Thursday, September 9, 2010

All Flared Up, But Feeling Fine

Happy and Sad face are together.Image via WikipediaLet me get right to the point here. You read the title of this post and ask yourself (among other things), "How can she feel fine if she is all flared up?"

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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karen.blenkinsop said...

Hi Selena. I admire anyone who is coping with chronic illness and you seem to have devised a clever coping strategy.Well done! :D
I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, as well as Ankylosing Spondilitis for 10 years and lived with a lot of pain. I am now free from disease and want to help others to get completely well too. I am now a Mickel Therapy practitioner which teaches people with ME/Fibromyalgia/CFS/Depression/Anxiety to get well and stay well. My website is www.getmewell.co.uk
I do hope that you become completely free of your pain. I admire the work that you are doing to help others.
With love,

Young Wife said...

I am so happy to hear you're managing your time and energy so well. It sounds like you've put a lot of thought and effort into your routine. Thanks for sharing what works for you.

Tammy said...

I can be a stubborn old mule at times. When I feel good, I want to be busy. To the point of course, of irritating my body. Now I have not found my dance yet but I will in time. I'm still fighting the effects of sever chronic fatigue much to my and my rheumy's disappointment. Even if i dont' close my eyes or sleep, I have to lie down a bit in the afternoon. If I don't, sewing seems like a burdon. We don't know exactly why it's hit me again like a ton of bricks only that i've been under unbelievable stress. That alone could account for it but we are being cautious.

I will one day learn the steps to this dance. Right now, my RA is so out of control it's been difficult. You sound like yo have found your dance and your partner is following along. GOOD FOR YOU!!!! I pray for all of us to find relief if not a cure. It's not easy living with these diseases. Hugs to you. Tammy

Éimí said...

You now totally have my attention. I'm flaring HORRIBLY and have been for about a year now...I'm really at a loss as to what to do, aside from getting all new doctors and drugs, and a new body, lol. And it doesn't help that my mental health problems are rearing their ugly head as well, with no end in site. I need to work on that too...but I have to pick my battles. Hope to see more from you soon!

Soft hugs, and Much love


Migrainista said...

very cool! You should be proud of how well you manage your life.

Migrainista said...

A blog award for you at http://migraine-ista.blogspot.com/2010/09/some-awards.html

I really enjoy your blog!

rlee8235 said...

Boy, do I need this list! I need to take them to heart and definitely learn the rule: if you push you will pay!Thanks for this!!