One of the most discouraging aspects of fibromyalgia is that it turns activities that are supposed to feel nice into those that don’t.
Take hugs, for example. I am a hugger. I fell in love with my husband the day he first gave me a bear hug. I still carry the memory of that hug with me, right down to the clothes I was wearing, the room we were in, and the circumstances surrounding the hug. I felt my heart catch at the pure…bliss…of being wrapped up in those big, powerful arms. It still does, every time!
Although they don’t come as often as they used to, my daughter lavishes me with bear hugs of her own that make me teary with pride in the young woman she is growing into. She takes such good care of me when I am having my bad days, and I can’t help but wish that it didn’t have to be this way. Yet I soak in her hugs with joy.
A hug from my mom is like no other, either. It comes with the sense that no matter what else may be happening in the world, her love is right there. It’s warm and filled with a restful sensation that must harken back to my days as a little girl.
One of the first signs of trouble that I had that something wasn’t quite right with my nervous system was when these hugs that I love so much began to hurt. A light, feathery touch on my back or arms induces a sensation of pain, similar to the way it feels when clothing chafes at a recent sunburn. For a long time I ignored this sensation, not sure what to think of it and a little afraid to mention it to others for fear of sounding like a crazy person. I’ve since learned that this pain response is a symptom many fibromyalgia patience experience. Phew! At least I know I’m not crazy! And since hugs meet such an emotional need for me, I still take as many of them as I can get! I just ask the hugger to hug HARD because then it won’t hurt…only the light touch hurts.
Pedicures are supposed to make a woman melt with relaxation. Yet the hot water, sugar scrub, and massage that are part of a pedicure no longer elicit relaxed feelings in me. Instead, I cringe inwardly and endure the feel of sandpaper sugar scrub and the pain of massage because I keep hoping I will enjoy it again this time. A part of me keeps denying that anything is wrong. My counselor says that I need to stop judging myself. He’s right:I sat in that pedicure chair and berated myself because I wasn’t as relaxed as I thought I “should” be.
The thing is, I need to adjust my vision of what I “should” be into a vision of who I really am: a daughter of the King who is promised healing…
The irony is that I continue to judge myself internally. Just today, I kicked myself because I stayed in bed much of the day due to the backache and fatigue. I yelled at myself in my head and said that I needed to get up and do some laundry, do the dishes, get some organizing done around the house…that my fatigue was in my head and that my back hurts whether I get up or not. I probably make my pain worse from being so harsh in my thought processes! Although my back pain is much improved over yesterday, when I bent over to pick up some laundry, the pain and stiffness recurred as I was bent at the waist.
Again…I need to adjust my “shoulds” into the reality that I don’t want to face: the Lord may not heal me with natural methods. I might have to clear the fear hurdle and have surgery, but I can’t keep living this way, arranging my whole life around my cycle and the associated pain. Tonight my legs literally shook from weakness as I washed a few dishes. I don’t make this stuff up. It’s real.
Speaking of washing…I have used Proactive face cleanser for many years now. The cleanser has a gritty texture. I used to enjoy the clean feeling it gave my skin, but lately using it makes me experience pain. Apparently my fibromyalgia can’t be pleased: it flares up with the soft touch of a hug, and it flares up with the harsh gritty texture of my cleanser.
Guess that goes back to my true nature, according to my husband. He noticed one day that in terms of temperature…I like it whatever temperature it is not!
I’ll take his hugs, though, as often as he can give them, whether they give me pain or whether they give me the warm fuzzies!