by Jeanne Hambleton ©

It has been one of those days. I am trying to sort myself out before I can escape on holiday for a few days and get myself some sunshine before the clocks go back and winter becomes a reality.

By the time I reach this stage – countdown and 48 hours to go – I really begin to wonder if it I all worth it. I have felt so well for quite a while enjoying the warm sunshine, trying not to bother about anything and life has been good.

But holidays, getting ready, washing all the things you must take (like I haven’t anything else to wear), finding the straps and padlocks for the case, getting the euros, worrying about the new airport security measures – it has made me as ill as I would in the middle of winter.

I am fed up, cold, hurting and sick to death of having fibromyalgia. I am not isolated – I am surrounded by family – and I am not depressed – just browned off. I am hoping I might be nicely browned off in two weeks given a bit of sun and a couple of sangrias. Sorry I am not up beat today and I am sure I will be fine once I am on the road to the airport.

It is known that stress is one of the triggers for fibromyalgia and it certainly sets a flare going. I do try to avoid it but going on holiday and breakfast time are the pits.
Can you picture it?

Your husband asks if you have ironed the white shirt. No, you reply, as you thought the blue one would look best with that suit. There follows a few utterances and it is not F for Fibromyalgia. Then it starts all over again and you are reminded HE has an important meeting today – like you never have anything to do that is important. Under your breath you mutter and think, well HE knows where the iron is as well as I do…MEN. You think to yourself, I do not deserve this.

The tea is going cold, toast has been ready for the last five minutes, the packets of cereals and milk have been on the table for the last ten minutes and no one is interested. How many times do you have to remind them what the time is?

Your youngest crashes into the kitchen and asks what have you, his Mother, done with HIS homework. Like you have nothing better to do than hide HIS homework. Has he looked under his bed – you doubt that, as it is too full of his rubbish. What about in his school bag. No that is too easy.

You drag yourself upstairs struggling to put one foot in front of the other while your knees feel like they have been open warfare. For heavens sake! You see your other half raking through the wardrobe, creasing all your things, in search of an illusive white shirt. You move on quietly without comment, and head for the kids’ bedroom. Of course your youngest did not look under the duvet. Why should he – men are not multi functional and we will not comment about here he keeps his brains – in his boots maybe?

Peace at last. Father has made do with his blue shirt. Your youngest now has his homework and all is calm for five minutes, Wait for it….

But the floorshow is not over yet! Your 15-year-old daughter who is a regular drama queen, wafts into breakfast and complains the toast is cold, the tea is terrible and why can’t she have some juice. Suddenly the refrigerator – which is over 6ft tall, white and obvious, and has stood in the corner for five years, has become invisible to your daughter.

You wonder what did you do to deserve the breakfast time from hell?

So here you are, a super mum with fibromyalgia, wandering around in your dressing gown, longing for the family to be gone so you can have some peace, get yourself dressed and be off to your little part time job which keeps the car in petrol.

By now the pains are kicking in – you stumbled your way out of bed and downstairs and up and down again. Sheer adrenaline kept you going, but now you are in real world. This time there is no forgetting you have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. No way can you dismiss that low back ache, the neck pains, the shoulder that hurts, and yours legs – oh dear. If only these knees belonged to someone else.

The pain in the neck was there yesterday and is back again. You know this will not ease with all that typing you have waiting on your desk. Your lower back is aching for Britain. Your head is pounding and everyone is still banging around, slamming drawers and cupboards as part of the morning exodus to go to work and school. It is times like this that you really wish you were not a super mum – a prime candidate for fibromyalgia.

I can see you nodding. Yes you know the feeling – bin there, dun that and all that stuff. (But you did not bother with the tee shirt, it made you look too busty.)

So given all this pain and chaos perhaps you should have thought about that long ago during those nights of passion…but then who does think of the consequences at a time like that – if you know what I mean. Do I have to spell it out for you?

When you found you are pregnant you were probably over the moon to be a mum in spite of fibromyalgia. The first nine months while junior is safely tucked away might be fine given the usual FM problems – it is exciting buying baby clothes, prams, cots and so on. But it is during the sleepless nights while they are young that you struggle with your own sleeplessness and wonder how you will ever get through it? An understanding husband or partner is essential at this time. He should be willing to do his share to make life happier for all the family.

But back at breakfast bedlam I know you are wishing you could go back to bed and that your part-time job was afternoons instead of mornings. There is only one solution once the door has closed and the family are on their way – it is time to read the paper, or look and see what is on TV this evening. Grab a cup of coffee and a couple of your favourite chocolate biscuits to boost your energy – spoil yourself for ten minutes. Have just a little ME time – allow yourself to recover your energy and sort out your thinking. That short break will do you the world of good and hopefully you will then feel ready to get on with the next part of your day.

But it is not only women who have this awful syndrome. Both men and children can suffer badly with fibromyalgia. Some children grow out of it they say but many have growing pains which are thought to be the onset of FM. What about the teenagers who have aches everywhere. How easy it is to think of this is malingering and looking for an excuse not to go to school.

How must it be for a man, when his wife wants him to fix the kitchen blind that has just fallen down and he cannot raise his arms to do this without excruciating pain? What must a man feel when he has to admit he just cannot do even the small job around the house? It must be soul destroying for him. What must it be like if he is too ill to work and someone has to be the breadwinner – maybe you?

For a while my family had a hardware shop in a holiday village and we sold large gas cylinders and refills for the caravans. Frequently a man and woman would drive to the shop and ask for gas. The wife would tell me her husband had a heart condition and he just could not lift the cylinder. Often the man would remain in the car (as if ashamed of his disability) and would have no conversation with me, while his wife was the spokesperson. For a man with a heart condition or fibromyalgia the limitations must be very demeaning.

I should say this was pre-fibromyalgia and I would swing a 15kg bottle of gas into the boot of the car and think nothing of it. Now it takes me all my time to lift a kettle of hot water.

In the book I am writing Pain 24/7 The Fibromyalgia Jigsaw © I have a story from a young American schoolgirl who had been diagnosed with FM and could only transport her books to different classrooms by using a shopping trolley. The school also gave her permission to leave each teaching session five minutes before the classes ended to allow her to move along the corridors without being knocked over as the other children rushed from room to room. As a youngster she enjoyed horse riding but is no longer able to do this. Her chosen career – something she can do sitting down and do from home – writing children’s stories about horses and her dogs.

If you can to get your children or your husband to read this you just might get a bit more sympathy and consideration in the morning. You may even look forward to breakfast time – who knows.

Keep well. Talk again soon. Jeanne


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