When Pain Comes to Town

I felt the possible beginning of a fibromyalgia flare last week. I couldn’t quite describe what was going on in my body but I knew it was waiting for me, if I messed up. If I did something slightly wrong. If I gave the fibro an opening, it was going to be on me like white on rice.

I had a long business meeting on Monday. On the drive home, I felt it starting. I’m trying to describe how I know when it’s hitting and the best I can do is that I feel a veil start to descend on me. My body feels different. I start to get really sensitive. My brain works different. I have trouble connecting thoughts and even thinking. I can’t focus.

I called my husband to let him know what was happening. He asked what we could do to help. I couldn’t think of anything. Luckily, he’s been through this before with me and he asked if a epsom salt bath would help. Of course it would. How did I not think of that?  It’s so simple and obvious.

That’s the point though. Obvious and simple don’t happen when you’re in pain. When pain comes to town, Pain (yes, capital P) takes over.

I made it home and had to head out quickly to teach one last class.  When I got in the car after teaching the class, I couldn’t think clearly. My brain shuts down when a flare hits. I know that sounds weird but I truly can’t. I was sitting in my car almost crying. It wasn’t pain per se. It was a feeling of being trampled and just done. It took me quite awhile before I could even attempt to drive home but finally I did.

My skin was so sensitive by this point that I all I could do was go upstairs to bed and get into my pjs. I had to change because my top was form fitting and anything that was tight hurt. I took off my jewelry because that hurt too. I even took off my rings. Heck, I couldn’t even wear underwear. I curled up in bed.

The fibro set off my hypersensitivity. Light hurt. Noise hurt. The dog being next to me felt good but if she leaned on me, it hurt. Chewing hurt and even swallowing exhausted me.

I stayed in bed from 8 pm till 10:30 the next day. I only got out of bed when I felt stronger.

Here’s the thing – when pain comes to town, you need to be kind to yourself. (There are many things you can do after the pain, save that stuff for after the pain.  Pain hurts and nothing else matters until the pain loosens its grip on you.) In case you missed it, when pain comes to town, you need to be kind to yourself. That may mean different things to different people.

Here are some basics though.

  • Don’t beat yourself up. Stop trying to assign blame. It’s not your fault. Deal with the here and now. It hurts so what can I do to make it stop hurting. What can I do to help?
  • Get rest. Sleep would be great but don’t underestimate the power of resting – even if it’s at your desk, or car, or any other place.
  • Drink water. Hydration helps everything.
  • Eat to support your health and if you can’t do that, choose the least bad option.
  • Surround yourself with people who understand. You don’t need to explain yourself right now.  There are great support groups for almost everything on-line. FB was one of my go to for years.
  • Be kind. I know that kind of goes with don’t beat yourself up but it bears repeating.
  • Focus on your breathing. Short and shallow breaths may come naturally to you now, but the deeper belly breathing will relax you. Remember though, anything is better than nothing.
  • Epsom salt baths help me greatly. Warm, not hot water, is incredibly soothing if your body hurts. If you don’t like baths, a warm shower. Having said that, sometimes it hurts too much to think about moving. That’s when I do this next one.
  • Visualize. It’s New Agey, I know, but bear with me for a minute. Imagine what it would feel like if you could, soak in a pristinely clean, perfect temperature, jets aimed exactly where you need them and at the perfect intensity epsom salt bath. If that image doesn’t work for you, pick one that does. The point is that just by imagining it, our body starts to relax.

These are just my suggestions. You may have more. That’s great!  Let me know what they are in the comments.

I stopped beating myself up. I stopped fighting, forcing my body to what it couldn’t. I did what I felt my body needed – quiet, sleep, stillness, kindness.

On Monday, Pain came to town. Today is Thursday and pain (with a lower case p now) is out the door!

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