I was into the office by eight Monday morning (If my memory serves me correctly that is the earliest I have been to work in four months.). By nine I thought my legs were waging war on my nervous system. And on my morale. And on my capabilities. And on my touch with reality. But, like many people with fibromyalgia, I ignored the pain.
Knowing the early morning would lead to increased pain, I took Celebrex with my breakfast that morning (as I often do). I have found significant as-needed relief in Celebrex with one significant side effect. And that side effect was in full effect Monday…. As I toughed out the pain I was fighting my stomach. No matter what sort of meal i eat with my Celebrex it always seems to make me violently ill.
So, Monday morning I spent what felt like hours talking with myself. (I have learned from my mother, who lived with giardia for half a decade, that you can almost always talk yourself out of, what we call, “losing your stomach.”) I sat in my chair and centered. I reminded myself to be calm. I focused on breathing deep. I gave myself a pep talk. And it seemed to work… for the first few hours of work.
I had a doctor’s appointment over lunch and by the time I got back to work I was spent. I gutted out another hour before deciding to work the rest of the day from home. As I walked to my car I did what I always do when I leave work early… I quizzed myself. I ranked my pain on a 1-10 scale. I ranked my fibro fog on the same scale. And then i second-guessed myself.
Would “normal” people think this pain was as unbearable as I seem to think it is? Would “normal” people support my decision if I could share my pain with them? Would normal people even have gone to work today?
I have to ask myself those questions nearly everyday. I think one of the most challenging aspects of fibromyalgia is self doubt. And it was introduced to me by doctors, teachers, friends, coaches, and so-called experts. And it leads me, on tough days, down a mental road of confusion and frustration. Wondering if I’m just a wuss. Wondering if I’m positively incapable of being the tough girl I was taught to be during my decade as a gymnast. Wondering if saying I have fibromyalgia is just a polite way to tell people I am an incapable and inconsistent Gen Y-er with absolutely no tolerance for pain.
Screw you, self doubt. I am better than you. I trust myself, and I am learning to trust the part of my brain that tells me, “Enough is enough, K8. Be wise with your health.”
So, after the round with self doubt I decided to dwell on the positive. I was able to contribute significantly to month-end reporting and analysis last week. I was able to complete a project all by my lonesome Monday. I was able to work around the house over the weekend without working myself to immobility.
I am making progress. I am making progress at a more deliberate pace than I, and most everyone but my doctor, would prefer. I am making progress because I listen to my body and allow it to have ups and downs. As long as the next down is higher than the last I will continue to be upbeat and optimistic. If ever the next down is lower than the last I will reassess and revamp my coping methods and treatment plan.