I got back in the gym yesterday. The first time in a couple years. I’ve worked out since then. Mostly, walking, small weights, yoga, or stretching. Nothing’s like a nice workout on a set of machines, though. I was fairly certain I was going to wake up sore and dovetailing into a flare up, but I actually felt good this morning. Hallelujah!

I took it easy my first day back at it. Three sets of 12 reps. Started with legs. I’m just looking for strength and tone. Nothing more. I’m on a 7-day trial at the gym. Which is funny since I am restricted to going during “staff hours” which there are none on Sundays, so that means is really only six days of use.

It’s a start. And I did not have a flare up as a result. It may seem like a small win to some, but that is a big win for me.

My gut tells me it’s all about balance. Don’t do too much and don’t do too little.

Until tomorrow.

3 Bitch Mint Day

I have a high stress job. It’s entirely possible that I think it’s high stress because I feel like I can’t handle things like I used to PFD (Pre-Fibromyalgia Diagnosis). I’ve told my husband time and again that I already gave the best years of my career and now I’d really like to drive a school bus. That’s my go-to dream job that has simple purpose and less stress.

I duck under corporate ladders. Done climbing. Give me the giant steering wheel any day.

Today, in particular, it was very difficult to focus and get on top of things. “Fibro Fog,” they say. Chalk up reason number 54 why I no longer compare to PFD me.

My work To Do list is a mile long, I need to present a webinar tomorrow and I need to travel at the end of the week for an all-day meeting I have not prepped enough for with a client that is high-maintenance. When I return home late on Friday night, I’ll need the weekend to recover physically. And then on Monday I need to travel again. Anticipating all of this today nearly threw me over the edge.

It’s a three Bitch Mint kind of day.

The type of day where I have my three servings of my pain killers, so I can forget about how much my body hurts, largely because of the stress I’m under. I lose my ability to be patient with people. This is especially challenging when it’s a problematic client, and I can’t find my finesse or words to address the verbal crap that was flung at me with grace and diffuse a situation like PFD me used to.

This is really pissing me off.

What time did I take my last pill?

 

I Felt the World Shift

I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia a year and a half ago and since then I’ve been learning to watch for signs of flare ups and, as a result, accept what has mostly been unpredictable. I have figured out a pattern that occurs when I travel for work. My work trips are almost always whirlwind 2-3 day stints of travel, meetings, travel home at midnight. That’s by design. Home is my haven. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel and explore new places, but I rarely am able to combine that with work. Too much energy is depleted with work to be able to enjoy an add on trip.

Most of my physical flares came on quietly. I either woke up in a bad way or went to bed in a bad way. Either way, I couldn’t pinpoint when it hit. It just did. Until about a week ago. My husband and I decided to go out to eat instead of make dinner. We tried three different restaurants that all had either a cover fee for the live music, a menu we didn’t care for or a wait that would have brought us to the point of hangry. After a few laughs and chalking it up to an adventure, we opted for a quicker option down the road. Pei Wei. A good, quick dinner, which fit the bill for the night. On our way home, I felt a wave of exhaustion hit. More like a Tsunami. As I sit in the passenger seat, I felt my body deplete.

That’s when my world shifted and I was fully aware of how quickly I went from laughing and enjoyment to exhausted. I was speechless in my own mind.

The Edge of Pain

It’s funny, yet not at all funny, how pain changes a person. I’m not talking about core beliefs or character, although, over time with enough pain, those may fall victim, as well. I mean when an onset of pain occurs; attitude, priorities and relationships are faced with the proverbial machete and chopped down to size to what’s really important. Suddenly, the worry about that work report dissolves into thin air. Who cares. Pain sure doesn’t.

Pain can either clarify things or completely muddle them. Pain is also very selfish, but reasonably so. When the body screams for help, you’d better listen.

This is my battle quite often because of my ghost affliction – Fibromyalgia. It’s the type of chronic condition that affects the musculoskeletal system, causing pain and fatigue. As a bonus, when I’m stressed, I get a flare up as my door prize. Imagine the feeling of your muscles all over your body cramping up and staying that way for long periods of time. Hours. Maybe even a day or two. Imagine your skin being so sensitive that the touch from your spouse feels like fire. It’s not you, it’s me. I have barely anything to give during a flare up. I’m lucky if I have a couple spoons left in a day, if any at all.

I don’t even want to be a taker when I’m in pain. I don’t want anything from anyone. I just want to be. I cannot tolerate a neck rub or a simple light caress. Fibro is an isolating condition. Leave me be in my cocoon of soft clothes, darkness and quiet please.

If my head is not splitting, it is a time when I do a lot of thinking. I think about how grateful I am that my condition is not worse. My pain moments make that crystal clear. I feel for those with Fibro that spend their days in bed and cannot work as a result. Fibro Warriors, indeed. I walk a fine line with my condition and the high-stress my job brings, but I’m darn grateful I can still do it.

Pain may bring me to the edge, but I find strength in the fact that it hasn’t pulled me completely under.

 

Stress Flare

The first day back to work after holiday break was a day filled with pulling numbers and manipulating spreadsheets. All day. My brain is frazzled.

Tomorrow is due to be a back-to-back meeting day. On the heels of today and in anticipation of tomorrow, I’m having a major flare up. 

Stress=flare up=body in knots=headache=exhaustion.

2017 is starting off really suckie.

Fighting the Sleepy Gnomes

This is not how I envisioned my first day of 2017. I woke up feeling very achy. Mind you, I did not have one drop of alcohol yesterday for NYE, so it’s not that. It’s my ghost affliction. I did what I usually do when I wake up that way. Took my “Mac Daddy” pain pill and got moving.

I even took a 2 mile walk this morning. My Fit Bit gave me lots of praise, especially since my goal is 5,000 steps in a day. Setting the bar nice and low there.

It pretty much went downhill from there. My energy level my physical level and my mental positivity. Down. The. Drain.

This is not how I want my New Year to start, and I’ll be damned if I let it further define this year. I thought Fibromyalgia was not progressive?? But then again, doctors are stumped by this chronic condition, so what do they really know. Not much.

I fought my every urge to crawl into bed and throw the covers over my head for the day.

I cringe a the very thought of losing a day in that way. But that is what I have read from many sufferers – they sleep all day and end up awake all night. Is it possible I could be slipping into that realm or can I fight it enough to stay on my “normal” schedule and continue to have a somewhat okay routine like I’ve had the past year?

I will continue to fight for that, but I’m tired. Really tired.

I decided to have a glass of wine before dinner, which probably wasn’t the most brilliant idea. It tasted good, but it just makes me more tired. I continue to fight the sleepy gnomes. Those are the invisible beings that sit on my eyelids and beckon my eyes to shut and go to slumberland. They sing to me, soft lullaby’s that sound so comfy and warm and it’s a place I want to go.

But not at 6pm at night.

Lord, help me find the strength to fight this ghost affliction just for today.

 

 

Ghost Affliction

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve made an entry. I’ve taken on a new job nine months ago – a job that has challenged me both mentally and physically. I’m not old, but I feel old. It started in November and got worse in December of last year. I felt like I was a 100 year old woman suffering from the worst case of arthritis imaginable. I was convinced I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Some days it brought me to tears. How in the world was I going to manage all the travel required for my job having that? Thank goodness my husband has high health care connections and was able to get me in to see a Rheumatologist within a week (rather than within 3 months).

I was the youngest person in the waiting room.

After a long evaluation by a wonderful physician, she declared that I have Fibromyalgia. What the heck is that?

Think tender points all over the body. Think wound up muscles from lack of sleep and stress. Think foggy memory and forgetfulness. Think tired, more tired and exhausted.

Awesome. But I don’t have Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Since then it’s been very interesting trying to explain my chronic condition to people.

They don’t understand it, especially because I look fine.

They don’t see the massive amount of hair I loose on a daily basis. They don’t feel the depleted energy level and the achy body I live with. It’s as tangible to them as a ghost.

Yesterday, I read the perfect description of what it is like to live with Fibromyalgia. Imagine waking up and starting the day with a fixed amount of energy. For explanation purposes, let’s say that amount of energy equals twelve spoons. You have twelve spoons of energy everyday. And any extra does not rollover into the next day.

Ok, so, in the morning when I wake up, get out of bed, get dressed – that costs 1 spoon. While I continue my morning and get my son’s lunch made, drive him to school and begin my work day digging into and responding to emails – another spoon. Running a client meeting via conference call, capturing notes and adding more To Do’s to my list – another spoon. Follow up on several emails that require a colleague’s attention for the fourth time in 3 weeks- another spoon.

These tasks may seem mundane, but to me they equal big fat STRESS. Stress is one of the major triggers of a flare up. A Fibro flare up that causes knotted up neck muscles, sore and achy joints, tiredness and forgetfulness. Try sleeping at night with all that. And lack of sleep exacerbates the issue.

I think you get the idea. If I go to bed with any spoons left, then I’ve managed my day well. If I use all my spoons, then my next day I typically have a flare up and become the 100 year old woman that does not want to be touched.

Managing the ghost is key. Walking, stretching, doing core exercises, yoga, using a heating pad on my neck, eating really healthy and getting solid sleep all help.

But you never know when the ghost is going to slip through the cracks and wreck havoc.

I’m seriously considering getting a less stressful job. Is there such a thing? Or am I imagining it?