I hate to be late, but because of the fibrobeast, I must do whatever I can to save myself first, before I can think of helping you. I hope you understand. Thank you for reading.