Like a Bad Penny...
Hello Everyone and Happy July!
Yes, it really is me again. I know it has been a long while now, thus the title:
Like a Bad Penny...
I just keep turning up!
Fibro Flares and I have that in common I am sad to say. In fact, I believe I can announce that I am, once again, coming out of a very long, fairly severe, certainly impactful, Fibro Flare.
"Coming Out of a Fibro Flare"
What exactly does that mean?
When those of us with Fibromyalgia (FMS) declare that we are, "Coming out of a flare..." that can be confusing to others. It is possible that if you are newly diagnosed with FMS, it can be confusing to you as well. I often find that people think that means I'm going to be "all better" for awhile, like when someone says, "I am over that cold." They hear me declaring I am symptom-free, and will remain so until the next Fibro Flare, just as they remain symptom-free until they have their next cold. They hear wrongly!
If only it were that simple!
When someone has FMS, they experience symptoms everyday. These symptoms can and do vary in severity. Also, the symptoms are not limited to muscle pain. The list of potential symptoms is very long representing many, if not all, systems of the body. However, over time, each persons comes to recognize their "baseline". Simply put, when you have FMS, you learn what your new "normal" is. While that varies for each of us with FMS, we can all agree on this: Our new "normal" is not symptom-free!
A Fibro Flare is when those with FMS begin experiencing increased pain, fatigue, mental fogginess (Fibro Fog), and feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression. Almost always a host of other symptoms throughout the body will increase as well such as headaches, irritable bowel, bladder spasms, TMJ, insomnia, etc. These flares, or increase of pain and symptoms above our new "norm", may last for a few days, a few weeks, a few months, and possibly even a year or more. They may also vary from mild, which is a slight but impactful increase in symptoms, all the way to severe, which can actually be debilitating.
When those with FMS are experiencing a Fibro Flare, they are able to do less, tolerate less, etc. When, thankfully, they can announce that they are coming out of the flare, however, it must be understood that they are not recovering from a cold, the flu, a broken arm, etc. They are not suddenly "all better" or symptom-free; they have returned to their FMS baseline or their FMS Norm.
My own personal experience has been that, as I have gotten older, or when the cause of a flare has been something major, such as surgery, it takes longer to come out of FMS Flares. Also, I do not seem to bounce back as much; I do not return to my previous FMS Norm. I have found that I have to accept yet another new "normal" such as more pain, more fatigue, more Fibro Fog, more anxiety, etc.
Several of those I know who do not have FMS have said to me that as long as I expect another flare to come along, then certainly one will. A sort of self-fulfilling prophecy I suppose. I certainly believe that we get the outcomes we expect; that if we expect bad things then we get bad things. However, I am also a realist; I believe in facing and dealing with the facts. They key is not to be "positive" by denying the truth. The key is to remain "positive" in spite of the truth! And it is a fact of LIVING a fibroLIFE: Like a bad penny, flares will keep turning up. We must each endure them with as much positivity, grace, and humor as possible, ever looking forward to when we can say we are "...coming out of a flare"