A Very Special Gift

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Bondi Beach (I think!). Summer 2013

Here in the UK the National Health Service has a vaccination programme each winter to protect certain vulnerable people from flu. I can’t remember which groups are included – and I’m too lazy to check it, at the moment – but I know that I am one of the people invited to have the flu jab because I have a chronic chest condition. It usually takes me a while to get around to having the jab, but I do always make sure that I take advantage of its availability. I think it is sensible to have vaccinations when they are available. In fact, in 2015 I heard that there was a Shingles vaccine available.

Now, my body is extremely reactive to stress. Over the years, stress has caused me to suffer prolonged periods with no voice – the problem was so bad that I began learning sign language so that I could communicate with my family without having to write everything down. (Have you ever tried losing your temper when you have to express that anger down on paper? T’ain’t easy, I can tell you!) Stress has also caused me to suffer excruciatingly crippling headaches – not migraine but most definitely as bad as migraine – and also to develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome, amongst other things. Oh, yes… and Fibromyalgia.

Anyway, back to the Shingles Vaccine. When I learnt about it I was under a huge and prolonged period of stress. I knew, as did my favourite GP, that I was likely to be susceptible to anything and everything when the stress dissipated, so I asked him if I might be given the Shingles vaccine. He agreed that it would be a good idea but, unfortunately there was no way that it could administered within the NHS as I was outside the qualifying criteria. I decided to pay privately for the vaccine and, even though it cost more than £100, I remain certain that it was a sensible thing for me to do.

As you can see, I am a believer in the use of vaccines and so, this winter, I had the flu vaccine, as usual.

During the past three weeks I have been in the company of some people who have been suffering from the nasty cough/cold/flu lurgy that has been touring the UK. Usually, I would steer well clear of those nasty germies, but it wasn’t quite as easy as usual. Consequently, I have been half-expecting to be struck down with a severe case of Fibro Flu. Cue this week.

On Tuesday I began to feel unwell: very unwell. I had severe pain in the thoracic region of my back and also in my chest, both of which are pretty reliable signs of a chest infection working itself up into a frenzy. I was boiling hot. Then I was freezing cold. Fatigue and tiredness were off the scale. I felt decidedly l-o-u-s-y. My favourite GP likes me to keep antibiotics at home so that I can start taking them as soon as a chest infection starts because, once the infection takes hold, it is an absolute whatsit to get rid of. However, this time, I didn’t start taking the antibiotics. Although I seemed to have almost all of the symptoms, I wasn’t completely convinced that I actually had an infection. I already had an appointment booked with my favourite GP for Wednesday afternoon and decided that I would wait until I saw him and ask him to take a listen to my chest. Wednesday came and in I trotted to see my favourite GP. He checked me out and said that my chest was completely clear. It wasn’t a chest infection! Hmmm. Peculiar…

It turns out that my symptoms were all courtesy of “the gift that keeps on giving” (to quote my friend, Anne). My Fibromyalgia has decided  to make me feel so lousy that it feels like flu. Isn’t that fun? You’re right. It’s not.

Fave GP and I discussed Fibro, symptoms and medication and agreed on the same conclusion i.e. there is little point in me taking any of the recognised medications for Fibro as they are all aimed at the pain, which is the least of my problems. Fave GP asked me which symptoms I have and I went blank. I just couldn’t think! Whilst I was trying to reply, I had to pause for a while, after which I told him that dizziness (which had been the reason for the pause) is one of my symptoms. I told him that I have a wide variety of symptoms but little pain, compared to other suffers, for which I am very grateful. Please be sure, fellow Fibro sufferers, that I am truly thankful that the pain I have appears slight in comparison to what seems to be the case for very many people who have Fibromyalgia.

In view of the discussion of symptoms with Fave GP, I have decided to try and add a page to this blog where I can note any symptoms that I have. So, watch this space – or should I say, watch the space next to this space?



One Good Turn…


For a variety of reasons, FPR and I went on a quick coach holiday to Edinburgh over the Christmas period. I love Edinburgh but struggled to find a photograph which reflects that, to use for this post. Then I realised that when I think of Edinburgh feelings, rather than images, come to mind. That must be why it has taken me far longer to choose a photograph for this post, than to write the actual post itself!

Anyway, back to the point of this blog post.

Regular readers will know that I have been encountering more difficulties with the Fibro lately than I usually do. New symptoms have cropped up, with tiredness and fatigue being particularly troublesome. I had taken the build-up to Christmas gently to make best use of my spoons, but it had still made itself felt. Luckily, those around me are aware of and accommodate the restrictions of my Fibromyalgia.

We were staying in a hotel but had been invited to spend time with FPR’s brother and his family. We had also had an invitation to visit friends, so that was Christmas Eve and Boxing Day spoken for. We spent a quiet day at the hotel on Christmas Day. Well, I say quiet… but, more of that later.

The plan was that, on Christmas Eve, the entire family group would go to North Berwick for some cobweb-blowing therapy, but my cobwebs would be allowed to remain intact. In other words, they would walk and be battered by the wind, but I would stay in a cafe, snug and cosy, knitting up my own personal storm. However, as the weather was being a trifle unco-operative, North Berwick was knocked off the agenda. We adjourned, instead, to the House of the Long Men (so named by me as all the males were over six feet long!). The change of plan was a surprising bonus for me. Remaining at the House of the Long Men meant that I was able to properly relax. I enjoy having coffee in a cafe but it is definitely a less-refreshing form of relaxation than being with people, and in a place, one is at ease with. The pleasant result of the day was that I felt better than I had for a while. My Fibro symptoms eased right off. Bliss.

As I mentioned earlier, we were remaining in the hotel on Christmas Day, which was absolutely fine with us. Our fellow travellers were generally a pleasant bunch, our coach driver was cheerful and ready to chat with anyone and the hotel staff were pleasant, polite and helpful.

There was a couple on the holiday we had been talking with, both of whom had obvious disabilities. At mealtimes, the husband would to fetch his wife’s food first, then return to the buffet to pick up his own. In my interfering way, at the Christmas dinner I said to him that I would like to give him a Christmas treat by fetching one of the meals, so that they could eat at the same time. I was very pleased when he accepted. (What I hadn’t told either he or his wife was that I was going to be providing the entertainment.) He told me that they were going to have soup so I fetched two bowls of soup and a couple of rolls. When I was a couple of steps away from their table, my performance began.

I caught my foot on the wife’s wheeled-walker and went flying through the air, soup and rolls in hand. I made a technically superb piroutte before landing elegantly in a crumpled heap on the floor – and I didn’t even drop the soup! Actually, I must have dropped it at some stage as the bowls crashed dramatically, emptying their contents on the floor. I have to say that I was very pleased that I didn’t get any of the soup on me!

I will say, at this point, that contrary to what many people thought, I was not in the least embarrassed. I was disappointed for the couple that I hadn’t managed to carry out what I had promised. I was also upset that the husband tried to take the blame for my fall. It was nobody’s fault but my own. I had been the one to suggest that he park the walking frame in that spot and I was the one who tried to walk through it, instead of round it.

OK, back to the gory details of the performance. Help appeared from all directions, in an instant. I was not really hurt – just a bit of muscular pain and some preparatory work for a couple of bruises. I think you could say I was very lucky! I certainly felt lucky FPR jokingly said that’s what I get for doing a good turn and that I’d better not do any more but I hope it won’t stop me.

(This is where I found the photograph at the head of this article. It was one of the results that came up as being free to use, when I searched on Google. https://www.ed.ac.uk/literatures-languages-cultures/dashkova

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas…

The Italian Chapel on Mainland in the Orkney Islands

FPR and I have spent a lovely few hours with family this afternoon. They had their Christmas celebration yesterday so on Christmas Eve it was Boxing Day! A bit of a mixed-up time, eh? Not only that, but I have had a generous early Christmas present.

My friend, Fibro, decided to give me a present consisting of multiple symptoms that I don’t usually have a problem with. I must say, at this point, that none of the individual symptoms has been unbearably awful. However, the arrival of lots of them at once has been a bit anti-social. It has felt overwhelming, at times. I have been feeling pain in places that don’t usually give me any trouble and it has also been making itself at home in the places where it is a familiar face. It has been particularly bad in the thoracic region of my back and up across my neck, shoulders and arms. Fatigue has been playing up for a while but, the last few days it has ramped up the action or, should I say, the lack of action. An example of this is that I have only been able to work a few short rows of knitting, before having to rest – particularly irritating as I am trying to complete a Christmas gift!

Sleep has been less restorative than usual. Up until now, sleeping has revived me, but that doesn’t seem to be working, at the moment.

The Fibro Feet have been working hard causing discomfort, as have the Fibro Fingers. Add to that particular mix, the Restless Legs and you have a lively dance to watch.

With the symptoms I have mentioned, and others, has come a general feeling of unwellness. Bossymamma has not been a happy bunny!

As Anne with an ‘e’ says: “Fibromyalgia: the gift that keeps on giving”.

The Vice Squad Have Got Me!

Jamaa al-Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. January 2012

It had to happen some day. I knew the Vice Squad would eventually catch up with me. I’m not sure that I deserve it, though. I really hope it will be gentle with me.

No, I don’t mean THAT Vice Squad! Whatever do you take me for? No, don’t answer that! The Vice Squad I am talking about is the one that attacks my upper arms and uses a metal prod on each arm, which feels as though it is about three inches (7.5 cms) in diameter, to do so. It squeezes those two circular discs together, towards each other, in its vice-like grip. Even though no-one can see them, and you could argue that they don’t exist, I can tell you exactly what they look like. How weird is that?

The discs are about 1/2″ (1.25 cm) to 3/4″ (2 cm) deep and the rims are painted a burgundy red, with a hint of blood red in the colour. The red paint is glossy but not brilliantly shiny. The face of the disc looks similar to a potter’s wheel, with a narrow concentric circular groove cut in every inch (2.5 cm) or so. That surface is unpainted metal, smooth, but not shiny. I don’t know if other people picture the instrument of torture they are suffering, but the image of those discs immediately comes into my mind when the vice starts to grip. My mind’s eye is a very busy little bee! Funnily enough, I was reading an article online yesterday about someone who is the very opposite of me when it comes to having a virtual image – she has Aphantasia. In other words, she isn’t able to picture things in her head. I found the piece fascinating – well worth reading, which is why I have included a link to it.



Morocco. February 2012

Occasionally, one can learn (OK, ‘hear’ rather than actually ‘learn’!) something from even the most mindless source. That was what happened to me a couple of days ago. It was something about oxy-acetyline torches and it was quite interesting – to me, anyway. Sadly, I can’t remember exactly what it was but I do remember being amazed at the extremely high temperatures that can be reached.

“Hmm,” you say, “what on earth has that to do with Fibromyalgia?”. Allow me to enlighten you, although, may I say how surprised I am that you haven’t yet worked out the link? It seems pretty straightforward to me!

Allow me to give you a hint…

Bossy Feet!

Have you worked it out, yet?

Do you give up?

OK, I’ll tell you.

For the past few days, my feet have been feeling as though the skin is being burnt to a frazzle by an oxy-acetyline torch, causing it to peel off in huge pieces. The pain in my feet has been very much more severe than previously. It would be easy to say that it was unbearable but, of course, I have borne it. It has certainly been unpleasant. Actually, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say it has been downright nasty.

It was a shock to me that the pain in my feet was so bad, and so different from what I had experienced previously. I don’t know why I was so surprised but I suppose it was because I had become used to how it felt when I was suffering Fibro Feet and it hadn’t occurred to me that those sensations might change! Pretty dumb, huh?

Hmph! Shame it wasn’t ‘numb’ rather than ‘dumb’, then they wouldn’t have felt so darned sore!


Some Enchanted Evening

Only one pair is mine.

When I was a child I loved the film musical “South Pacific”. Actually, I still quite like it, and, also, Calamity Jane:

“Oh, the Deadwood stage is a-coming on over the hill, deedle-e-di-di diddle-iddly di dee. Twenty three miiii-iiiiillllllessss we’ve covered today, Oh! Whip crackaway, whip crackaway, whip crackaway”.

I liked the songs in South Pacific, as well – most of them, anyway. Having said that, I really didn’t like the corny accent of the male singer of Some Enchanted Evening. Although Rossano Brazzi played the character in the film version, the actual singing was apparently done by Giorgio Tozzi! No matter. Whichever one it was put on a strange accent.

What has all this to do with Fibromyalgia, I hear you ask. Oh, can’t you see the link between the two? Cue a perfect segue… No, can’t think of a perfect one so I’ll just continue with what I was planning to talk about in this post and hope that I remember to make it clear at the end.

I’m pretty sure that every Fibro sufferer (or Fibro warrior, if you prefer) experiences their Fibro differently from everybody else. There is such a range of symptoms, causes and degrees that that must be the case, mustn’t it? I find that some of my symptoms can be triggered by specific things, others seem to appear from nowhere and, yet more, decide to form their own habit. This post is about a symptom that has carved out its own special niche – not that it only uses that niche! Oh no, it still jumps out of the woodwork when it fancies making even more of a nuisance of itself. It’s a very naughty symptom and I would smack its bottom, if I could.

Most evenings, after dinner, I sit relaxing in front of the one-eyed monster, playing with some knitting or sewing. I have noticed that this symptom is very sociable and certainly not very happy when it can’t be near me so, each evening during my relaxathon, out it pops – full of the joys of spring and ready to wreak havoc. (Did I tell you it’s very naughty? I’m sure you can see what I mean!)

So, who is this pesky individual? None other than…  The one, the only… Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together to welcome, with its exclusive one-symptom show… The world famous… The symptom everyone is talking about… The master, or mistress, of your destiny… the irritating discomfort of…


Fibro Feet! (*tumultuous cheers and applause echo around the auditorium.)

Yes, just as I am settling down for the evening, the Fibro Feet start Going For Gold. Their knives have been honed to perfection and they have smashed the technique. In fact, Fibro Feet can do their job with their eyes shut. (I have a theory that they remove their eyes and send them on a scouting mission to find another unsuspecting victim as their aim is so accurate!) The feelings I experience include: like walking shards of glass, having someone stabbing them with a narrow blade, soreness, burning and painful itchiness. I haven’t noticed any particular routine regarding the sensations, it’s just the habit of coming to visit when I am sitting in the evenings. It doesn’t happen every evening but it happens more often than not and it does make appearances during the day, rather than being only nocturnal. It’s a very versatile opponent. It’s a shame it’s so effective.


Some Enchanted Evening(s), it doesn’t take centre stage.


It’s VERY Expensive!

Not very welcoming, is it?

FPR’s mother is still in hospital, with all that it entails. She rings me, asking if I will do something for her, then gives instructions in her own particular way. Often the tasks are clearly unnecessary and unlikely to yield any positive result, which makes it difficult to be enthusiastic in the carrying out of them. The trouble is that these tasks take a heavy toll. They drain what little energy I have – and, believe me, it is very little.

You know what it’s like when someone is in hospital: there are telephone calls, more telephone calls and even more telephone calls; chasing round trying to find things the patient has asked for; walking and caring for the patient’s dog; miles and miles of extra driving, much of it on unfamiliar routes; meals at peculiar times because of visiting hours and travelling time to and from the hospital; trying to fit in ordinary day-to-day appointments, and so on. Then there’s the cost…

The cost I am talking about isn’t financial, it’s physical. I am feeling constantly drained and, because I am so exhausted, that is interfering with my sleep pattern. For the past couple of weeks I have been lucky to manage four or five hours at night, and, on several occasions, it has been much less than that. It is taking a heavy toll. The more tired I become, the more problems I encounter with my sleeping, the more pain I have, the foggier my brain is and the more unwell I feel.

As I said, it’s very expensive.

The Pleasure And The Pain

Sunset at Stepping Hill Hospital, 29 August 2017

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am very fortunate as pain is not a large part of my fibromyalgia. I hope new readers will accept that fibro isn’t always all about pain.

FPR’s mother has recently been sampling the delights of the NHS, as delivered by Stepping Hill Hospital, which is to the south of Stockport in Cheshire. We live on the northern fringes of Greater Manchester which means there are quite a few miles, and an awful lot of traffic between there and here! Even though I love driving my car and find it less tiring to drive than my previous one, sitting in traffic is no joy.

On Tuesday of this week, FPR and I set off with Lettie, m-i-l’s best-ever black labrador, on a hospital visit. Having made an early start, we had decided, for various reasons, that we would return home before the rush hour. There were a couple of tasks that I was hoping to complete for m-i-l that day which was why we set off when we did. Yes, well, the best laid plans and all that. I think it fair to say that our day did not go as planned – it felt rather like swimming in custard with an anchor tied to the ankles.

Due to a particular problem that cropped up, and a poor decision made by me, we ended up getting home much later than anticipated – but at least I had the pleasure of having completed everything I had hoped to! Oh my goodness, though, have I suffered for it!

On Wednesday, I had a quiet day. I knew I needed to be careful having had such a full-on day on Tuesday and I was feeling a bit tired. No, that’s not quite it. I felt a bit ‘squashy’. By that I mean that my brain was foggy, and my body felt like the physical equivalent of that, resulting in an overall feeling of squashy-ness. I gently plodded through the day, doing a bit of knitting, a bit of reading, spending a bit of time on my iPad – nothing too strenuous – and feeling very pleased with myself. Oops, that last bit was a mistake.

On Thursday I felt diabolical. I was so fatigued, I couldn’t even reach the dizzy heights of squashy-ness. I took things very easy. I did less knitting, no reading and less time on my iPad, but, even so, I felt worse as the day wore on. By the time 4.00pm came I knew I needed to go to bed. I usually avoid sleeping in bed during the day as I tend to recover my energy better after resting (with or without sleeping) in my recliner chair. However, sometimes that just isn’t enough, and that’s what was happening on Thursday: I wasn’t only feeling completely exhausted, I was feeling decidedly ill and nauseous – and it was getting worse with every step I took. Going up the stairs was quite interesting as I had to stop after every couple of steps.

I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. Zonk!

I awoke at around 6.00pm for three or four minutes and then zonked out again until about 7.00pm. I felt very much better than I had before I went to bed, but I still didn’t feel great. However, I did improve as the evening wore on until, by the time I was thinking of going to bed, I was wide awake and raring to go. I stayed up a bit longer, doing things that should prepare one for sleep, then retired to bed. I lay in bed, wide awake, for a couple of hours then gave up trying to sleep and got up again. I eventually fell asleep in my chair for an hour and a half or so and that was it until Friday night. Consequently, I wasn’t full of beans on Friday either. Unbelievably, the fatigue and exhaustion were still hanging over me yesterday!

I had the pleasure of doing everything I had planned to on Tuesday, but, my goodness, I have paid for it with the psychological pain of fatigue and exhaustion that I have suffered since.


One Thing Leads To Another

Morocco, February 2012

This week, FPR and I returned from a much-needed and long-awaited holiday. Despite all the “stuff” that has been going on, I think we both benefitted from the holiday. I found that often I needed to sleep after breakfast and, again, before dinner but was able to do all sorts of things during the times that I was awake, so the Fibro wasn’t causing me any particular problems.

During the last few days of our holiday I received a message and dealt with its contents, but it did leave a slightly unpleasant taste in my mouth. Yesterday the same issue arose again. I thought it had been successfully dealt with but, like a loose tooth, it keeps nagging away. Unfortunately, for the past year, I have been completely unable to cope with unpleasantness or stress which has meant that the current matter has knocked me out of kilter. That has affected my mood and state of mind which has, in turn, affected the Fibro. The sorts of symptoms I am experiencing are mainly brain fog – which is a nuisance as I need to sort my medication into the daily boxes – and sudden bursts of pain. I haven’t had the pain appear like this before: it’s almost as if the pain is saying “If you prod the fibro, it will make me leap up and make myself felt”. So…

I would like to send a huge “thank you” to everyone involved in nudging the Fibro monster into action: it was exactly what I needed to help dispel the “feel good” factor that I brought back from holiday.

This Week I Have Been Mainly…

No. Only one pair is mine.

Wasn’t The Fast Show great? (That’s where I borrowed this title from.) My family and I all loved it. Anyway, I digress.

This week I have been mainly suffering from…

Fibro Feet.

Don’t know what Fibro Feet is or are? Allow me to enlighten you, well, at least as to what Fibro Feet means for me.

It begins with a warm feeling in my feet which increases in intensity until my feet feel as though they are burning inside. The transition can be slow or fast. Surprisingly, if you were to touch my feet (which, by the way, is a very bad idea as I am so ticklish!), they wouldn’t feel any warmer than most people’s. Odd, huh? The next stage is the barely discernible transformation of the burning sensation into a feeling that, mainly the soles of both feet, are being stabbed repeatedly by red hot knives. That can last for five minutes or five hours – there’s just no way of predicting how long it will be. It makes walking painful and unpleasant: try imagining that when each step lands it feels as though the sole of your foot is being pierced all over by red hot, rusty nails.

Fibro Feet doesn’t always make me feel as though my feet are red hot, though. At other times there is little or no feeling of increasing heat in them. What I experience is the sensation of walking on shards of glass, lots of shards of glass, which are cutting my feet to shreds. This sensation is even worse that the hot knives one because, unlike the first one I explained, this one feels just as awful when I am sitting with my feet up, as it does when I am trying to walk. I have to admit that I try to avoid walking when my feet are feeling this way as it hurts so much.

There doesn’t appear to be any way of predicting when Fibro Feet will saunter into my day, nor how long it will hang around, but there’s no mistaking when it’s here.