Perm Any Two From Three

12/12/2017 Premier League Burnley v Stoke City
My Grandchildren’s Favourite Team [Photograph from Burnley Football Club website]
Do you remember the old Football Pools? That desperately important form that had to have crosses marked in an array of tiny boxes, to indicate which matches you thought were going to end in a draw. There was a phrase connected with “the pools” which was along the lines of “Perm any two from three”. I didn’t understand what it meant except that I think it was connected with how many draws one had to predict out of the number of crosses entered.

What has all that to do with Fibro? Well, in my last post I talked about back pain and about which of three things might have been the cause, and now, I think I have it sussed. I have whittled the options down, getting rid of two of them so I quite liked the idea of using that, apparently, redundant phrase.

I am pretty sure that the back pain is attributable to my fall on Christmas Day. Admittedly, the actual pain is different now from how it had been, but no chest infection has developed and I am still fatigued. In fact, it has been a toss-up this week as to whether the fatigue or the back pain have been more of a nuisance. On balance, I think it would have to be fatigue as, when I have had to have a rest due to fatigue, I haven’t done anything for quite some time whilst sitting. Usually, I would do some knitting, sewing or crochet, or surf the net whilst resting, but I have been too exhausted even to do any of those things. When I have had to have a break solely due to back pain, I have usually been able to do something to amuse myself, whilst resting.

Fatigue is definitely having an impact on how I live my life, at the moment. No, let me be honest, it has been having quite an effect for several months. I find that I really cannot be certain that I will be able to fulfil commitments that necessitate a journey away from home. That uncertainty creates in me a degree of anxiety and lack of confidence. I know that family and friends are aware that I have this problem and I think they understand that sometimes I have to cancel at the last minute, but it can’t be much fun for them. I also know that they worry about me, which upsets me. I don’t want to be a worry or burden. I want to be the partner/mother/Nana/friend that they enjoy spending time with, not the one they are worried about. This message is for them:

I am OK. Fibromyalgia is a pain in the bottom. While I do need you to make allowances for the restrictions it sometimes imposes on me, I am OK. I feel rotten for a while, then I start to feel less rotten, or perhaps even quite good, then I get back to feeling [my] normal. Generally I am coping with it. I am finding ways of living with it and altering how I do things. The main thing I am trying to do is live each day as it comes.



And Now, Here Is The Weather Forecast

Warning sign on the outskirts of Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

I was thinking, only fairly recently, that I seem to be escaping Fibro Fog. I had noticed signs of Fibro Fog soon after my diagnosis, but it hadn’t hung around long. Oh, how easy it is to deceive oneself! I was conveniently ignoring the more subtle manifestations of Fibro Fog. Actually, I don’t believe I was deliberately ignoring them: I simply wasn’t recognising them for what they were. As I look back, I reealise the signs were there, all along.

In my defence, I believe some of the problem is connected to the long-standing anxiety and depression that I have. I think there is a considerable overlap between the effects of those and the Fibro Fog: it really isn’t easy to define where one ends and the other begins. Mind you, it probably doesn’t matter, does it? Whatever you call what happens to my brain, the effects are pretty much the same.

Events this week have shown just how muzzy the workings of my brain now are. It has been a shock, both to FPR and to me. Throughout our relationship, it has tended to be me who has dealt with the admin-type stuff in the household, and it has worked well – until now… However, this week, we have both seen some of the strange mistakes I have made. Some of the mistakes are amusing, but some could (and almost did) have serious consequences. It is quite a concern. Not only that, but it is annihilating my self-esteem. I had already accepted that my ability to cope has shrivelled away, but now I have to face the fact that what is in my head is not necessarily the same as what I see, hear or say.

I feel like an idiot. It is difficult for me to trust or believe in myself so heaven only knows how FPR is going to cope with it.

Believe me, it ain’t nice.

What Does Pain Feel Like?

I think this image is probably a pretty good place to start!

While I was lying in bed awake this morning, the subject of pain came into my mind – not really surprising as I had been in the process of turning over, which is a painful process. I started thinking about the pain that I feel, the different places it manifests itself and how varied it is in character and ‘feel’.

I thought I would insert an image here to show the trigger points associated with Fibro: enter problem number 1. Everyone with Fibro experiences it differently and, although there are several known trigger points, not everyone has them. None of the images I found showed all of the places where I experience pain. (I’m not saying that the images don’t exist, just that I couldn’t find what I was looking for.)


Bossy Feet!

These are my feet. Fat. Puffy. Ugly. Feet.

In the very early days of my diagnosis I didn’t have any particular fibro-related problems with my feet. I had had hot, swollen feet for many years so, for a while, it was difficult to tell the difference between my pre- and post- diagnosis discomfort. However, that is no longer the case.

Some time ago, I began to feel pains in both feet which I could only explain to people felt as though I was walking on shards of glass, even if I was sitting down – a feeling that was definitely different to anything I had felt pre-diagnosis. Gradually that sensation changed to more of a stabbing pain – feeling as though someone was continually piercing me with a knife in both feet. Sometimes the pain in my feet is so bad that it makes walking nigh on impossible: the pressure involved in actually placing the sole of my foot on a hard surface becomes pretty hard to bear. I try to have my feet elevated when I sit, to ease the discomfort, but when it is particularly bad, it really only eases when I am lying in bed, relaxed.


Oh, this is a fun one! Where do I start? Well… The pain comes in several different ways in various areas of, in particular, my left arm. Sometimes the pain begins in the tips of the fingers of my left hand, goes all the way up through the left arm to my shoulder, all around the thoracic region of my trunk, across my neck, through my right shoulder and all the way down to the tips of the fingers of my right hand. Luckily, that doesn’t happen too often. More usually, the pain is concentrated in my left arm and shoulder, appearing also in my right arm and shoulder if I am feeling particularly tired.

Most of the time, I have pain in my upper left arm and shoulder which feels similar to a pulled muscle. When it becomes more severe, I have difficulty lifting, or even moving, my left arm. When the pain appears in the lower left arm, it has the feel of pain that emanates from a muscle, but seems to be in the wrong place. Those pains are unpleasant, but the worst is when I feel pain on the outside of both upper arms which feels as though I am being squeezed and squashed between two thick metal discs on long rods. I think the reason why this sensation is so horrid is because it feels as though I am being restrained and it leads to me feeling slightly claustrophobic. It also feels weird.

My upper left arm is also sometimes painful when I shower. Occasionally, feeling water splashing on my skin causes pain but, more usually, it seems to be a reaction to the sensation of the shower puff rubbing across the skin. Much as I like using a shower puff, I have invested in a couple of soft baby sponges, which appear to be alleviating the problem.


I touched on this in the previous section. As well as the pain that creeps across from my left arm, pain also develops independently in my neck. It creates a tired feeling in my neck which, in turn, makes my head seem so heavy that it’s as though my neck is unlikely to be able to bear its weight. I think this leads to fatigue taking hold, although it may be that the fatigue is what causes the phenomenon.

Back and Chest

I’ve put these together because, often, pain appears in both simultaneously. This happens, particularly, when I am reaching the point of overdoing things. The location of the pain in the chest is directly opposite where it is in the thoracic region of my spine. The pain doesn’t spread across the area, it remains stationary. In the chest, it manifests as a tightness, similar to the tension that one can feel in an anxiety attack. In my back, the pain is very like that which I feel when I have a chest infection. In fact, this was the first Fibro pain that I experienced and was the initial symptom that led my GP to make the Fibro diagnosis.

As you can see, the pain pops up all over the place, and in several guises. The pain is debilitating to a greater or lesser degree. Sometimes, it appears all over my body, making everything hard to do: sitting, standing, walking, bending. At other times, it is more manageable. However it feels, I try to carry on with my life, to a greater or lesser degree, adapting how I do things. I’m not ready to give in to the pain completely, even if I do groan when it hurts!


A Quick Poke Around The Edges

Similar to my current surroundings
Similar to my current surroundings

Here I am, at four minutes past midnight, sitting in surroundings which bear more than a passing resemblance to the photo above.

It has been a challenging week, or so, in a variety of ways, including the edges of a certain medical condition which keep giving me a poke. For example, today the dizziness decided to make an appearance whilst I was transacting some business. It’s quite embarrassing, trying to cope with dizziness when there is a stranger in front of you, watching you and obviously wondering what on earth is going on. Luckily the attack passed quickly.

Then there have been the times when I’ve been explaining something that needs to be done but simply don’t have the word that I need. And, how about all those times when I’ve been discussing something with my partner, or someone else, and that dear miss, Ang Zya Tee, decides to butt in?

There have been other symptoms, as well, which have been nudging their way in at the edges of my being, rather like physical reminders of the beast sheltering in the background. Maybe the Fibromyalgia is getting wise to the ways of the adrenalin that has been rushing around my body for some time.

Admittedly, the adrenalin levels are most probably considerably lower than they were during most of August and all of September and October, but November has brought with it stresses and strains of its own, so I don’t want to count my chickens. All in all, though, I do feel much calmer than I have done of late, and that is probably why the Fibro is managing to poke me convincingly.

I am doing my best to take care of myself, particularly in relation to stress levels. I am choosing the least stressful option whenever possible as I think I’ve had enough stress to last a lifetime! We’ll have to see how well that works, won’t we?

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow?

Hyde Park, Sydney
Hyde Park, Sydney

It’s a while since I posted anything here, isn’t it? The reason for radio silence is that, with regard to the Fibromyalgia, things have been uneventful. I have had tiredness and fatigue, but not to any extreme. I have also had some mild pain, which went as quickly as it appeared, and other bits and pieces of symptoms which are not worth mentioning. However, the tinnitus continues to intrude and, at times, can feel unbearable.

My main difficulties recently have been stress-related: anxiety and depression (A & D). Although I am aware that Fibro can cause A & D, I have suffered from both for very much longer than I have had Fibro. Yes, I know lots of people have Fibro for a very long time before it is diagnosed, but Dr. Azeer recognised mine for what it was, or is, within a few weeks of it appearing. Consequently I view A & D separately from the Fibro. Anyway, the A & D have been playing up because my stress levels have been high. I am hoping that, now I’m feeling less stressed, the A & D will ease. In the meantime, Dr. Azeer has suggested I take regular doses of my emergency medicine to help me through. Whilst I haven’t been doing so, I have been taking it more than I was before I saw him this week.

During my appointment with Dr. Azeer, we discussed how well the amitriptyline seems to be controlling my symptoms. We also discussed the well-known effects of stress on Fibro i.e. Fibro Flares. We agreed that, with everything that’s going on, I could be susceptible. However, I told him that I do not intend to spend my life worrying about what Fibro might do to me: I will deal with things as and when they arise. I refuse to use all my energy simply counting spoons.

(By the way, he had never heard of the Spoon Theory.)

Time For Musical Chairs

Luscious-looking lovely chocolates
Luscious-looking lovely chocolates

Life is the same, but it’s different. I still have a lot of very stressful “stuff” going on but it is changing shape. No, it’s not changing shape: what’s really happening is that one of the huge things is building to a crescendo. And it’s scary, really scary. As far as my health goes, it seems to be the “scary” that is causing the most problems, rather than the level of stress. Consequently, the Fibromyalgia is no longer in the driving seat. It has been relegated to the position of backseat driver, with anxiety doing the driving and depression sitting firmly in the navigator’s seat.

As far as the Fibro is concerned, my main problems are tiredness, fatigue, tinnitus and ocular migraine – but, they’re a doddle to cope with compared to everything else that’s going on. Thank goodness I have Peter around to support me: he is helping me more than he knows.

New Things Are Happening

Tree at Aphrodisias

The major stresses in my life recently are continuing. The levels of stress vary but are consistently high and the impact on my health and wellbeing becomes more apparent.

My mood has lowered during these last three weeks and I am having to monitor myself carefully to ensure that I don’t slide down into the dark pit. The situation vis-a-vis anxiety is slightly different, as there have been fluctuations in the level. Generally speaking, I have been suffering more anxiety lately and have had to resort to taking some of my emergency medication on occasion. I really do keep that medicine as a last resort so, having had to take some, is disappointing. Disappointing but not surprising.

As for the Fibromyalgia, I am still of the opinion that I am very lucky. Considering how difficult life has been for some time, I am amazed that my symptoms have not been worse than they have. I am definitely getting more tired, more often and the fatigue is also more apparent. In case you are wondering about why I use the two words “tiredness” and “fatigue” I will explain. I use “tiredness” to describe the times when I feel sleepy and when I feel the sort of tired anyone might feel after physical exertion. “Fatigue”, on the other hand, describes when my energy suddenly disappears and I feel as though I am trying to walk through a wall.

I have previously mentioned that the tinnitus has increased to a level that makes it more difficult to ignore. I am mainly hearing a level tone in my ears, albeit rather loud, but at least it is only a single tone and the ticking and other noises appear to have abated.

One symptom that has decided to make an appearance is pain. It has been generalised pain, all over my body, and low level. I feel stiff and it seems as though I ache everywhere. Not only that, but at times when I am moving around, the best I can manage is an undignified shuffle. However, I am very thankful that the pain has been mild and I have not needed to resort to painkillers – plenty of time for those in the future.


The Danger Period

Market Day, Uzbekistan
Market Day,

At long last, life has calmed down somewhat, although it did get considerably worse before it got better. However, at least I have just one person in hospital now and the ‘life and death’ urgency has eased for the time being.

As you may imagine, the levels of stress have been almost unbearable and have stretched to bursting almost every seam of my being. As so often happens, now that the stress is less acute, its effects are now being well and truly felt – both mentally and physically.

In addition to Fibromyalgia, I also have long-term depression and anxiety. Whereas with Fibro I am still very much a learner when it comes to managing how to live with it, with depression and anxiety I am something of an old hand. There are periods when I go into a state of “lock down”. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not. I think that I am getting better at recognising which is which. At the moment, it is a good thing. I am mentally and physically exhausted by the recent events – and it shows. The Fibro is flaring, causing tiredness, fatigue, incessant tinnitus, dizziness, Fibro fog and bowel problems, amongst other things. Mentally I feel very fragile: I can become upset or unsettled by the slightest thing and, for much of the time, I feel unable to cope with what is happening, let alone deal with day-to-day things that need attention. Worse than that, my anxiety levels are up and I have been having panic attacks. Thank goodness for my “emergency” medicine!

When Peter and I were preparing to fly to Australia in May, Dr. Azeer, my GP, advised me to make full use of my emergency medicine during the trip. He even wrote a prescription for a 100ml bottle of it, so that I could carry some in my hand luggage without fear of it being confiscated!

I had cause to use the emergency medicine on Saturday and, since then, have been taking things very quietly and carefully to try and avoid the need to take more. I am definitely in “lock down”. The only person I speak to, outside of my family, is the friend in whose house my sister now lives, because it is she who answers the phone when I ring. I rang ‘Little Sis’ (her nickname, not actually a relative) on Wednesday of last week to let her know how things were and said that I would rather not talk for the time being. I am very lucky, we are extremely close friends and she understands my coping strategies so wouldn’t have been at all offended. I know she worries about me which is why I have said that emailing is fine. As for most other people, I am keeping my distance – it’s what I need to do, at the moment. I have to be selfish as I don’t have the capacity to cope with anything else. It’s not a good way to be, but it’s the way that’s familiar to me. If I crumble mentally, I’m worried that the Fibro will swamp me physically. And I don’t want that.

And Still The Stress Continues

Weird, isn't it?
Weird, isn’t it?**

My mother is still in hospital, although she is treating it like a pinball machine! You know what I mean? You zap the ball and it bounces from one place to another and you never know where it’s going to end up? Yep, that’s the one, except in her version you are trundled from a side room to the main part of the ward, then off to another ward. Oh! Back again! Into the main section? Nope, into a side room. You get the picture, I’m sure. Add to this the new problems that arise, then disappear, only to be replaced by newer things that are even more worrying.

So, yes, the stress continues. Only now, my ability to cope with that stress is beginning to fail. And we know what that means, don’t we, children? Yes! Fibromyalgia kicks in, alongside anxiety attacks. The standby medicine is close at hand, although I have only had to resort to it once. However, tiredness and fatigue are both beginning to be regular features of my days, together with the heightened tinnitus.

I am trying to lessen the pressure that I tend to put upon myself. I finished my craft project for this week’s swap in plenty of time and I am just picking up and working on whatever other crafty thing takes my fancy. By doing that, I am getting maximum enjoyment of my crafting activities with minimum stress. However, there are some things that have to be done at particular times and I have a few of those waiting in the wings. I am hoping that the spots of Fibre Fog that I’ve had don’t increase and make dealing with practical things, a hard slog.

All things considered, I am getting off lightly where the Fibro is concerned and, as ever, I am very grateful for that. For the time being, as long as I can sleep when I need to, and feel fairly refreshed afterwards, it doesn’t add to my difficulty in coping with the stress of the moment. Long may that continue.

** If you are wondering about the photo, it is of a strange looking building in Singapore which I struggled to photograph in any way that shows its strange appearance. It was covered in 3-D triangular pieces of metal which looked something like the protective spines of an animal. See, I can’t even describe it very well!

Hello! Can You Hear Me?

Turkish sea view


You may have guessed that yesterday was not a “good day” for me. Actually it turned out to be a hugely better day than either Saturday or Sunday, but it still wasn’t good. I did manage to stay awake for much of the day but I wasn’t up to doing much. The sum total of my achievements for yesterday was:

  1. Writing my Fibro Diary post
  2. Knitting three rows of a child’s hat in the morning
  3. Knitting four rows of said child’s hat in the evening (I shouldn’t have knitted the fourth, it was a row “too far”).

During the day I spent some time watching trashy TV programmes and some time online. It was during one of the online periods that I read a post on Facebook, ostensibly written by Fibromyalgia. It was on the Fibromyalgia UK Facebook page:

It was quite a lengthy piece and I don’t intend to reproduce the entire thing here. However, I did request, and was granted, permission to use some of it. So, here goes:

Hi….My Name is Fibromyalgia, and I’m an Invisible Chronic Illness. I am now velcroed to you for life. Others around you can’t see me or hear me, but YOUR body feels me. I can attack you anywhere and anyhow I please. I can cause severe pain or, if I’m in a good mood, I can just cause you to ache all over.

Remember when you and Energy ran around together and had fun?
I took Energy from you, and gave you Exhaustion. Try to have fun now! I also took Good Sleep from you and, in its place, gave you Brain Fog. I can make you tremble internally or make you feel cold or hot when everyone else feels normal. Oh, yeah, I can make you feel anxious or depressed, too. If you have something planned, or are looking forward to a great day, I can take that away, too. You didn’t ask for me. I chose you for various reasons: That virus you had that you never recovered from, or that car accident, or maybe it was the years of abuse and trauma. Well, anyway, I’m here to stay!

I hear you’re going to see a doctor … You will be put on pain pills, sleeping pills, energy pills, … given a TENs unit, get massaged… you cry to the doctor how debilitating life is every day.

Your family, friends… will all listen to you… hearing about how I make you feel, and that I’m a debilitating disease…while you slowly feel that you are losing your dignity trying to make them understand, especially when you are in the middle of a conversation with a “Normal” person, and can’t remember what you were going to say next!


I have edited the piece removing sections to make it more relevant to my situation. Please remember, though, that Fibro is different for each sufferer. Remember also that it’s not just the person with Fibro who suffers, but also those closest to her or him.

I hope that reading both this and yesterday’s posts will help you to understand a bit more about how it feels to have Fibromyalgia. And I sincerely hope that you are never affected by it.