A Fibro Flare Up Survival Kit
It's been a long time, friends! So, so sorry I left you without a dope beat to step to. Sometimes forces conspire against you, and when those forces include really rotten general health, you've just got to hunker down and ride it out. I've been dealing with a diseased body for almost a decade, and in that time I've learned some fairly decent coping strategies. I mention distractions and self-care a lot, but I think it's something that's important for all people, but particularly those who suffer from illness. (Those illness can include something physical or mental, chronic or temporary.) Here are the things that got me through the past three-ish months of feeling like a trash heap (but not the good kind). Maybe you'll find some comfort in them as well.
I refer to this simply as my "maternity pillow," because that's what it is. I bought it on Amazon through a third party baby store and it arrived in a box covered in bears wearing nightcaps and sleeping in crescent moons. It doesn't get more baby-themed than that. Once I used my maternity pillow, though, I realized that you shouldn't wait till you have a zygote to get one. They're the greatest. Mine is an enormous U-shaped pillow that provides support and general coziness to my sleeping arrangements. I also like to prop this pillow against my regular bed pillows and cross the little legs to make a sort of inner tube shape, then I sit in the middle with my head and knees supported and I have a perfect reading spot. This pillow will run you about $100, but I've used mine every day for over a year, so I feel qualified to say that is is completely worth it. If your sleep suffers because of pain and discomfort, it's well worth $100 to finally be able to get some pain-free Zzz's.
I have perpetually icy feet, which is common in fibromyalgia patients, but they get even colder during a flare up. Despite living in Southern California, when I'm flaring I'll feel like I'm walking barefoot across the frozen tundra. Big, dorky socks are the best option for keeping my tootsies comfortable. I'm from the Midwest, where thick, warm socks are just plain necessary. I bought my favorite pair at an Army surplus store, so you can imagine how un-glamorous they are, but they get the job done like no other.
(In addition to nice thermal socks, it's also important to have comfy, soft clothes. During a flare I typically just cycle through pajamas.)
My fibro flares like to center around my back, where I also have arthritis pain. When a flare up is at its worst, I'm in a lot of discomfort, and the best thing for it is heat. Some people like to use ice, or a combination of heat and cold, but I like plain ol' heat. I've been a heating pad devotee since I was first diagnosed with endometriosis almost a decade ago. This is perhaps the second or third heating pad I've gone through since then, but I put them through a lot of use. Another great thing about this remedy? It's sold at any drugstore, so if you're in a bind, you can get one 24/7 - and at no loss of quality. In fact, my heating pads have all come from Walgreens, and have been A+ coping tools.
If you're chronically ill, chances are you're also chronically popping pills. I take pills in the morning, pills in the evening, and pills in emergencies. All are different, all are necessary. When your medication is a part of your day-to-day survival, you keep is close. Literally close - I keep my pills on my nightstand. I have a hugeAM/PM pill container made for arthritis patients with my week's pills in it, and I also keep my pain killers and emergency sleep medication in a little box next to my bed. It only takes one bout of terrible pain where you can't get out of bed, but you need your pills to teach you to keep your drugs right next to your resting place.
This one's a tiny sub-list, because there are a few small items that I've found help me weather the storm of a flare up and still feel like a human (See: Avoiding Trash Heap Status). Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths are these amazing wipes that do just what they say - refresh your body. I love these for days when I don't have the strength or energy to shower, but I've just been laying around the house anyway. What I'm saying is, I don't need a full-on cleansing, but I could use some sprucing up. The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector is my favorite hand lotion. One of my odd fibro symptoms is that my nail beds hurt, and if I make sure that my hands and nails are sufficiently moisturized, they hurt less. Throughout the day, and especially before I go to sleep, I make sure to liberally apply this hand lotion, which not only moisturizes amazingly well, but is also one of the only hand lotions that will stay on through one or two hand washings. I've written a review before of Not Your Mother's Dry Shampoo, so I won't blather on again here. I will reiterate though, that it is my favorite dry shampoo, and it is the reason that I can manage to go three days between hair washes (a fibro patient's energy is in short supply, so any methods for saving spoons feel like literal lifesavers.) Last but not least, a good lip balm is a necessary part of anyone's bedside table, and my bedside feels incomplete without Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm. I wrote one of my longest reviews on this Holy Grail Lip Balm, and for good reason.
If you're going to be stuck in bed for a prolonged amount of time, you're going to need to distract yourself from your current situation. The last time I needed to take a break from the world I wrote a post about Distractions, which you can read here. My favorite distractions include, but are not limited to: Binge watching a TV show (needing a million hours of something to watch is the #1 reason why I'm desperate for Netflix to add ER to Instant Watch), reading (or re-reading) a book series, and building and decorating a house for some Sims.
A Furry Friend
Anything's bearable when you have a snuggly little chap like this by your side.
So what about you? Any spoonie tips for surviving chronic illness flare ups? Do you also wish ER was on Netflix Instant Watch? Any great book recommendations I should add to my reading list? Let me know!