TravelGuides – Fibromyalgia flattens me. Here’s what helps me cope with constant pain | Nikki Marshall


TravelGuides – Fibromyalgia flattens me. Here’s what helps me cope with constant pain | Nikki Marshall

Sometimes it hits in the course of scorching yoga. One second I’m working arduous, dripping sweat; the following I’m flat on my again in corpse pose, making an attempt – often failing – to practise calm acceptance. When the category ends I’d need assistance rolling up my mat.


Just a few months again the primary twinges flared after I was the designated driver at a household gathering. I felt like a demented cattle canine making an attempt to spherical up the drinkers, barking at them to skip goodbyes so I may get us house earlier than it smashed me.


Once it got here on like a ton of bricks between getting up from the sofa and strolling to the sink to scrub dishes. “Perfect timing!” my then accomplice mentioned as he gave me a hug and helped me to mattress.

It’s fibromyalgia, a power pain situation I don’t know practically sufficient about.

For me, a flare-up begins with a wave of exhaustion that may swamp me inside seconds, accompanied by a mind fog so dense I’d battle to talk. Then the pain begins. It’s a rusty feeling in my arms and ft that strikes up and seeps into my wrists and ankles, elbows and knees, shoulders and hips. There are muscle aches too, that trampled feeling you get as you’re coming down with a chilly or flu.

It’s by no means agony – I’ve had endometriosis for nearly 40 years, I know about agony – however slightly complete-physique discomfort that steamrollers me. So I lie down and breathe and look forward to sleep to come back. I’m grateful that these assaults often strike throughout day without work slightly than at work; and that after I get up the following morning the worst can be over.

But other than these flares, a low hum of pain is ever current. Once I’m up and strolling I can hike for hours, however each time I get out of a chair I look as if I’ll battle to cross a room. (“I’m a hobbler!” I’ll say cheerily to involved colleagues, as if that’s a factor.)

Much of the time it feels as if every thing is uphill; as if my flesh hurts simply being on my bones. It’s grinding and relentless and exhausting.

I can consider simply two days this 12 months that had been pain-free. They had been golden.

When I say I don’t know a lot about fibromyalgia, I don’t even know for positive that I’ve it. There’s no check for fibro so it’s a prognosis of exclusion – what’s left behind when medical doctors rule out every thing else.

What occurred for me was that about 5 years in the past I mentioned to my GP: “I think I have to finally face up to the fact that I have fibromyalgia.” She mentioned: “Let’s look at some treatment options for you.”

Nikki in an ice bath
‘I’ve even taken ice baths – they had been horrendous however left me feeling revved up and exhilarated for days’

If that sounds cavalier on her half, it wasn’t. She’d despatched me to specialist after specialist over time and I’d undergone check after check. Plus she was treating my mom for fibro; she’d been identified 30 years earlier.

Mum is a drive of nature, somebody who’s all the time busy doing, who can’t cease till she has to. She calls a fibro assault “the wheels falling off”. They can spin off for each of us inside minutes, whether or not we’re aside or collectively, if there’s a sudden drop in atmospheric strain earlier than a storm. That’s an apparent set off; others aren’t so clear.

Last 12 months my mom informed me she was about my age when her assaults obtained actually unhealthy. Just currently, she tried to reassure me, they had been easing. “Mum,” I mentioned, “You’re 25 years older than me! You’re saying I have 25 years ahead of me as bad as this?!”

More dismaying are the medical professionals who aren’t updated with present findings about power pain, and those that don’t imagine in signs that may’t be seen.

A few years in the past I noticed an orthopaedic surgeon a few trashed achilles tendon. “I see you have ‘fibromyalgia’,” he mentioned, his voice dripping with scorn, earlier than sending me off for an X-ray. When I returned with the scan he pointed triumphantly on the lengthy-ruptured tendon. “See that? That’s not ‘fibromyalgia’,” he crowed.

“I never said it was,” I replied. “The pain is completely different.” It didn’t matter what I mentioned. He wasn’t listening.

Did I say dismaying? I ought to have mentioned infuriating. He’s made me scared of mentioning fibro to any physician.

Not that anybody has ever run by its signs with me. Online assets about it are scant however listed here are some related signs and circumstances:

  • Fatigue, sleep issues

  • Memory troubles, problem concentrating

  • Anxiety and despair

  • Restless legs

  • Dizziness and stability issues

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Light and noise sensitivity

  • Bowel and bladder issues

  • Skin tingling and burning

  • Palpitations

  • Face and jaw pain

  • Lower again pain

  • Dry eyes

  • Sensitivity to chilly and chilly flashes

I can put up my hand to each final considered one of them. The final 10 I didn’t realise had something to do with fibromyalgia till now, scripting this – though I’ve sought therapy for practically all of them. I’m staggered by this, and offended as effectively.

At least it’s made me extra sure of my prognosis. I used to be uncertain as a result of individuals with fibro are sometimes described as being “hypersensitive” to pain, with many experiencing it in response to the touch – to the extent they must recoil from hugs.

And that’s not me, I informed myself. Sensitive? No method. I can face down pain like no one’s enterprise. After the interior organ-tearing torment of endometriosis, a damaged bone or a kidney stone is momentary discomfort. I’m good at getting on with it. When I heard that achilles tendon pop I ran one other 7km to complete a race – then didn’t search therapy for 10 years.

It’s solely now that I lastly, absolutely perceive that it’s not me however my central nervous system that’s delicate – it’s been burnt out, overloaded, fried by the endo pain and now it’s lighting up and misfiring throughout my physique, gaslighting me within the course of.

What is chronic pain and how does it work? – video explainer
What is power pain and the way does it work? – video explainer

That’s true for everybody with fibro and power pain. We might have central sensitisation, however don’t name us delicate, OK?

I started engaged on this piece – and an accompanying podcast – out of a starvation to grasp fibromyalgia higher, and an consciousness that so many others have to be feeling at the hours of darkness and determined for info like me. And at first I centered on describing what these scene-stealing, present-stopping, wall-of-sound flare-ups really feel like. What I didn’t correctly admire is that the background pain – the wearying, unceasing white noise of twinges and aches and illnesses – is fibro as effectively.

But dwelling on the unhealthy stuff doesn’t do anybody any good. Just scripting this has knocked me round – it’s made me pay an excessive amount of consideration to the pain, to really feel it extra.

So right here’s what helps me – a ladder of therapies and good habits I’ve constructed over the previous 12 months, rung by rung (pain is an excellent motivator):

  • Amitriptyline: a each day remedy that was developed within the Nineteen Fifties as an antidepressant; it’s now extra generally used to run interference towards the mind’s notion of pain.

  • Getting loads of sleep – working from house through the pandemic has been a recreation-changer – and monitoring it on a well being app.

  • Yoga, which I practise virtually every single day; I determine if I’m going to really feel muscle pain I’d as effectively have carried out one thing to deserve it. Its classes about the right way to meet problem with grace assist massively – as do the endorphins and the half hour of deep rest I dive into after each class.

  • Walking: 7,500 steps a day, as advisable by my sports activities physician for max profit, minimal put on in girls of my age (52).

  • Mindful respiration: in moments I handle to think about nothing however my breath I could make pain soften away. (This article in regards to the unusual peace skilled by ultrarunners in the event that they give up to the “pain cave” is fascinating.)

  • The understanding and help of individuals round me: a easy “I’m sorry you’re feeling this way” can imply the world.

  • An anti-inflammatory eating regimen; proper now I’m making an attempt excessive-fats, low-carb and I believe it’s serving to.

  • I’ve even taken ice baths – they had been horrendous however left me feeling revved up and exhilarated for days.

A cheerful buzz makes the damage recede, so I savour each bit of delight and pleasure that comes my method. I attempt to be upbeat, grateful for all that I can do – I do know that many individuals have it a lot worse – and grateful for the grit, resilience and willpower to deal with myself that this has gifted me.

To everybody residing with power pain: I’m sorry you’re feeling this fashion.

And please, fibro, please – let me hold the hugs!

Sufferers of power pain have lengthy been informed it’s all of their head. We now know that’s not true. The pain that may’t be seen appears at why medical doctors are enjoying catch-up on power pain circumstances like endometriosis, migraine and extra – and what they must do with lengthy Covid.

TravelGuides – Fibromyalgia flattens me. Here’s what helps me cope with constant pain | Nikki Marshall


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