Stress Makes Me a Mess

March 15, 2008

My body hasn’t hurt this much in many moons. If I ever had doubts about whether stress exacerbates the symptoms of fibro, I’m now completely convinced.

The other day, I was invited to test for this little online job. I passed the test (which was a stressful, timed thing), and I got accepted. The “job” entails having to find, research and type answers to questions at a frantic pace. You get paid per answer. I did it for hours yesterday, just to get into the groove of it (and I made a whopping $8). Kind of hard to explain all of this, but here’s the thing. This job is a little microcosm of what a typical work day out in the world is like for me. I really enjoyed doing it. I love the face pace, the stress, the excitement of learning new things, but by the time I went to bed, my body was shrieking in pain. I woke up in the middle of the night with more areas of my body hurting than I can remember– the soles of my feet, my heels, hips, legs, shoulders– there was almost no area that wasn’t in excruciating pain. I could barely walk. Today’s not a whole lot better.

I dislike it when I whine and complain, but here’s my point. For me, the correlation between stress and fibro is undeniable. I stayed awake thinking about what a huge lesson I’d received about how all of this works. Stress is a demon for those of us with fibro– at least it is for me. It seems that since stress is what intensifies the pain, relaxation and meditation should ease it. But the catch with this is that, although I sometimes have a bit of control over how bad the pain gets (by staying out of stressful situations when possible), I have absolutely no control over relieving it once a flare hits. I can’t seem to undo the damage.

Lesson learned. Ouch.

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I Blew It

September 28, 2007

The nature of Fibromyalgia is such that I find myself almost phobic about stress and pain. So, in avoidance of it, I’ve probably lost my job.

A few months back, my doctor recommended that I go on leave of absence. I’d had a bad flare, and work was becoming increasingly difficult to deal with. Pain, stupidity (due to the fibrofog), and humiliation (also due to the fog). My supervisor and manager were extremely understanding. At their urging, I applied for short term disability. I went to my doctor, who filled out all of the necessary forms and supplied loads of documentation, but my claim was denied. They said that my doctor hadn’t provided enough information. Insane, considering he sent them records from every specialist that he’s ever sent me to, and every hospital visit I’ve had in recent months. Do they think I’m doing this for fun? Anyway, there’s an appeals process, but I just didn’t have the physical energy or mental fortitude for it. I’m not kidding. Meanness burns me out. Red tape exhausts me. Becoming overly stressed can immobilize me with pain. The system makes you go to doctor after doctor to make your case, but there is no doctor who can cure this. The game exhausts me.

My FMLA ended on the twenty-first, I think. Maybe it was the twenty-eighth. I get confused. When I had my recent lunch with my supervisor, she urged me to appeal. She told me exactly what to do, who to call, what to get my doctor to say. “You have to do it Monday,” she said. “That’s the last day of your FMLA.”

I drove an hour-and-a-half from Columbus to Dayton that day. When I got home, I was laid flat for a couple of days. The exhaustion is indescribable. The pain was enormous. All I can do when this happens is sort of curl into a ball and cry. So, I didn’t call on Monday. Or Tuesday or Wednesday. I did call yesterday because I finally felt strong enough to deal with it, but I started getting the runaround (Them: “You have to call your superivor.” Me: “But my supervisor’s the one who told me to call you.”) and just couldn’t see it through.

I had a severance package, insurance and a job at stake. I blew it.

I’ve been determined to do this my own way, and this is sort of forcing my hand. Self-employment seems like the only viable alternative to all of this. We’ll see how it goes.