Fibromyalgia: Permission to stay at home, sir?
COVID-19: Permission granted, soldier.
Many consider COVID-19 to be the great disrupter. Those of us with fibromyalgia may see it differently. The only real issue for me is fear. Not only for myself (a previous bout of influenza resulted in hospitalization), but I’m concerned for family, friends, and co-workers — many of whom are vulnerable due to age or health issues.
As for having my activities restricted, I’m accustomed to living with little say about what I do and how I do it. My physical issues robbed me of that freedom long ago. After decades of battling the same symptoms repeatedly, I finally arrived at a sense of peace with the situation. Or, perhaps I just tired of fighting. Either way, I adapted.
In short, life for me is much the same during this pandemic as it usually is (minus the face masks, of course). In fact, the daily stress of attempting to live a normal life has lessened. For once, other people are as limited as I have been for years. There’s a freedom in this, a sense of equalization — so much so that some of my symptoms have actually improved. When comparing the various facets of my “normal” fibromyalgia life to my life with COVID-19 restrictions, so far the scoreboard looks about even. Here’s what I mean:
Fibromyalgia: No commitments before noon due to IBS symptoms. (Boo!)
COVID-19: No commitments at any time, and also no cancellations necessary. (Yay!)
Fibromyalgia: Frequent visits to healthcare providers. (Boo!)
COVID-19: Phone appointments now available. (Yay!)
Fibromyalgia: Eating wheat or dairy risks worsening symptoms. (Boo!)
COVID-19: Finding special diet products is challenging for volunteer shoppers. (Boo!)
Fibromyalgia: No concerts or sports events. Sensory overload equals pain and exhaustion. (Boo!)
COVID-19: More special events are televised. (Yay!)
Fibromyalgia: Fewer social invitations for me, a result of frequent cancellation history. (Boo!)
COVID-19: No social invitations for anyone and no hurt feelings for me. (Yay!)
Fibromyalgia: Limited restaurant eating due to budget and diet restrictions. (Boo!)
COVID-19: Good meals are offered with curbside pickup or free delivery. (Yay!)
Fibromyalgia: Trips to the grocery store cause increase exhaustion and pain. (Boo!)
COVID-19: Free online order and pickup services are now available. (Yay!)
Fibromyalgia: Exercise limited to short, isolated walks with my dog. (Boo!)
COVID-19: Many more neighbors and dogs to see and greet while walking — with a mask, of course. (Yay!)
Fibromyalgia: Church attendance is limited due to difficult mornings. (Boo!)
COVID-19: Church services are now available online. (Yay!)
Forced isolation is a daily reality for many fibromyalgia patients. We, more than most people, understand the frustration the rest of the world is now experiencing. The difference is that as COVID-19 restraints are lifted, most of the world will resume living as they wish. Those of us with chronic illnesses will continue to experience restrictions.
Of course, I’m aware that many people are grieving the loss of loved ones. Others are greatly challenged by the loss of jobs and income. Elders are missing their families. Parents are struggling to educate and entertain their children. My heart goes out to all of them.
However, history has taught us that great tragedy is often followed by positive change. Renewed gratitude for the freedoms normally experienced in this country and increased empathy for those with permanent limitations would be the silver lining to the COVID-19 cloud.
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.