Lessons From The Chipmunk War: Dealing With Flares And Other Obstacles

Close-up Photo of Chipmunk with text overlay Lessons From The Chipmunk War:Dealing With Flares and Other Obstacles https://reclaiminghope.blogMy 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.

holes made by chipmunk https://reclaiminghope.blog
The hole on the right is the one with the rock. As you can see, not only did Chippy dig a new hole, he enlarged the one the rock is in so he could still use that one too.

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.

picture of chipmunk https://reclaiminghope.blog
This photo was taken with my trail camera – he’s too quick for me to get close.

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!

Blessings,

~Terri

** 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)

21 comments

  1. I’m fascinated that you have chipmunks in your garden – is the one digging the holes called Alvin? 😉

    I don’t think I’ve even ever seen one ‘in real life’. I love how you’ve related this and applied it to life with chronic illness, and the positivity you’ve been able to see in it; making new paths, not being totally derailed and disheartened, but seeing the challenges for what they are and working forwards however we can. I’ve hit countless rocks and sometimes I’ve just tried to stay busy and distract myself rather than facing how I’m feeling with it (and in the long run that doesn’t necessarily help); giving myself time to acknowledge and accept how I feel with the rock in question, feeling whatever feelings arise rather than stuffing them down, and then finding the motivation to keep going a finding a new path by taking a little time out to get a new perspective (whether that’s an engaging film, time outdoors in nature, uplifting music, etc) can all help. Brilliant post!

    PS. Say hello to the chipmunks for me!
    PPS. I know the holes in the garden must be a huge nightmare and I wish I could offer some kind of advice but alas I have no clue what to suggest..!
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Caz! I had never seen one either until a few years ago, and these guys only showed up last year. It’s in large part due to the combination of our bird feeders and the purple coneflowers I planted around the “birdapalooza” to hide the mess. They have a great food source and hiding place in one.😊 As much as I love watching them, I think next year we’ll remove the bird feeders once they come out of hibernation so they’ll move back into the forest.

      You make such a great point about needing to deal with the “rock” rather than distracting ourselves or stuffing our feelings down. Although it’s often easier to just go around it or pretend it’s not there, that hurts us in the long run. If we go ahead and acknowledge and deal with it, we’re able to forge that new path.

      I love what you said about taking time out to gain some new perspective too. A lot of times that’s all we need, isn’t it? I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Hugs!

      Like

  2. Alvin! HaHA. Well, I’m in a continual flare right now, low-grade pain, just enough to make me sick to my stomach, it is an irritant flare with vertigo. I. Just. Cant. Seem to beat it! Since the beginning of June! Over a month and I am tired!!! Doctor time next week, the 12th.

    I don’t know what to say about this because I am trying to figure out why I haven’t been able to beat this last flare. It is probably the most uncomfortable one I’ve experienced in the last 5 years. Put a fork in me I am done!

    Just have to regroup, dig another burrow and find some new nuts. Hmph! xoxo~Kim

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you’re in an extended flare right now Kim. I know that’s not easy to deal with, and that vertigo – ugh! I hate that feeling! I hope you and your doctor are able to figure out something that will give you some relief. Hang in there!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Well written, as usual Terri. We love our chipmunks, btw. Ric feeds them shelled peanuts out of his hand. He has, however; had battles with squirrels and the bird feeders, so I get it. I have felt as if I was on a downward spiral for weeks now, which culminated in a visit to emergency yesterday. Turned out I was dehydrated and had an infection. So hard to tell when to listen to our bodies and when it is just illness as usual. I like the comparison to the chipmunks finding new ways to manage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love our chipmunks too V.J., but our dogs are getting older and we worry about them stepping in the holes and breaking a leg. We’re just going to leave them alone for now….

      I’m so sorry to hear you had to go to the hospital. You’re so right about it being hard to tell if it’s the usual pain and fatigue or whether it’s something to worry about. I hope you’ll be well on your way to getting over your infection soon. Take care of yourself!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My hubby is at war with the squirrels because they are destroying our vegetable garden. We never got an ear of corn last year! I also feel the ebb and flow of chronic pain. Whenever I get going, get my momentum…BAM! Put down for two days. Jump up. Gain momentum. Down a couple of day…repeat over and over. I think I’m starting to learn the dance.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, the Fibromyalgia waltz, know it well!

    How cute are those little squirrels! We don’t have squirrels in Australia!

    My best is to try to stay in harmony with the music of the Waltz…though life changing as it has been & continues to be! I try to live in each days capacity within whatever cycle of FM I’m in, so some cycles are a very slow Waltz & may even need to sit this one out while other cycles have a little more tempo in the Waltz & I can enjoy the time on the dance floor :-).
    Jennifer

    Liked by 1 person

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