Migraine Prepared Me for Fibromyalgia
I’ve lived with Migraine my entire life, so waking up in pain was not new. The surprise was that I suddenly felt like I’d aged 40 years overnight. I didn’t just hurt. It felt as though every muscle in my body had seized up and all my joints were locked tight. In addition to migraine attacks nearly every other day, I now faced daily widespread pain and stiffness. The aphasia, photophobia, and phonophobia so common to Migraine attacks were now a constant presence.
Fibromyalgia had joined the party
Fibromyalgia made its appearance just as I was beginning my quest for a true migraine and headache specialist. I didn’t have migraine under control and felt overwhelmed with learning how to cope with yet another stigmatized, misunderstood disease. Fortunately, I was not as ill-equipped as I first thought. After all, the same principles that applied to living with Migraine also applied to fibromyalgia. These overlapping skills are:
- Enlist the help of a qualified doctor.
- Focus on prevention.
- Track your symptoms.
- Identify your triggers.
- Pay attention to changes in weather.
- Use acute pain medicine sparingly
- You can’t have too many comfort measures.
- Pace yourself.
- Stick with a routine.
- Practice good sleep hygiene.
- Get some exercise every day.
- Take care of your mental health.
- Find support from other patients.
Patience is key
It took a while to sort it all out. My tracking system was a complicated mess that first year. For a time it seemed as though everything triggered a flare-up and nothing was helping. Remembering the challenges of learning to track migraine, I resolved to keep trying. Slowly, the pieces started falling into place. Much to my surprise, many of the things that triggered Migraine also triggered fibromyalgia. That made disease management easier.
A good attitude is essential
While I am never pain-free, the number of acute flares is greatly reduced. Following the same principles used to manage Migraine, I have been able to limit flare-ups to once or twice a month. By listening to my body’s signals, I have learned how to adjust my behaviors and expectations. After all, good disease management is as much about state of mind as it is about effective treatment.
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