Friday, September 10, 2010

The Lessons Learned From My Latest Flare-Up

black leather setImage by Fuschia Foot via Flickr
I have some modicum of control over whether or not my fibromyalgia symptoms flare-up. Granted some things that flare me up, like the weather or catching a viral infection that leads to a flare, I have little or no control over. But in the spirit of focusing on the things I can change, I do have control over what I do day-in and day-out to stay inside my energy envelope.

My energy envelope

Living with fibromyalgia means I have a limited amount of energy every day. That limited amount of energy is my energy envelope. If I only expend the energy available to me, I stay inside my envelope. If I exceed my available energy, I step out of my envelope and into trouble. If I expend some energy and save the rest, I give my body the gift of healing.

The plan

Recently, I finally saved up enough money to be able to buy a fibro-friendly reclining sofa for my living room. I knew that I was going to have to get the room prepared for the new furniture. That meant getting the old sofa out, organizing the other furniture in the room and doing some much delayed (and avoided) Spring cleaning and decluttering.

So when I made my purchase, I schedule a delivery date for three weeks out so I could get these things done.

In the meantime, I rallied my husband to help me. Then I enlisted the help of an organizing professional. I let them both know we needed to get started early and work a little bit each week to accomplish my goal of getting the living room prepped and ready for new furniture. I explained that waiting to the last week to do everything wasn't going to work for me.

I felt confident that if I could stick to my plan, I could get everything accomplished and avoid a flare-up.

What happened

I was really depended on the organizational professional I hired to take my plan and run with it. Unfortunately, she had a family emergency and had to delay her participation.

She had a great plan of attack that included parking a small temporary storage container in our driveway so we could immediately clear out the living room and then repopulate the room at our leisure after the furniture arrived. It seems like a quick and painless solution, so my husband and I didn't worry too much when she couldn't come to help us until five days before the scheduled delivery.

After some confusion and mix-ups, we learned four days before the delivery that our driveway was too narrow for the forklift to deliver the container. On that same day, our organizer had to bow out once again because of family issues which she felt took precedence over her work commitments.

Robert and I quickly formulated Plan B. Subsequently, I wound up doing way too much in the final few days leading up to the furniture delivery.

The outcome

  • I fired the organizer.
  • I accepted that I was going to be stepping way out of my energy envelope and realized that I was going to be flared up as a result.
  • I prepared myself mentally for the consequences of my choice.
  • Now I am practicing patience as I wait to recover from my extreme trip outside my energy envelope.
  • Until then, I am resting and recovering on my new reclining sofa.
  • I acknowledge and applaud myself for tackling my first big project since living with fibromyalgia. Which means I've reached the point where I recognize that living my best life with chronic illness means figuring out to to face, not avoid, the big projects in my life.
  • For my homework, I need to learn how to better plan for big projects--like formulating several plans of attack up front. I think if I can master the skill of planning, I can be more successful, and less flared up, next time.

So what do you think about the lessons I learned from getting flared up?

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Kellie Snider said...

Thanks for your wonderful blog. I am a fibro sufferer, but still working, and wondering if I will be able to continue. Do you work outside the home? If so, how do you manage there?


Kat Benn said...

I have to say, I am glad to of found your blog. I felt a bit guilty for basically collapsing after each time I pushed myself through some household project, or taking one slow just to try not to trigger a flare-up. Nice to know I am not alone, and that I have nothing to feel guilty about.