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.

Three Ways To Live Life To The Fullest With Fibromyalgia

Three Ways To Live Life To The Fullest With Fibromyalgia

With a title like that, I hope you’ll keep reading. This is no joke, we can live life to its fullest even with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain or any other life altering pain related disease. I have had fibro for thirty-two years and counting. I have just started to feel like I can live my life to its fullest potential. I still have bad days, bad weeks and bad months. I have pain every single day of my life. The pain vacillates, but it’s always there. The headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, flu like malaise, the works. I have a majority of the fibro symptoms listed in this article of fibromyalgia symptoms. but now that I’ve learned a few things, I can see a dim light at the end of the tunnel during flare ups and bad days or weeks or months.

I know the flare ups will pass and leave me with traditional pain and anguish caused by fibromyalgia. Keep in mind, back when life was normal for you, you had bad days, you didn’t feel normal, sick days, days where you were in an inexplicable funk. That type of life is the same with fibro. Good days are typically painful to various degrees. Flare ups are the bad days or the funky days.

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The three ways to live life to the fullest with fibromyalgia are:

Accept Your New Reality And Limitations

Manage Expectations

Find New Ways To Feel Fulfilled

I have fibromyalgia, I’m not some professional writing about this debilitating disease, I write from personal experience. I plan on writing about all three of this topic, hopefully in the next three days. Although it’s fibro permitting, so stay tuned for the next two articles.

Accept Your New Reality And Limitations

When you have a chronic pain illnesses like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, or any other illness that creates chronic pain, you know that there are limitations. You can no longer do what you used to do. You wear out far more easily than you used to. It hurts to do common things that you’ve regularly done in the past. It hurts to do anything, it hurts to do nothing. Even breathing can hurt sometimes.

This is your new reality. You need to accept your new reality. That does not mean you give up and give into your illness. Accepting that fact that things are different than they used to be and always will be, doesn’t mean you’re giving in to the illness. If you accept the fact that life is what it currently is, it’s easier to move on with your new life and a way to live.

I’ve heard people say “fibro doesn’t have me, I have it” or “fibromyalgia isn’t going to determine my life, or change my life.” That can be seen as a good fighters mantra but it’s not complete reality. Fibro does change your life and it does determine some of what you can or cannot do. I’m not a professional health care provider or a psychiatrist. I’m a man who has had fibromyalgia for thirty-two year and counting. I speak from experience.

If you accept your limitations then you can learn to work around them. If you don’t accept your limitations, then you’re going to work hard and hurt more and feel more anguish on top of the debilitating, bone crushing pain of a chronic pain illness.

Accepting your new reality doesn’t mean you’re giving into it, it means you understand the need to work around it.

We all hope and pray for a cure or a superior way to manage the symptoms of chronic pain. But until then, this is our life. Let’s get on with living it the best way possible.

Here are some thoughts or ideas on how to accept your new reality. For some reason, a great many deal with an issue of guilt. They feel guilty being in pain all the time. They feel guilty because they can’t do what they used to do. There are many other reasons to feel guilty, but there are no good reasons to feel guilty. Let go of any guilt that you may feel.

“Did you ask to have this illness?” No.

“Had you deliberately done anything to cause this illness?” No.

“Do you want this illness?” No.

“Do you enjoy being in pain all the time?” No.

Then don’t feel guilty. Let go of any guilt.

If you accept the fact that you have fibromyalgia or any other chronic pain disease, then you can treat it the way you should. With respect. Respect the fact that you may need a nap or two or three during the day. Your body has a pain sickness and needs rest. You also aren’t going to get better any time soon so you need to accept the fact that you need to pace yourself.

Troy Wagstaff

P.S.
Look for Parts 2 and 3 within the next few days…

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