I have noticed that although I have talked about ways of managing a Fibromyalgia Flare-Up. I have never dedicated a post to explaining what one is. Considering this is a popular question that people ask I decided it was time to rectify this, so this is my What I a Fibromyalgia Flare-Up explanation.
What is Fibromyalgia
If this is your first visit to the blog and Fibromyalgia is new to you I recommend you start with the post What is Fibromyalgia? Who are Spoonies? first and then return here.
A Typical Day with Fibromyalgia
In last week’s post when I answered the question: Can Fibromyalgia be Cured? I explained that Fibromyalgia is a syndrome, a collection of several symptoms. The majority of the symptoms are variable, this means that there is no such thing as a typical day when you have Fibro. Each of the symptoms can range between causing you no problems to completely stopping you in your tracks.
My Three Types of Day
I find it easiest to loosely define my health into three categories, Flare-up, Recovery and Energy. Of course, it is not a given that this state will last for a full day. It can begin in one way and rapidly change completely. These are examples of each of the phases.
The Energy ‘Day”
The energy days are the best kind of days. When I have one my energy levels are high (for somebody with Fibromyalgia) and I only have low-level pain I can manage with the need for medication. On an energy day, I feel as good as I ever do these days. I may go out or tackle a decluttering or cleaning job. The real challenge is remembering to pace myself and not to overdo things. Recently I wrote about the benefits of pacing yourself.
Don’t Abuse the Energy Day
The biggest lesson I have learnt over the recent years is not to abuse energy periods. It takes a lot of discipline to let go of guilt, if you can no longer do what you used to.
I spend most of my time in recovery mode, if I were to do the maths it would probably add up to three quarters of my days. Recovery mode is also the broadest spectrum. I can do most of the things I need or want to do that I can do sitting down. Typically, I spend these days at my computer working on this blog, researching my family tree, adult colouring or card making. Sometimes I can manage up to 30 minutes of light housework.
The Fibromyalgia Flare-Up “Days”
As I’m sure you have gathered. Fibromyalgia Flare-up days are the worst ones. Sometimes partway through writing a blog post, I go into a flare-up and end up completing it over a week later. Personally, I can define a Fibromyalgia Flare-up in two different ways.
The one symptom whammy Fibromyalgia Flare-up
During these Flare-ups one (or at a push, two) of your symptoms becomes unbearable. In my experience, this includes chronic migraine-style headaches (I don’t have an official migraine diagnosis) where the only thing I can do is lay in a dark room trying to sleep. Another example is when my IBS becomes so bad that even a sip of water goes straight through me. When things get this bad all I can do is lie on my side.
Everything Sucks Flare-Ups
These Fibromyalgia Flare-ups involve a few of my symptoms becoming problematic all at once. Individually none of them would push me out of Recovery level but combined it is all too much. Interestingly I used to have more of these style of flare-ups before we moved house. Of course, another way to look at it is that I had more generalised Fibromyalgia Flare-Ups before I really got to grips with pacing myself. I talk more about pacing yourself in this post.
In my post, Not all flare-ups are the same, I talk about how different people report their experiences of a flare-up. It has taken longer for me to understand that each individual can experience different Flare-ups. Interestingly, as I re-read this post and remember how I felt at the time of writing it. I can see how my symptoms have got worse over the years. Because there has been a slow decline in my health it is startling to see the difference. You can read other Fibro Bloggers posts about Flare-Ups in this post on the Fibro Bloggers Directory.
In my experience, the first category of Fibromyalgia Flare-up is usually more short-lived. I have often had Flares that last for less than a day before I pick up and revert to Recovery level. Or as is more often the case, my day begins fairly well and a flare-up kicks off from nowhere. In contrast, the second category of Flare-up regularly lasts for longer, often for a week or more. As I mentioned in the earlier post, these type of flare-ups can run into double, triple or even quadrupled dips. I am doing all I can to pace myself and make sure this doesn’t happen now.
Fibromyalgia Flare-Up Reality
Let me conclude by re-emphasising a couple of important points.
Plans can suddenly change
First, how you are can change suddenly with no given notice. The very best of days can turn into the worst at the drop of a hat. This is a big reason why people with Fibromyalgia are often reluctant to make plans outside of the house. Only this week I had to change something that I only planned two hours earlier – it is that real!
What you can do to reduce Flare-Ups
As previously mentioned there is the odd thing that you can do to try and stop flare-ups from happening. Pacing yourself is one of the most important. In the early days of living with Fibromyalgia, you won’t believe the number of times I had a good day and tried to do everything I thought I should be doing, just to trigger a long flare-up. That lesson took a while to learn.
So much out of a Spoonie’s Control
Many causes of Flare-Ups are completely beyond your control. A very common one is the changes in the weather. If you are, like me, living in the UK. This can be unfortunate because let’s face it, our weather is a well-known talking point all of its own. If you are UK based you may like to read my post: Fibromyalgia in the UK: Comprehensive Advice.
Is there anything else you’d like to know?
If you have any other questions about Fibromyalgia Flare-ups you don’t think I have covered feel free to leave me a comment below and I will be happy to look into it for you. Alternatively, you are more than welcome to send me a private message on social media if you would rather not comment.
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