Having suffered from Endometriosis for far longer than Fibromyalgia, ‘flare-ups’ were something that I really only associated with my deeply damaged reproductive system. They were excruciating and crippling, but also familiar and understood – I knew, for the most part, what to expect and for how long I would be a non-functioning lump of flesh. On the other hand, I would think of Fibromyalgia in terms of good or bad days and (or) weeks, but it never truly occurred to me that I was experiencing mislabelled cluster-eruptions of Fibro-specific symptoms. My almost blissful ignorance finally came to an end a couple of weeks ago.
The first indication that I was hurtling into a Fibro-flare (which I gleefully ignored) was the sensation of extreme weightiness I felt after moderate exercise. I had been sitting down for a few minutes after a little bit of hula hooping and when I attempted to rise I felt as though I had gained at least 200lbs instantaneously. I felt my knees buckle and had to slam my hands on the desk to prevent my body from crumbling to the floor.
The second occurred after a low-pressure group skate. After just under an hour and a half on wheels, I discovered that I literally could not accelerate while walking: I was trying my best to hurry to the bus stop but there was that ‘weight’ again making gravity a greater enemy than usual.
If the muscles that are attached to my bones are too exhausted to work then why would the muscles inside my rib cage be functioning in a normal fashion?
It was the third warning claxon that finally made me take notice. The day after I had lost my ability to walk at anything other than snail’s pace, I tried to skate again. Twenty minutes into my self-imposed fifty five minute allotment of time I could feel my legs creeping into some kind of a peculiar squat, and every attempt to lift my feet seemed like a prelude to a bad tripping accident. I pushed on for another ten minutes or so but had little choice but to abandon my not-quite-one-hour goal and head for home, with the hope that I could make up the missing time over the next few days.
But then came The Headache. The three-day headache.
Migraines are part and parcel of suffering from Endometriosis, but it had been a long time since I’d experienced anything quite so relentless. However, there was a precedent for what I was encountering; just over a year ago I had been pumped full of antibiotics which caused an incredible imbalance in my digestive system and skull-crushing headaches were part of the package.
Despite previous experience, my internal fuel complex is something I often forget about when it comes to secondary symptoms: while I am very careful in regards to what I feed myself I have a tendency to misremember all that I was taught about digestive biology, picturing my stomach and intestines as a sack and tubing, rather than an active machine that is moving nutrients through my body. If the muscles that are attached to my bones are too exhausted to work then why would the muscles inside my rib cage be functioning in a normal fashion? After helping everything to ‘move along’ with some bicarbonate of soda, the headache finally subsided. My body still felt like it was filled with rocks, though, and that was when I realised that I had fundamentally caused this flare.
…maybe I should allow myself some time to heal…
Skating while exhausted is the quickest way for me to have a pointless accident – when I say pointless I mean an accident while doing something innocuous like going forwards as opposed to something with a hint of risk like a waltz jump – and it’s impossible to skate outside without picking your feet up; there’s just too many pebbles, twigs and tarmac snakes to allow you to glide with all eight wheels on the ground at once. So I decided that maybe I should allow myself some time to heal and wait until I felt stronger to start rolling again.
I’m not going to deny that my stress levels spiked in the first couple of days: we’ve been having a really rainy July and whenever it was dry I berated myself for not utilising the decent weather. But then came a surprising spike in my levels of productivity.
My blogging activity had been patchy at best for months, but I suddenly found myself able to research, write and post twice in one week. I transformed an ill fitting pair of jeans into a miniskirt and the kitchen got way more attention than I ever believed I could give it. Roller skating was using a hell of a lot more spoons than I was willing to admit. And that’s a problem because skating keeps me sane.
Time to dye my hair and have a think about my ‘skate life balance’…