Friday, February 20, 2009

Joy in Pain Part 2

I mentioned in my previous blog that I have fibromyalgia, and included a link to the Web MD overview. But that doesn't really paint the picture, so before I go any further, I want to give you a better idea of how I frame the fibromyalgia picture.

First, I'd like you to imagine that you spent yesterday with the craziest trainer in the world. Though you've never worked out a day in your life, your trainer had you weight training like a WWE wrestler all morning, doing cardio like an Olympian all afternoon, and then put you back on weights in the evening. You then spent all night working on a project, the success or failure of which would mean either getting a promotion or losing your job. You then took a two hour nap somewhere around 4 am before getting up to get ready for work. Now, in addition to the mental and physical fatigue and the body soreness and stiffness, imagine there's a tribe of microscopic, invisible gremlins running around inside your body with sledgehammers and ice-picks, and they may strike anytime, anywhere. Have the mental picture? Good - that's your introduction to fibromyalgia.

Don't get me wrong, most days those gremlins don't do enough to hold down a job in the real world, and the fatigue and soreness is more of an irritant than anything else. But on days like today, when the 'symptoms' raise from a 1 -2 to a 5-6 on that pain scale, they become a very irritating interruption. Something that should take one minute takes five, something that should take five minutes may take fifteen. I can still do everything I need to do, it's just more difficult. And quite frankly, today I'm not going to get in to the 8 -9 level days. If you want to imagine it, take the above description and imagine it's a 75 year old doing all that.

So, now that I've provided an overview of fibromyalgia, you may be thinking based on my comments about Assisi that I am the most joyful person in the world. I wish I could say it were so, but I am sorry to say that what happened in Assisi doesn't happen every day. It "happened" in Assisi; it was a gift by the grace of God so I know it's possible, I know it exists - I know it's a choice. But, it's a choice I don't always make. Many days I am a complaining, whining, pity-partying fool. When a gremlin does strike, I am just as likely to stop in my tracks and wait for the pain to stop before continuing my work as I am to keep working, even though I know the pain is just a nerve misfiring, and nothing is actually wrong. Sometimes, if someone calls me at the wrong time, or makes the mistake of asking "how are you?" as they walk by, (the fact that most people ask that in passing without waiting for an answer is a topic for another blog!) they might even get an earful. But even though I whine and complain to others maybe 10% of the time, the rest of my whining and complaining is all internal, "self talk" as some call it, and rarely, when I think about it, directed to God. I sit in my chair or lay in bed and feel sorry for myself and ask myself why it's so hard "to offer it up" and why can't I be as easily joyful as I was in Assisi... I get caught up in thinking about how irritating, or annoying, or distracting, or hurtful, or frustrating the pain is... I get wrapped up in the negative, and because I don't want to "burden" anyone, or be the person who only calls a friend when she's miserable, I dwell there as though it were my home.

This is not the way I want to live my life. I think it was Matthew Kelly who I once heard ask, "Are you going to let your mortal body control your immortal soul?" I want to live in Assisi, not in Whine World. I want to be full of Joy, not full of frustration and complaining...

Thankfully, although the end of this particular post, this isn't the end of the story.

1 comment:

  1. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1994, after years with it. Given that I also was diagnosed with psoratic arthritis in my teens, it's a double whop. I actually spent 2 years on so many meds that I was virtually bedridden. One thing that has helped a lot with the Fibromyalgia is taking high dosages of Anti-oxidants (10 or more times normal dose) ... it might be worth a try.