Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pain, Pain, Go Away...

and kindly take the fatigue, the migraines, the depression, and the insomnia (and all the frustration that they cause) with you. This whole fibromyalgia thing just isn't working for me.

< sigh> I wish it were that easy. Unfortunately, it's not. So now I basically have to learn a whole new way to live and cope from day to day.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, fibromyalgia is a chronic, incurable condition that affects your muscles, your joints, your nerves, your brain, your mood, your sleep patterns... basically it just screws up your whole life. Your nerves and the pain receptors in your brain become extra-sensitive; it's like they go to eleven. You end up spending every day in pain. Some days are worse than others, but even the good days are not completely pain-free: the "good" days are when the pain is just a dull ache, and you can grit your teeth, take some ibuprofen, and somehow get yourself through the day. The bad days, well, there's simply not enough ibuprofen in the world to help on the bad days. Those are the days when you sit in the recliner, cover yourself with ice packs and Salonpas patches, and read. Or just stay in bed and sleep. Pain is a little easier to deal with when you're unconscious.

But more than the pain itself, what I'm really having trouble dealing with is how the pain affects my energy levels. Fatigue is part of the deal anyway, and the insomnia that comes with it certainly doesn't help matters any. But you have no idea just how tiring it is to live with constant pain. It doesn't matter whether it's sore muscles, aching joints, migraines, or a combination of all three, pain is exhausting. But the thing is, life still happens, and it doesn't really care how tired or in pain you happen to be on any particular day: meals still need to be cooked, laundry still needs to be done, pets still need to be fed, and so on, despite the fact that all you want to do is sit down and rest.

Once upon a time, I could do whatever I wanted or needed to do without wondering whether I would have enough energy left for the other things I wanted or needed to do that day. Now, sometimes I wonder if I'll have enough energy to do whatever I absolutely need to do at any one moment. For example, grocery shopping for most people is just a somewhat tiresome chore, but they get it done and move on to the next thing. For me, grocery shopping has become, for lack of a better descriptor, a major event. If I need to go grocery shopping, then I can't plan any other major events on the same day, as I simply will not have the energy for anything else that day. Pretty sad, isn't it? "Sorry, I can't go to dinner with you tonight, I went grocery shopping this afternoon and I'm totally wrecked." And if I'm not careful and I do more than I really should, I may end up out of commission for a couple of days instead of just an evening.

I suppose, if I choose to look at this as a lesson, there may be a certain value in being forced to examine my activities and decide which ones are really essential to my life. How many of us waste time on activities that provide little real value to our lives? I'm sure I have done plenty of that over the years. Now, my health is forcing me to slow down and seriously consider every little thing I do. There's absolutely nothing wrong with slowing down and taking stock, I just wish my health didn't have to deteriorate in order to force me to do so.

The Universe works in mysterious ways, my friends.