Have you ever thought about fibromyalgia as a puzzle to solve? Often we think of fibromyalgia as one big thing and as a result we look for one big solid answer, But perhaps the answer is really more of a puzzle with many pieces that need to be fit together. That’s the thought that my friend Donna shared:
I see fibromyalgia as being a puzzle. When you are suffering badly from the symptoms of fibromyalgia, your puzzle has broken apart into various pieces. Sometimes it is hard to know what these pieces are. Sometimes you know what the pieces are but you don’t quite know how to fit them together.- FibroGeek
I started thinking about the pieces of my fibromyalgia puzzle, and what it’s taken for me to put that puzzle together. As Donna pointed out in her post, there’s so much more to dealing with fibro than just one thing, yet it’s so easy for us to blame just one thing when things slip off track.
A flare pops up and we are quick to say that whatever treatment that’s been working is no longer working, but there’s so much more to it than that, and so many facets to the fibromyalgia puzzle. I can think of six pieces that make up my puzzle, I’m sure there are probably a few more that just aren’t coming to mind.
- Puzzle Piece #1 : Stress – Stress should be the first puzzle piece anyone with fibromyalgia looks at, and yet it’s typically the last. I typically find that when symptoms begin to flare again I can usually find that my stress levels have also increased for some reason. Stress and fibromyalgia have a circular relationship; not only does stress increase fibro symptoms, but when our symptoms increase stress goes up as a result. I’ve learned to control stress through meditation, exercise, focusing on the positive, and forgiveness.
- Puzzle Piece #2: Diet – Early on I purposely avoided even looking at this piece of the puzzle, deciding instead that it must belong to someone else’s puzzle. When I finally took the time to look at at diet I realized that it did fit my puzzle and not only did it fit but that it made up a huge part of the picture. Diet can also play a part in stress, as eating a poor diet adds physical stress on the body and causes it to work harder.
- Puzzle Piece #3: Supplements – When it comes to supplements it seems like there are a number of pieces that could fit in my puzzle, and a number of different ways that they could all fit together. I’ve found a number of supplements that I know are important to making sure that I feel the best that I can, but I also continue to learn about others that I feel I should try. Sometimes I try them and rule them out quickly, other times I try one and find I need to keep it in m routine for a while, or for every.
- Puzzle Piece #4: Pharmaceuticals – Pharmaceuticals play only a small role in my puzzle, but at one time they made up a big section. Over time, I’ve found that by managing the other puzzle pieces better I need pharmaceuticals less.
- Puzzle Piece #5: Education – Since day one I’ve felt that education needed to make up part of my puzzle. While doctors go to med school and know a lot about the body and medicine as a whole, they do not know my body or my specific symptoms as well as I do, nor will they ever. It’s important for me to stay up to date on new research and new treatments, so that I can have educated discussions with my doctors, and so that I can present them with info they may not even be aware of. Most doctors see patients with many different disorders and diseases, even a specialist treats many different issues. They can not be up-to-the-minute on every single illness they treat. I have a much better chance at that.
- Puzzle Piece #6: Support – The support of my family and friends is a huge piece of my puzzle. I don’t know where I’d be without my family and all of my friends (those I know personally, and those I’ve met online). Having someone to turn to, to help me through a problem, to hug me, to just say “I understand” is priceless. My puzzle would never be complete with each person that is a part of my life.
I’m sure that in the years to come I will find new pieces and figure out how they fit in. What pieces have you found? What steps have you made towards solving your own chronic illness puzzle?