Living with Fibromyalgia means you constantly have to make choices, choices that can be the difference between a good day and a flare-up. Some days I have to choose between cooking dinner and doing a load of laundry. These are relatively easy choices. I check the status of Rob’s underwear drawer, and if I can see the bottom, laundry it is! It is true. Everyday is a balancing act, trying to measure the most I can get done against doing too much and exacerbating my pain. Self-maintenance and moderation are crucial to my daily success. But sometimes the choices are clear and easy and I still chose to do the risky thing.
Saturday night we went to a Halloween party. I love Halloween! A chance to express myself in a way I cannot get away with everyday. I was feeling like a punk rocker this year. So at the party encircled by death, a donkey, and a Sarah Palin zombie I had to make the choice – do I drink or not? Alcohol is a toxin and can lead to dehydration. I know alcohol is not good for me, which is why I seldom drink. But sometimes I just want to do the risky thing and deal with the consequences. I am able to make the risky choice because over the years I have learned how to minimize the consequences.
Several years ago we went to Michigan for a good friends wedding. I know, not another wedding story, but this is important, because it was on this trip that I was really forced to listen to my body. I had not yet made the connection between the things I put into my body and the effect it had on my Fibromyalgia. I had to learn the hard way to listen to what my body was trying to tell me. On this trip it spoke very loudly!
Cathy is another of my best friends from high school. Her wedding was an event. The three or four days leading up to the ceremony were constant celebration – showers and parties and dinners and more parties – just non-stop festivities. And then the wedding itself was a grand occasion. It was a wonderful time and I let myself enjoy every minute of it. But of course it was not without consequence.
The day we left to fly home I felt awful. Five days of gross consumption and celebration were taking hold. We had a short flight from Saginaw to Cleveland and with each passing moment on that plane my pain intensified. By the time we got off in Cleveland to make our connecting flight I was in one of the worst full-blown flare-ups I have had to this day. I could barely walk. The gates were not close and the airport was packed. I could not stand upright the pain was so extreme, and each step I took sent waves of fire up and down my backside. My head felt like it would burst.
The airport was buzzing with intense and impatient people. I could feel them flying up behind me, and I could hear their grunts and sighs of disapproval at the speed I was moving. Overwhelmed with the pain and the pressure, I almost broke down. I was miserable and desperately wanted out of the chaos. I remember I asked Rob if we could just go get a hotel somewhere in Cleveland and then fly home the next day. I couldn’t bear the thought of getting on another plane in the pain I was in and I just wanted out of that damn airport. But we got on the plane and I spent the next four hours in a misery I will never forget.
The pain was so unbearable I could not sit back in my seat. I sat on the very front edge to have as little contact against my body as possible. I was weak and unstable but I could not lift my arms up to help support me, so instead I pressed my forehead against the seat in front of me for balance. And I remained like that for the long, miserable, four-hour flight home. I could not talk, or turn my head, or even acknowledge Rob. We waited until everyone behind us got off the plane and then I painfully stood and made my way to the exit. I have never been so glad to be home.
I don’t remember how long my recovery from that flare-up took, but I will never forget that flight home. I imagine that flare-up lasted quite awhile because most of mine did back then, and the reason they did is because I was just in the beginning stages of learning how to listen to my body and understand that what I ate or drank or did directly impacted my Fibromyalgia. I am years ahead of where I was then and that is why I allow myself to make the occasional risky decision. I know better now how to go into it and how to handle it after to avoid, or at the very least minimize, the potential flare-up.
So this Halloween I took a risk and decided to drink. I knew my body was well hydrated because it is the most important thing I do for myself each and every day. I had also eaten a healthy dinner before going to the party so I was not tempted to eat the chips and dip, and cheese and crackers, and pizza, and candy etc. Taking the risk to drink was made less risky by the good choices I made beforehand.
Sunday I woke up feeling exactly as I knew I would – tired and dehydrated, the early signs of a flare-up. First thing I did was to get up and make myself an Emergen-C energy drink. This is a very important tool in my maintenance. Here is a description of the product from their website:
Emergen-C gives you 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin C for the immune system. It gives you a full complement of energetic B vitamins. It gives you 32 minerals and electrolytes. It gives you a health and energy boost. It just gives and gives and gives.
I can’t tell you how many mornings I feel just plain awful and I drink an Emergen-C to feel better. Emergen-C is one of the things I have learned to rely on in my quest to manage my Fibromyalgia. It is a great natural aide and if you have never tried it you can request a free sample on their website (and no, I am not in any way affiliated with them).
Like I said before it is a balancing act. I have not given up everything I enjoy that is detrimental for me. I just prepare better and enjoy in moderation. Listen to your body and learn. If you know Saturday is going to be a busy and taxing day for you, plan to take it easy on Friday and/or Sunday. Learning to say no to some commitments enables you to enjoy the times you say yes even more. These are just general examples and may not apply directly to you, but it is important to think about self-maintenance and moderation. They are two very key components to living well with Fibromyalgia.
I had a great time at the party Saturday. Sunday I re-hydrated and relaxed. I did not clean the floors or the bathroom like I had planned, but it was a good trade off. I allowed myself the risk and did not feel guilty about the consequences.