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

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

Rubber, Meet Road.

Dear Fibro,

I know I’m flaunting this slightly-more-aggressive approach to you, and you might soon decide you’d like to take me down for the count with a bad flare-up, but for now, I’m rolling along with the momentum. Tonight, I went to see a stand-up comedy performance nearby. A friend had invited me because it was a benefit event for the non-profit organization for which she works. I was a little tired and foggy heading to the venue (read–feeling exhausted and ready for bed and like everything was swirling in one of your famous blurs), and I had that feeling like you were squeezing the muscles in my legs in your toughest grip.

But I decided this was a great chance to practice what I’ve been saying about pushing forward. And it was! I had a really nice time at the show, and I realized afterward that the laughter helped me to take my mind off of you for a while. I know there are days when pain might make it just downright too difficult to do things like this, but on any days when it’s borderline, I’m going to give myself the benefit of the doubt and try to keep going.

Tomorrow night, I have plans to go to dinner and see MacBeth with a friend of mine, and I plan to do so, with you in tow. I do hope that you will be polite . . . or at least keep quiet so I can enjoy another fun night. Hope you’re having some fun, too!

~Nicole

P.S. Did you know that the phrase ‘screw your courage to the sticking place’ is in the play MacBeth and also in a song sung by the character Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Now you know.