Fibromyalgia: Intensifier and Prolonger of Pain with Flare-Ups Severe Enough to Make You Pray to Die
I discover more people struggling with Fibro every week. I am in remission and have only had a few relatively mild flare-ups for over four and a half years. Unfortunately most people who do not have fibromyalgia really haven’t got a clue about how crippling it can become.
I started having just mild and brief attacks of pain in my hands, when I was in my thirties. I assumed it was arthritis. In my late sixties I had a couple of week long flare-ups with wide spread pain so severe, that I could not sleep or find anyway to get out of pain. I got slight relief from hot baths, but spent days and nights huddled in a recliner, wrapped in quilts, sobbing. If someone just touched me gently on certain spots, I cringed in pain. I am allergic to most pain medicines, including even aspirin, but steroid shots helped. I am a devout coward about many things, but I have come through five Caesarian Sections, a hysterectomy, gall stones attacks, and gall bladder surgery, always recouping quickly without much drama or whining. So, I was pretty sure the pain was really bad and not just me being a wus.
Finally about seven years ago, I ended up bedridden for two months.The pain in my wrists was so severe that I couldn’t lift a cup of coffee without wearing wrist braces, my back and hip pain not only kept me from walking, but awake night and day. My ankles hurt too much to put pressure on the gas or brake pedal in the car, so I couldn’t drive. My husband decided to net-work our home computers to his office computer, so he could work from home and take care of me. The then only marketed medicine did not help the pain and made me feel drugged.My doctor had run out of suggestions.
I went on line and joined the Fibromyalgia Association, receiving their monthly newsletters. In these, there were a variety of testimonies about treatments that had helped others. I decided to start with the simplest and cheapest and work through the lists.
The simplest was taking Dextromethorphan, available across the counter. After several weeks this actually stopped the flare-up that seemed to have become chronic. I stayed on this for several months, until my blood pressure began to rise. This is not a good medicine for anyone with high blood pressure. Fortunately, since I stopped taking it, I have not had any totally crippling major flare-ups.
Partly from age related actual physical wear and tear, at seventy-eight when I have to walk long distances, I use a walker. I don’t need it to walk, I need it to sit down just for a couple of minutes to relieve pain and then I can go on. Also, since I both work and play on a computer, I end up with numbness and pain in my right wrist and hand from carpal-tunnel syndrome. I have found that wearing a wrist brace, just when sleeping, actually solves this problem. Most of the time, tylenol extra-strength handles any other type of flare-up.
The problem for me is that at my age I have some wear and tear that would cause some pain anyway, but fibromyalgia not only makes the pain worse, it tends to make it constant. Finding ways to handle stressors
is the key for me. Hating having to do physical chores triples my pain. My best way of managing physical activity is to balance it with frequent breaks. Working consciously to mentally and emotionally accept large and small unpleasant realities and to find grace in them on a daily basis has brought me the most relief.
One woman I met several years ago, who had been bedridden for over two months, got relief with the medicine Plaquenil, though it took almost three months to be pain free.
There are success stories with various natural treatments and there are new medicines on the market. Fibromyalgia has a wide spectrum of symptoms including fatigue and confusion. It seems to be caused by the central nervous system becoming hyper-active and sending out pain signals much more severe than any soreness,injury or emotional response merits and also prolonging the pain way past when the cause has been cured. No one has a clear handle on it yet.
Get a doctor’s diagnosis, which generally will involve tests to rule out arthritis, lupus, and other serious muscle related illnesses. Be proactive. Become knowledgeable through the Association newsletters about options for treatment. Sometimes, doctors have a certain mindset about medicines and treatments, so find one that is willing to work with you to find the best for you.
Though cause and effect aren’t clear, there are some things that seem to make it worse. Again, this can vary greatly from person to person. Become aware of triggers for you. Changes in atmospheric pressure, exhaustion from overdoing physically, particularly when tense, are some I’ve noticed. Depression and resentment are major triggers for me.
If you have a personal relationship with God, surrendering all to God mentally or verbally over and over while in the pain, or praising God even in this time of suffering, and persevering until you mean it wholeheartedly, often can be incredibly healing. I admit that there are times I personally don’t manage this.
When in a flare-up, cut yourself a lot of slack. Mentally treat yourself tenderly, like you would a beloved child in pain. Prioritize and do only what is the most important. Allow yourself to just be. No matter what anyone else thinks, this is the a path to relief.
However, become aware of what is going on in your inner world. There may be something needing healing, resolution, or acceptance. This has the potential to bring more permanent relief than just medicines or rest.
Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed by a difficult situation and am having some flare-ups again. It has taken over a week, but remembering what God has brought me through before, and working on letting go of my picture perfect expectations of myself, life, and others has given me relief.
I recently made a CD of favorite songs about peace, inner peace, personal peace, and world peace. Playing this when driving in heavy traffic, when needing to relax, and when going to sleep has been a great help.
Anything that relieves stress can help lessen a flare-up and allow you to get needed rest. Sex is actually a good temporary stress reliever, as long as the circumstances don’t cause resentment or anxiety.
Repetitive physical exercise,however, particularly during a flare-up, can make the pain worse.
Don’t despair. There is help. But it may take some trial and error. Persevere.