I’m as Supersensitive as a Princess

I’m as Supersensitive as a Princess
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Christine Tender Points

I sometimes feel like the main character in “The Princess and the Pea.” It’s not that I feel regal. It’s that I’m as sensitive as she was. Not only can I be as uncomfortable from the slightest cause as the princess was, but I’m also supersensitive to everything – including touch, smell, sound, sight, and taste. I blame it all on fibromyalgia.

Touch: Although I’ve never slept on 10 mattresses with a pea underneath them, there have been occasions when my discomfort prompted me to get up in the middle of the night to remake my bed. The cause? A small wrinkle in the bottom sheet felt like a tree branch beneath me.

And then there are clothing labels. Cutting them off risks a hole near the neckline as many of my clothes now have. But leaving them on guarantees that my neck will be red and sore before I get home to my scissors. I now prefer certain brands of clothing solely because their name is stamped on the inside of the garment rather than sewn onto a scratchy label.

Smell: Going back to sheets again, because I’ve been buying unscented products for years, I wasn’t prepared to be an overnight guest recently. The smell of lavender fabric softener on my hostess’s sheets was completely overwhelming to me. It made my eyes water. I tried covering the pillowcase with my shirt so I could go to sleep, but it didn’t work. Soon the taste of that odor was strong enough to make me nauseous. I spent the rest of the night in a chair. A request for different sheets the next morning produced equally scented replacements from my bewildered hostess. It took a vinegar wash to remove the odor completely.

Sound: I’m a big fan of live music, especially musical comedies. When “Mamma Mia!” first came to Los Angeles, I was thrilled to get tickets. My delight ended soon after the show began. The volume of the sound was so loud that it actually hurt my ears and caused my head to throb. Given the cost of the tickets, I stuck it out until intermission, but I couldn’t force myself to go back for the second half. It was just too painful. Looking around, it appeared that no one else had been bothered.

Sight: I once had to leave my job because of a fluorescent light. It was obviously faulty, making a buzzing sound along with a flickering that nearly drove me crazy. I could move my desk far enough away that I was no longer bothered by the sound, but there was no relief from the flicker. Luckily there were also windows with natural daylight. But because it was winter, the lights came on at 4 p.m. That’s when I went home. Had I stayed, the result would have been anxiety and cognitive difficulty. My co-workers were unaffected.

Taste: Taste buds are very unique regardless of whether a person has fibromyalgia or not. My issue is with the minute amount of an offending ingredient that ruins food for me. Foods labeled sugar-free are my biggest challenges. No quantity of aspartame is small enough to be undetectable by me. I can always taste it. And taste it. And taste it. And then feel the depression and fibro fog that results.

How I envy people who can just roll with the punches. Neither heat nor cold, sun nor gloom, nor any of the senses mentioned above are ever problems for them. They just smile and adapt, regardless of the circumstances. I know these people. They’re friends of mine. They live normal lives, and they wonder why I cannot.

I stopped wondering a long time ago. When my hypersensitive life gets me down, I just remind myself of “The Princess and the Pea.” Perhaps being supersensitive is not a problem after all. It just means I’m royalty.

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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.

Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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6 comments

  1. Alex Pushkin says:

    Although medications are only marginally helpful for this condition, SNRIs (e.g., Savella & Cymbalta) tend to be helpful for reducing central sensitization. In your case, that is likely the primary driver of the pain sensitivity, but also the sensory sensitivity. I have seen these 2 medications work well for the multiple sensory sensitivities in hundreds of chronic pain patients. Neurologists and rheumatologists also use other meds to target these types of sensory hypersensitivities.

  2. Nancy A. says:

    Christine, I totally understand what you’re going through — it’s the same for me. I’ve had fibromyalgia for 33 years (I’m 65 now). “Normal” people don’t understand. My own mother says “Everything bothers you” (she’s not very supportive in general). Having this terrible chronic pain and fatigue and all the other symptoms makes it very hard to have any social life — it’s very isolating. I’ve been reading some encouraging research news lately. They’re finally getting closer to figuring out this illness, and hopefully there will be much better treatment options in the near future.

  3. Linda says:

    I wish you’d have some articles on dr education and Fibro – why are they not educating themselves. Where can we really get help because dr. are failing.

  4. sandra dunbar says:

    BINGO!!!!!
    My husband thought I was nuts. I was able to add it all up long ago, but had I told folks what I thought EVERYONE would How much longer have thought I was nutzo. How much longer before we get the answer and the credibility ???

  5. karla epple says:

    i’m not sure i have fibro but i had 5 or 6 blood tests several years ago to rule out herpes, arthritis, and the like all were negative. I have a lot of mysterious aching and traveling pain on both side. itching but no skin irritations visible. IBS, acid reflux. My chiropractor says I have Myofascial pain which I understand is similar.I wish there was a way of diagnosing. My primary physician is empathetic to the problems but not really helpful. My kids are not educated but my sons and wives lean toward the negative. Hard to share as I feel like I’m just complaining and that others feel the same.

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