After living through some seemingly "harmless" chronic pain for past 10 years or so (knees, arms, shoulders) things started to get progressively worse and the pain level increased and last longer. I knew something was awry, I just figured it was part of getting older - perhaps arthritis kick in?
Fast forward to Feb '12 where I am visiting one of the places I hate the most (doctor) office and being treated for a bad case of Diabetes (that's a story for another day) I mention to my doctor about this chronic pain and that it is seemingly there 24/hr day and can encompass the whole body at any given time.
She asks me some pointed questions, such as where does it hurt, what is pain level and how long has it lasted (mind you, I have lived with this pain for some 10 years).
I explain to her that it really travels around my body and flares up in different spots at any given time. My most recent symptoms seem to have been non stop since approximately Thanksgiving '11.
After several consults, I am finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, sounded kind of scary at the time as I had no idea what it was, or what it meant to my overall health. First the diabetes condition, now this - what is happening to me? Just a year ago I was a thriving hyper man enjoying life with a gorgeous wife, four awesome kids and three dogs, life is good?
Fast forward to beginning of May, having had a couple months to first this new way of life. I have Fibro Flares "Flares" seemingly everyday some worse than others. Some flares last just a few hours, other times it could last for days (these are the worst, takes its tool mentally and physically).
Managing these flares is not a mastered science and what works for me one day, doesn't work the next day and is a real crap shoot. There is really no cure or special medication (other than pain medication, without the meds I would really be hating life) so dealing with this disease is a big ball of trial and error.
I have found that exercising helps, provided I don't over do it (otherwise that could start a multi-day flare) and taking regular walks to keep blood circulating does help as well.
In my case, I have found that my 10 month old Black Lab Gunner is perhaps the best comfort I can have all day every day. He is by my side 24/7 and goes just about everywhere I do. He is there when I need to relax to keep the blood pressure calm, he is there to hold when I just need to let out a cry and he is always ready to play in the event I need a diversion.
When I am having good days, I try to get more exercise and take advantage of the fact that my pain level is below 6/7 (I have conceded that it will never be zero so my 5 is the new zero). Having said that, as I mentioned before, too much exercise can have an adverse effect, so I have to be careful and moderate what I do on these good days and make sure I take time for small rest periods throughout the day.
Case and point, I was having a great weekend and really doing a lot of good things, visiting with family for Mothers Day. All was going fantastic then out of the blue, here comes a flare (turns out this will be the start of one of the worst I have ever had). I explain to my mom that I am starting to feel it and that we are going to have to be leaving soon, yet again bitten by the #FibroFlare.
The latest bout is a bad one Sunday evening an all day Monday, doesn't really relax until Tuesday morning. I tried all the normal techniques for managing the pain, but nothing is working and the frustration level is through the roof. In desperation, I reach out to one of my #ChronicallyAwesome mentors (you know who you are) and she proceeds to calm me down and "talk me off the ledge."
I have found having a support group of fellow chronic suffers to be an tremendous help as it provides a forum where I can discuss issues I am going through and get feedback from others who go through the same thing. This group of #ChronicallyAwesome folks has really made life easier - sometimes you can feel very isolated and alone, thus I encourage you to reach out to groups like this if you are feeling helpless. There are hoards of people out there with similar conditions with a lot of experience that can help!
If you need a place to start, feel free to contact me directly.