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…
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.
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.)
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!
Little Sis and I have returned from our holiday. Yesterday, the last of our trip, was rather full. It included a lunch stop in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire. It was somewhat unexpected as our driver had led us to believe that he would be stopping in Ripon!
Now, I really like Harrogate. It has a character all its own, which is enhanced by the lovely architecture. If you’ve never been to Harrogate, there’s something you need to know… It’s hilly, very hilly and, if you go by coach, you will likely be dropped off in Montpelier – and any “escape” from Montpelier necessitates going uphill, in just about every direction!
Little Sis and I set off up the hill we needed to ascend to reach our destination. It felt like a lot to ask of my body after the pains, fatigue and exertions of the week, but I managed to get to the place we were aiming for by taking it steady. As the week wore on, I had noticed my walking getting progressively slower. It is dispiriting to always be a few steps behind one’s companion, but I tried not to dwell on that. Instead, I concentrated on the mantra that “slow and steady wins the race” and it seemed to work. By concentrating on walking one step at a time, my mind was too busy to think of what was causing me to move slowly. Slow and steady is good in another way, as it allows me to be careful about where and how I place my left arm, whilst walking. During times of arm pain, I find that walking exacerbates it. I think it is due to the arm needing support to prevent the combination of its weight and the vibrations caused by walking. I wonder if other FibroWarriors find that?