Same Battle, New General: Restricted by Fibromyalgia and COVID-19

Same Battle, New General: Restricted by Fibromyalgia and COVID-19
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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: Trigger point injections and massage therapy reduce pain and spasms. (Yay!)
COVID-19: These therapies are considered nonessential and unavailable. (Boo!)

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.

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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5 comments

  1. viviane Lachaud de Leckenby says:

    Yes this is so true but yes we adapt what else can we do??? our life as been disrupt long ago and now plus the mask it is still the same but we are mentally strong and we adapt…for myself in hard bad days I PRAY i find strength in prayers and I go day to day mostly lonely people do not understand my life and I am an elderly lady divorced so alone and lonely but one day at the time, I manage……love you all that suffer from that way of life for Us it is a day to day battle. but we can do it…blessings to all of you stay stong and take care one day at the time…..hugs and kisses to al….

  2. SANDY MORRISS says:

    Oh dear, I am having such a bad day today. My arms feel like lead and I am unable to lift them. My back aches more than usual and I feel totally unwell. Just hope tomorrow will be better!

  3. Deborah Cook-Hunter says:

    The lock down Christine writes of has indeed been a blessing at times. I do miss massages and when feeling able not being able to go to restaurants or see family & friends. I am grateful for so much and although God has decided that I am to live my life with fibro (it’s been more than 35 years now) I can appreciate the days when I am able to do “normal” things!

  4. Betty Barnes says:

    I have had fibromyalgia IBS and osteoarthritis for 25 years and I have a lot of pain and stiffness ,especially in the morning . I don’t usually plan to go out until after noon because of it and also the IBS. Since Covid- 19 ,however, I have been going out every 2 weeks at 7:00 am to get groceries ,as this is the designated time for seniors and it is the safest time to go . This is very exhausting but I try to play it safe! Sometimes my fatigue can be very debilitating but I try to balance rest with activity . I go for a walk on a nature trail near my home for 40 min to 1 hour 5 to 7 times a week (weather permitting) and I find it very therapeutic . It is so wonderful to hear the birds singing and enjoy the beauty of the flowers and trees.! Sometimes I even hug a tree or stand barefoot on the grass ! It’s called grounding I find massages helpful and I also do specific daily exercises designed by a physiotherapist and enjoy Qi Gong and meditation. I also pray and read my Bible daily and meditate on God’s Word . It’s amazing how much peace God gives when we depend on Him and trust Him for each day ”God gives me peace in the midst of the storm” ( From a song I wrote)

  5. Rachelle Cabot says:

    Her article rings very true. I never know what the next day will be like. Getting to work is the priority. You also have your to-do list ready,..just in case.
    It’s tough to stay included with friends or events. Today I did some things but tomorrow I might miss everything.
    It’s the roller coaster of daily life with fibromyalgia.

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