fibromyalgia, year one

It’s been just over a year since I learned I have fibromyalgia.

I’ve learned that some things are manageable. For example, things go far, far more smoothly when I relegate the housework to the weekdays – even though I’m usually pretty tired after work – and keep the weekend for relaxing as much as possible. I’ve also learned that at least 30 minutes of exercise every day goes a long way toward pain-reduction. And by exercise I mean like walking or playing Wii Tennis. Don’t go thinking I’m doing real work here. But it helps.

Some things are not manageable. No matter what I do, I’m going to be tired. I’ve become like every dad ever, falling asleep in a chair or on the sofa while the tv’s droning on and on. Soon I’ll end like every grandpa ever, falling asleep in mid-sentence. That’ll be awesome. Reading for long periods is tough too, because given enough time, I’ll fall asleep. And I have become, contrary to the previous 36 years of my life, a person who naps. While this makes my wife quite happy, I’m not used to it and kinda hate it.

I’ve also become ridiculously sensitive to the weather. I can handle anything from summer draught to blizzard; it’s the changing that hurts. Yesterday was something of a warmish spring day. Today is cold and windy, and I’m in quite a bit of pain. I look at forecasts now for the long-term. I watch weather fronts. I consider moving to a place of constant climate. I dread the words ‘there’s a front coming through.’

I’ve also learned that being in constant pain and feeling constantly tired is dangerous because other ailments are masked by it. Just about everything from the common cold to cancer include symptoms of pain and fatigue. Or, to look at it another way, most people can tell if they, say, twisted their ankle the other day, whereas I can’t tell a real injury from random pain. Luckily I’m generally too lazy to anything that would incur serious injury.

Adjusting to fibromyalgia is tough, but adjusting to the only thing that helps, Cymbalta, is just as tough. Cymbalta most certainly helps dial the pain back, but it increases my fatigue. It also causes me to sweat heavily – something I do well enough on my own, thank you very much – when I’m about an hour away from taking my next pill. So when you don’t see me between about 8:30 and 9:30 in the morning, it’s because I’m sweating profusely in my office.

On the other hand, it’s an anti-anixety drug, and I had no idea how anxious I was about a great many things. I’ve definitely chilled out a lot over the past year, and the urge to kill generally only rises in the face of rampant stupidity and/or FoxNews. I still have trouble dealing with sudden loud noises, bright sunlight, and certain textures, which makes me feel like kind of a freak sometimes. In reading about fibromyalgia I’ve learned that those things are likely caused by the same things that (might) cause heightened pain. Still, I wish I could control myself better when faced with them.

I can’t say if this next year will be better or worse, but I’ll be happy if it’s about the same. Which isn’t a bad outlook for anyone with any kind of chronic disease.

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