The sun’s rays have finally shown after weeks of cloudy, rainy days. The vitamin D is greatly appreciated while I play ball with my bouncy (now six-month-old) puppy. I had forgotten how much caring for a puppy is similar to a toddler after a nap.
My hair is a mess. The soft, tousled curls from last night’s shower are nowhere to be seen. The hair doesn’t vary much in look. A good hair day now is equivalent to the bed-head look of when I was younger. I think I may have contracted my husband’s laryngitis In my vigilance, I began taking a zinc supplement and readied my saline spray. All this, along with my regular medicine and part of a Neurontin tablet to reduce the flare symptoms I have experienced the past couple of days.
Like all those with chronic illness who try to have some semblance of a life, we try to assimilate to the lives of those who are healthy (or our pre-illness state), sometimes ignoring what our bodies are telling us. In other words, we live double lives. Since the arrival of Samee in November, my days start promptly at 5 a.m. Evenings are shared responsibility, but from morning until mid- or late-afternoon, depending on my husband’s schedule, I am awake and semi-active. Samee is, like most pets, very intuitive; she has learned to pare back on the animated behavior and provide comfort on my bad days and during flares.
I realized within the first month of having her that I have to be careful or I would make the same mistakes I did the first couple of years after I went on disability. Even though I was aware of my health and its limitations, I thought I could find menial at-home work. After pursuing various websites, word-of-mouth and related ventures, I realized that finding that particular niche was not going to be as simple in reality as it was in my mind.
After trial and error, that included being fired from one and having to quit two others, I forced myself, once again, to realize I was mistaking myself for a healthier person. The expectations of the job, and myself, were not in sync with the variability needed to accommodate for bad days, fibro fog, and fatigue.
Part of the problem I finally addressed was that I was still living the double life. I still thought I could present myself in a different light, or not have to mention my health until faced with a bad flare. Even then, I thought I would always bounce back and be able to continue at the same pace, not realizing I was adding undue stress to myself mentally and physically. All of this, just to keep up the partial charade.
Now, there is variability in everything I do in life. That way, on bad days I can dedicate time to rest. Samee’s meal times are always the same, but the type of exercise and extent varies by my capability level. My weekends, or respite days, are my husband’s days off, except for when he was ill and I took on more daily activities as provided little creature comforts for him. Again, I still paced myself in my sanitizing, housework and tending to the puppy. This prevented me from collapsing into a massive flare and taxing my immune system. It helped when he had a cold earlier this winter, and even if I have a cold now, it is a much milder form than he had.
The message I am trying to convey is this: There is virtually no task that can’t wait or be pared back to allow for your fibromyalgia to take precedence. As part of the coping strategy, it also is important to put your health first and foremost; the other aspects will fall into place as you see fit.