Coping With Fibro
When we first find out we have fibro, we go through the same processes as we do when dealing with a death.Anger at the Drs., anger at ourselves, and sometimes anger at God. Grieving at the loss of a life we once had. Frustration and hopelessness. What do we do now?
Acceptance. When we finally accept the fact that we have fibromyalgia, only then can we start looking for ways to live with it and without our former way of life.You can not change the fact you have it but you can change other things in your life. Below is a list of things that can be helpful. We have to get little bits of help in all aspects of our lives, and all of these added together can make life easier for us Always check with your doctor first though.
Let us begin our journey !
- Educate yourself. Read everything you can about this complex disease. But remember that what works for one may not work for another. Use discretion, not everything you see on AOL or read is true. If you have a computer, there is a well of information on line. You may want to print some for future reference.
- Don't be over-whelmed by the list of symptoms. You may have some and not others. I do strongly advise that you print a list of symptoms, this can save you lots of anxiety and worrying. An example of this: when I first started with fibro, the only thing I wanted help with was my pain. So I disregarded everything else I heard or read. Later I found a lump in my breast and did not tell anyone for 2 weeks til my next dr appointment. I worried about cancer and this was very stressful. My dr. explained that it was muscle soreness from the fibro. When I first experienced fibro fog or forgetfulness, I worried myself sick that I was getting Alzheimers. I later learned that this was a part of fibro too. So you can see how much education can help your stress.
- I have a corner of a room where I surround myself with funny cards, quotations, and inspirational sayings by taping them to the wall. Some inspirational pieces I have are not religious by nature but are still up-lifting. Some are just plain common sense.
- Look for humor. Laughter raises the endolphins and this helps with the pain.? Excitement over a project or goal, as well as, anger used in a constructive way do the same.
- If possible find a support group you can attend. You can help them and also get helpful hints from them.? Sometimes you may need to vent or cry or share something you found that works for you and it is good to have someone that understands. Check with the Arthritis Foundation to find one near you. Or start one yourself.
- There are gentle stretching exercises you can do to help keep muscles relaxed and to get rid of knots. This is one of the most important things to do.
- I have tried all kinds of salves, creams, and oils. The best 2 I have found are Tiger Balm, a jar of salve you can get at Walmarts. It doesnt burn as much as others and it comes in an odorless kind too. This is the only one I have found that actually works for the pain. The 2nd one I found is Skin So Soft by Avon. This eases the stinging pain in my legs and I use at night because the aroma is very soothing and relaxing. It helps as a sleep aid too.
- I use a heating pad that, when put in the micro-wave, becomes moist heat.? This helps me more than a regular heating pad.
- There is a pillow filled with buckwheat husks that is wonderful. I have tried all kinds of pillows but this one really helps. It conforms to your neck and shoulders, giving them support, so you don't scrunch them up while sleeping. It also has helped greatly with the end of tailbone pain and hip pain. I guess by using it under my head it helps align the spine also. You may find it on T.V. or at Eckerd's Pharmacy or Target's dept. stores.
- I use Ginko tablets that help a lot with memory problems. You can find them at Health food stores, Walmarts, or K-marts. Again check with your dr. Use post-it notes, and make lists. Some use a small tape recorder when going shopping, much better than geting inside of store and wondering why you came. Also you can tape a check list of things to check before getting out of the car. Lights off, doors locked, have purse, check book, and Keys. A very large key ring is a good reminder for that aggrevating problem of locking keys in the car.
- I use one of Granny's walking canes that has a smooth head and take it to church with me. I crook it over my shoulder and put pressure on knots in various places to relieve pain. You might find one at yard sales cheap. Some stores such as Relax the Back store carry a form of these but they can be costly. There is one called a Thera Cane that many say is great, but I haven't used it yet.
- I have a rubber tubing that the physical therapist gave me that I love. He tied a knot in the middle and you throw it over the door and the knot holds it in place. I wrap it around hands twice, then act like I'm putting my hands in back pockets. This feels so good across chest and upper back muscles.
- When standing at the sink, open cabinet door beneath and rest one foot on bottom, then change to other foot.
- Keep a clothes basket handy and if company calls to say they are on the way, rake mess into basket and put in another room.
- When standing at the sink, open cabinet door beneath and rest one foot on bottom, then change to other foot.
- If there is any way you get use a YMCA or something similar, the heated swimming pool and the whirlpool works wonders. Last summer I took swimming lessons and was ABSOLUTELY PAIN FREE FOR 2 MONTHS !! I have heard that some Y's will give a discount if your doctor writes a letter saying that this is necessary for your treatment.
- There are all kinds of vibrators you can get at Walmarts or Kmarts that may help. I haven't had much success with these because I need a deeper massage, but lots of others have. Also your insurance may pay for a TENS unit. These are machines that the physical therapists use that send electronic pulses to your muscles.
- Some of us are very sensitive to cold and especially air conditioners. I take a sweater everywhere because restaurants, churches, etc. are usually so uncomfortable for me. I also wear sweat suits at home because of the air conditioner and because the soft fleece is very comforting to sore bones.
- Hot showers are beneficial to most and if you have a family member to massage you, that is an asset too. I give my 8 yr old grandson extra money to "work on my shoulders". He feels good because he is helping Granny and earning spare money at the same time.
- Deep breathing exercises, walking, and relaxation tapes all help. When walking, try to breathe fresh air deeply, look at the trees, squirrels, flowers, and listen to the birds. This takes your mind off your pain for awhile and will relax your inner self while the walking is helping your muscles.
- If there are hobbies that you have to give up, try to find something else to replace them. A sense of accomplishment is one of the best medicines I can think of.
- When I had to quit work, it wasn't the job or money I missed most. The place I worked turned over all their fund-raising projects to me. Out of everything connected with fibro this was the hardest part for me to accept. Helping others has always brought me such joy, I was devestated at losing this very important part of me. Later I found that I could help others with educating and supporting them with fibro and it truly was a lifesafer for me. It quickly brought me up from the pits of despair and depression.
- If you carry a large purse, and especially the kind with shoulder straps, This is one of the worse things you can do. Change to a lighter, smaller purse. A fanny pack you wear around your waist is even better. I was amazed at how better my pain got after switching from a sholder strap type.
- There are different kinds of posture correctors you can buy. These fit under your clothes. Some are adjustable and I recommend this kind. I was surprised at the relief of shoulder and neck pain these provide.
- Always hold your arms and hands close to the body when performing tasks such as using the vacuum. Instead of pushing with arms stretched in front of you, hold them close to body and walk instead of pushing. Consider buying a light weight sweeper for everyday use, and only use the vaccum when necessary. You can find these in Walmarts for about $15.00. Check your library for a book on Ergonomics. This is the science of designing work tasks to fit the capabilities of the human body. Once you get some ideas from the book, you can look for other ways to adapt these to your personal life style.
- I use a dish stacker on the counter to keep from reaching up in cabinets so much. These have sections for plates, saucers, bowls, etc. Just transfer dishes from dish drainer to stacker, saving much wear and tear on the shoulder and arm muscles. The junk mail booklets we get, such as Harriet Carter and others, have some wonderful, cheap items. This is where I got the dish stacker. Look for things like a jar opener, etc.
- Tell all family members when they use twist ties it only takes one or two twists to secure things like bread wrappers. One day I was opening the bread and after about 8 twists, I hollered for all family to come into kitchen. I asked who was the last to use the bread. Of course everyone said it wasn't them. I told everyone it was not necessary to twist it 15 times, only 2 would suffice. This saves much pain on the hands.
- When using a hair dryer, bend your head and hold arms and dryer close to body, instead of raising arm up in the air. Better yet, get a short hair cut that doesn't take as much styling or maintenance.
- Wear low heel shoes with a good support. Try not to wear shoes with a high heel, these will throw spine and your whole body out of line.
- SIMPLIFY. Get rid of as much clutter as possible. Remove knick-knacks and unnecessary objects from living room. It takes very little time to use sweeper and run a duster over furniture, if you don't have a lot of objects to move and dust. I did this and the room looked clean all the time. However, for some people like myself, this caused more stress. After 2 weeks, I found that I did not enjoy going into that room. It took me awhile to figure out what was wrong. The room was too sterile looking for me. I have lots of little knick knacks that friends had given me and when these were removed, the room lost its coziness and warmth. So then I spent a day dragging out boxes I had stored away and replaced my keepsakes. Some people can live with a simpler room and feel the time and energy they save on cleaning is worth it. Try it for 2 weeks and see what you can live with or without.
- Use organizers as much as possible. Label everything so you don't have to search for a special item.
- If possible hire a cleaning lady to help with harder chores and deep cleaning. This will free you for putting away things in their proper places. If you can keep up with this, the house will look cleaner and not so overwhelming, when you do want to tackle various chores.
- Try trading chores with a neighbor or family member. If shopping causes you more pain, make a list and trade with neighbor by making a cake for her when in-laws come. Adapt this example to fit your own needs.
- One thing that bothered me a lot was not being able to take grandson to the aquarian, zoo, etc. I have found that even though these trips made me hurt, the memories we created and talked about over and over were well worth it. After a few days the pain level was back down and the fun filled memories lasted much longer. Many places have motorized chairs or wheel chairs.
- Music. I put on music to stretch and exercise by. This makes it feel less like work and something you have to do. I also use music while cleaning the house, makes the work go faster. I went to church one day, hurting all over and pain writen all over my face. Afterwards a group of us gathered around to practise singing. Later a friend mentioned that she could tell by my expression that I wasn't in pain while singing. With opened mouth, I looked back and said, "Hey, you're right ! I hadn't noticed that before!" I guess its true that "music does soothe the beast."
- While going to the doctors office one day, I saw a homeless man walking all hunched over with everything he owned on his back. I started thinking about how I would manage if I had to sleep curled up on a bench. With fibromyalgia, the dampness and cold of sleeping outside, no pillow, always hungry, no heating pads or hot showers, the stress of someone attacking you in your sleep would be too much to handle. I said a thankful prayer that fibro was ALL I had to contend with. When we look around and see people with cancer and things more horrible than we have it really puts a different light on our problems.
- Some people think that a one a day vitamin is all they need. Lack of enough potassium, calcium, magnesium, and ALL the B vitamins can cause added muscle pain. Go to the library and find a good book on vitamins and minerals. Dr. Jacob Teitlebaum has writen a book called "From Fatigued To Fantastic" He has fibromyalgia and addresses this and other issues. I do not agree with all he says, but the vitamins and minerals I mentioned, I found out about from this book. Again ask your dr. about these.
- Place 2 or 3 tennis balls in an old sock and tie the end. Sit in chair and lean back on the sock. This helps put pressure on trigger points. You can also do the same by backing up to the wall with sock placed next to back. Rock around to move it to various points.
- Use a stool to reach high places instead of stretching arms, to dust high places, getting things out of high cabinets, etc. I bought one at an office supply store like they use in the library. It has rollers and when you step on it the rollers lock in place.
- When pain is especially bad, I get off to myself and cry and tell God all about it. I tell Him to take the pain, the stress, etc. Even if you don't usually pray, this will still make you feel better just by releasing your feelings.
- Remember, fibromyalgia is not terminal. It WILL NOT KILL YOU. There will be bad times but they will not last. Eventually, you will have better days. Some people have periods of a few months up to a year or more, when pain is so low they can ignore it, or it goes away completely. This happens by following your drs. treatment and by using tricks and tips you learn yourself to help you. You must continue your stretching exercises to keep muscles flexible.
- DON'T GIVE UP!? FIBROMYALGIA MAY CONTROL MY BODY AT TIMES, BUT IT WILL NEVER CONTROL MY SPIRIT !!!
(((((( soft hugs))))) from Your Fibro Friend Nancy ©1997