Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. As my birthday draws steadily closer I’ve been examining my life. Trying to find what brings my joy, what relaxes me, what keeps my stress levels low. One of the things I realized looking back over previous years was I how happy I was when I was reviewing/blogging. I’m not ready to jump back into reviewing, but blogging…I think I can handle it.
The remainder of this post is going to touch on “Living with Fibromyalgia”. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in February 2009. Apart from one month, I’ve not taken any prescription medication for this illness. I believe one should treat the cause of an illness and not just the symptoms. Doctors don’t know how/what causes this illness, so they prescribe medication to manage the symptoms. That’s not for me.
I want to talk about my day to day struggle with fibromyalgia in the hopes that it might help people understand what’s like to have this illness. It’s not easy living with a chronic illness. I often hide my pain. Say I’m fine. Paste a smile on and go about my day. Why? Because healthy people don’t want to hear about my pain. They can’t understand what I feel or why I constantly deny my pain. I pretend to be well. Pretend to have a semi-normal day. It’s not fair; but, it is what is.
For me, the bone, joint, and muscle pain is ever constant. It never fully goes away. Some days it hurts just to open my eyes; the pain is that overwhelming. On those days, I grit my teeth, take two Tylenol, and go about my day. I work part-time, homeschool my three children, and look after household matters. I can’t lie about in bed all day, no matter how much pain wracks my body. This inability to let the pain confine me to my bed has many (including my extended family) believing I exaggerate the effects of fibromyalgia.
It is ongoing struggle for me not to lash out at my family and friends when they complain about how tired or drained they are when they are sick. I want to yell, “This is what my life is like every day. And every day, you look at me like I’m crazy for not being able to join in completely.”
Learning what triggered the intense pain flares was/is the biggest step in coping with my fibromyalgia. I don’t overextend myself. I’ve learned how to say “No.” I make sure to rest before I leave for work; a twenty minute nap works wonders. I watch my gluten intake. Exercise lightly. I don’t spend a lot of time outdoors; high humidity (a year-long given in southern Alabama) is a big trigger. Being indoors with air conditioning helps. Extreme temperature changes can cause flares; as can extended periods of insomnia.
As much as I detest living with this illness, I have learned from it. I’ve learned to slow down, to enjoy life. I revel in the simple things: baking with my kids, dancing in the rain, counting the stars at night. I’ve learned patience. Learned to let go of my unrealistic expectations in regards to what I should be accomplishing. Most of all, I’ve learned how to look for and experience joy even in the darkest of moments.