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Tasks With Fibromyalgia
Despite the pain and unbearable fatigue that fibromyalgia is inflicting on me right now, life goes on. I find myself facing an inescapable truth; it is not going away and neither are the things on my daily to-do list. Life goes on and I often feel that I am on a relentless treadmill of challenges.
Along with fibro, I also have lupus and Hoshimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that destroys the thyroid over time. I find myself pushing through each day and through each task that is required of me, but the word “chronic” says it all. Fibromyalgia is ongoing, relentless and at times, it feels I will never get a break to simply catch my breath.
My conditions have overlapping symptoms too, so it is hard to know which one is the culprit of my current pain and fatigue. But when the pain is constant and debilitating fatigue is hovering over my day, I feel like I become the great pretender; all is fine and I can do whatever is required.
The truth however is I am struggling to keep up, I do far more than what is comfortable or what is best for me. But being a mom of four comes with a set of tasks that I approach with tenacity and resilience rather than catering to how I really feel on any given day. I think we all do this. We push to accomplish more than what fibromyalgia wants to allow us, because not doing so would be letting our condition win.
My Tips for Staying on Top of Everyday Tasks
I often am so busy trying to prove to myself that I am still “me” despite living with fibro and all my other conditions that I lose sight of exactly how much I am capable of doing in one day without not paying for it later. I over-commit myself. I forget that it is OK to say no sometimes.
Don’t do this to yourself. Set realistic expectations for your daily schedule and be flexible with it if you are having a bad day with pain and fatigue.
On any given “normal” day, the least little thing can trigger a full-blown flare-up leaving you feeling bruised and beaten, to say the least.
You cannot be all things to all people even when you are healthy. With fibro, it is vital to pick the most important tasks and focus on what matters the most. Will your kids remember you taking them to all their soccer practices and cheering for them, or will they remember how you vacuumed the floor and cleaned the bathroom to a sparkle each week?
When tasks are prioritized, cleaning is pushed down on my list. Some things can wait and some things I can ask for help with. Decide what is most important to you and make that the top of your to-do list.
Group Similar Tasks Together
If you have errands to run in town and also need milk and eggs, group your to-do list so that there is less running in different directions. I swear fibro causes me more pain the longer I am in the car so I make each excursion count, checking off more than one task each trip I make.
Likewise at home, if I am going upstairs to put clean clothes away I make the trip count by bringing down any dirty towels for the next load of laundry. Commit yourself to multi-tasking and make every step or minute in the car count.
Ask For Help
I dislike asking for help. Maybe that is part of my life-lesson in having fibro, because it has forced me to be vulnerable and admit that I need help sometimes.
So, if I am struggling to make dinner, I ask my husband to help chop some of the veggies or I ask the kids to help with things like fetching me ingredients. I ask my husband to carry the laundry basket down to the laundry room when it is full. Things that are simply too much for me to tackle at times can be delegated. I hope that you do this, and you don’t feel guilty when you do.
Limit Heavy Activities or Break Up Tasks
This is hard when you’re a mom. Grocery shopping can be strenuous. I sometimes get all the smaller things, then have my husband pick up the few heavy objects on his way home from work.
If you don’t have anyone you can ask to do this, try breaking up the shopping trips for yourself, so the heavy items are not bought the same day as the mass quantity of items. It is easier to handle bringing in a large package of 24 water bottles if you are not also hauling in several bags of groceries from the same shopping trip.
Rest When You Can
I am so bad at this. I tend to do tasks around the house in spurts and before I know it, my available downtime is gone and I didn’t even sit down. But I realize that if I’m better rested, I can probably tackle more of those everyday tasks.
I suggest that if you can, squeeze in a nap or rest before you head out with your must-do list. Go to bed earlier than normal if you are very fatigued. Drink herbal tea to help promote good sleep or ask your doctor for something to help you get the solid sleep you need.
Above all else, remind yourself that you are doing the best that can and that is good enough. Don’t compare how many tasks you accomplished on any given day with anyone else. Only you know what your body is feeling.
Remember that those of us who battle fibromyalgia every day are all fighting a war to keep going and get things done, and we should take pride in the fact that we make the required adjustments and still manage to smile and push through. The key is to also take care of yourself along the way.