“Do you ever feel that this is just a test life? If it were a real life, surely you would have been issued a lifetime-guaranteed working body and instructions on how to use it. At times, every day may seem to you to be an obstacle course-a perverse game you play where the rules keep changing and no one can tell you what they are.
One of your first tasks in learning how to cope on a day-to-day basis is to accept the fact that you have FMS. This is a major loss. Life as you once knew it is over-but a new one is beginning. In many ways, you can mould that life to be just as good as or even better than what you had.
Rather than dwell on what has been lost, focus on optimising the quality of your life.
Learn to live in the present. Sir William Osier, one of my favourite quotable doctors in history, said that the best way to live to a healthy old age is to get a chronic disease and take care of it. Well, you’ve already done the first part, so let’s get to work and tackle the second “.
Some days the constant grind of chronic pain will really get you down. You
can take some small comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. When you feel
so low you could -walk under a duck, be assured that there are many other
people with FMS right down there with you. When times are tough, be gentle
Accept that whatever you can accomplish is deserving of recognition and praise.
Those of us who have already run the first stages of the obstacle course are here to help you. This section will supply you with some tools to help remove some of the obstacles, minimise some others, and help you over the rest.
Start your morning the night before. Try to make a list of those things you want to accomplish the next day. Then, even if you’re foggy in the morning, you can usually start in on something right away and give your mind a chance to catch up.
Some days the best thing to do first is to go through the list and figure out what you can put off until another day!
Set out your medications for the next day, especially vitamins. Put them in separate little containers-perhaps for morning noon, and night. That way you’ll never have to scramble under the bed for dropped pills, and you’ll have to deal with only one set of pills in the morning.
Set out your clothes the night before. That saves a lot of time because it’s one less decision to make in the morning. You might want to put out one set of clothes and have an alternate set nearby in case you swell a size or two overnight or spill something on the first set.
Prepare as much as possible for the next day so you can live that day as well as possible.
Many individuals with Fibromyalgia report experiencing stiffness in the morning when they get out of bed. Muscle stiffness can also reoccur throughout the day especially after being in one position for an extended period of time.
Tips on coping with morning stiffness Bv Jenny Fransen, R.N.
Choose easy-care clothing and hairstyles. Dress for comfort.
Simplify your morning routine as much as possible.
Always allow extra time to get ready in the morning. Avoid rushing when you are stiff and in pain
When you get out of bed take a hot shower to relieve pain and help loosen up muscles and joints, then stretch and do range of motion exercises.
Take medication upon awakening to reduce pain. You may even want to set an alarm early to take medication and then go back to sleep.
Whenever possible, adjust your routine to accommodate morning, stiffness. You may need to schedule early morning activities later in your day.
Isotoner gloves (turned inside out) have been found to reduce swelling in the hands when worn at night.
Cushioned resting splints worn at night help to reduce swelling, pain, and stiffness in the morning.
Upon awakening, slip on shoes with cushioning, like aerobic or walking shoes. They provide support and cushioning to stiff and painful feet.
Use adaptive equipment with easy grip handles, building them up with adhesive back foam, foam curlers, or pipe insulation. Consider building up tooth brushes, hairbrushes, steering, wheel, etc.
Report how long you are stiff in the morning to your doctor. This information is important to know in planning your care.
Ask for help from family members. Let them zip back zippers, assist with breakfast, and help with other early morning tasks.
Starting the Day
As your day begins, survey what lies before you. Think of all the good things that can happen. Then do everything in your power to make them happen. Plan on eating breakfast, and keep it simple. It is hard enough to move in the morning. Preparing a meal first thing may be more than you can handle. It could start your day off on a bad note. Collect easy, one-dish recipes.
Helping Yourself Through the Day
You’ll encounter numerous obstacles during a normal day. Here are some things you can do about them:
If you’re feeling irritable, tackle a small task, or a portion of a task, that can be accomplished easily. Reaching the goal will cheer you up.
Time, or your sense of it, is often one of your biggest stressors. Your hours are precious, but you may forget to use them as treasures. There will be days when you feel as if someone is behind you cracking a whip. Too often, the culprit is you , so scale down your expectations.
Live in the present. The past is gone. You don’t know what the future holds Arrange priorities, simplify, delegate, delete. Allow time for being rather than doing.
Don’t live for today; just live today.
Take a soothing bath
Call a friend you have not seen for a while. Find a reason to laugh together.
Schedule blocks of rest time for yourself. Acknowledge your limits. If at all possible, lie down for a few minutes at intervals throughout the day. Your muscles are constantly working to hold your head up, among other things; they deserve a rest.
Go for a walk with a friend
At the end of the day review what you have accomplished. Resting, physical therapy, and exercise are noteworthy accomplishments.
This article first appeared in the Fibromyalgia Magazine. Why not subscribe and receive the latest Fibromyalgia News every month?