Fibro Fog and Other “Fun” Symptoms
I have dealt with Fibromyalgia Syndrome and all of the weird and unappealing symptoms since May of 1997. I was a healthy, strong, and active “normal” woman one day and then the next I was dizzy, swollen, and exhausted. The changes took me by surprise and I’m glad I didn’t know all that I would face. I have to say that I’ve been pretty blessed that I haven’t suffered as bad as some others who deal with this malady.
While my “normal” pain level has long been at or above a 5 on the pain scale, I know some folks who have a normal of 8. I go through “flares” where my normal hits an 8 for days or weeks at a time, but in general it is around a 5 or a 6.
Frankly, 8 pm the side effects from the meds to treat the symptoms can be as discouraging as the pain; weight gain, nausea, constipation, dry mouth and the dental woes that come with that particular side effect are just a few.
But beyond the muscle, joint, and bone pain and the skin sensitivities, there are other such interesting symptoms as itching that Benadryl and other prescriptions do not touch. Itching that makes you want to take your skin off, turn yourself inside out, and grab steel wool to scratch with, only it hurts to touch your skin. There have been times I’ve lain in bed with nothing on; no clothes, no bedding, no fan because even the breeze from the fan hurt, and just cried because there was nothing else to do except to get through it. Only those who have had this malady will understand but I don’t look for understanding anymore because I know this is truly something you have to experience to grasp.
But the “brain fog” and fatigue are the symptoms that cover most of my days in a fine mist of “what did I come in here for?”
The fatigue makes it harder to do so many things, such as stay up pa8 pm to visit with my husband and sometimes to wake up before 8 am to get my day started the way I would like to. I find that I can manage to do most of the things I need to; household errands, mom duties, wife duties, writing, research, and the like if I do it in “bite-sized chunks”. Giving myself the permission to rest when I need to and not adding the stress of guilt because I can’t complete everything in a day “like I used to has helped more than anything else.” “Used to” is an ugly phrase to those with a chronic health condition and the guilt often associated with “used to” can add to the fog and fatigue in very real ways.
But there is hope!
You don’t have to be immobilized by the physical, mental, or emotional pain of a chronic illness. Not every day will be full of mind numbing symptoms or gut wrenching pain. Just like a mom has to learn her newborn’s cries, a woman has to learn her new love’s likes and dislikes, and a teacher has to learn a student’s “tells”, the person who experiences the myriad of Fibromyalgia symptoms on a chronic basis has to learn how to function. Learning your own “new normal” is important to the person with a chronic pain condition. Learning your stressors and triggers is important as well. Having a good support system is helpful but all of the compassion and sympathy in the world won’t be enough if you don’t learn self care. Many women sufferers find that guilt over how they can no longer take care of others is one of the hardest things to cope with and it can lead to resentment, depression, and loss of relationship but it doesn’t have to be that way. When these feelings begin to overwhelm me I remember that I have to “put on my own oxygen mask” before I can save anyone else. It is as true in a body that is malfunctioning as it is on a plane that is going down.
So, how do you cope? Share some of your best strategies with the rest of us in the comments.
Until next time, gentle hugs from TheWritingMommy.