pain and gain

If you were to go back and read this blog from the beginning,(1) you’d find one major theme: I am fat and seemingly powerless to be anything but.

Yet, I’m convinced this isn’t true. My dad, around the age of 60, decided he was tired of being overweight and, well, now he’s not. He says he feels better than he has in his whole life. Who says that at sixty, right? So part of me in convinced that I can do it, too. Now. I’m nearly 40, yes, but still 20 years younger than when my dad shed his extra pounds.(2)

I have something working against me though that Dad doesn’t: this stupid, diabolical fibromyalgia. I don’t mean that as an excuse. Honestly. But there are two challenges to trying to lose weight when you have fibromyalgia.

1. Pain

Basically, I hurt all the time. The degree of pain varies, but it’s as constant a companion as my glasses or Rene Zellweger’s penchant for mediocre acting. Also, it’s a roll of the dice as to which body part will hurt on a given day, and for how long. There are times when everything’s just fine, and then I stand up and try to walk only to discover that my hip or my knee or my foot feels like so many unoiled gears. It’s impossible to predict and impossible to work around. Exercise of almost any variety might focus on particular parts of the body, but they generally require all of the other parts to get involved too. So just because my torso hurts doesn’t mean I’ll be okay going for a jog.

Sometimes, the pain is motivation. On good days I think to myself that I’d rather hurt from doing something of my choosing – i.e.: exercise – than simply because there’s thunderstorm brewing three states away.(3) Other days, the pain will take a perfectly good jog and make it a rather slow trod. This is always frustrating, but I try to remember that I have to take it a little easy on myself.

2. Gain

To paraphrase Fat Bastard:


I eat because I don’t feel good, and I don’t feel good because I eat. It’s been a habit so long now, to eat when I don’t feel well, that I don’t notice when I’m doing it. And fibromyalgia makes me not feel well quite a bit. I need to divorce the feeling from the association, but that’s not unlike tell a cat not to sit in a box.


It’s gonna take a lot of training…

Nevertheless, I’m convinced that I’d feel a lot better if I lost some weight. It’s just going to take as much mental work as it does physical.

Sigh. Or I could go ahead and have a second helping of ice cream.

  1. Which, I mean, good luck. Even I can’t take that much of myself.
  2. However, though I’ve inherited every ounce of my dad’s stubbornness – and then quite a bit more from my mom as well – I don’t have his willpower. Dad could win a staring contest with wooden owls if he put his mind to it. He could make steel feel weak.
  3. Seriously, this has happened. Sometimes I can’t figure out why I feel like Judge Doom after his encounter with the cement truck until I see the satellite imagery over Illinois. We joke at work that I’m a mutant who’s the opposite of Storm: rather than me controlling the weather, the weather controls me. My X-Men name is Mr. Ots, which is Storm backwards.(4)
  4. We’re clever like that.

storm front

Last night I was reading a story when I heard a rumble in the distance. I didn’t think much of it, though it turned out to be quite the storm front…which I knew the moment I woke up this morning. Storms set off various of my fibromyalgia symptoms. Today it’s not pain so much as what they call ‘fibro fog’ that’s the problem. Basically, my thought processes are taking maybe three times longer than they should. It’s honestly more annoying than the pain.

So the funny post I had planned for today will have to wait. Here instead is a picture of one of our cats, Chirpet, lamenting that I didn’t have toast with my breakfast today so that I could share it with her.


a tale of two shitties

A shitty modern fairy tale.

Let’s say that there are two shits. Forget about where they came from. They’re just two shits, making it in the world. They go their shit jobs, work shit hours for shit pay. They come home, eat shit for dinner, watch shit on TV. Go to bed and have shit dreams.

So: two shits.

Now these two shits – I haven’t mentioned this – these two shits, they don’t know each other. They live in separate shit houses in different shit neighborhoods in the same shit city. One has a shit-tzu and the other’s more of a cat shit. They dream under the same shit constellations and breathe the same shit air, but they do it with miles of shit roads between them.

Now one night these two, these two shits, each go out with their separate shit friends. They end up at the same shit club. Neither of them are into the shit club’s shit music that’s so shittingly loud it makes them nearly shit their shit pants. So they make like shit wallflowers way in the back by the shitters, which would normally make for a shit night but instead that’s how they find each other.

They learn they like the same shit books. They both play shit ukulele. They are both shitty at geometry and suspicious of all shit politicians. And learn that they both work the same shit hours for shit pay at the same shit job.

And so of course within a week they’re taking their shit lunch-breaks together. Within a month they’re on shit dates at shit restaurants all over this shit city. They laugh at each other’s shit jokes and really honestly truly listen to their shit stories of their shit lives.

Soon, perhaps unavoidably, they become two shits in love.

And like any two shits in love, they eventually have shit sex. And, uh oh, well damn, the shit condom breaks. So a few shit months later they have an adorable, puffy-cheeked little shit baby. They smile shit smiles at their little shit. They are pretty happy with their shit lives, which is nice.

And of course, that shit baby eventually starts churning out some really shitty diapers. Diapers that even these two shits in this shit city with their shit jobs and shit lives don’t want to go anywhere near, that’s how really shitty these shit diapers are.

And that right there is how like shit I feel today. The the shit in that shit baby’s diapers that its shit parents with their shit house and shit jobs in this shit city won’t even dream of touching.

Or, to put it more bluntly, if less scatologically, fuck fibromyalgia.

a fever you can’t sweat out

And that no amount of cowbell can cure.

That is what fibromyalgia feels like. Just without the temperature.

Think about the aches and pains, how simple things can require tremendous effort and unnecessary grunting and sighing.

And think about how you can’t get yourself to roll out of bed. You can’t do anything requiring any more energy than watching a movie. And even then you’ll likely fall asleep.

On the bad days, that’s what it’s like.

I couldn’t get myself to wake up this morning, even after I’d showered. I debated going to work and in the end flipped a coin. At noon, I went back home, lied in bed, and catnapped my way through the afternoon. With cats. Played some video games this evening and read part of a book.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bed. All that napping seems to have worn me out.

having fibromyalgia is like being old

Except my skin’s not all wrinkly and I don’t have liver spots. But otherwise…

You know that noise old people make when they sit down? It’s part grunt and part fart, but it all comes from the mouth? Like, as they go to sit, no matter how slowly they move, there’s a point at which they have to like pressurize the cabin or something and this noise comes out. I make that noise when I go to sit down. Hell, sometimes I make that noise when I’m already sitting, like maybe I forgot on the way down or something.

There’s another thing old people do. They’ll be there, standing, sitting, whatever, and they just kind of groan. Just, “Ennnghf.” It sounds like when your house shifts on a windy night, but if your house were an eighty-year-old body. I do that one too.

I’m also never 100% sure I’ll be able to get back up again. I lied down to pet the dog at my sister’s house, but only because my brother-in-law has an Xbox and some good games. Lying on the floor is quite the risk, one I’ll only take in places I’m prepared to stay for a day or three. And even if I can get back up, it’s quite a process. I have to balance areas that hurt and ration which one I’m putting weigh on at any given moment. Too much weigh on too many spots and I’m doing a faceplant wherever I am.

And I can fall asleep like I was born to do it. Just because I’m awake for one sentence does not mean I’ll be awake for the following one. Which is a far cry better than when I was younger and would lie awake for hours trying to fall asleep. But still: no warning. I close my eyes and I’m gone. I can’t control it.

So, I guess it’s time to start wearing my pants up to my nipples and yelling at the neighborhood kids and be horribly, flagrantly racist but it’ll be okay because I’m just stuck in my ways. If I’m going to feel old, I may as well get the perks.

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.


The worst part of this fibromyalgia bullshit is the way that rapid changes in the weather make me feel roughly like one of these guys:


That’s gotta hurt!

Today is one of those days. The weather got all hoped on Bane-juice(1) and punched me in the chest. And despite that I slept solidly all night long, I’m so incredibly tired I may not make it to the end of this post.

Unfortunately, my little corner of the world has become a rapid-changing-weather kind of place in the past 15 years or so. Last week the highs were in the ten and teens, this week it’s in the forties. And just look at Wednesday to Thursday:

That's gonna hurt.

That’s gonna hurt.

  1. The real Bane, not that funny-voiced, laughable terrorist in the last shitty Nolan-Batman flick.

stand in the place where you work

Today I finally received the stand-up desk(1) I’d been hoping(2) to get at work.

That's the face I make when I'm pretending to read and interesting library-related articles but really I'm watching various kinds of animals mate and/or eat each other.

That’s the face I make when I’m pretending to read interesting library-related articles but really I’m watching various kinds of animals mate and/or eat each other.

When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year, I spent a lot of time analyzing all kinds of daily variables. I was trying to determine which behaviors caused more pain, or less pain. It didn’t take long to notice that the days I spent the majority of my time at work sitting at my desk generally lead to days of elevated pain.

Then one day I was on Tumblr and I saw that author John Green has a treadmill desk. This was a concept I liked, except I didn’t want to do all that exercise. I thought Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could get one of those and just stand at it, rather than walk all day? A little research and viola! I discovered that stand-up desks(3) are a thing.

So we’ll see how this works out, but I’m thinking it’ll go a long way toward reducing the amount of torso pain I’m in most days.

Now if only they made a desk to work against existential pain.

  1. As in, a desk at which I can stand, not a desk that, itself, stands or, in a figurative sense, a desk that is a dutiful and well-liked member of the community.
  2. -slash-crusading. *pounds fist over heart* I gotchu, Rob. I gotchu.
  3. See note 1 supra.