6 Tips for Surviving a Fibromyalgia Flare While Working
by Suzanne Kopecki of FibroMomBlog.com
Wait! Are you telling me that you have Fibromyalgia and you work? What do you do when you are in a flare? I have heard this many times when people find out I am working and chronically ill. Fibromyalgia can be so unpredictable, literally from minute to minute. I have found that if I don’t juggle correctly, I could end up hurting too much or too exhausted to finish my day properly.
Since there are over 10 million people with Fibromyalgia, I think it is safe to say that many of us have to endure our illness and work a full-time job. This illness can be so different for everyone that has it. Add in some co-morbid conditions and you have your own recipe of hell that is all your own.
It has been my experience by watching others, that getting federal disability for fibromyalgia is not an easy task; in fact it can be a long, painful road. So, let’s talk about how we can get through our work day, especially when we are in flare.
- Restful Sleep
The number one important tool you need, especially while in a flare is sleep. I know, I know. You are already saying but I have x, y, and z that prevent me from sleeping especially restfully. I totally get that restful sleep might not be an option. So, I was once told that even if you cannot sleep, lying down and resting helps your body. Granted, it isn’t sleep, but it is something.
The key here is a good night time routine. I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a flare keeping my routines up is the hardest part for me. That is why I do most of my routine as soon as I walk in the door. It may sound weird, but if I’m in a flare I’m probably going to bed soon after I get home anyway.
I admit, I need to work on exercise. So, you are thinking, “I can’t exercise, I’m in a flare. Duh!” Well, I argue that there are ways you can. I set an alarm on my phone and stand up and stretch once an hour, more on flare days. This is hard and but important to manage the pain. Maybe, you can’t go for a walk or do your regular exercise routine right now and that is ok. But, you can alter it and still get some type of movement even just sitting at your office chair.
When I’m in a flare, I eat less. I have absolutely no energy to make myself something to eat. So, basically if it isn’t served to me, it isn’t happening. Now, sometimes you can feel a flare coming, sometimes it hits you out of nowhere. My advice is plan, plan, plan and plan some more. Enlist helpers in your house if you have them. What I am saying is prep your food! Have healthy food ready to go so it will take little effort for you to take to work with you. Unless, you have a personal chef, in which case I am jealous.
It is so hard to limit stress, I get it! However, when you are in a flare it is so important not to add more on your plate. If you have a flexible job, see if you can come in late or leave early. Some people feel comfortable telling their boss about their condition. If you fall into this category, you can let them know you are coming to work, but tell them what you are dealing with.
I have found that if I allow stress in while I am in flare, it last longer and it is more intense. Seriously, I spent so many months working while in the mother of all flares that I ended up having to take a medical leave for 5 months. Stress is no joke and does not play well with fibromyalgia.
If you haven’t started to meditate yet, you really should start. Connecting with yourself is a very important aspect of healing. Now, if you are at work and the pain is unbearable and you feel like you are going to fall over from exhaustion (true story) quick meditation can help.
A quick meditation can be a minute of two. You just close your eyes, focus on your breath and breathe in deeply and out. Every time you breathe out picture the pain going with the breath. Every time you breathe in picture peace, wellness whatever you need at the moment. You can take this further and do this exercise for longer on a break or your lunch time. Trust me, this will give you the edge you need to stick out your day!
Everyone needs support, especially a fibromyalgia warrior. I get my support from social media and my family. I cannot tell you how many times I text my husband and say, “I can’t do this.” Or “I don’t know how I’m going to get through today.” He texts me back, “Babe, you got this.” And “Just do what you can, and take it easy today.” Or, my favorite, “I know this hard, but you are a soldier!” These are pure gold when you are at that last mile and want to collapse.
There is no easy answer here. I hope these help you like they help me. Sadly, there are too many of us fibro warriors out there now and we have bills to pay. It is possible to work through a flare, but please remember to listen to your body. You know when it is time to NOT work through a flare.
If you are working, you have resources. You know to get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, exercise, limit your stress, use meditation and find support from someone. There is no right or wrong here, these are just my ideas and the way I handle my flare. Tell us how you handle your flare while at work.
About the Author:
Suzanne Kopecki is the owner/creator of FibroMomBlog. Her passion is to help others, raise awareness for invisible illness and construct change in the healthcare system. In her free time, she can be found working on her psychology BA and raising up as many Fibromyalgia Warriors as possible.
You can read Suzanne’s Fibro Warrior Interview here.
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