I woke up yesterday with a dull ache at my right temple. I could feel the migraine coming, and I would have taken my onset migraine medication right then except if I take my migraine medication at the same time as my fibromyalgia medication, I’m destined for a day on the couch or in bed. Yesterday was not supposed to be a day on the couch. I made my choice and waited to relieve the pain.
I know today was hard for you. In fact, the last several days have been hard for you. You’ve been achier than normal and so fuzzy around the edges you’ve wondered if you’ve become rather like a kiwi, a layer of fuzz and a thin skin with ideas like the scattered small seeds inside. You’ve struggled to track conversations and to remember the ingredients you’re looking for moments after you read the list. You’ve been so, so tired that each task seems to require a wellspring of strength and focus that you’re not sure you have. Fibromyalgia is awful thing, and some days the struggle is worse than others. Valentine’s Day was particularly hard for you.
And yet you overcame.
The need to exercise to improve fatigue and pain symptoms for fibromyalgia seems counterintuitive, but for me, exercise has made a dramatic difference in my energy and emotional well-being since I began trying to reincorporate exercise into my life. A year ago, I was probably lying on the couch, feeling lethargic and overwhelmed by how much pain I was in. I had been on part-time FMLA leave for a few months and mostly working from home. Going into the office was a draining, exhausting mess. I was struggling to increase my workload back to 32 hours a week and to manage general life demands. I had not yet been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, though I was certainly beginning to suspect it. At the time, I was more worried whether I could endure vacuuming, making dinner, eight hours of work, or sleeping through the night—never mind exercise! At this point last year, I was only just beginning to find some relief with medication. Exercise? Ha! No way!
In my quest to live the best life that I can, I have begun reading more books about fibromyalgia. Most of the information I have so far acquired about fibromyalgia has come from reading various websites around the internet and discussions with my doctor. Of course, in the nebulous darkness of the internet, what counts as credible information isn’t always immediately beyond perusing the main medical sites. I want to improve my quality of life, so, like any bookworm, I decided it was time to get serious about reading books on my condition.
Last week, I had one of those crystalline moments of clarity where you see your life unfold before you in two archetypal paths: the sunlit path where I would wander through the woods to soaring mountain peaks or the morose path where I would sit in a little dark room and cry and cry and cry, a prisoner to my own body, my own fears. I had just read an inspirational story about a man who was dying of cancer who was running in the Boston Marathon and another of a woman who was running on a prosthetic limb after her leg had required amputation as a result of the Boston Marathon Bombing.
I do not recognize this new me, and I miss the old me. These two versions of myself are so similar, but so different. We both are nerds to the core who love Latin and nature and are incapable of coherent writing, conversation, or even thoughts prior to drinking at least one cup of coffee. And yet, the differences are profound. Lonely.
I am not certain what inspired me to google “work accommodations for fibromyalgia.” After all, my supervisors have been very understanding and supportive as I have struggled, had doctor’s appointments, missed days, had more doctors’ appointments, and ultimately started sobbing in a meeting with them in which I announced that I couldn’t manage it anymore and had to go on part-time FMLA—where my schedule became even nuttier.