Sunday, July 18, 2010

Living with Fibromyalgia (part 2)

How time flies! So here is part two on managing fibromyalgia – at least how I do it. Several aspects of daily life play a huge roll in managing pain levels. Having a routine and trying to generally keep to it is important. I’m not sure why, perhaps because it helps keep from running out of energy, but it works for me. My ideal routine would be sleep until 7 and then slowly ease my way into the day. By 9 or 10 a.m. I’d be starting a couple hours of gentle exercise for the day. What qualifies as gentle exercise for us may be different than for normal people. Doing two loads of laundry (I use All free and clear) and folding it is a good workout. Making beds and vacuuming the floors is another. A couple hours of gardening is a good stretch-and-tone work out. To most people, this does not seem like exercise, but to a sufferer, these chores stretch muscles and allow some good movement without triggering a flare-up. I’d follow this with a nice walk and then some time on the computer, baking bread, or running errands. Finish up the day with a light dinner and some reading or television and turn in around 11 pm.

So what is a flare-up? Everyone has their definition. For me, its any level of pain above that controlled by VOLTAREN GEL and ADVIL LIQUI-GELS. The Advil liqui-gels are a wonderdrug!! I can pop two of these and experience a significant pain decrease in about 20 minutes. In contrast, I experience NO relief from regular ibuprofen, tylenol or aspirin. I use the voltaren gel on my lower back, due to pain from degenerative disk disease. Not sure whether that relates to the fibro or not, but it can add to the discomfort and this topical gel has replaced oral meds that I’d prefer not to take.

Unfortunately, my job doesn’t allow me to keep to my ideal routine, except on weekends. So getting to work is a different routine that I know I need to follow to be functional. Alarm rings at 6 a.m., grab a cup of hot chocolate with a splash of instant coffee, and dive into a very warm shower. I use the combination of warm water and some great lavender bath gel to substitute for two hours of stretching and warming up. Toss on makeup, dry hair, throw on clothes and am out the door by 7:30. Keeping hair short is helpful. Having a good makeup system is also essential. For me, the Trish McEvoy system is indispensable. Her product line has great selection and lets me have what I want in one container. I usually duplicate everything in another pallette, in case I need to take it to work or on travel. I solved the ‘clothes that don’t hurt’ dilemma by using a lot of Chico’s travelers tops and jackets. Coupling these with a basic black pallette (skirts, trousers, shoes, stockings) helps me look some what professional without my clothing being physically painful, which it can be. I avoid anything with a snug waistband or other pressure points. For shoes, I wear a lot of MUNRO AMERICAN, a brand made in the US, which are high quality and have a lot of padding in the sole. Whatever pantyhose I use, I buy at least one size larger than recommended for my height and weight, again to avoid the pressure- point pain.

Next time – traveling with Fibro. How to avoid spending your trip in bed with a flare-up!

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