These are ten unexpected lessons learned from life with Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, and Chronic Pain:
1. Heating pads are not well constructed. Seriously. I go through a heating pad every few months. I’ve tried every brand under the sun and they all suck. I honestly don’t know where to find a decent heating pad anymore, they all die on me because I use them continually and stuff made in China is not made for actual use. I’d give anything to have a decent heating pad.
2. Netfix is the best thing ever invented. When my daughter was a baby and screamed 20 hours a day I would be up all hours of the night when there was nothing to watch and I was so bored. Nowadays I’m up at all hours because my body hates me, but I can always watch netflix! A seemingly unending supply of entertainment! It’s the best thing that could have happened to people stuck at home a lot.
3. Do not underestimate the power of a good recliner or reclining couch. We inherited my grandfather’s reclining couch and I can never go back to not having one. It feels so good to sit on my couch and raise my aching legs. The only thing that could improve it would be a cup holder and maybe a cooler, that would be paradise . I feel like something is missing now when I sit on a regular couch, where are my legs supposed to go?
4. Don’t underestimate the power of a good air conditioner or heater. I live in Texas where it is miserably hot. Even better I live in Houston, which is miserably humid. The combination of hot/humid is just awesome. When we bought our house the AC was old and didn’t work very well. I spent the next two years sweating and uncomfortable all the time, I gave up blow drying my hair because it was too hot and involved too much grossness. Plus, I’m always in more pain when it’s uncomfortably hot and humid. Heat makes me cranky too as if being cranky from being in pain wasn’t enough (my husband and kids can attest to this). When our AC finally died and we gave up out first born child to buy a new one I felt like I was in heaven. I can honestly say I love my air conditioner, it is my friend. I don’t have the same relationship with my heater since I rarely use it, but i’m sure if I lived in a cold climate I would appreciate it more.
5. Sun can make your day better (as long as you live in a climate where the sun is accessible). I love the sun. You wouldn’t think that I would considering my previously complaints about Texas being hot (see previous paragraph), but the sun makes me happy. Sometimes when I’m having a hard day and I’m feeling angry at the world I go in my backyard and lay in the sun for a few minutes. I swear it makes everything better. I feel more prepared to deal with my problems after I spend some time in the sun, perhaps it’s the vitamin D?
6. Never leave the house without a bottle of Advil. I won’t lie I sometimes carry my prescription drugs in my purse, but most of the time I can’t take them when I’m driving, so I try to always have emergency Advil. Inevitably I am struck by the largest migraine in the middle of rush hour traffic as I’m sitting trapped in traffic that hasn’t moved in thirty minutes and I need a bottle of Advil like nobodies business (this is usually when my bladder starts acting up too, but there isn’t a pill for that).
7. Sweatpants are your friend, if possible get several pairs in different styles and colors. I have a very deep fear of being one of “those moms,” you know the ones that totally let themselves go when they have children and stop brushing or washing their hair. But, since I’ve been sick comfort has become very important to me.Well lets be honest, comfort has always been important to me. I once told my mom I wanted to have a flannel wedding dress. In case you’re worried my opinion changed by the time I got married, my mother and husband were thankful for that. My solution is that I usually do my hair and make up (though I allow for off days) but if I am home I am in sweat pants or yoga pants. If I’m going somewhere I change into the less comfortable, more socially acceptable pants, unless I’m going to Walmart. This way I preserve my comfort and can enjoy my sweatpants but don’t look like a slob 24/7. Just don’t stop by my house unannounced if you are offended by sweatpants, but if you call ahead I will change just for you, you’re that special!
8. Yoga is more fun than it looks and can actually help you feel better. I say this as possibly the least flexible person on the entire earth. I look like a t-rex doing yoga (seriously imagine a t-rex trying “downward dog”) but I do it because in the end if helps me relax.
9. Learn to laugh at yourself. This is sometimes difficult especially when you have anxiety problems due to medication side effects, but I try to keep it in mind. I’ve had some outrageously embarrassing moments lately, but I’ve managed to keep a sense of humor about them and it has made all the difference. I’ve also started coming up with hilarious excuses to why I can’t participate in physical activities any more. That way instead of being sad when someone asks me why I don’t participate I can keep a sense of humor about the situation (they might not always think I’m funny but I do and that’s what counts). My most recent excuse was “my sixth toe causes me to have balance problems so I can’t run without falling over.” That got some looks.
10. Keep your toenails painted (that’s assuming you are a women or a guy who is very confident in his masculinity). I know this sounds ridiculous but even if I feel like crap and I haven’t showered or put on makeup, if I have my toenails painted I still manage to feel pretty. It allows me to have a little bit of control over my physical appearance when I’m too tired to worry about anything else. Mine are usually what I lovingly call ‘ho red. They are bright and cheerful and my kids like to compliment me on them so they make me feel good and sometimes you just need to feel good.