Stressful Moments and FMS: Just Breathe!

Stressful Moments and FMS: Just Breathe!

I am having a spasm-y sensation along the outside of my arms and legs as well as the bottoms of my feet. It creates such an annoying sensation that it is hard to direct my attention to other things, outside of wanting to pull out my hair. Atop that, my fingertips are pruney as if I had them soaking in water for an hour.

It is a beautiful day, aside from the humidity, which has caused the onset of heightened symptoms. Sigh.

For the past three days, I had hoped to feel up to planting flowers. This is the same amount of time since I last read emails — chalk up to yet another day that this won’t happen. Great!

My bank informed me of three unauthorized transactions from my debit card. Fantastic! I received an email that a much-loved singer will be performing at a nearby arena. Naturally, the initial excitement is overshadowed by the fact that with the weather patterns this year, there is a 50-50 chance — make that 70-30 — the event may be for naught. This illness interferes with everything!

I just want to share some aspects of life that my friends get to enjoy, especially this time of year with warm weather, beach vacations, backyard BBQs, and days at the park. ARGH!

Stop… and take a deep breath.

Sometimes I find myself asking for a bear hug from my husband instead of taking the time to express my frustrations and angst. Sometimes it doesn’t feel necessary to revisit the event or risk the chance that I may have difficulty finding words and only upset myself more. A cuddly, loving hug is a better way of explaining that I am having a difficult time and need a source of comfort. This is always easier said than done, especially when there is no way of stepping back from the stressful situation or when you don’t have someone, a pet, or a stuffed animal from which to acquire that soft, gentle hug.

What is most important to focus on is your health. Subjecting your body to an exorbitant amount of stress hormones is like adding fuel to the fire. We already suffer from an illness that has heightened and exaggerated responses to pain. Added adrenaline can affect other bodily systems that could possibly produce stronger, harsher forms of pain, shortness of breath, and elevated blood pressure and heart rate.

Because I am somewhat high-strung and emotional anyway, it took years to fully realize that while the initial adrenaline rush may have been helpful for the moment, in the long run, it took hours for my body to settle from the effects.

Since we do not live in a bubble, we are forced to deal with many of the same stressors that we would have encountered regardless of our health, especially if we live with others who have a more normalized lifestyle. Since I am not one of those amazing people who thrive under pressure, and unfortunately I did not have any role models growing up who used effective coping strategies, I was already hardwired to not handle stress well.

Working with medical professionals throughout my career provided me the support I needed to learn how to sort through the events and try to keep the stress at lower levels whenever possible. That’s not to say that I am devoid of getting angry or feeling overwhelmed, especially when fibromyalgia creates a cascading effect of issues and problems that do not always offer solutions.

I am just learning to recognize what type of day I am having and how much I can handle at the time. When I am overwhelmed (physically or mentally), I walk away from it. Sometimes I lie down and come back to the problem later. Most importantly, I try to recognize that the world is not crashing around my feet. When I am feeling better, I can look at the situation with a calmer demeanor and a different perspective.


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.


  1. Every time I read something about Fibromyalgia, I am hoping to discover the secret answer that makes it all go away. It never happens. However, just reading a post about what others are going through and you are almost nodding your head off your shoulders in agreement, can bring some peace to your soul. Knowing the same thing I am going through is actually ‘normal’ in the Fibro world is reassuring. I don’t wish this on anyone but it is good not to be alone in this hateful illness.

    I especially have to agree with you about the adrenaline rush. Some days it is the only thing that gets me through the day and, yes, I pay for it afterwards but then I get to gloat a little that I actually got stuff done, lol. I often tell my doctor that I have too much adrenaline and not enough energy to handle it. It just wears me out.

    I’m with you on the ‘just lie down and come back to it later’ idea. It’s very hard for a person that has always never stopped from the time your feet hit the floor until you go to bed at night. It’s a huge adjustment but it has taken almost 20 years for me to learn that pushing too hard can result in days, weeks or even months to recover.

    Thank you for your post. It reminds me that, in our world, it’s “normal”.

    • Lori Galpeer says:

      I understand completely, Michele. . . it took me many years too (and I have had it for almost 21 years now). I suppose force of habit esp. since most of us were multi-taskers, do-it-all-in-one-day type of people before the illness. I am like you in that I may be exhausted the next day, but can smile a little that I got a lot done so I have a reason this time. I am glad that you feel support from all of us (FB is also a great place to find many with fibromyalgia). The more support we surround ourselves with the better! Take care! 🙂

      • Thank you, Lori.Those little fleeting moments of gloating are rare treasures, lol. I have many friends on FB that have Fibromyalgia and we are all supportive of each other. It is always a good feeling to help someone through a hard time and it is also good to have someone help me through a hard day. I know many, many people online that have Fibromyalgia but I have only met 2 people personally that have it. Thank you for your reply and wishing you some really great days <3

  2. Dana says:

    Pruney finger tips! Me too. I’ve never heard of anyone else having this problem. It’s so discouraging when my finger print won’t open my phone. A small thing compared to the pain and fatigue. Lately, I have pain in my first knuckles and doc says it likely fibro too. I appreciate you sharing.

    • Lori Galpeer says:

      Glad I can be of validation. You, in return, have made me feel better in sharing you too get pruny fingers . . I have only come across one other person who told me the same. While I knew it had to do w/ my FMS, I had not heard anyone else report it (or share w/ my rheumatologist). I have mild arthritis in my fingers (verified by exam and x-ray) and somedays it is so frustrating just trying to hold onto an item without it falling or trying to type, or just bend them, without much stiffness and aching.

      • Em says:

        My pain specialist told me to have a “friend” massage my neck…GRRRRRR! I do not seek meds I want help and hear these words…thank you God for granting me the strength to not exhibit to him what pain truly is…and not the groin area either!!! I would have ended up with a law suit…Say no more.

      • Lori Galpeer says:

        I take it that you feel patronized by the comments the pain specialist says to you. Ask your pain specialist to provide you some exercises that you can do for yourself (if no one is readily available to do it for you); there are also specialized balls, etc. that can work on trigger point areas, provide the extra stretch without overdoing. My comments about just breathing are meant to remind those of us w/ FMS to stop when upset (like when you feel upset at your pain specialist 🙂 ) and take in a breathe and release. It is meant to reduce some of the stress, lower heart rate, thus reducing b.p. etc. . . . .while the phrase may seem condescending, it truly does help to reduce some forms of pain. It is also a reminder when we have pain, the tendency is to breath differently because we are in pain and trying to ride through the spasms, throbbing, etc. makes one hold their breath a bit. Hope you are able to express to your pain specialist that you don’t feel ‘supported’ or the information provided doesn’t match up with your situation, that way he/she can focus on your therapy that is better fit for your situation or that doesn’t seem like you are being misunderstood/not listened to.

  3. Em says:

    Truly I do not believe that fibromyalgia is normal. So much of what I read leaves me feeling as though this invisible illness is my fault.

    All I need to do is smile, breathe and place my thumb to my index finger and the pain will float a way…

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