I live in the upper Midwest, where we have humid summers and frigid, snowy winters. These seasons can cause severe fibro flares that put me out of commission for days.
For years I didn’t make the connection between changes in the weather and increased severity of my symptoms. I was so out of touch with my body.
As I’ve aged, my symptoms have worsened. They’ve evolved into horrible gastric distress, neurological issues, and pain that is hard to deal with.
I went from a functioning career woman to a total slug who couldn’t get out of bed for days. I found myself so exhausted I couldn’t do anything.
I often woke feeling like I hadn’t slept a wink. I had no idea I wasn’t getting restorative sleep. My energy level went from little to none. My house was a pigsty. I was barely able to go to work, let alone come home and clean.
I gained a lot of weight — more than 100 pounds in 20 years. But exercise was out of the question. It triggered a major flare or led to me getting sick.
The stress of being unable to do even the minimum to get by had a terrible effect on my health. And beating myself up over not being able to complete the simplest of tasks wasn’t helping matters. Depression set in. I felt worthless and hopeless.
My first reaction when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia was to feel hope for the first time in years. There may be a way to alleviate some of my symptoms, making life more enjoyable and worth living again, I thought.
I quickly discovered it wasn’t going to be that easy. But I’ve learned a lot about myself and my illness. Now I try to recognize the subtle changes in my health. Those headaches could mark a change in the weather, for example — which could lead to a major flare. I rest when I start to feel rundown.
Keeping an eye on extended weather forecasts has helped. If forecasters expect precipitation or a sizable drop in temperature, I change my plans for those days. I may cancel some activities, or take time off from work.
Meditation and practicing mindfulness have been beneficial, especially when it comes to relaxing and falling asleep. If you are unfamiliar with these practices, or unsure where to start, many clinics and hospitals offer classes. You will also find how-to videos online. Youtube has become one of my favorite sources for them.
Rest is vital if I want to keep working and avoid illness. I suffer from severe sinus infections that last a month or longer. I try to get as much rest as possible when I feel the first signs of a cold coming on.
I also try not to sweat the small stuff. Learning to let go of stress is difficult, but has to be done. My health and well-being depend on it.
I try to recognize my limitations and not over-do. But I’ve found I’m not very good at this, failing more often than not.
I consider myself a work in progress. My house is still a mess, but I’ve learned to accept the fact that I can’t clean it as often as I would like.
I feel more hopeful about the future than I have in a long time. Coming to grips with my illness has been empowering. I refuse to let fibro win. Sorry, fibro, you’re not going to ruin my life any more.