Jason asked: "How do you prevent fibromyalgia?" This discussion was brought on by the three-plus days I've been in a flareup. I was going to come over and whine on the blog last night, but, Kinky Boots was on cable (and on one of the high-def channels). Sure, I own the DVD, but I enjoy the serendipitous capture of a favorite movie on cable. (I even said on my Facebook status that instead of blog-whining, I was going to watch Kinky Boots and eat ice cream).
So, Jason and I discussed some of my physical issues. I have arthritis and tendinitis as well. We talked about how he's in better shape than I was at his age (I was actually pregnant with him when I was his age- I should probably mention that he's twenty-one years old). We talked about how staying active is probably the best way to stave off any "old-person-ailment". They don't know if fibro is genetic or what, but if people in your family have it, that may increase your chances of coming down with it. But then, that's the case with every disease and disorder, isn't it?
I have tendinitis in my feet and in both shoulders. The foot thing, well, there's not much that can be done. Bad feet run in my family (my dad's side). Interestingly enough, my foot problems started when I was pregnant with Jason. The shoulder problem- he's probably going to avoid that just because he's in such good shape. He has done martial arts since he was eight years old till he was around nineteen. That's when his work and school schedule kept him from being able to attend the classes. That's also when he got a membership to the Y and started working out there. (you see, the Y is open from 6 AM to 9 PM and the academy where he trained in martial arts only had classes in the afternoon).
So, we had a pretty good discussion on different things related to my pain issues. One of the big things is that he won't have to go through three pregnancies like I did. Pregnancy can seriously screw with your body. Not just weight gain and stretch marks. Plus, I have a thyroid disorder that probably isn't helping things.
And, just for fun... here are some random photos of my kids. (there's more blog after the photos)
So, now that we have that out of the way, let's whine a bit, shall we? I don't recall how this one started, but I think it came on slowly over the course of a day. I muscled my way through it though, because you do what you gotta do when you can't take the pain meds. The next morning was one of those harsh gravity days. I felt as though I was being pulled down from the center of gravity in my body. Everything ached, all over. It was that horse-thrown feeling. Blaze just up and threw me, dragged me for a while, then kicked me square in the middle of my body and left me sobbing in a cold and muddy ditch. He ran back to the stables, fed himself, locked everything up and acted casual when the law came a-lookin' for him.
That description may or may not be partly or completely fictionalized. The tip-off should be that I don't own a horse, named Blaze or otherwise.
I learned during this flareup that the sofa is not a comfortable place for me. Oh, it is plenty comfy while I'm sprawled out there, covered in Chis (go back and read that out loud). But when I start to get up, that's when reality slaps me in the face and then points and laughs at me while I flail helplessly like an upturned turtle. Everything hurts worse when I try to move after starfishing on the sofa.
The other day, I was doing my 365 self-portrait. And the pain was bad enough that I was taking Vicodin on a six hour cycle (I did every day but Thursday, because I had to drive to Rockford for a photo gig). On Wednesday, I decided I'd go for the "playful fun" look in my 365 and tried to nail it... and at one point, the pain was so bad and trying to hold a pose was so difficult that I paused to take a breath. And when I did, my arm hit the remote button for my camera and since it was still focused, it fired a photo. I decided "fuck it, I'm using it" and I used it for my 365. So, this is what I look like in pain.
On top of the usual pain I've been slogging my way through, I'm swelling. Not everywhere, mostly just my legs and today my hands feel a bit puffed up. They look normal, so that swollen feeling may just be the pain and stiffness.
I take 90 milligrams of Hydrochlorothiazide a day. If I don't, I turn into that gross chick in the Willy Wonka movie who chews gum (she's gross from the fact she chewed gum for over a month, not because she ballooned up). And for the most part, I don't swell a lot. Just a little, most days. And some days, a lot. How much? Well, this evening, I took some crappy cell phone photos of my leg. Why just one leg? Because the way I was sitting on my bed, I could only get one leg up there and lean to get the best light possible. If I had both legs on the bed, I'd have leaned right off the bed and then I would have had a totally different story to tell you.
I pressed my finger against my ankle to show you the swelling.
When I wear my shoes (which are actually boots, Dr Martens brand hiking boots), the swelling is pressed out of my feet and ankles. It stops at the bottom of my calf where the boot starts. Which looks hilarious when I take off my boots. The comedian Maria Bamford has a bit where she's talking about what's trendy. She says she expects that soon, the trend will be to be "MORBIDLY OBESE with tiny little Tweety Bird ankles!" and that's what it looks like when I swell while wearing my boots.
Here's a view from the other side. That dent under my ankle is from my slippers.
Overall, the swelling doesn't usually hurt. Sometimes, it makes my ankle hurt like I sprained it, but only when I stand on it. And some days, the swelling will be shockingly huge (I wouldn't even call this "shocking", just "a lot") and on those shocking days, my skin aches from the feeling of being stretched. Today, though, the swelling isn't making my skin hurt. What will happen is that when I go to bed and elevate my feet, the swelling will start to recede and with that, my skin will itch. Like a Riverdancer with restless leg syndrome.
My hands have been aching for days now. So any plans that I had to reclaim the heavyweight boxing title are out. There's no way I could win a fight right now. Maybe a street fight, because at this point, I could paint myself green and pass myself off as the Incredible Hulk. Well, more like Credible Hulk and I'd overpower my foes with the amazing strength of logic and back that up with sources.
So, here we are, listening to- or reading about- me complaining about this disease. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. Not even my worst enemy. Well, maybe my worst enemy, because then I know I'd have a fair chance at winning a fight. In the midst of all this pain and hurt, a few good things have happened this week. I discovered that some awesome people- people who I find to be amazing and wonderful and I feel grateful they spend any time with me- actually like me and my work. You know how we're our own worst critics, well, I have some real live humans that I actually know in real life who take that Worst Critic out back and kick the shit out of her and then bury her in a shallow hole and cover it with leaves so no one will find it till after the first big rainstorm of the season. I almost cried in a conversation- but I held it together. I was totally cool and not at all geeking out all over the place.
And the other good thing? One of my photos- with my photo credit- might be in two local newspapers. So, yay for that.
Yay for awesome friends and yay for local newspapers. And yay for favorite movies and yay for ice cream. Yay for Amanda Palmer music and for Steam Powered Giraffe and yay for Mandy Patinkin.