Monday, April 1, 2013


As a chronically ill person, I am forced to take care of myself every day. I manage and monitor medications, side effects, flares, doctor appointments, and the food I eat at every meal, among the many other nuances of the sicknesses I suffer. I'm the ringmaster of my own three-ring circus and it feels like a life-long job.

Sometimes, though, I need to recognize that I have to take CARE of myself in some loving, self-soothing ways - erasing from my mind the daily worries and chores of my health and indulge in a frivolous facial, a restaurant meal, or a carefree walk through the woods. It  is so hard to shut down the worries in one's mind even when things are going well. In fact, I was'writing this blog post in my mind while I was having the special one-hour facial (a gift from a friend). It was so hard to relax; to succumb to the treatment without worrying if the instruments were clean or if I would have an allergic reaction to one of the potions or lotions.

Several years ago, one physician suggested deep tissue muscle massage for my never-ending body tension. THAT was a mistake. Fibromyalgia and deep tissue massage do-not-a-match-make. I was in worse pain for days. While many doctors extol the virtues of various types of massage for fibromyalgia patients, there is a cautionary note:

"Bodyworkers must proceed carefully and slowly with FMS clients, especially when flare-ups are involved. During a flare-up, symptoms intensify and new symptoms can develop. For some clients, massage involving vigorous strokes or deep pressure can cause rebound tenderness, exacerbating pain. Prior to, and during flare-ups, certain areas may be too tender for deep work, and can result in further tensing of the involved muscles. Respected fibromyalgia researcher, Devin J. Starlanyl, M.D., recommends avoiding deep tissue massage or neuromuscular therapy during these times."

Unlike a ringmaster, there is no cracking of a whip or blurt of a whistle for me to get going. I am reminded of friends and family who are facing their own troubles. One will break a nail and it's a catastrophe of the largest proportions. Others are looking for how to pay their bills yet carry on smiling and keeping faith that all will be well. And some are in the throes of grief.

So where do my aches and pains fit in on the dial-o-meter of distress? I searched for scholarly research and articles on perception of distress and found a multitude of sources but each only looked at one cause of the distress - heart attack, diabetes, discrimination, cancer, current events, spirituality, etc. I couldn't come up with a conclusion. Any psycho-social research scientists out there who want to tackle this one?

I've decided that our dial-o-meters are highly personal. The lady with the broken nail is in high distress based on her own perceptions of what causes her angst and unrest. Or, perhaps she is the one who is also dealing with grief and this was the last straw; the hole in the dyke that let her emotions come flooding out. So I don't judge anyone's pain, even mine, because it is relative to what we are experiencing at the time.

Hmmmm. I just remembered. I totally lost it last week when my coat zipper got stuck. It wasn't the zipper. It WAS a culmination of stresses and pain and it became my target; so I beat the hell out of that coat and, finally, stepped out of it and threw it across the room.

Maybe that's what we need to do. Just step away from distress sometimes. Step away and give ourselves a break even if it's only in our own mind. Anyone up for some meditation?


  1. Yes Amy, I am up for meditation am lot's of it.I need to learn how! Thank You dear friend for this blog. Love you so very much!!


  2. I'm up for a double shot and I don't even drink! So I guess I just make mine hangover that way. I totally agree, your dial-o-meter of distress is from your own personal experiences. You can't compare it to what others feel because you can't 'feel' what they feel...physically or emotionally. Many times you find people that you can relate to because you have had similar experiences. Then you run on to others that don't have clue how it feels to have any chronic condition no less FMS even if they were beat with a 10 lbs sledge hammer. Continue to dial your own meter and feel what you have to feel and don't let anyone tell you how to feel, but take it easy on that poor zipper. You don't have much luck with those or electronic devices...remember even your GPS gets you lost, on purpose! ;)


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