By Tammie Allegro
One of the benefits of being part of an online community such as IG Living is finding inspiration from others' stories. It makes me realize I am not alone, and many people have walked and continue to walk a tougher road than mine. And while this doesn't minimize what I am going through, it helps me push a little harder and be a little stronger.
Sometimes, I hear terms about my autoimmune condition that seem obscure and far-fetched. Then, they become reality and knock me off my feet. When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I did so much research. One might say too much research. I searched every website, article, blog and Facebook group I could. I heard so many horror stories that I was preparing myself to retire before I hit 40. Slowly, I relaxed a little because a lot of my "bad days" didn't seem to compare with what I was hearing from everyone else. So I thought: I must have a "mild case," and I will be able to manage just fine.
One symptom of fibromyalgia that I thought sounded the most fictional is called the "fibro fog." Really, I am supposed to believe that you just suddenly go from a high-functioning woman to not being able to remember the most basic things? I actually giggled when I read about it initially. Well, shame on me for taunting the universe. Turns out, I have experienced this fog on many occasions. It has gotten to the point where it is affecting my relationships, my home, my children and even, occasionally, my work. I have had moments when I am working on a task and I completely forget what I am doing and why I started. This can be incredibly scary, especially if I'm out in public. It's one thing to forget a date here and there, but to forget that I just swiped my card for a purchase while the lady is patiently waiting for me to enter my pin is embarrassing. Thankfully, fibro fog has never happened while I am driving.
Another symptom I thought I was managing really well is my energy. I am not good at sitting still and doing nothing. I prefer a day that is packed with activities and tasks. I will even create tasks just so my day is packed. I used to go home after work and bake if we had nothing planned for the evening. I used to be the first to volunteer when someone asked for help, anything from moving to watching friends' kids so they could go on date nights. Now, I'm proud that I make it to the end of the day and am still awake enough to drive myself home. My family knows that, most days, I am going to come home and spend the duration of the night on the couch. Not because I am lazy, but because I don't have anything left in the tank. That is why I relish sleeping in on Saturdays and spending time with my family. I don't make plans with others because I just want to make up for the time I don't spend with them during the week. I am playing catch up a lot these days.
It's easy for me to be hard on myself, and sometimes the guilt is intense. Then, I have to remind myself that I am doing my best. I am managing working, being a mother and wife and having a chronic illness. The combination is taxing. There are days I think I am at my absolute max, and then I read a comment or a story from someone who is fighting a much harder battle, and it gives me that extra strength to make it through the day, in spite of the fog.