My husband is at war…..with the chipmunks who live in our yard. They’re absolutely adorable with their big dark eyes, beautiful stripes, and funny mannerisms. The only problem is that they are digging holes that are the perfect size for our two small dogs to step in and break a leg. Dear Hubby decided that in order to keep “the boys” from stepping into the holes he would plug them up with rocks. Well, the next day he went out and right beside the first one with the rock in it was a brand new hole. As you can imagine, he was not happy.
Chipmunks are really interesting creatures. They’re extremely smart and resourceful, and they’re impressive excavators. They dig burrows over 11 feet long and up to 3 feet deep. They have two types of burrows too – shallow ones where they hide out during the day when they’re foraging, and deeper ones with several chambers where they build their nests, store their food, and hibernate in the winter. They build in several “escape hatches” for times they’re in danger. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen them just disappear into the ground when we’ve opened the back door to go out.
Sometimes I feel like that little chipmunk when my husband’s stopping up his holes. Things will be going along smoothly, I’ll have found my groove in keeping my symptoms at bay, then all of a sudden, there’s some huge obstacle in my way, usually in the form of a flare. Many of us who have lived with fibromyalgia for a while have noticed that it seems to have an ebb and flow – there are times that we feel almost as if we’re “in remission” (for lack of a better term) and suddenly we’re hit with an excruciating flare. These can be some of the most difficult times, because 1) our brain has perhaps fooled us into thinking we’re “well” and 2) all the things we’ve been doing that were so successful suddenly seem to not be working anymore.
It can be discouraging, but it doesn’t have to derail us. We can be like that little chipmunk and make new pathways to feeling better.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of hanging out in our “shallow burrow” and waiting for the flare to ease. We take our recovery days, pace ourselves, and do what we need to do in the present to minimize our symptoms and as much as possible, reduce the length of the flare. Like Chippy waiting for the danger to pass, we wait for our symptoms to subside and do what we need to do to feel better.
Once the “immediate danger” has passed, we may find we need to work a little more on our “deeper burrow,” reassessing our overall self-care plan and determining if it’s fine the way it is or if we need to add some other “chamber.” Sometimes what we’re doing really is working great; after all, this is a chronic illness. In that case, we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing and realize that there will just be times we’ll experience flares. Sometimes, though, reviewing our self-care may help us identify things that aren’t working quite as well or reveal new triggers for our symptoms. In that case, we have a direction to go in which to “straighten up our chamber” by tweaking some things or perhaps start a new wellness pathway altogether.
It’s easy to get discouraged sometimes when flares hit out of nowhere and we may start to feel that our way forward is blocked, but if we maintain a sense of dynamic optimism and continue to build our self-care “burrow,” before we know it we’ll be popping our heads up into the sunshine again.
Are there times that you’ve hit that “rock”? How did you get around it? Please share!
** Just so you know, no chipmunks were harmed, and we’re leaving their holes alone. We just watch the dogs carefully, and they seem to know to be on the lookout for them. Hopefully we can all peacefully coexist. :o)