For starters, let me say that under normal circumstances, I do not experience regular, moderate to severe flares of my fibromyalgia symptoms. Why? Because I have learned to stay in my energy envelope. It took me five years to learn how to do this, but I know I have mastery of this concept now. How do I know? Because I went WAY out of my energy envelope several days last week and got severely flared up.
So while physically I don't feel so great, psychologically I feel O.K. because I have proof that the things I usually do on a daily basis to manage my fibromyalgia symptoms really work. I also feel good because I know if I can get back to this routine during and after my flare-up, I can prevent this from happening again.
So, do you want to know some of my secrets?
- Using an assessment scale, I determine my level of functioning. So right now, I am about a 20 out of 100, so I need to scale back the amount of activity that worsens my pain and fatigue to around 1 hour per day.
- I acknowledge that feeling good is dangerous and can lead to me overestimating my ability to engage in activities. So I remind myself of the Golden Rule of Chronic Illness:If I push, I will pay, If I pace, I can play.
- Next I plan out my activities for the day using the 15 Minute Rule. I schedule 15 minutes of an activity, then I stop to assess. If I feel more pain or fatigue, I stop and rest for 15 minutes. If I feel OK, I continue on for another 15 minutes. Wearing a timer around my neck helps me stick to my schedule.
- I recognize that I need to modify how I do things to make activities more fibro-friendly. Among other strategies, I sit down while doing activities and use aids like a Pik Stik reacher or the shopping scooter at the grocery store.
- I know what times of day are best for certain activities and I plan accordingly, sticking to a daily routine. For example, my hands often are numb and painful when I get out of bed, so I avoid using my hands a lot for several hours following awakening.
It is the knowledge that I have broken the push-crash cycle and can manage my fibromyalgia symptoms well enough to avoid major flare-ups that helps me feel fine despite more pain and fatigue right now.
Tomorrow I'll write more about how I got into my current predicament and the lessons I learned over the past week.