Since I’ve had fibro, I’ve had to go to specialists, a lot. I have to see my primary care doctor every three months. Of course, one of the things talked about was my weight and I was always asked what form of exercise I do. The answer given was, pretty much none. Then I was told about how bad being over weight was for my body and that studies have shown that being overweight amplifies symptoms of fibromyalgia. Then I was given options of going to a gym going to exercise classes like spinning, or step, or yoga, or even joining a gym to go swimming. All on my dime of course. My problem was, I know I hurt. I know movement makes me hurt. I know I was over weight because I didn’t move, because I hurt. The gym my son belonged to offered one free class to possible new members. I jumped in on the opportunity. I figured, from what I’ve seen of yoga it can’t be too bad for my body. I should start out with this gentle yoga class first. HA! gentle? um…no. I left that one gentle yoga class much much worse for wear than when I started. So much for moving that way. Then I saw that there was a free Pilates class offered at another place in town. That was a terrible decision as well.
On one of the visits to my primary care doctor, he mentioned that he referred me to a 6 week pain clinic that specialized in ways to cope with the pain and ways to get back to living around the pain. There were many different kinds of chronic pain sufferers in the class. This clinic was enlightening. The first question the moderators asked us was, “Is there anything in your life that you think pain has taken away from you?” Everybody started listing off things. After about 20 minutes of people talking about what pain has taken away from them. He said, “let me ask that again… what do you THINK pain has taken away from you?” Everyone looked at him like he was a three-headed alien with purple skin. He went on to explain that because we have all experienced pain and we don’t like to experience pain we focus much more on how we THINK the pain will feel if we do something. That thinking and focusing on what we think the pain will feel like, makes us captive to that fear of pain. We are afraid to do anything that makes our worse pain happen because to us it was worse than 10 on the pain scale they are always asking you about in the doctor’s office.
Because we are afraid of the worst pain, we don’t realize that the actual pain that we are in right now is currently not the worst and we can do things to get around having the worst pain happen.
The first thing I learned about my self and my life after diagnosis is that I cannot be the “get it all done, don’t stop until it is done” person any more. In my job, in chores at home, any time there was a specific task that had to be “done” for me to check it off of my list, I would plug away at it. More often than not I would get reprimanded at work for not taking the required breaks. At home I would put off doing anything else, like eating, until whatever it was had been done. But, getting it done hurt. Getting it done caused more 12 pain moments on a scale of 1-10. I was more focused on the “who else is going to do it?” than listening to my body and not making it a 12. Then of course when I was a 12 I would be unable to move at all or get dressed with out literally crying and I would have to lie in bed, call in to work and then a few days later I would go full force again. And the cycle continued. This is one of the reasons I allowed fear to be my ultimate captor. I didn’t realize I had control over the number on the pain scale. I didn’t realize that it is very okay to take breaks and to leave it for someone else or for tomorrow. My mother’s voice in my head contradicted this. She drilled into me that everything must be spotless now and it must get completely done NOW. It’s hard to overcome a voice that has been drilled into you . But living at a 12 or with the fear of a 12 moment is worse.