Stretching

Dear Fibro,

Living with you is a process of stretching — stretching my body as well as my mind and emotions. It is a stretching of the expectations about what my life will look like. Each morning and evening, I spend time stretching my body. Every moment, I am stretched.

Sliding out of bed, slowly, feeling like a young woman in an old woman’s body, I put on my “stretching songs” playlist and lift my arms to the sky. I sway and bend in a variety of positions designed to help my body remember how it should function. My body never feels “right” or “loose,” and usually the stretching doesn’t help much because most of my pain is unrelated.

I’m still able to do a lot physically, even if it is painful, and I know a lot of people with a Fibro diagnosis can no longer do much — I still work full time and get my lawn mowed (usually) and keep up with my garden (for the most part), but I am being challenged to accept a picture of life that doesn’t feel comfortable. It feels limited. The number of sighs I can sigh seems unlimited. The number of gasps of pain.

Fibro, I’m wondering if you will ever help me to see what all of this is achieving. Is it something? Will there be a poetic ribbon tied onto the end of this story of simple, daily, sometimes-seemingly-useless rituals? I stretch, but I still don’t know.

~Nicole

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Observing You

Dear Fibro,

Today, I feel like you are hovering all around me, like you’ve fashioned yourself into a suit of scouring pads, hugging me tightly at every turn. I can’t remove you while you scrub into me. Abrasive to my peace of mind. Bruising me with invisible bruises. 

I feel the weight of you with each move I try to make. Whether I sit, stand or lie down, each position brings its own individual challenges — stabs, jabs, or prickles of pain. Shooting pain or radiating pain. A never-ending menu of surprises.

I stare at you in the mirror sometimes, and it’s like staring at myself but more elusive.

This week, I noticed that I have worn a hole in my sheet with restless legs in pain at night.

I have no questions for you now — just making these observations so that I can remember these days.

~Nicole

Arms, Please

Dear Fibro,

You’ve gotten into my arms a lot so far this week. I was trying to do some light work in my garden & you set off the alarms! From shoulders to fingertips, you were a blaring, raging siren screaming at me to stop. I felt the energy drain from my whole body & my arms began to tremble in resistance to this force of pain pushing from within. I don’t know how to process moments like this–there’s no tidy category in which to file this combination of ache, weakness, and powerlessness. May I please use my arms without quite so much ruckus for the foreseeable future?

Thanks.

~Nicole

The Changing Room Incident

Dear Fibro,

I just wrote you a note, but I want to send this off to you too, before I forget. Do you remember the other day when I was in the changing room and trying to pull that top on over my head, and you sent so much pain into my arms that I lost my breath and cried out in pain? That feeling of sharp pain and sadness lingered like a cloud for quite a while afterward, and I felt completely drained of awareness of anything other than me and you. What’s up with that? Must you? Really?

~Nicole