Those of us with fibromyalgia are all too familiar with the various triggers that affect our bodies, particularly weather and stress. What are considered “positive” events can still be stressors.
For instance, according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, which is a list of 43 life events and their degree of stress impact, the top six all consist of death and a form of loss, except for one, marriage, demonstrating that joyous events can still produce stress.
I encountered loss and joy beginning in August when my beloved 10-year-old, Labrador, Sammie, passed. The pain was insurmountable because we developed a strong bond having withstood the longest, and worst flare, of the 20 years I’ve had with this illness. I didn’t realize the depth of sadness I would feel until I found myself emotionally paralyzed. The warm months that we spent outdoors … I could no longer even tolerate looking in our backyard. Taking walks was out of the question. I managed to take a walk with my husband; the entire time we talked about how empty and lost we felt.
I slept most days until my husband came home mid-to-late afternoon. Part of this was due to a long-awaited flare from tending to Sammie over the summer. Unfortunately, at the same time, my mother-in-law was gravely ill, too. I prayed that I could have the strength to help Sammie through her last few months. I wished with all my heart just to be able to cradle her head and kiss her sweet face just one more time.
Those of us whose health is a constant awareness, are all too anxious by the everyday events, so the anxiety is heightened tenfold when a hardcore event occurs. Initially, we can respond and be the support system to our loved ones. But, as time goes on the anxiety creeps up, we ask: How long am I going to be needed at this level? What if I need to rest or have a long day in bed? Who can fill my role? This also can be the same for the good events.
I am now the proud mommy to another sweet, jovial Labrador, who just turned nine-weeks-old. I found out about her when she was a month, so I had time to plan, make lists and worry. While I was excited about having another dog to love and raise, the “what if’s” were in the forefront. My husband thought I was fretting too much, but it was more trying to puppy-proof the house as best I could so that in times of low energy or heightened pain, I could be assured she could not injure herself in any way.
So many concerns. Am I deserving of another pet? I want one, but, am I being blind to the reality of my health and limitations? Will I be able to give the amount of exercise and activity she will need? In the end, the planning and prepping helped alleviate some of the anxiety because I was able to put my energies into action.
Things are developing into a regular schedule. So far, she has helped me to get 3.5 hours of (restorative) sleep, which is the sign of a good night. Like her, I am up and down in activity level throughout the day. The recent change in the weather acts as a pendulum to my degree of pain.
I also know she has her busy time followed by naps with the early afternoon being her down time. That helps me feel a sense of relief. There have been times when I fell asleep with her, and awoke to find she was already awake. While I did panic that I didn’t hear her get up, she was unable to get into anything that would have hurt her. My saving grace also is knowing that two days a week my husband takes care of her so I can sleep in or take a “nap,” (i.e., three or four hours).
The one thing I have learned from losing Sammie and finding my new puppy is that in times of increased stress, I have been able to meet the challenge.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.