My fibromyalgia has been under pretty decent control, until the last well six months I guess. I’ve noticed more flares of the pain, fatigue and brainfog (during a flare, I can almost feel IQ points dropping).
At first, I was attributing the flares mostly to weather changes. Summer is usually my best time of year. This year we have had a lot of drastic weather changes. It doesn’t have to be bad weather for me to have a flare, just a sudden change (I think it has something to do with barametric pressure and/or humidity).
As I think about it though, I’ve made a lot of changes in the last year, especially the last few months. I forget that change is the enemy of fibro – any change in my routine can trigger a flare, and I’ve made a lot of changes, especially to my sleep habits. For many people with fibromyalgia, sleep is the number one factor in their fibro, and that’s definitely true for me.
It isn’t the quantity of sleep, but the quality (something over which it’s difficult, if not impossible to control). For me, sleep studies have shown that I don’t spend much time in the restorative stages of sleep. I don’t dream enough. Which to me seems weird, because it seems since the fibro, I have much more intense, vivid dreams, during which I know I’m dreaming and can even control events of the dream (lucid dreaming). Weird.
My neurologist says this is typical of fibro and other sleep disorders. I feel like I’m dreaming more, because I’m waking up during or shortly after the dreaming starts. So while it seems like I’m dreaming more, I’m actually dreaming less, just remembering more because I’m waking up during them. If I slept throught the dream state, I’d have little or no recollections of the dreams.
I’m learning that diet plays a large role in my flares as well. I’ve got IBS (common with fibromites) and so eating too much produce tends to have unpleasant results. Lower carb dieting is more successful for me, and carbs (especially sugar) can actually trigger flares. Drastic changes are the enemy of fibro, but when dieting, gradual changes are so darned frustrating because of lack of progress.
I realized recently that a lot of things I used to do to manage my health, I’ve stopped doing. The first and foremost listening to my body. When I first went on disability, I spent alot of time getting to know myself and my symptoms. Without the crazy job responsibilities, I was able to rest and sleep when I was tired, and eat when I was hungry.
Even with my messed up hunger signals, I lost 20 lbs without even trying at all, just by having the luxury of listening to my body’s needs.
I realize now though that as I felt better, I started reverting to old habits. I stopped taking my afternoon nap because I wasn’t tired in the afternoon’s. I would get tired in the late afternoon or evening and think well it’s too late to take a nap now, I’ll just go to bed early. Then having been out of the habit of napping, I stopped paying attention to whether I was tired or not. Going back to napping seemed like relapsing, and I guess I fought it. In essense making a real relapse only that much more likely.
My weight, really has followed the same pattern. It’s so easy to revert to bad habits. I’m not feeling like I’m failing, exactly. I’m just reminded how thin the line between success and failure sometimes can be. Every day is filled with choices, and it isn’t usually one terrible choice that stalls progress nearly as much as dozens of not that great choices. And on the other hand maintenance isn’t one good choice, it’s dozens of ok choices. And progress is dozens of pretty decent choices.
I don’t have to be perfect, but I do have to be paying attention.