I received a tweet today from @NLOFibromyalgia asking me how I deal with stress and Fibromyalgia.
When I first read the tweet I thought it was an easy question to answer. However, whilst sitting here thinking of what to write in this post, I have realised the question is anything but easy to respond to: what symptoms of Fibro will people assume I have? How much stress will they imagine I have in my life at the moment? I learned an important lesson about stress during the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. My younger son, still a babe in arms at the time, was seriously ill in hospital. I was chatting with two of the other mothers and the inevitable question was asked: “why is your child in hospital?”. The first mother said that her daughter was having the plaster cast removed following an earlier operation on her ‘clicky’ hips. I told them about my son then the third in our little group told us that her daughter “B” had cancer of the spine. The first mother said how awful it was for “B”‘s mother and that our problems were nothing compared to hers, whereupon “B”‘s mother replied that they were our children and their problems were big to us. She also said that it didn’t matter what she was going through, our problems were big to us. Her daughter, “B” died the following day.
I always try to remember that lesson, although I often fail. However, what I think it shows is that it’s difficult to measure stress levels and convey them in such a way that others can relate to them. The best I can do is to say that I have been suffering particularly high levels of stress in my life for more than two months now. At various times during that two-month period, my Fibromyalgia has made itself felt mainly in relation to my energy levels but also by tossing some new symptoms into the mix. However, I am very fortunate as, so far, I have not experienced the high levels of pain that other people have to endure. That’s not to say that the Fibro doesn’t make itself felt, it does. As well as the fatigue, I’ve had nausea, dizzines. intrusive tinnitus, poor concentration and niggles of pain in various places. However, I am convinced that the Fibro has been pretty much kept at bay by adrenalin: I haven’t been plagued with major problems, thank goodness. I must add, though, that I am lucky to be blessed with amazing support from those around me: my partner, my sons, my best friend and the members of the craft groups I attend. In addition, my GP and I have an excellent patient/doctor relationship. He understands how my mind and body react to stress and takes it into account when suggesting any treatment.
So, returning to that tweet, how do I cope with stress and Fibro? With the love and support of those around me, a great GP, gallons of adrenalin and and a bit of luck. Long may it continue, but I rather think that, when these stresses have eased, I will be hit by a major Fibro flare. Oh, well! I’ll just have to deal with it when it arrives, won’t I?