A reader commented about my last column that dealt with attending parties. She alleged that if I were able to attend a party at all, then I was 100 percent healthier than she is. This reader obviously missed the second sentence in that column, which stated, “what a thrill it was for me to have been able to help on the day she needed me.” Am I able to help others on any given day? Hardly! Am I able to attend a party any time I wish? Unfortunately not.
I must say that I agree with the reader’s comment that “the first hurdle is getting dressed.” It is for me as well. You see, I have a trigger point in my back just below my left shoulder blade. It’s so sensitive that any repetitive motion or the slightest overuse can cause a muscle spasm and ignite pain in that spot that feels like being struck by lightning. And it doesn’t stop. It will continue to strike approximately every 10 seconds and will last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks.
The pain is so strong and so vicious that it moves my body involuntarily. Strangers have mistakenly believed I was having a seizure during one of these attacks. If I feel the surrounding muscle tightening up and recognize what’s happening, I can sometimes prevent the torture by taking a narcotic medication immediately. If not, a trip to the emergency room may be necessary. The pain is that intolerable!
What I’m describing is a byproduct of fibromyalgia called myofascial pain syndrome. When it strikes, I become completely immobilized. My brain doesn’t function. I cannot drive a car. I can barely call for help if I need a ride getting home from wherever I happen to be. After the pain subsides, the affected muscle can remain tightened and vulnerable for nearly two weeks before it fully relaxes and I can consider resuming normal activity. In the meantime, I’m lying prone, glued to my heating pad, using anti-inflammatory medications, lidocaine patches, and a TENS unit, and desperately trying to distract myself. Forty years of experience has taught me that even the slightest irritation of an already aggravated trigger point can immediately reignite a painful spasm.
I actually look forward to the days when total body pain and fatigue are my only issues. Those days, I practice all the pain-modifying techniques I’ve spent decades learning. I do all the stretches my body needs to be able to function as well as possible. I make time to meditate, which gives my body time to heal itself while directing my mind elsewhere. But at least I can function — even if it’s on a modified level compared to healthy people. Above all, I try to do something to help someone else.
I was fortunate to be able to help that friend a few months back, which resulted in my party invitation last week. Unlike most people who consider helping a friend and attending a party to be just normal occasions of daily living, I consider it a blessing — one that doesn’t occur very often. It’s so unusual, in fact, that I considered it worthy of an entire column about the experience. So, am I 100 percent healthier than the reader who commented on my article last week? You decide.
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.