Fibromyalgia: 3 Ways To Manage Your Expectations

Fibromyalgia: 3 Ways To Manage Your Expectations

This is part two of a three part series on Three Ways To Live Life To The Fullest With Fibromyalgia
three_ways_day_weekNow that you have accepted the fact that you have limitations due to fibromyalgia and the other set of countless symptoms that go along with fibromyalgia you can manage your expectations. Probably the biggest thing you can do to manage your expectations is to know that you’ll never be able to do in a week, what used to take a day to do.

When managing expectations, there are three ways to do this:

1. Manage your expectations of yourself.

2. Manage the expectations of others.

3. Manage the expectations of the illness itself.

Manage Your Expectations Of Yourself

One of the most important things someone with fibromyalgia can do to fight pain and symptoms is to do your best at reducing stress. That’s not as easy as it sounds. I know, I’ve tried.

full moon

full moon

Knowing that you will not be able to do what you used to do in the time frame you used to do in may be demoralizing. I’ve had fibro for thirty-two years and it is still, on occasion, demoralizing. I get frustrated and for me, frustration leads to stress, which leads to the increase of symptoms or a flare up. For me that typically means more pain and more fibro fog symptoms. Sometimes it vents in depression, making it hard to want to do anything for a period of time.

I need to remind myself that I have limitations, but at the same time I need to remind myself that while I do have limitations there are many things I can do. Make a list of things you know you can do. That way, if you’re having a fibro fog day you can look at the list and remember what you can do.

Have you ever done something and then realized, “oh crap, I’m going to pay for this for the next few days.” With fibro fog you can forget that there are things you can’t do because you’ve spent a lifetime doing them. Keep a journal or list of activities that you have done in the past and how your body responded. Then build up a list of activities you know you can’t do, activities you can do and maybe a third list of activities that you might be able to do if you’re having a good couple of days or if the weather is good. Fibro fog is my worst enemy getting me into all kinds of trouble, I’m in constant pain, but I sometimes forget to take my pain MEDs. Sometimes I do an activity that I later realized is something that will cause a flare up.

Manage The Expectations Of Others

three_ways_to_live_life_fullest_2Fibromyalgia is an invisible illness, meaning that we don’t look sick, but we are. We don’t look like were dying of pain, but we are. Because we don’t have a cast on one of our limbs or because we don’t pull out a needle for an insulin shot we don’t get the same respect afforded those who have those more visible illnesses. There’s a lot in a name. If we said, “I can’t do that because I have arthritis,” most people would understand because “arthritis” has name recognition that fibromyalgia doesn’t have.

What this all means is that we need to manage expectations that others have of us. Because we don’t look sick or because we have a disease with virtually no name recognition we don’t get the same respect as other with different illnesses.

How does one manage the expectations of others? That is a hard thing. We’re not lazy and we want to do as much as we can when we can, but that doesn’t match up with external expectations.

Someone suggested this concept: You’re involved in a group and something comes up and they need a volunteer to do something. You’re having a good day so you think, I could do that for a change. Yay. But if you do it this time, they might expect you to do it again the next time that situation arises. You have no way of knowing how you’ll be feeling next week or next month. If you do it today then you’re setting expectations for the next time. So don’t do it, even though you could have done it that one time. Now they won’t expect it of you.

Personally, I avoid situations like that, because it’s hard to manage others expectations of you. I have a supportive family so I can do things when I feel good enough and say no when I don’t feel good enough. Even though they understand and are supportive, it’s hard on them and sometimes they get a little bent out of shape but they understand.

Winning other people’s approval is not worth getting sick over, it’s not worth a flare up, so don’t be afraid to say no.

Manage The Expectations Of The Illness

There are some basic things you can do to manage fibromyalgia: Treat the symptoms, like pain pills for pain, muscle relaxers for muscle spasms, anxiety pills for anxiety, medicine for IBS or whatever the case may be.

Avoid stress the best you can. Stay positive, the best you can. Get the best sleep you can, don’t overdo it and don’t give up!

There are no medicines from nature or from the pharmaceutical companies that will completely take away the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Treat the symptoms but don’t go overboard. There are several million people in America that suffer from fibromyalgia. If some medicine came along or some natural remedy came along that resolved fibro completely, don’t you think you would have heard about it from a reputable source and not some second rate site with outlandish testimonials that claim to have the answer for fibromyalgia?

Don’t waste your hard earned precious little money searching for a cure. You will know about a cure or a top rate solution, it one becomes available.

Keep things in perspective. There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, but it is not a degenerative illness. It won’t kill you. It can, with time, be managed to a degree. To expect more than that will set you up for disappointment.

Who Is The Boss? You Or Fibromyalgia?

Who Is The Boss? You Or Fibromyalgia?

If I asked the question “who is boss? You or Fibromyalgia” to the general public, who is the boss between you and fibromyalgia? The positive thinking, well-intentioned people would likely say, “you are.” If you have Fibromyalgia then you know there are days when fibro is boss. Just as sure as the sky is blue, fibro is the boss during fibro flare ups and during bad weather or during a cycle.

So I ask again, to my fellow fibromites, who is boss, you or fibro? I would like to know from fibromites who have this illness what they think about this question? Here is my answer to the question.

Let’s compare fibromyalgia to a long season sport like basketball or baseball. The season is long and it requires a lot of management from the personal player’s standpoint all the way up to the manager or coach of the team. They both are endurance games and seasons. As a coach, you know that players are going to have a bad game every so often, but you don’t bench him on that alone. You look at effort and overall contribution to the team. You cut the player some slack during a down period, and give him some special attention or training needed to get past the dry spells.

You can’t judge the season by the performance of a week here or there, you have to take it in its entirety.

So what I am getting too is the Fibromyalgia is a situation that needs to be managed as opposed to an illness to beat. Try all you want with your pharmaceuticals, diet, sleep, therapies, exercise, and positive attitude, there will be times that, in spite all of that you have done managing your chronic illness, a flare will come. It may be in a few days, a few weeks or if you’re lucky, it might not come for several months. But that flare up will come as sure as the sun rises each day, the flare up will come.

There may be times when you feel like you’re winning and there are times when you feel like you’re losing. But if you keep the managers’ mind-set in the battle against fibro, you can enjoy the good times more and pass through the bad times easier.

who_is_the_bossIt’s not easy to manage something as complex as fibromyalgia, especially if you have fibro fog. I wouldn’t say I am the best manager of the illness but I’ll tell you what I do to try and manage my illness.

I have advocated in a few of my articles the use of a journal. I am not the best example of journal writing but I have done it, I am doing it currently, and I’ve done it enough to know that it works quite well. Journaling helps you remember what your symptoms were on a given day. It reminds you what the doctor said. It reminds you about lessons learned by trying various activities.

There are a lot of things we can’t do with fibro and there are a lot of things we shouldn’t do with fibro, but everyone is different. I still want to live as much as I can so I do things, not crazy things, but I do them knowing I will pay for it in the coming days or even maybe weeks. I know I am going to be sore and sick anyway, why not have some fun on the rare chances that come my way to do something out of the boring, ordinary daily grind. I record what I did and how I paid for it. I forget a lot of things because of fibro. I try to record weather conditions and how I felt when certain weather comes along. I use my journal to keep track of certain medicines.

Journaling is fantastic emotional therapy because you can usually express yourself to a journal better than to anyone else. With a journal you can look up in the past and see what you did and how you paid for it with an increase of symptoms or you can compare weather patterns and how it affects you. Best of all, you can remember your past in as much detail as you put into your journal writing. You can also use your journal for keeping track of questions for health care professionals and their answers.

I tend to ramble on in my posts so I will wrap this one up as an introduction to how to manager Fibromyalgia. In this case using a journal is a great way to manage Fibromyalgia. There are several other ways to manage this sickening illness we know as fibromyalgia and chronic pain. Let me know by way of comments to this post what ways or what methods you use to manage your fibro.

Dealing with the question, of “who is the boss? You or fibromyalgia?” I don’t think it is a good approach to think of dealing with a chronic illness in terms of winning or losing but rather think of the battle with fibro as something to be managed.

Troy Wagstaff © Copyrighted

Look for at least three or more posts on how to manage fibro in the near future.

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