The weather in Ohio has been a nightmare of late, which means that my body is reacting in nightmarish proportions. The unfortunate reality of my life is that I have a condition that reacts to rainy skies like a punching bag reacts to a boxer.
In other words: loads and loads of pain. Oh, and other things.
Which brings me to the reason for today’s post. There is so much that goes into fibromyalgia that it often blows a person’s mind. The symptoms are so many and the cures are so nonexistent that it almost seems unbelievable to someone not experiencing them. As we’ve previously discussed, just because you can’t see someone’s illness or the effects of it does not mean that it is imagined.
The following are, in no particular order, ten symptoms I have the pleasure of experiencing because of my condition.
#1 – Watery/itchy eyes and change in vision
My eyes are extremely testy. Walking through a mall is a nightmare because of the variety of light brightnesses, odors and temperatures. Because my eyes are so sensitive, I can often be found crying for no apparent reason. I can’t help it, they just tear up and I go from normal to sobbing in seconds. I also occasionally have to fight the urge to scratch my eye balls out because of an invisible item that makes them itch to no end. In addition to that joy, fibromyalgia sufferers often have poor eyesight that gets even worse over time because our muscles weaken from the constant onslaught of pain.
#2 – Sensitivity to odor
In addition to sensitive eyes, we have sensitive noses. Mine is a super sniffer. I can smell things that no one else can and I hate it. An example of this:
Sarah and I were driving down a country road when I suddenly got hit by the horrific smell of a chicken farm (BLECH!). “Ewww! Do you smell that?”
Sarah replied, “No, what is it?”
“A chicken farm. You’ll probably smell it soon.”
A mile later she suddenly exclaimed, “YUCK! I smell it now!”
Yeah. My nose is that sensitive.
#3 – Tooth aches and TMJ
For whatever reason, our teeth hurt during a flare-up. And I mean all of them. It usually makes me have nightmarish dreams in which all my teeth fall out *shudder*. A more serious issue, however, is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which is a fancy way of saying “chronically repetitive lock-jaw.” Basically my jaw locks up randomly and for no reason at all. It also makes loud “click-clack” noises when I’m chewing. Such a delight, I say.
#4 – Itchy skin
My skin itches a lot and for no reason. I work hard to stay hydrated and apply lotion daily, so it’s not a lack of moisture. I don’t know the reason for it, I just know this is a common symptom of which a lot fibromyalgia sufferers complain. This is a real pain (literally) given we also suffer from…
#5 – Allodynia
Allodynia is a condition in which your skin hurts to the slightest touch. My pain receptors confuse everything as an attack so my skin is constantly irritated during flare-ups. Something as slight as the brush of my shirt can make my skin light on fire. It kind of stinks. This is especially annoying when people pray for me.
I love prayers, I need prayers. I wouldn’t be here if not for prayers! But sometimes a dear sister in the Lord will decide to pray for me and place her hand on my back and I am instantly in tears- not because the Lord is moving (though usually He does) but because the pain is too much to handle.
During Allodynia flare-ups, I have a code word to warn my friends and family: gentle. It’s not uncommon that as they raise their arms to hug me, I’m saying the word “gentle” and inwardly cringing in case they forget. They never do. 🙂 ❤
#6 – Excessive sweating
An unfortunate delight we fibromyalgia sufferers experience is excessive sweating. We can be sitting there in a t-shirt with a fan and the AC cranked and mopping sweat off our brow. Thankfully, it’s not always that bad, but occasionally.. *shudder*
Every time I see a mirror, I’m checking for sweat pits. It’s TMI, I know, but it’s my life. 😦 I suppose it’s justice. I used to be unable to sweat, even when working out, and boy did I brag about it. Karma stinks… *cough* Good thing I don’t believe in karma. heh
#7 – Chronic fatigue
We’ve already covered this, but it’s so bad I gotta say it again. I am always tired but during flare-ups I am exhausted. Doctors say that in order to understand the exhaustion a fibromyalgia patient endures, you’d need to stay up three nights straight. Zzzzz…
#8 – Irritable bowel and bladder
Because the body is constantly being stressed it reacts cruddily. Things go down. That’s all I’ll say because I’m trying not to make anyone barf.
#9 – Anxiety and paranoia
Mind games. Lot’s of them. I will sometimes feel so jittery and panicky that it feels as if the whole world has frozen while I’m literally vibrating right out of my skin. My heart palpitates, I become convinced that there are things/people hiding in my closet ready to kill me if I turn my back. I can’t deal with people during flare-ups like these. I hide in my room and pretend I am alone on the earth. During this time, I am so irritable I’ll scream at people for no reason, lashing out from fear and stress and a whole lot of pent-up I don’t know what.
But, eventually, I dig deep and find the strength to talk myself down from the panic and remind myself of who I am, where I am and Who I belong to. I convince myself I’m safe and I move on.
#10 – Short term memory loss and confusion
This is the one that frustrates me the most. I used to have a wiz of a memory. Example: I work at a library and had the place of each DVD in our entire DVD collection (several thousand) memorized. Someone could ask me where something was and I would walk straight up to it and pull it off the shelf. I just knew.
Then my brain started fizzing and cracking and suddenly it took so much effort to remember simple things like the words “the” and “not” or the names of my friends. The other day, I started thinking of a little boy I used to babysit – he was someone that was in my care for three days a week for about a year. And I couldn’t remember his name.
Another instance, I was directing the Easter drama and it went something like this:
“Sarah, move to stage left, Daniel- head on over there, —- *freeze*” I couldn’t remember the next guy’s name. I grew up with this kid, he was my brother’s best friend, and I couldn’t remember his name. Eventually someone called out “Grayson!” and we laughed and I apologized and we moved on. But it still shook me. It always does.
I’ll be okay if I lose this body, but my mind.. now that I plan to keep.
Shoooo-boy that got dramatic there at the end. Each sufferer’s story is different; sometimes we get to avoid the things that debilitate others. These are just ten battles I fight through frequently, with every flare-up, with every turn of the weather, with every stress trigger.
Are you a chronic warrior? What are some symptoms you fight?