by Kimberly Hoffman
I perform a balancing act every day, but not to amuse the crowd. Though others can see the act, they usually don’t realize what I am going through. No, this act is performed as I daily deal with the struggles that come from having a chronic condition called fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that can cause widespread pain, tenderness and stiffness of the muscles and connective tissue. A flare can last a few minutes to long term and may manifest as pain, aching or itching, which can lead to difficulty sleeping, sensory overload and fatigue.
Fibromyalgia is a wicked partner to my act. I usually can’t anticipate or predict its next move, though I do try. If I know a storm is coming or a weather front is on its way, I can be preemptive in taking it easy, being good to myself and not overdoing it. I know if I overtax my body or make one too many poor eating choices, I will pay the price and become off balance. So I live each day preparing, balancing, and doing my best not to let it knock me over.
I was diagnosed seven years ago. I remember leaving the doctor’s office, getting into my car and breaking down. I called my husband and cried. I felt overwhelmed, scared and unsure what to do. But, I’m a fighter and I would not allow this diagnosis to destroy my future. I wiped my eyes and prepared for battle. I read everything I could on the subject, trying to stay away from negative opinions. I began to implement some of what I was reading bit by bit as I prayed over every decision. I allowed God to lead me in my path to wellness.
I changed my diet, started mild exercise and experimented with supplements, under my doctor’s supervision. Thankfully, my doctor got the diagnosis right the first time and allowed me to pursue a natural approach to healing. As I began to see small improvements, I would research what else I could try, but always with balance. I didn’t pursue every suggestion or opinion. Everyone seems to have one, you know. I didn’t do anything that made me feel uncomfortable or I felt might set off a flare.
Each day in this balancing act, I have to make choices. I don’t jump with joy when I turn down a sweet or something deep fried. It is hard to watch others indulge, but I also know what it will do to me. I maintain my balance as I exercise, working to increase slowly, but not pushing too hard. I become frustrated when sickness, a flare, or injury causes me to go backward in my progress. While healthy people can often work their way back up to their previous level quickly after injury or illness, it takes me months of hard work to get back to where I was. Even working toward healing my body takes time. Nerves heal very slowly, but they can heal, and so I press on.
When I do feel great, I must maintain that balance and not overdo it. For those without chronic conditions, you understand your energy level. It stays basically the same with few exceptions. For those of us who are maintaining that delicate balance, it can trick us. We wake up feeling good with what feels like an abundant amount of energy. We become superwoman or superman – well, at least in our minds. The difference in our pain and fatigue level is so great, we can feel euphoric as if we can conquer anything, and so we try. If we try to do it all and not maintain our balance, we will crash and burn. The wreckage of our physical, mental and emotional bodies lies in a heap and won’t recover anytime soon.
When we hit bottom either from losing that perfect balance or being hit by a flare out of nowhere, we can feel defeated and overcome. In our mind, it feels as if this is it. We’ve pushed too hard. We will not win this battle. When this happens, my mind likes to play the “what if” game. What if this is the flare that sends me over the edge never to return to my balancing act? What if I have no choice but to go on medication in order to maintain? What if this is the pain I will feel from now on with no breaks? A flare can knock your emotional balance for a loop.
But in the middle of my balancing act, it is not all frustration, fatigue, and denial of self … it is life. Life goes on and, if we are to conquer this foe, we must go on, as well. We learn how to rest, be positive, stay focused, and learn gratitude, joy and peace. Life does not stop because I have fibromyalgia. Life becomes sweeter because I realize how wonderful it is to be able to take a walk, have a pain-free day, hug a friend or my spouse without hurting. Every day is not great, but when I have a good one, I relish and delight in it. I embrace the day and live to the fullest.
By being dedicated to the balancing act, I am seeing improvement. I still have flares from time to time and can’t seem to knock out this remnant of inflammation yet, but I battle on. Life is too grand of an adventure to resign.
In the living, there is joy. There is love. There is happiness. I am not my diagnosis. I am not giving up. I will continue to strive for balance. I am a warrior.
© Kimberly Hoffman 2 April 2019
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kimberly Hoffman is the author of Emma’s Dancing Day and Sigmund Stanley Spider Squared. She enjoys presenting programs related to her books at schools, libraries and civic groups on topics such as “How to Write a Story”, “Overcoming Obstacles”, “Thinking Outside the Box Regarding Disabilities”, as well as other subjects. Her favorite program includes teaching a bit of ballet and then leading the students in dance.
Kimberly grew up in Columbus, Indiana where trips to the library happened nearly every week of her childhood. She loves to read and thinks the library is a wonderful place to be. She knows that books can teach us, transport us to new realms, inspire us, cause us to cry, or make us fall over laughing.
Kimberly loves to dance, although she had not taken a lesson until about 10 years ago. She can often be found dancing around her house (and sometimes in public), choreographing to whatever song is playing.
She is married to Paul, who is also an author, and together they have six children, one grandchild, and three grand-kitties.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Invite her to speak to your group!