As it’s Fibromyalgia Awareness Week here in the UK, I thought that I would tell how this condition affects me. It’s not as well known (in my experience) as ME (also called CFS), so this week gives me an opportunity to highlight this chronic illness and how it affects my everyday life.
Along with my diagnosis of CFS two years ago, I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It’s a condition characterised by widespread pain, hypersensitivity to pain, chronic fatigue and sleep disturbances. I always have pain (varying day to day) in my legs and feet, which has reduced my mobility and left me pretty much housebound. If I do go out, I wear gel pads in my shoes to give my feet some relief from the pain of walking; and I use a walking stick in case I feel unstable. I tend to get more pain on my left hand side (leg and arm), which then can spread rapidly across my back, neck and shoulders. Not only is the pain muscular, I can feel in in my joints too – almost as though I have arthritis. Because of all this pain, I have to take strong painkillers every day.
Certain parts of my body are also sensitive to touch – the tops of my arms and legs feel this the most, although not exclusively. Because of this, I have bought a blood pressure monitor that goes round my wrist, as opposed to the top of the arm. Having my blood pressure done at the doctor’s surgery is like having my arm ripped off, so having a wrist version means I can avoid that pain. This sensitivity also means family and friends have to be careful when hugging and such-like, as even that can be uncomfortable. There are other symptoms. I have Restless Leg Syndrome (also associated with CFS) and Sleep Starts – that moment when you’re about to sleep and your body jerks you back awake. I can relate to many of the symptoms listed in the above info-graphic.
Because of the pain and sensitivity, I’ve had to change how I do things in my home. A kettle is too heavy to use, so I have a one-cup hot water dispenser. Saucepans and oven dishes are also a problem because of weight, so I have an electric slow cooker and a soup maker to try and have freshly cooked food. There are still household jobs to be done that have no alternative method though – laundry and ironing for example. I even have difficulty washing my hair, as raising my arms up for an any extended time can be agony.
So that’s an overall view of my life with Fibromyalgia. If you would like to learn more about the condition, I’ve listed a few websites below which give more in depth information.