Things were going along swimmingly. Our houseguests were gone, I spent Friday doing laundry and getting things in the house back to normal, and still felt well (as well as you ever feel when you have fibromyalgia, anyway). By the following Tuesday, though, I felt as though I’d been hit by a truck. There was no warning or anything – I was fine….until I wasn’t.
People who live with fibromyalgia often talk about its unpredictability, and this is exactly what they’re talking about. You can feel fine one day and the next you can barely get out of the bed. For me, these are the hardest flares to deal with. In my post Fibromyalgia Flares: Do You Experience Any Warning Signs? I talked about how I often have some clues that a flare is coming and can take steps to help lessen my pain level or shorten the flare, but when they come out of nowhere like this one did, they can throw you for a little bit of a loop.
When we engage in more activity than we’re used to, experience a stressful event, become ill with a routine illness, etc., we can pretty much bet we’re going to have at least a mild flare. Because we know it’s probably coming, we can mentally steel ourselves to expect the pain and fatigue and take precautions such as resting more or pacing our activity carefully to (hopefully) mitigate the severity or length of the flare.
The unexpected ones can be a little more difficult to deal with, both emotionally and physically. Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful when dealing with those nasty little surprise flares:
- Don’t panic. Often, when these flares appear out of nowhere, our first thought may be that we’re getting worse, especially if we have several bad ones fairly close together. That’s not necessarily the case, though. Over the years of dealing with flares, I’ve found that there seems to be some sort of ebb and flow with them. At times, they’ll seem to come far less frequently and then at others, they become more frequent and more painful. The important thing to remember is that it will eventually pass.
- Give yourself permission to rest. So often, we feel we have to keep on pushing through, no matter how awful we feel, but when we do that, we’re only increasing the amount of time it will take for the flare to pass. Getting the proper rest and allowing our bodies a chance to get some restorative rest can help shorten the time the pain and fatigue hang on.
- While you’re resting, don’t remain completely immobile. We definitely don’t need to be exercising during a flare, but staying in bed all day can contribute to the inactivity/pain cycle and cause us to hurt more in the long run. Simply getting up and moving around the house, switching between lying down and sitting up, or even moving our joints through their range of motion while lying in bed can be helpful.
- Have things to do during flare days in a place that makes it easy to get to them. Some people have what they call their flare kit, where they keep everything they may need during a flare in one spot so that it’s all accessible to them without having to get up. Because I want to get up and move, I don’t do that, but I do have baskets with my art supplies strategically placed so I can easily get to them if I want to color or work on some lettering on those days. Of course, my TV remotes are always within easy reach so I can watch some of my recorded shows or binge-watch Netflix.
- Be sure to eat and drink, even though you probably won’t feel like it. It’s important to nourish our bodies to help with cell recovery, and it’s especially important to stay hydrated. Having lighter things such as soups on hand can help us get something into our bodies even when we don’t particularly feel like eating.
- Have a good cry if you need to. That may sound odd, but sometimes it becomes overwhelming to live in pain every single day, and even more so when increased pain and fatigue hit us out of nowhere. Sometimes, we just need that emotional release. Of course, we don’t want to stay in a place of feeling sorry for ourselves for an extended period, but just giving ourselves permission to “not be okay” for a few minutes can work wonders toward helping us get negative feelings out and move forward into a more positive mindset.
These are just some of the things that help me during flares in general, but especially those that seem to come out of nowhere. For me, the sudden, unexpected ones take a bigger toll emotionally. Sometimes I wonder if that’s because if it’s been a while since I’ve had a bad one, I start to subconsciously think maybe I’m cured and the sudden intense flare is a reminder that I’m not. Dealing with those emotions in constructive ways is a big part of getting through this type for me.
What about you? What are some of the things that work best for you when you’re dealing with a flare that seems to come out of nowhere? Please share!