By Mikki Ingram
I’ve recently discovered that though my fibromyalgia by itself is incredibly difficult and painful to live with, my symptoms have increased in severity following a deeply painful emotional blow.
On January 13th, 2018, my father passed away. I didn’t find out about it until February 11, 2018, but it didn’t matter how old the news was. The strange numbness that followed the news of his passing was so potent that I was absolutely unable to recognize my symptoms for a full day. I felt extremely detached from reality in the shock of it. From what I understand, emotional shock is fairly common. The numbness and detachment are as well.
It’s been two days, though, and I’m suddenly aware that my symptoms have gone up dramatically. I feel as though I am in the beginning stages of an extremely bad flare-up.
Besides the fatigue and surreal feelings I’m experiencing, my hands are suddenly feeling like they have been inflated with incredibly hot air. Nerve spasms are going off all over my body at random increments. My scalp is suddenly very sensitive. My sensitivity to touch, sound and light have skyrocketed to new heights. My ankles feel as though they are in a permanent state of “about to be sprained.” My spine feels as though I’ve experienced a recent injury. My skin, besides the sensitivity, feels as though it has been burning for an eternity. When I feel the need to nap, it’s so sudden and I sleep hard. I’m having a hard time really having an appetite (which I understand is fairly normal after a death). I’ve been very unbalanced as well in terms of walking and standing. My fibro fog has also been more pronounced. I’ll be doing one thing and suddenly stop to do something else. About four items later, I’ll be aware that I forgot to do the first thing. It’s very strange.
My mother passed 10 years ago, but I wasn’t this sick then. I remember how her death effected me and how much I was doing and how little time there was to actually rest. But, I don’t remember the physical pain being this pronounced and the fatigue being this intense.
I’m reminding myself to eat at least once a day, even if I’m not hungry, and reminding myself to sleep and cry when I need to. I’m reminding myself to seek help from my therapist when I need to. I’m also aware that I look very “put together” – but I’m not.
I’m not great right now. I wouldn’t even say that I’m good. I’m not. But I’ve noticed something else. The support system that I have right now is so massive and it is actually helping me deal with my pain increase. Having someone to talk to leaves me with a feeling of being lighter than when I started.
If you’re experiencing the death of a loved one, please know that there are resources available to you. Please know that the increase in symptoms is something not to be ignored. Remind yourself that, no matter what form your grief takes, it’s normal for you. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to be exhausted. I’m reminding myself that I’ve gone down this road before and I feel that, while my physical symptoms are much more intense, I am all-around better equipped to face this process.
Please make sure to take care of yourself first and foremost and remember: It’s going to hurt before it heals.
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