Photo Credit: anawat sudchanham /

Fibro Flare-Ups

Years ago a friend of my little brother’s was barreling along on his 10 speed bike with the sun shining in his face and wind blowing through his hair when BAM! Out of nowhere the front wheel locked up, throwing him over the handle bars where his face and the pavement met.

The hand brake had come loose and fallen into the spokes of the wheel. He had some deep gashes on his face, a smashed nose and was missing a few teeth as a result of that one moment in time.

If you’ve ever had a fibromyalgia flare-up, then you can relate to the shock of such a moment.  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.

I’ve had days when I would wake feeling “normal” (as normal as possible for a person with fibromyalgia), when something I ate or the level of activity in my day, or simply something out of my routine would be like that loose hand brake falling into my “spokes.”

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Such is the life as an FM sufferer! Some days I am keenly aware of a potential flare-up before my feet even hit the ground, especially if it has been one of those restless nights like we often experience.

Since I have been dealing with the effects of fibromyalgia for almost fifteen years, I can safely say that this is not my first rodeo concerning fibro flare-ups. I have learned to better recognize their onset much better over the years, which allows me to be a bit more proactive towards them.

Usually my flare-ups have a fairly consistent “cycle” of sorts. They sometimes begin with fatigue that won’t go away, then possibly achy muscles and joints and towards the end of the cycle, full-blown diarrhea. At times, the cycle reverses itself to where the irritable bowel is the first sign and trigger of things to come.

A mild flare-up can last for several hours, and a more severe one, several days or on occasion weeks.

I know, that isn’t really good news, is it? Well the good news is, you can learn to cope with the flare-ups and even minimize them with a better understanding of your own body, lifestyle and surroundings. There is no one method that works for every person who deals with a fibromyalgia flare-up. It is something that we must gain understanding on individually.

For me, a flare-up is my body’s way of telling me what “not to do” – kind of like a GPS that announces the need for a detour because of imminent danger down the road. I know when I push too hard on a “good” day that a flare-up is lurking down the road somewhere.

I remind myself that there are consequences for staying up too late or for not sticking to my sleep routine. When that divine dessert is a temptation for me to indulge, I make a choice with full understanding that if you play now, you pay later.

So for me, I’ve learned kindness for myself and my body through the very thing that I despise most – fibro flare-ups! I used to feel guilty for putting aside my daily tasks for self-care, but I have come to understand that it is the being that energizes the doing, so if I want to take charge of a life that has been forever changed by that dreaded condition that doctors call fibromyalgia, then self-care isn’t the same as selfishness.

It is actually one of the most giving things you can do for those you love.  Take care of yourself so you can take care of others and enjoy life!