Sunday, January 29, 2006

THE NATURE OF (my) PAIN

Emotional pain. Physical pain.

I usually succeed in keeping them separate (and would MUCH rather have the physical pain than the emotional pain) but today the line is murky. I've been in an FM flare for a month now and it's tiring day in, day out. I'm worried I'm heading back to when it was agony 24/7 for a decade (no exaggeration). The last few years it's been good enough to notice a difference when it flared for a day or week. This time it's taking its time going away.

Constant pain and fatigue can make me feel very alone and vulnerable at times. So it's not a surprise that my thoughts today have gone to my dearest friend. I miss him so much for so many reasons, including that he probably understood better than anyone how this was for me because he spent so much time with me. I miss his distraction, his laughter, I miss his kindness and patience, I miss his healing touch and soft voice. I miss the look in his eyes when he felt so helpless to make it better. I miss his appreciation of what he considered my bravery.

Hence the intertwining of pains today.

It's very rare that anyone spending time with me would know that I'm hurting. This is less about privacy for me than it is about not allowing myself to walk or move like I'm hurting because it puts me into a mindset that can be self-defeating. I am not this illness, I am not this pain.

Having FM, for me, is like having one of those awful achy flus all the time. Everything hurts. When it's really bad a soft light comforter hurts. A shower hurts. I call it 'losing my shock absorbers'. You know how it feels when you step down a stair and the next step is further down than you had anticipated and it's made of concrete, how it jars your body hard? That's what every step is like. Sitting in a chair hurts. A bed can be your enemy.

Distraction with fun or work or sex - anything interactive - is the best treatment. Aside from that this is how I handle things now, after exhausting all other treatments both traditional and alternative:

I got myself off all pain meds except for the occasional tylenol. I do NOT recommend this to others. It's just what worked for me. I was concerned about the rebound effect (long before they started looking at this re Migraines) and so slooooooowly weaned myself away from painkillers of any kind. It helped.

I take daily calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D to keep the whole body muscle cramps at a distance.

Courtesy of my parents, I got one of those memory foam mattresses. Worth every penny. It doesn't help with the sleeping but at least my bed doesn't actually hurt me anymore. And I keep my room warm to keep the bone chilling cold that can be part of having FM at bay.

Hot showers and hot baths. Bad for my skin (no matter the oil used) but good for the pain.

I move around and exercise regularly, in between periods of rest (sitting at my computer or otherwise).

The most comfortable place for me in my day to day life is at my computer (thank goodness, since I spend so much time here!) because I have a good office chair, keep myself warm and keep my feet up. I sit back, not hunched, arms supported, the keyboard resting partway between my lap and the keyboard shelf.

I got rid of the ongoing stress in my life. That meant totally changing my life, including getting out of an unhealthy marriage. I just don't sweat the small stuff and keep my exposure to toxic people at a minimum and use humor to get me through. And most of the time I succeed in living one day at a time. Let the future worry about itself.

In another life I hiked, skiied, biked, swam. I remember those days fondly but don't pine for them. That was another me. And before and after the FM settled in for good thirteen years ago I have been the parent who taught my sons how to ride bikes, who attempted to play basketball with one of them, who coached t-ball, etc.

The saddest thing for me is that, though I do everything I can not to have this impact my sons because I am NOT my illness and didn't want them to see me that way, my younger son, at 20, has no real memory of me before the FM.

But it's not all negative. In fact there are a LOT of positives.

Pain is a great teacher.

Since everything has a price in pain and fatigue, you really figure out what is important to you and that's what you spend your energy on. Needless to say housework isn't high on that list other than me keeping it simple. Time with friends, sons, having fun, traveling, having new adventures, IS important.

And having FM brought me to the internet. I could no longer work outside the home and found myself feeling very isolated and useless. The internet brought me work I thoroughly enjoy and feel is worthwhile and which lead to me finding the strength to end my marriage, brought me new friendships, brought me love which lead to adventure, fun, travel and great joy.

Pain teaches you patience. Patience can lead to inner serenity.

As can journaling, apparently. Writing this out was an exercise in self pity and I'm sorry to subject you readers to it. But it has genuinely helped me as it brought me back to the positives, to the good things in my life, and I've regained my emotional equilibrium again.

Thanks for listening! I promise I'll lighten things up and keep things shorter next time.

3 Comments:

Blogger DrumsNWhistles said...

What an incredible post! You are an inspiration.

1:04 AM  
Blogger Shelly said...

You write what you want to write it is what keeps it interesting. Don't worry about us, we will still read :). I enjoy these sort of posts!

Feel better my friend!

5:23 AM  
Blogger SwampHag said...

Thank you both! :-)

10:34 AM  

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