Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Livin' La Vida Enferma

The life of a fibromite is riddled with setbacks.  And they always seem to be surprises, too.  You'd think I would expect the flare-ups and sick days, like today, but no.  I still have some crazy hope and idea that I'm able to overcome this lifelong condition.  Alas, I do realize that I am doomed to always live "the sick life".

Overall, I would still say I'm doing lots better than I was a few years back, especially in the early days, before and just after the official Chronic Myofascial Pain and Fibromyalgia diagnoses.  Back then, I did not know very much about these conditions, nor what affects them.  Today, six years after the incident that triggered it all, I have learned a lot about the conditions, the symptoms,  the treatments, and how my body behaves, including the flare-up triggers, and the things that seem to help me.  I now have a basis for maintaining some sort of basic, pseudo-normal lifestyle, complete with a full-time office job, marriage, vacations, hobbies, chores, and problems.  Although it's still very easy for me to forget how fragile that balance is.

Blame the fibrofog (which has really been oddly worse lately, or I'm more aware of it these days) or blame the hope I give myself when I see how much progress I've made with living with chronic health problems over the years.  I am frequently finding myself scratching my head over what caused the last flare-up.  Today is one of those times.

So, I've been doing my exercises, as you saw in the last post.  I've been eating lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, and good, healthy food.  I've been having my back massaged every couple of weeks to keep the tender points in check.  I've even taken a vacation recently to relieve stress.   Yet, here I am, with headache in my nose/face, aching in my bones, some more digestive issues, and fatigue.  Looking back, I remember complaining about a new pain that has crept up in my chest (I think Costochondritis), and the digestive stuff for a few weeks now, but I assumed that if I kept doing what I've been doing to stay healthy, that they would just pass quickly.  I guess the lesson learned today is that I cannot assume that in the future.  They are red flags that I need to remember to take seriously.

Knowing myself, I know I'll have to repeat this lesson.  It's extremely difficult for me to decide to stay home from work with so much going on there, just to try to stave off a flare, when I notice a slight worsening of my usual symptoms.  Yet, here I am, knowing that it's the right thing to do and paying the price (again) for deciding to push through the pain.  I think what I fear is never really knowing if a flare would have occurred if I ignored the signs.

For example, I noticed more IBS problems than usual have been occurring for the past few days.  Let's say I make the conscious decision to take a day off work to rest and treat the symptoms.  I feel better by that afternoon.  Then I feel guilty for staying home and not going to work.  But this is where that logic fails. Had I not taken the day off, I would find myself at work, trying to subtly attend to my IBS symptoms between meetings and obligations, stressing, rushing, and making things worse, which would eventually trigger a flare-up of more Fibromyalgia symptoms.  I would not be maintaining my pleasant demeanor at the office, causing more stress from the damage to my work relationships (true story, by the way).  The next day, my body shuts down on me and I am forced to stay home because I cannot function.  Thus, today's predicament.

Damn this lunacy!  I know better and need to remember better.  I need to realize that admitting that I'm noticing a flare-up is not some kind of blow to my ego.  I am doing my best and sometimes it's not enough for the fibrobeast.  I just need to let go of that and do what I know is best: rest.

I've read so many articles and blog posts about this problem.  I will think about this more and hopefully plant a seed in my brain about being more aware about the delicate balance between being a high-functioning fibromite, and the Mack truck version of me.  I'll try to come up with something that will remind me of the right thing to do at the right time.

How are you handling your Fibro flares?  Are you reading this and nodding empathetically, or have you got a method that helps prevent disaster for you?  I'd love to read your comments on this topic.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Move Around and Feel Better

I came across this article today.  It talks about what a huge difference it makes in the body to be sitting for hours on end vs. breaking up the sitting with standing and walking around every 20 minutes or so.  What I read there is right in line with what doctors everywhere have been nagging their patients to do: MOVE!

Yes, I know it hurts.  We are a sensitive bunch and we tire easily.  Believe me, I know! I also know that it's not as easy to do as it is to say, especially in the throes of a pain flare up; however, we must make a daily goal to use our muscles and circulate our blood, regardless of how good or poor our health is.  Fibro or not, movement is necessary!  I don't run any marathons and don't expect to, but I do try to make sure I do some sort of exercise each day, even if I'm hurting a lot.  (Stretching and yoga poses count!)

Below is my exercise log, if you'd like to see what I've been doing as an example.  Go ahead and flip through back to the beginning of the year and before, when I started logging my exercise.  See how far I've come.

I'm not perfect, but I do try, and it's important to try.  Keeping track keeps me motivated and helps me remember how far I've come.  (Note: On days where I ended up being too active to do exercise on purpose, I entered the exhausting activities in parentheses.)  Most days, I start with stretches my doctor gave me to do to help with hip pain/bursitis.  There are five different ones and I usually just pick one per day to quickly do before getting ready for work.  I've just recently decided to try to do two per day, if I can.  We'll see how that goes.  On work days, I also take the stairs half-way up to my floor (it's all I can do before my legs give out) in the morning and after lunch.  Every three days I try to do something more, like walking, yoga, or elliptical machine for at least 5 minutes.  As time goes by, I hope to make that minimum a little higher.  Again, baby steps...

Join the movement!  Don't shoot for the moon today, but do try to get some movement into your day and start as cautiously as you need to.